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Mental & Spiritual Health Counseling

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Thank you for participating in the session.

Please find the 4 questions to which our counselor provided answers. If you do not find yours here, check out our upcoming session or submit it there again.

Question 1. How much to worry about people and overthinking?

Assalam o alikum my mind is been occupied by lots of thoughts things are troubling me like how much to care about people not get hurt like I don’t know how much to think that people would not get hurt like in a friends and siblings gatherings we don’t really think a lot and we just give reply to our friends in humorous manner like the way other person talk and also please educate me regarding overthinking I have been thinking a lot that these words of mine have hurt other or not like I can’t concentrate and been suffering from headaches

Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh sister

You are being persistently overwhelmed by troubling thoughts about friends and family, particularly regarding thoughts of the getting hurt. This is causing yountonhave a hard time concentrating and is also giving you headaches now also.

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What you experiencing is anxiety. There are a number of things that can cause this, either alone, or in combination with other things. Islamically, overwhelming thoughts such as the ones you are describing are commonly attributed to waswas. It equally be , or also be an anxiety disorder. There are some ways that you can self assess to some extent to give you a better idea of how to deal with it.

Are these thought Distracting you from your Islamic obligations? Do they prevent you from praying?  On doing other acts or worship, such as  reading the Qur’an?  Or, even if you are still doing these things, do your overwhelming thoughts prevent you from worshiping Allah with full concentration? If you answered yes to any of these, then there’s a good chance that these thoughts may indeed come from waswas.

Realizing this can be quite frightening, but alhamdulilah, there are many ways to treat this. The trick is to push the subtle ways of Shaytan away by keeping Allah close. The other trick is to make sure you attack back in the same subtle way such that you are consistent in your actions. Take it gradually so that your don’t overwhelm yourself even more. Increase your acts of worship slowly within your capabilities. For example, working on reading the Qur’an. Spend a portion of time after each salad reading the Qur’an. Depending on your ability, this may loom like simply reading a single ayah each time and then after a week, adding a second… and so on. You can apply the same principle to offering voluntary prayers, making dhikr, making duas, studying Islamic Studies…etc… Regardless of whether you truly are experiencing waswas , these are all good practices for everyone anyway.

Additionally, ask yourself to what extent these thoughts are interfering daily life  Do they stop you from doing thing you do as a part of your daily routine? Are you getting sufficient sleep or do your thoughts prevent that?  Are you still able to eat normally and fulfil your duties or roles at work or school? How about hygiene? Are you maintaining a clean and hygienic body and living environment? If any of these things have been affected, how long has it been going on for? If it has been over 2 weeks now, then you should reach out to your family doctor as you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder that can be treated with medication and/or talking therapy. If it had not been going on for this long, or only comes and goes, do keep an eye on how your thoughts are impacting daily life and if your thoughts and consequent behaviours continue for beyond 2 weeks at any point, then do make sure to get further professional support.

Regardless of how long this has been going on for, it’s always a good idea to keep a log of your thought in a journal or notebooks. Note what thought you had, when, where you were and what was happening at the time. After some time of making these observations, you will be able to go back and identify if there is any clear pattern. Do they usually occur at a particular time, or place? Or in response to something going on in your environment? Understanding the triggers of your thoughts will allow you to address them more effectively. For example, if they always seem to occur in a particular environment, you can either avoid that environment, or train your mind away from such thoughts, by replacing them with more helpful ones until the environment no longer triggers the onset of these thoughts and instead lead to less damaging and more helpful thoughts.

So, as you can see, there are several ways to deal with this and I have outlined a handful here that I hope you will find helpful.

May Allah free you from these intrusive thoughts and guide you aright. May He make things easier for you and bless you with the best in both this life and the  next.

Question 2. OCD

AssalamAlleikom sister. OCD from Shaytan or mental illness? most of sheikh says OCD is from Shaytan or it can be from mental illness. Why do non-Muslim have OCD? Other Muslim doctor says OCD is a mental illness like other illness such diabetes, both Muslim and non-Muslim get the illness. My question is what Islam says about mental health? Like OCD, bipolar and other. Thank you

Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh sister,

It can seem quite confusing trying to understand mental health from an Islamic perspective, particularly when it comes to OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) as this would be the condition that is most frequently cited as being from a purely Islamic cause of Shaytan’s Whispers, or waswas, that causes people to behave in ways much like those with OCD do according to the purely medical diagnostic. So, is something like OCD, waswas? Or is it something else more physiological/psychological? And how even if it can be solely attributed to a cause that we understand Islamically as waswas, what about the non Muslims?

When we get caught up in such confusion, it is understandable why people are left feeling confused. However, it doesn’t have to be that complicated because in fact, mental health can be explained , understood and treated from both angles – both the Islamic and medical perspectives.

Mental health difficulties, like physical health difficulties are a test from Allah, only located in different parts of the body and causing somewhat different symptoms (although, there can often be a crossover). From a purely medical perspective mental health problems can be attributed to a combination of both physiological and psychological causes. For example, an upset in chemical levels of certain hormones and chemical within the brain can lead to mental health problems. Similarly, exposure to particularly traumatic events such as death or abuse can provide a psychological trigger for the onset of mental health problems. This is no different for both Muslims and non Muslims. We are all vulnerable to these same triggers for mental health problems.

Islam, however, adds another layer. It can add further explanation to the onset of mental health problems, such as the presence of waswas causing OCD, or dips in eman causing depression or anxiety. Non Muslims also experience this too, only they do not attribute their symptoms to the same. In fact, it is commonly cited in psychological literature that religion does serve as a protective factor when it comes to mental health challenges.

For Muslims, having this added layer of understanding of the causes mental health problems also gives us additional faith-based treatment options too. These options include looking to the Qur’an and Sunnah for solutions and understanding what is happening from the understanding that it is a test from Allah that will pass and that with patience and observance of faith and trust in Allah’s Will, one can survive such tribulations with more ease perhaps that someone who does not have this understanding.

For a deeper exploration of the Islamic perspective on mental health, I would encourage you to seek advice from a scholar as u can only advice based on what I understand and practice from the psychological side.

May Allah save us from the trials of mental illness and give us the strength and faith to manage such challenges of and when they should arise.

Question 3. How to I manage the guilt of not fasting

As-salamu alaykum I’m a revert of one year. I can’t fast this year nor could I fast last year due to illness. I have a chronic illness but it’s so rare no one knows if I have hope recovering ! I keep reading conflicting things some people are advising I can donate and others say u can only donate if I have 0 hope of recovery but I genuinely do not know if I’ll recover as it’s not as determinable as say diabetes etc . I am scared about hurting myself and not fulfilling my duties and this is causing me so much stress it feels too daunting if I delay say 10 fasts and then having to make that up as I genuinely don’t know if I’ll recover and there is no medical cure for my illness. This is causing me a lot of panic and I don’t know how to manage it or what to do

Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh sister,

There are many reasons why people may be eligible to nit have to fast during Ramadan, including certain health conditions like in your case. This is a Mercy from Allah to save these groups of people from the harms that can come from fasting under these conditions. However, even though this is a Mercy from Allah, its not unusual for those who are exempt to feel some level of resistance due to the feeling of guilt around not fasting when everyone else is. As a result, they either fast anyway at the detriment of their health, or experience some psychological symptoms such as anxiety like you are.

In the case of situations where the individual will eventually leave the state that exempts them from fasting, they are obliged to catch up on these missed facts when they are able. Common examples include the menstruating woman and the pregnant or breast feeding woman. However, there are also other conditions such as diabetes where it may not be possible to go without food for an entire day without causing severe e medical problems. Likewise with other health conditions that require the necessity of taking essential medication throughout the day, that without, again, would cause severe consequences. Any number of these conditions may be lifelong conditions that are incurable and therefore there would never be a chance to catch up on the fast in case the missed fast is made up through donating food or money to the poor.

In your case, however, it seems that whilst you are unable to fast now due to the presence of a condition, you may or may not recover from it so are not sure whether it would ever be feasible to catch up on the fast at a later date or not. In this specific circumstance, I would encourage you to seek guidance from a scholar to get a more certain answer.

In the meantime. I can understand why you are feeling troubled by the lack of understanding. Firstly, ad mentioned above, it is not unusual for people exempt from fasting to feel guilty or anxious about not fasting like those around them. What you are experiencing is a normal reaction to being in this scenario. However, you, and others in the same situation must understand that it is Allah’s mercy to be exempt and one should not feel guilty about the command of Allah. In fact, it is also important to remember that going against His command is even sinful. Allah exempts certain people from fasting for their own protection,  so to go against that and risk ill health, could be deemed as sinful.

With this in mind, if you are unable to fast due to your health condition, then do not make yourself poorly by fasting when you are unable. As for how to make the fast up in your specific situation, seek scholarly advice.

In the meantime, find solace in the understanding of the Mercy of Allah that has permitted you to not fast at times like this, as He has others for various other reasons. Remember, even though you may not be able to fast, there are many other acts of ibadah that you can engage in during this time, such as reading or listening to the Qur’an, making dua, making dhikr, listening to lectures, studying Islam…etc… Doing these things will help to strengthen your faith, especially as a new revert to Islam, and bring you closer to Allah. This, along with understanding that you not fasting is obedience to Allah, should help to reduce your levels if anxiety regarding this matter.

May Allah ease your difficulties and bring you wellbeing with you chronic illness.  May He accept your acts of worship and reward your struggle in search of His pleasure.

Question 4. Academics and mental health

I’m an 18 yr old, lately dealing with anxiety issues. I used to be a great student until I shifted my school to another city. The environment there was very hostile. in the first year itself I topped in my class and every teacher used to ask about me. I used to be decently social but after my results, my classmates started bullying me, especially the former class toppers. They had such envy towards me and used to mock me by telling these stupid things like why I snatched their position and only they deserve to be the topper. I became so stressed cuz almost the whole class hated me for my good results. I used to come home crying and since then my confidence started to shatter. I was alienated and began to lose hold over my studies without me being realizing about it and slowly slowly it took the shape of the anxiety. I used to be conscious about my grades, fearing that I can’t get low grades because my parents and teachers have so much expectations on me and on the other side the idea of my classmates thinking low of me because of the same. The anxiety devoured me totally and i developed the phobia of exams cuz I always used to think of my grades. Fast forward to now, the anxiety became severe and I’m now a below average student, trying get hold of it all. I’m performing really bad and now I’m thinking of taking a drop this year and restart this class i.e, 11th from the beginning. And I’m confused whether to take this step or not. This phase helped me to grow into a better individual spiritually n for that I’m grateful Alhamdulillah. I just want to ask, is this a trial for me and what should I do? Jazakallahu khaira

Assalamu alaikum wa rahamatulahi wa barakatuh sister,

It is unfortunate that you have had to go through this at the hands of the jealousy of those around you. It is understandable why you are now experiencing such heightened levels of anxiety. However,  at the same time, Alhamdulilah, you are also able to see the benefits of having gone through such a traumatic time and are grateful to Allah for the same. Alhamdulilah. This is a clear example of your maturity and a fine example that people should be striving to achieve through difficulties and you have been able to do just that. May Allah reward you and keep you steadfast.

From here, you have the choice to continue on, but with grades lower than what you are capable of, or to repeat the year. This is a difficult choice for you to make, but one that may have some level of short term impact on your life by potentially delaying your journey into your chosen career field. It is a tough decision, so do make sure to take your time to make such an important decision (within the time you actually have to make the choice of course). Don’t rush, think deeply about the positive and negatives of each option – continuing on as is, or repeating the year, and perhaps even consult friends and families opinions if you can. Once you have made you choice, taken the matter to Allah and if its right for you, He will facilitate it and if not, He will place obstacles in the way.

I’d like to offer you a few prompts and thinking points that I hope will encourage you to think more deeply on your choices.

  • To what extent do your grades matter in the career or next level of education that you wish to pursue?
  • Could you move forward with the grades that you currently have?
  • Therefore, would it be necessary to go back and strive for higher grades?
  • Even if you can move forward with your current grades,  would it be a continual bother to you that you did not achieve the grades that you are capable of at this level?
  • Are you absolutely sure about your next step, in terms of study or career, or might retaking the year also buy you additional time to further contemplate your options?
  • Are there any possible negative consequences of retaking the year?

You might use these and other reflections you may have, to collate a list of pros and cons of both continuing and retaking the year. Write it all out then put it away and come back to it again in a few days time. During these days, continue to turn to Allah for His guidance. You will likely find that you will have additional thoughts and reflections to add to your lists when you revisit them after a few days. Do this as many times as you can in the time you have available so you are most sure and confident in the decision you are about to make.

May Allah guide you to what is best for you and most pleasing to Him. May He reward your strength in faith and grant you the beat in this life and the next.

Saturday, Apr. 06, 2024 | 09:00 - 10:00 GMT

Session is over.
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