How do you keep satanic whispers at bay? How do you avoid baseless misgivings? How can you improve your mental wellbeing? How can you pursue a life of positivity and hope? Does depression mean you are lacking in faith?
We spoke to sister Jasmin Ahmed, an ‘aalimah graduated from Jamea Al Kauthar and supporter of Inspirited Minds, after asking our followers to raise some questions for this interview. We pray it raises good awareness, and brings solace to those who are suffering. Part 2 of our interview follows.
I completely agree that positivity is a quality of great comfort and that which every believer is deserving of. Which I suppose links to the next question toward how a person could possibly improve their mental health and wellbeing. Is there anything you’d like to add to that?
I have a few suggestions. I believe each is equally important […]
- Value yourself. Your status has been described countlessly In the Qur’aan and Sunnah. So treat yourself with kindness and respect. Avoid self criticism and use your time wisely so as not to give yourself time to dwell or doubt.
- Take care of yourself physically as well as spiritually! Studies have shown that by taking care of your body, it vastly improves your mental health too. So eat and drink well, exercise and get enough sleep.
- Have good company. I can’t stress enough the importance of surrounding yourself with good influences and ridding yourself of any negativity. Do not stay with those who only seek to “enjoy” themselves by idle play or haraam acts. It will have a devastating impact on the mind and soul. But the presence of good, pious peoples will remind you of Allah and His mercy.
- Help others. By volunteering your time and energy, by offering charity, you will feel good about doing something to help someone in need and you will see the fruits of your efforts in this world and the next.
- “Seek help in patience and prayer.” Research shows that meditation helps calm the mind and what greater meditation is there than salah? Remain constant in your dhikr and Qur’aan. It is nourishment for the soul.
I am incredibly happy that you mentioned point 1. It is something a lot of sufferers fall into a habit of doing and it can be very heart breaking to know how negatively they perceive themselves. I think the notion of loving yourself can often come across as an arrogant practice and so abandoned by people in general. But does not our religion encourage us to take care of ourselves as we’d take care of others as well? Or is there a selfish attachment to that?
We have been encouraged to contemplate on the beauty of nature and Allah’s creations so that we may grow closer to Him … Are we not all Allah’s creation? As long as one does not forget his Creator and remembers his humble beginnings inshaAllah, there shouldn’t be fear of arrogance in this.
I think this takes us perfectly into our next question. Often self criticism is perhaps derived from how others have treated the sufferer. Often sufferers of Mental Health illnesses face a lot of abuse when perceived as or even name called: crazy, insane, incapable, unworthy. What does Islam have to say about holding others in contempt?
Islam places great emphasis on manners and on the proper way to deal with others. This is regardless of whether they are Muslim or not. But such is the value of a believer that it has been described as more precious than the Ka’bah . Maintaining good relations with others should be a main priority of a practicing Muslim. In fact, Islam teaches that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “I have been sent to perfect the best of manners”. As the best of mankind, we as believers should strive to emulate every word, act and mannerism of Rasulullah ﷺ and this one statement of his clearly explains the importance of behaving well towards all individuals and things.
So to those who think it’s acceptable to insult and degrade another brother or sister in Islam, and especially one who is unwell, physically or spiritually, I say “Fear Allah.”
Often those who experience melancholy as a cause of depression are told it is due to lack of eman and that a true believer will never be sad, which can often leave sufferers to feel smaller in self worth. What do you have to say about this?
Firstly there is a difference between sadness or temporary depression and clinical depression, which is a mental health disorder that affects the way we work, sleep, eat, and enjoy things we normally would. A depressive disorder is more than a passing mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or weakness of one’s faith and it cannot be willed or wished away. This requires professional help for treatment.
To be sad or upset is a normal human emotion. Islam does not condemn it and it is not to be considered a weakness. But one should know that hopelessness can lead one astray and should put their trust in Allah ﷻ to know that it is but a test and
“Surely with hardness comes ease.”
If you are experiencing depression due to medical reasons then as mentioned previously, eat well and nutritionally; exercise; sleep well; contemplate and meditate; ensure that prayer is incorporated into your everyday life and when you feel upset, sit down, drink water and try to think positively. Distract yourself from dwelling too much on the negativity. Like any other illness, take medication and above all, have faith.
Thank you for differentiating between general human emotions and clinical depression which may at times require treatment. I think this is a thing many Muslims in our community need to understand to avoid criticism toward sufferers inshaAllah.
To further the topic on pursuing positivity, especially for those who have been affected by mistreatment, what are one of the best tools to stay at peace at heart?
I find that Faith and dhikr come hand and in hand so I like to think of them as one […] subhanAllah, there truly is no better tool for peace of heart and Allah ﷻ Himself says to us:
“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.”
“He it is Who sent down tranquillity into the hearts of the believers that they might have more of faith added to their faith – and Allah’s are the hosts of the heavens and the earth, and Allah is Knowing, Wise.”
I think it is something so beneficial yet simultaneously very much avoided. Perhaps due to how detached & helpless sufferers may feel at times as a result from depression. Any tips toward how a believer, particularly those suffering from depression can push themselves to pursue the trusted method?
Seek as much Islamic knowledge as you possibly can. You’ll find solace in the words of Allah and His beloved ﷺ and by keeping yourself in the company of the pious, without a doubt, you will notice a difference.
And finally, what is one suggestion you could give to inspire or assist those who suffer from Mental Health illnesses of any kind?
No words of mine can have a greater effect than the words of Allah ﷻ so my answer to your question is this beautiful ayah from the Qur’aan:
“O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.”
“The believers are like mirrors for one another.” Sufferers of any illness should never feel like they have to deal with it alone. As brothers and sisters in deen, those suffering should feel no qualms in seeking advice or help from others and surely as well as direct assistance, Allah ﷻ will also offer aid by means of good people. So talk about your problems and don’t hold it all in. This is vital in the process of recovery.
Jasmin Ahmed is the Arabic Language teacher at Al Huda Primary School, Bolton. She is also a member of the School Leadership Team and as such, plays a pivotal role in the management of the school. She has been teaching Qur’aan and Arabic at primary school level for 4 years and Seeratun Nabi ﷺ, Provisions for the Seekers (Zaadut Taalibeen – a compilation of ahadith) and Arabic to plus 16 year olds for an additional 2 years.
Furthermore, she also delivers a number of inspirational lectures to various halaqahs for sisters.
She is an active supporter of Nour DV, a charity organisation dedicated to supporting victims of Domestic Violence. Jasmin has been an Islaamic Advisor for the charity since the initiative started in 2010.
Jasmin Ahmed graduated from the “Sanatain Course” at Jamea Al Kauthar, Lancaster, which is an abridged version of the full Alimiyyah course. This inspired her to further her studies and complete the Alimiyyah Course at Quwwatul Islam, London. The alimah course expands over a period of 7 years in which she covered Aqeedah, explanation of the Quran, ahadith of Rasulullah ﷺ, Islamic jurisprudence, laws of inheritance, Arabic language and grammar, all under the auspicious guidance of various shuyukh such as Moulana Saleem Nawab and Moulana Dawud Ibn Adam.