So this month we’ve covered substance abuse and mental health, the dangers of smoking and alcohol in our communities, all pointing to the fact that this is a problem, even for Muslims, but what is being done?
Whilst researching for this article it was not surprising that very few* organisations were found that work for Muslims specifically, despite generic organisations that can give individual support for individual cases. Maybe because it’s thought as not a serious problem and perhaps ignoring it until it goes away that it leads to those suffering in isolation. Doing this helps the problem to linger and grow when it should be tackled head on as there is a need for more awareness and treatment options for the Muslim community.
Just remember, Inspirited Minds are here for you regardless of what your addiction is.
Of course there are existing addiction self-help strategies and treatment out there that could help; you may have heard of Alcoholics Anonymous and its twelve steps, a treatment program for people suffering from alcohol abuse and addiction. These steps have universal principles that can be applied from an Islamic Perspective. Therefore it can be applied to the current topic of substance abuse and addiction in relation to Muslims:
Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous
The original set of guiding principles which outline a course of action for tackling problems including alcoholism, drug addiction and compulsion are in bold and we’ve included its relevance from an Islamic view in italics.
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
This one is pretty straightforward, admitting you are no longer in control but the substances seem to be in control of you is the first step to taking back control of your life.
Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
This can be acknowledging that only Allah can help you out of this ultimately.
Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Understanding that your fate is decreed by Allah so to put complete trust in He who controls all aspects of our lives and death thus reaching out to seek His help first and foremost.
Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
This can be hard and overwhelming but making a realistic self-analysis where you evaluate how you have come to this point and analysing your addictive behaviour is needed in this step.
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
This is where you admit to Allah and make tawbah (sincere repentance to Allah) of your mistakes and addiction/s. We shouldn’t advertise our sins as it is between us and Allah. As humans, we make mistakes and that’s ok because:
“All of the children of Adam are sinners, and the best of sinners are those who repent.”
Sunan Ibn Majah
Mistakes and sins can be an opportunity to improve oneself and commitment to Allah.
Step 6: We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Allah will help you to wean yourself off this addiction but He also gives us means to help ourselves, this can include strengthening your resolve through actions (e.g. fasting, which can also help in curbing desires). Make the necessary changes regardless how difficult it is, at the root level, to not let the addiction/s snowball back into your life.
Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Although unfortunate relapses do happen so continue to believe and ask Him to help you avoid repeating what has past and to cover your faults, it is between you and Allah.
Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
To paraphrase a hadith, the Prophet ﷺ mentioned a man who went to bed every night forgiving everyone and removing any bad feelings towards anyone as one of the people of Jannah (Paradise) [Musnad Ahmad]. Make the intention to approach family, friends or even acquaintances seeking forgiveness for any harm or hurt caused.
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Even a smile is charity in Islam, so spread good words and vibes to those you want to make amends to, it doesn’t have to be done only in monetary terms such as sadaqah (voluntary charity).
Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Be honest with yourself every night and/or day, seeking His forgiveness and appreciating whatever good has been done by praising Allah.
Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
Get closer to Allah by strengthening taqwa (god-consciousness) this can be done by knowing who your Lord is and His Attributes, increasing in knowledge of the deen (religion) and its practice i.e. praying five times a day
Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
In terms of this last step this can be thanking Allah for the opportunity to return back to Him and continuing to renew one’s faith as it is prone to wearing out as the Prophet ﷺ mentioned and understanding it’s in the struggle that sabr (patience) is also found for the ongoing battle with your nafs (self). You could also help others with sincere advice on maintaining control over one’s addiction.
“By Him in Whose Hand is my life, if you were not to commit sin, Allah would sweep you out of existence and He would replace (you by) those people who would commit sin and seek forgiveness from Allah, and He would have pardoned them.”
We probably hear this quite a lot but to reiterate Islam isn’t just a religion but a set of beliefs and actions which create a way of life, a manual guide for optimum living. But it’s ok if you fall off track, substance abuse and addiction is a complex issue however you can get back on track.
Do you know of any helpful tips or organisations dealing with substance abuse and addiction? Let us know!
*The few we have come across are:
DAAP works with individuals and communities to provide appropriate information and interventions to overcome drug, alcohol and Khat addiction and to tackle crime and the causes that lead to crime.
Nafas, a nationally renowned specialist drug treatment agency working with the Asian/Muslim community.