As it is World Mental Health day I wish to write about how my faith in Islam has helped me to cope with and live through many mental health struggles.
Over the past 13 years my life has been a rollercoaster of ups and downs. I’ve been in and out of hospital be it on acute wards to PICUs and a rehabilitation unit.
I have been through some difficult times over the years including being sectioned and detained for months and even years on end. It is my strong faith in Islam that has helped me to cope with harsh life experiences.
On my first night detained in hospital I remember reading the translation of the Quran and praying to God and asking him to look after my family and to allow me to be released quickly.
I studied Islam and other religions and have firm conviction that God does exist and that this life is a test to see whether someone is worthy of attaining everlasting peace and happiness in heaven.
I’ve read the biography of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (s) and found his life was full of hardships and tests and tribulations. I take heart from this fact that such a great person also went through so many difficulties in his life. He was patient in the face of adversity however, and set an impossibly high precedent to follow.
Muhammad’s (s) enemies also accused him of being a madman for claiming that he was receiving revelation from God. They tortured and abused him and his followers but he did not take vengeance when he had the opportunity to do so.
For me, the hardest part was being sectioned and hospitalised for lengthy periods of time. However, it wasn’t all bad. I met some great people over the years including other patients and nursing staff who supported and guided me.
The worst thing about being detained is to be far from home and family. Over the years I absconded from mental health units many times but have always been returned to hospital by the police. Apart from living on the streets there is no way to evade the police for too long.
It was my father who taught me to have faith in the Almighty Loving God. He taught me the Quran and the Hadith which are the words and actions of Prophet Muhammad. Dad would worship in the mosque for about six hours each day.
My father only preached what he himself practiced and he had such zeal and desire to learn more and more. He had a large folder which contained various supplications and prayers. He passed away a year ago. According to Islam, I will meet him again in the life after death. This grants me much peace and comfort and I wish the same for others who have lost a loved one.
My father’s legacy continues through his children. One of my siblings is a Islamic teacher and my sister is qualified in Islamic studies too. My family are all pious and righteous and honest in their dealings.
My family approached many Imams and spiritual healers over the years to help with my mental health issues and was advised by them to recite the Quran profusely and pray to God.
Islam has taught me that illness is from God whether it is a mental illness or a physical one so there should be no shame attached to having mental health issues.
Having faith and praying regularly is very therapeutic and comforting so I would encourage others to pray too because it creates hope and positivity. Admittedly I have not prayed regularly in quite a long time or even visited the mosque but I plan to start going again. Many years ago, I used to pray five times a day and memorised three chapters of the Quran. The purpose of life is to recognise God and to obey his commands.
In Islam there are five pillars which are: Declaration of faith, the five daily prayers, paying the annual charity, fasting in Ramadhan and going for pilgrimage.
It is due to my faith that I am here today. I have been through harrowing experiences due to which I became suicidal but in Islam it is completely prohibited to take your own life otherwise I wouldn’t be here today.
The Holy Quran is a miraculous book as it is one of the greatest pieces of literature in the Arabic language. It is also the most memorised book in all of human history. It is believed to be the verbatim word of God, revealed to Muhammad (s) over 23 years.
My message to everyone is that there is peace in praying and trusting in the Higher Power. So if you’re going through hard times then turn to Him.