CAN A MUSLIM SUFFER FROM MENTAL ILLNESS?
An Overview of Mental Illness and what Islam says about it.
There is nothing wrong with treating different diseases and ailments that befall a person so long as this doesn’t cause side effects. This includes anything whether it is Mental, Spiritual, Financial, Physical, Social etc. It is imcumbutant that a Muslim hasten first of all to treat the problem with Ruqya as prescribed in the Shariah. This is inclusive of verses from the Qur’an, Authentic supplications from the Ahadeeth of the Prophet ﷺ which are recommended in Shariah and in which the texts state there is healing.
There is nothing wrong with seeking cure with natural materials likewise which Allah (SWT) has created such as Honey, Black Seed, Olive oil and other things which are known for their remedial benefits which Allah (SWT) has created for us to benefit from. There are many methods of treatment and different types of cure but we understand that chemical remedies are not the answer.
A person suffering from things such as depression, anxiety and so on should hasten to increase their faith and their trust in Allah (SWT). He should increase in his supplications and in his prayers. If he does that, his anxiety will be removed. Seeking to relax by means of doing acts of worship has a great effect on the soul and in dispelling many types of psychological ailments. Usually a person would visit a psychologist whose beliefs are corrupt in Allah (SWT), let alone one who is a Kaafir. The more the doctor knows about Allah (SWT) and His religion, the better the advice he can give to his patient.
Allah (SWT) says: “Whosoever works righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a true believer, verily to him We will give a good life and We shall certainly pay them a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do (i.e. Paradise)” (An-Nahl: 97)
It was narrated that Suhayb (RAA) said: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “How wonderful is the affair of the believer; for all of his affairs are good; and this applies to no one except the believer. If something good happens to him, he gives thanks and that is good for him; and if something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him.” (Muslim – 2999)
It is important to understand that this world should not be the main concern for the Muslim. Worrying about his provisions should not find any room in his heart or mind lest that make his sickness and anxieties worse. Narrated from Anas (RAA), the Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever is concerned mainly about the Hereafter, Allah (SWT) will make him feel independent of others and will make him focused and content, and his worldly affairs will fall into place. But whoever is concerned mainly with this world, Allah (SWT) will make him feel in constant need of others and will make him distracted and unfocused, and he will get nothing of this world except what was decreed for him.” (Tirmidhi – 2389, classed as saheeh by Al-Albaani in saheeh al-Jaami – 6510).
Ibn al-Qayyim (RA) said: “When a person spends his entire day with no other concern but Allah (SWT) alone, Allah (SWT) will take care of all his needs and take care of all that which is worrying him. He will empty his heart so that it will be filled only with love for Him, free his tongue so that it will speak only in remembrance of Him (dhikr) and cause all his faculties to work only in obedience to Him. However, if a person spends his entire day with no other concern but this world, Allah (SWT) will make him bear its distress, anxiety and pain. He will leave him to sort himself out and cause his heart to be distracted from the love of Allah (SWT) towards the love of some created being, cause his tongue to speak only in remembering people instead of remembering Him and cause him to use his talents and energy in obeying and serving them. So he will strive hard, labouring like some work-animal to serve something other than Allah. Everyone who turns away from being a true slave of Allah and obeying Him and loving Him will be burdened with servitude, love and obedience to some created being. Allah (SWT) says: “And whosoever turns away (i.e blinds himself) from the remembrance of the Most Beneficent, We appoint for him a shaytaan to be a Qareen (intimate companion) to him.” (Az-Zukhruf: 36) [Al-Fawaa’id, p. 159]
Shaykh ibn Uthaymeen (RA) was asked:
Can a believer become mentally ill? What is the treatment for that according to the Sharee’ah? Please note that modern medicine treats these illnesses with modern medicines only.
Undoubtedly a person may suffer from psychological or mental diseases, such as anxiety about the future and regret for the past. Psychological diseases affect the body more than physical diseases affect it. Treating these diseases by means of the things prescribed in Shariah (i.e Ruqya) is more effective than treating them with physical medicines, as is well known. One of the means of treating them is mentioned in the Sahih Hadeeth from Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (RAA), wherein the Prophet: “There is no-one who is afflicted by distress and grief, and says: ‘Allaahumma inni ‘abduka ibn ‘abdika ibn amatika naasiyati bi yadik, maada fiyya hukmuk, ‘adlun fiyya qadaa’uk. As’aluka bi kulli ismin huwa lak, sammayta bihi nafsak, aw anzaltahu fi kitaabik, aw ‘allamtahu ahadan min khalqik, aw ista’tharta bihi fi ‘ilm il-ghayb ‘indak, an taj’al al-Qur’aana rabee’ qalbi, wa noora sadri, wa jalaa’ huzni wa dhihaab hammi. (O Allah, I am Your slave, son of Your slave, son of Your maidservant; my forelock is in Your hand, Your command over me is forever executed and Your decree over me is just. I ask You by every name belonging to You which You have named Yourself with, or revealed in Your Book, or You taught to any of Your creation, or You have preserved in the knowledge of the Unseen with You, that You make the Qur’an the life of my heart and the light of my breast, and a departure for my sorrow and a release for my anxiety),’ but Allah will take away his distress and grief, and replace it with joy.” This is one of the remedies prescribed in Shariah.
One can also say “Laa ilaaha illa Anta, Subhaanaka inni kuntu min adh-dhaalimeen (none has the right to be worshipped but You, Glorified and Exalted be You above all the evil they associate with You! Truly, I have been of the wrongdoers)” [Al-Anbiyah: 87]
Whoever wants to know more than that should refer to what the scholars have written about dhikr, such as al-Waabil al-Sayyib by ibn Al-Qayyim, Al-Kalim at-Tayyib by Shaykh Al-Islam ibn Taymiyyah, al-Adhkaar by An-Nawawi, Zaad al-Ma’aad by ibn al-Qayyim.
However because people’s faith is weak nowadays, they are less receptive to the remedies prescribed in Shariah. You find nowadays people have started to rely on physical medicines more than on the remedies prescribed in Shariah. But when a person’s faith is strong, the remedies prescribed in Shariah are completely effective and may work faster than physical medicine. We all know about the story of the man whom the Prophet () sent on a campaign and he camped near some Arab people but those people near whom he camped showed him no hospitality at all. Allah (SWT) willed that their leader should be stung by a scorpion and they said to one another, “Go to those people who have camped nearby, perhaps you will find a Raaqi (one who can recite Ruqya) with them.” The Sahaabah said to them, “We will not recite Ruqya for your leader unless you give us such and such a number of sheep.” They said, “Fine.” So one of the Sahaabah went and recited Ruqya for the one who had been stung. He only recited Surat al-Faatihah throughout and the one who had been stung got up as if released from a chain.
Reciting al-Faatihah had such an effect on this man because it came from a heart that was filled with faith. The Prophet ﷺ asked him, “How did you come to know that it (i.e Surat al-Faatihah) could be recited as a Ruqya?”
But in these times when religious commitment and faith have become weak, people have started to rely on external physical medicines and as a result they are suffering.
But on the other hand there are charlatans who play with people’s minds; they are clever and able to trick people, claiming that they are good reciters of Ruqya when in fact they are consuming people’s wealth unlawfully. Therefore you find people are caught between two extremes; one extreme is those who think that Ruqya has no effect at all and the other is those tricksters who play with people’s minds by reciting false and deceitful readings. [Fataawa Islamiyyah, 4/465, 466]
We ask Allah (SWT) to protect us from all types of anxiety and worries and to open our hearts to faith, guidance and tranquility.