LAST_UPDATEWed, 21 Mar 2018 9am

Islam Has Been Therapeutic For My Mental Health, I Don’t Care What People Have To Say

‘How can you be Muslim when x, y, z…?’ Blah blah blah. *Yawn*

The number of times I’ve had discussions (arguments) with people trying to convince me God is problematic is ridiculous.

Whatever your opinion, my religion has been good for my mental health.

I’m not sure what it is about religion, especially among the non-believers, that aggravates people so much when you tell them you believe in one God, a heaven and hell, and consequences of your actions.

It’s like people don’t want to be told they’re going to burn in hell if they don’t abide by God’s rules?

No, but seriously, I have never told anyone to believe in my religion, let alone preach about the fiery pits of hell.

Though I do believe in all the traditional laws of Islam which focuses on unity and congregation, I believe that religion is a deeply personal thing.

Only when you have agency over it will you reap the benefits of faith. Religion isn’t for everyone. Loads of people grow out of it when they grow up. Loads believe purely because their families do. Meanwhile others take the time to learn about it and find empowerment in it.

I believe because I want to, and one of the personal benefits I’ve felt is how therapeutic it’s been for me.

My internal stability – my thoughts and actions, how I perceive myself, both good, bad – or in other words, my mental health, have all been coloured by my religious beliefs.

Thankfully, I don’t suffer from any disorders but when I gets bouts of anxiety or feel myself sinking into a depression, it’s God I turn to.

It’s these times when I feel like there’s nothing left and I can’t bear to be around people and it feels like I’m going to burst, that having a God I believe in is especially helpful.

For example, and this may be a basic tenet of any religion or philosophy, but telling myself that everything happens for a reason and that it is as God ordained helps me in situations where I feel helpless.

There are so many Islamic sayings and proverbs that might be cliche to some, but have helped me in times of calamity.

‘This, too, will pass’, and ‘be in this world as a traveller’ are a few mantras that I’ve learned as a Muslim which have had a positive impact on me for its calming effect if anything.

And it’s been so good for me and informs my daily choices.

When I’m anxious or obsessing over a problem, it’s by praying and talking to God that I find solace. I’m not part of a cult, I swear.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think you can pray away mental disorders, and they can affect even the most pious of people.

But personally speaking, I feel it’s my God, my personal idea of God at least, that’s allowed my emotional wellbeing to be in good working order.

There’s therapy in unity too, and Islam propagates so much brotherhood/sisterhood so help is never far away whenever I need it.

Especially those navigating British Muslim identities, it’s nice to be reminded I’m not alone in trying to move through fringe spaces.

Ultimately religion means a private relationship, not everyone agrees, but you can’t negate something that I feel is responsible for my happiness.

It’s as it says in the Qur’an, lakum dinukum waliya deen – for you is your religion, for me is my religion.

- Faima Bakar (Metro UK)