Bhen Tahera Saifuddin shukran for seeking advice on the perspective of Islam on mental health. Your query kickstarted a chain of thoughts on the subject, which I would like to share with netizens.
Those who come to seek mental health support, can be broadly divided into two categories. One the financially weaker section, overwhelmed and overburdened with health, education and day to day making a living problems. Second seemingly fortunate, who have all the 'creature comforts' but are burdened with moral decadence, one-upmanship, hypocrisy and largely unfulfilled life.
Assuming that people from both the groups come to seek consultation and they comprise of practicing Muslims, the saying of Amir-ul-mumineen Moula Ali (S.A.) will surely give you direction and solace.
' Know with full conviction that Allah has not fixed for any person, more livelihood than what has been ordained in the Writing of Destinity, even though his means (of seeking it) may be great, his craving for it intense and his efforts for it acute; nor does the weakness of a person or the paucity of his means, stand in the way between what is ordained in the Book of Destinity and himself.
He who realizes this and acts upon it, is the best of them all in point of comfort and benefit; while he who disagrees it, and doubts it exceeds all men in disadvantages.
Very often a favored person is being slowly driven (towards punishment) through those favors ; and very often an afflicted person is being done good through his affliction.
Therefore, O ! Listener, increase your gratefulness, lessen your haste and stay in the bounds of your livelihood.'
Here the point I would like to emphasize is .... Very often a favored person is being slowly driven (towards punishment) through those favors.
This refers to the second group, and if he/she is a practicing Muslim, you can advice him/her to detach themselves from 'creature comforts' and cravings, to undertake purposeful social activities, that will surely uplift the spirit and bring solace to the troubled mind. They should be made to understand that - to make a living and to make life worth living are not the same. In order to make life worth living - one should practice, detachment.
Now 'detachment' does not mean going into the deep woods with a groin cloth and 'kamandal' . Detachment means to live a life as lived by our revered Doat Kiram and hudood fozadhala kirams. Detachment as enshrined in the day to day life of our beloved Aqa Moula (TUS) An example will suffice.
Aqa Moula (TUS) happens to be the most traveled in our community, but he is not addicted to 'air travel' . He uses frequent air travels as a means to reach out to his mumineens for the greater good.
Now this concept of 'reaching out' to those underprivileged than you, will surely change ones unfulfilled and spiritually bereft life, and make the life radiant and glowing. Whenever, I think of this 'reaching out' aspect, whenever, I try to 'reach out' to people, for some unexplained reasons, my thoughts travel to those bygone era, during the most difficult period of our community history, Molai Rajsaheb 'reached out' to the members of a community, who had withdrawn into a shell on account of relentless persecution and false propaganda, by those in power. His 'reaching out' was truly unique , in the annals of our dawat history.
If a rich, unfulfilled person, there are thousands and thousands in this world, adopts this 'sirat' he will surely find succor, salvation and mental peace.
Now turning our attention to the first group, which may be forming a large part, seeking advice and answers. Believing Muslims, following the 'tenets' of Islam in true spirit, often find that their worldly passage, is the most difficult one, they suffer all manners of hardship and deprivation.
Why it has happen to me/us is the common refrain of those who seek advice and help.If a person comes to you being overburdened and constrained with worldly miseries on all sides, you can quote Moula Ali (S.A.) who has said: ' and very often an afflicted person is being done good through his affliction ' Chances are he will listen, but will not believe.
So in order to strengthen your belief, I would share a part of my private life 25 years down the line I was the one who was desperately seeking the answer - why it has to me ? My two sons died in infancy on account of birth related problems, and I could not bear to see them suffer aggressive and very painful medical therapy.
I was completely shaken and confused, but Alhamdo'lilah ! I held steadfast. I distinctly recall finding mental peace in prayers and tilawat, I use to recite with fervor and developed a unique style of recitation of the Qasida Mubaraka ' Banul mustafal mukhtare...' of Muqaddas Moula Taher Saifuddin saheb (A.Q.) The following lines appealed to me the most.
'la'in dhayyaqad duniya alayya fa in-nani - if ever I face restrain in affairs of this world
be taeedekum ys saadati ghairodhaeqi ' - I never feel constrained because of your taeed O my leaders !
Looking back my life has changed for the better, I am a more fulfilled person, although I do not own or drive a Merc, still traveling by public transport. However, I live a very satisfied life, reaching out to people, understanding their sufferings and emphasizing with them. Understanding the aspirations and dreams of the youth, the limitations and constrains of the elderly. My writings mirror the state of my mind. (www.hikmaah.com)
Moulana Ali (S.A.) saying ' that an afflicted person is being done good...' is so true in my life. By sharing a part of my life, I have helped in making netizens understand the depth of Moula Ali's saying. Hope my thought will help many, who choose to read it. You are welcome to share your thoughts and comments.
May Allah grant our beloved Aqa Moula (TUS) sehato afiyat-ta- kiyamat. Ameen.
Abde Syedna (TUS)
Asgar Fakhrudin - Kolkata