Navigating Mental Wellness As A Muslim

by Helmy Sa'at

We have been through so much for nearly two years now since the emergence of the, still ongoing, world health challenge — Covid-19. As the pace of recovery picks up with the cautious and gradual reopening of physical borders, that does not mean we are unshackled from the pains of having to deal with the pandemic emotionally.

One major concern which none of us has escaped unscathed is the infliction of “pandemic fatigue.” According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), pandemic fatigue refers to “people … feeling demotivated about following recommended behaviours to protect themselves and others from the virus.” This encroaches into mental health where we are constantly battling negative feelings and emotions which could very easily overwhelm us. It could potentially envelop us in a bubble of darkness and depression, if we do not remain vigilant.

Go Back To Basics

We are constantly pulled in many different directions based on our unique familial and societal roles and responsibilities. Before we are fully capable of taking care of others in our lives, we need to make sure that we are well. Start small, with our daily habits.

Adhere to a balanced diet. Exercise regularly. Get sufficient sleep. Heard it all before? As a Muslim, we would have also heard such additional advice, mostly without knowing the rationale behind it: Perform the ablution before sleeping, especially when you are facing some sort of distress, and sleep facing your right.

Such advice stems from the emulation of Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ sleeping habits. As narrated by Al-Bara ‘bin `Azib:

The Prophet ﷺ said to me, “Whenever you go to bed perform ablution like that for the prayer, lie on your right side and say,

اللَّهُمَّ أَسْلَمْتُ وَجْهِي إِلَيْكَ، وَفَوَّضْتُ أَمْرِي إِلَيْكَ، وَأَلْجَأْتُ ظَهْرِي إِلَيْكَ، رَغْبَةً وَرَهْبَةً إِلَيْكَ، لاَ مَلْجَأَ وَلاَ مَنْجَا مِنْكَ إِلاَّ إِلَيْكَ، اللَّهُمَّ آمَنْتُ بِكِتَابِكَ الَّذِي أَنْزَلْتَ، وَبِنَبِيِّكَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلْتَ

O Allah! I surrender to You and entrust all my affairs to You and depend upon You for Your Blessings both with hope and fear of You. There is no fleeing from You, and there is no place of protection and safety except with You O Allah! I believe in Your Book (the Qur’an) which You have revealed and in Your Prophet (Muhammad) whom You have sent.”

[Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 247]

Complete such sleeping routine with the following prayers – Surah Al-Falaq and Surah An-Nas. Narrated ‘Aisha:

حَدَّثَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ بْنُ سَعِيدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا الْمُفَضَّلُ، عَنْ عُقَيْلٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ شِهَابٍ، عَنْ عُرْوَةَ، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم كَانَ إِذَا أَوَى إِلَى فِرَاشِهِ كُلَّ لَيْلَةٍ جَمَعَ كَفَّيْهِ ثُمَّ نَفَثَ فِيهِمَا فَقَرَأَ فِيهِمَا ‏{‏قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ‏}‏ وَ‏{‏قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ الْفَلَقِ‏}‏ وَ‏{‏قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ النَّاسِ‏}‏ ثُمَّ يَمْسَحُ بِهِمَا مَا اسْتَطَاعَ مِنْ جَسَدِهِ يَبْدَأُ بِهِمَا عَلَى رَأْسِهِ وَوَجْهِهِ وَمَا أَقْبَلَ مِنْ جَسَدِهِ يَفْعَلُ ذَلِكَ ثَلاَثَ مَرَّاتٍ‏.‏

Whenever the Prophet ﷺ went to bed every night, he used to cup his hands together and blow over it after reciting Surah Al-Ikhlas, Surah Al-Falaq and Surah An-Nas, and then rub his hands over whatever parts of his body he was able to rub, starting with his head, face and front of his body. He used to do that three times.

[Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 5017]

Let’s Talk About Me, For Real

It is the first step to nurturing healthy minds. Talk to a friend, write in your diary or share it on your Twitter account. Get it off your chest. Usually the first step is the most difficult to start with, but it is worth it. Help ourselves by lifting some of that emotional weight off our shoulders which has been draining us emotionally and physically for so long.

This is in alignment with what the WHO has identified as one of the key strategies in combating pandemic fatigue: Acknowledge and address the hardship. Find that support group in your community. We need to realise that what we are experiencing could very well be unique to each individual; however, such experiences are shared by the global ummah which cut across physical and cultural boundaries.

Validate our feelings and take that step towards healing ourselves emotionally. Get professional medical assistance, if need be. Check out support groups in your communities.

Contextualise Your Blessings

Finland has, once again, emerged as the world’s happiest country. One way social scientists have measured the all elusive concept of happiness is by studying social support which has an impact on mental health risks based on how governments respond to crises, particularly the pandemic. One reason that propelled Finland to the top being “high levels of trust in the way the COVID-19 pandemic was handled.”

However, this does not mean that every Finnish is skipping through the fields of Oulanka National Park in Kuusamo, avoiding depression, for instance. Besides such tangible governmental support system, another opinion has surfaced which argued that “one has to experience one’s life as meaningful” in order to be truly happy.

Happiness rooted in one’s meaningful life. Complicated? Yes. A priority? Yes. Achievable? Absolutely!

As a global Muslim in today’s climate, our sense of being and worth is usually tied to our identity. We thrive in an environment that provides opportunities for growth, not only for friends and family, but ourselves. Find that passion and follow it. Be it volunteerism, painting or learning more about Islam; no passion is too trivial if it makes you smile, brings you happiness, invigorates your soul and helps in finding that right balance for you in life.

Mental wellness is something we need to constantly nurture and not let ourselves, and others (psst! share this article with someone else and encourage them to do the same), be swept away by the routine monotony of daily life. We deserve happiness through a peace of mind.

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26 Comments

  1. Sue

    Have to agree that we do need to let it out from our chest. Thank you for this insightful article and it is easy for me to digest the intention of this article.

    Reply
    • Helmy Sa'at

      Salam Sue,
      We’re glad you found it insightful and easy to digest. What other kind of content would you like to see more on our website? Your suggestions are greatly appreciated and we hope to create better content for our community.

      Reply
  2. Zain

    Thank you for this well written article. Mental wellbeing is extremely important at this point of time.

    Reply
    • Helmy Sa'at

      Salam Zain,
      We really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with us. What other kind of content would you like to see more on our website? Your suggestions are greatly appreciated.

      Reply
  3. Akbar

    Putting fact with personal experience is a wise move in an article. I am practicing some of it that is mentioned in the article. Everyone deserves happiness and it is only the matter on how you decipher your own happiness. Thank you for the well informed article.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      As Salaam Alaikum much appreciated

      Reply
  4. Saeed

    Great article, baraka-Allahu fik.
    May Allah bless you.

    Reply
  5. Khadijah

    This article is really insightful and I needed this to help my mum who is currently not well. I believe she is suffering a relapse of her previous depression illness and I am struggling to help her as it is hard! But May Allah make it easy for her. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Helmy Sa'at

      Salam Khadijah,
      We’re glad you found it insightful. We really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

      Reply
  6. Nooman

    As salaam Alaikum
    I have been victim of post Covid-19 fatigue, which im battling within myself to overcome dince 4 months , I have been practicing all bedtime supplication mentioned in Hadiths and also joined fitness classes.
    Please pray for healthy & happier life for entire Ummah & mankind
    Thanks for the release of this article on subject matter.

    Reply
  7. Yahaya

    Great indeed

    Reply
  8. Atif jamal aldin

    Thank for this post it’s really tells how things are going on in this world we live in and have to cope with Sacity which we live in Shurkran jazak allah kharim

    Reply
    • Helmy Sa'at

      Salam Atif,
      Thank you for your feedback. What other kind of content would you like to see more on our website? Your suggestions are greatly appreciated and we hope to create better content for our community.

      Reply
  9. LaMaya Barefield

    Today was a great day and reading this made it even better.., thanks for the reminders, and assurance that I’m not the only one! We all need a little assurance sometimes ! I hope everyone is well and in good mental health during these times.

    Reply
    • Helmy Sa'at

      Salam LaMaya,
      Thank you for your feedback. We really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

      Reply
  10. Abou Dramane TRAORE

    Really inspirational and very informative and helpful. Thank for such great piece of literature.

    Reply
    • Helmy Sa'at

      Salam Abou,
      We’re glad you found it inspirational, very informative and helpful. What other kind of content would you like to see more on our website? Your suggestions are greatly appreciated and we hope to create better content for our community.

      Reply
  11. Brotherman7

    Alhamdulillah all the time. I wish I wasn’t going through life alone, but Social Distancing is prescribed during these times. Salat is the exercise. I keep it moving.

    Reply
  12. Nailah

    Mental health is a must!

    Reply
  13. Hajra

    Well written and very relatable!

    Reply
    • Helmy Sa'at

      Salam Hajra,
      We’re glad you enjoyed it. What other kind of content would you like to see more on our website? Your suggestions are greatly appreciated and we hope to create better content for our community.

      Reply
  14. Assane

    Maa sha Allah. Great article and definitely a reminder for all us to Maintain emotional and spiritual balance as many of us have been through a lot this year. I would definitely love to see more articles for islamic meditation and the benefits of zikr.

    Reply
    • Helmy Sa'at

      Salam Assane,
      Thank you for your feedback. We’re really glad you found it helpful. Your suggestions are greatly appreciated. In the meantime, do check out other articles – ‘5 Tips to Fill Your Time Meaningfully During the Pandemic’ and more.

      Reply
  15. Simmu

    Mind health is must

    Reply
  16. Santos Kisak

    I have been reading out a few of your articles and it’s pretty nice stuff. I will surely bookmark your site.

    Reply

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