Muslim Mental Health (MMH) is on the rise, its ascent driven by a growing awareness that Muslims must finally take mental illness more seriously. Such is a viewpoint not only shared by a growing number of Muslim grassroots movements, but increasingly recognized by the upper echelons of the health industry. The purpose of this post is not to unpack what MMH is or how it should look - though this is important - but rather to propose an element which MMH cannot deny: the political context of MMH. To explain, let me preface this discussion by summarizing how, in my estimation, our (grassroots organizations, health institutions, etc.) desire to ‘improve MMH’ boils down to two, interrelated objectives: cultural sensitivity and stigma reduction.
I was told many things about parenting, but two thoughts are often missing. First, you’ll see time fly. Yes, time always flies, but now it eats and poops and says new words, and then poops again, gets bigger, and learns something new. Then the day is gone, and the next day ushers more novelty unlike the days before. Before becoming a father, there was a casual monotony in my everyday that made any of the last ten years seem indistinguishable. Sometimes I can’t tell if a memory belongs to 2006 or 2013. But now time is encapsulated in a small but growing body; a recall trick that reminds me exactly what year it is by association of its temporal embodiment. A good reminder that we are all creatures of time.
The second realization was how terribly easy it is to hand down our anxieties to our children. This process resembles how children are socialised to associate emotions to various situations. If I, the father, have a fear of spiders, my reaction is appropriated by my two-year old who's scanning my face to emulate a response and decipher its meaning. Though temperament will undoubtedly factor in the child’s reaction, I fear parents (or caregivers) may belittle the fact that they are the physical embodiment of their children’s sense of security - always and everywhere.
Faith is a river that ebbs and flows through uneven terrain. Look at it from a distance and you will see, in time, how the shifting landscape changes the river’s course. Sometimes the geography can even bring the river to a halt.
The loss of faith is not an easy subject to discuss, though it arouses curiosity among the religious and non-religious alike. Moreover, personal experiences of losing faith differ greatly. I will make a distinction here between those relieved and those distressed by their loss in faith. This distinction serves little more than to filter those suffering in their faith (a ‘crisis in faith’) from those who are not. The purpose of this article is to reflect on a particular form of spiritual anguish.