For most Muslim men, opening up about their mental health issues is not a mere question mark on their masculinity, but rather a never-ending and vicious cycle of raising their voice against societal expectations and deeply-rooted stereotypes.
Research reveals that Muslim men are twice as likely to commit suicide as those of other faith and non-faith groups. Yet, experts believe these numbers are significantly higher- as most of them are forced to suffer in silence rather than seek the support they truly deserve.
During this "Men's mental health week," let us acknowledge the indisputable reality that men of faith are equally marred with mental and emotional turbulences. It is also a reminder that Islam does not dispel these moments of despair and susceptibility, rather empowers them to embark on the transformative journey of healing, resilience and personal growth.
While Islam encourages us to remain steadfast in our belief that every misfortune or affliction we encounter is just a worldly test, it also accentuates seeking expert assistance and support when we are in dire need. At ImamConnect, we are deeply committed to providing the highest quality mental health support and guidance- grounded on Islamic principles and evidence-based practices. Our dedicated team of Mental Health Counsellors offer a safe and non-judgmental space for you to explore the depths of your emotions, assisting you to find meaning, purpose and hope.
Despite the rising trend of mental health issues among Muslim men globally, experts claim that most cases go unreported due to higher levels of religiosity, societal and family pressures, limited awareness, inequitable access to healthcare support and associated stigma and shame.
Most Muslim men raised within patriarchal households are conditioned from an early age that they have a crucial role in shouldering their family's financial burdens. They are also expected to be tough, strong and stoic, adhering to the confines of societal expectations and traditional gender roles- putting an added strain on living up to the perceived ideals of masculinity.
However, the real question is: Why can't men embrace their masculinity without compromising their emotional and mental well-being? Why can't we collectively foster healthier notions of what it means to be a man- allowing them to freely share their vulnerabilities without attacking their stature or undermining their strength?
Well, the reason lies in our reluctance to dismantle centuries-old cultural and social taboos and misconceptions revolving around mental health and men. Such averseness forces them to suffer in silence carrying their agony within- holding back from tapping into the transformative power of faith to cure their challenges.
Islam encourages its adherents to actively seek solace and support during testing times, while instructing them to broaden their knowledge and understanding to maintain a healthy balance between worldly pursuits and the eternal life hereafter. As Muslims, it is crucial to have this unwavering belief that Allah is the ultimate guiding force, capable of healing hearts and minds. In Surah Ash-Sharh, Ayat 5, Allah states: "So, surely with hardship comes ease."
Verily we must remember that it is He who bestows us with the resilience to deter adversaries, protecting and empowering us to triumph over the trials of life with utmost grace, gratitude and perseverance. In Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayat 286, Allah says: "Allah does not require of any soul more than what it can afford.
Even in moments of despair, we must not seek refuge in the yearning for death, as Anas bin Malik reported that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, "None of you should wish for death because of a calamity befalling him." (Sahih al-Bukhari 5671, Book 75, Hadith 31)
While the literature and research on the intersection of mental well-being and religiosity is still evolving, there is growing evidence that religious practices can lead to positive mental health outcomes. According to a research article, reciting or listening to the Holy Quran can have a profound impact, as it holds the intrinsic power to heal and diminish the after-effects of chronic stress, depression and anxiety. Also, mindful Prayer or Salah, has been found to influence brain regions linked with regulating emotions and diminishing anxiety.
Experts and religious scholars claim that religion not only gives you a sense of purpose and direction in life, but is a crucial indicator of determining mental well-being, replete with guidance on tolerance, psychological resilience and perseverance. In Surah Al Hijr, Verse 97, Allah says: "We certainly know that your heart is truly distressed by what they say. So glorify the praises of your Lord and be one of those who 'always' pray."
Furthermore, Islam also endorses the concept of a close-knit Ummah or community, accentuating the importance of forging meaningful connections for sustenance and personal growth. As Muslims, it is a religious and moral obligation to look beyond our personal needs and lend a helping hand to those in need. Nu'man b. Bashir reported Allah's Messenger (PBUH) as saying: "The similitude of believers in regard to mutual love, affection, fellow-feeling is that of one body; when any limb of it aches, the whole body aches, because of sleeplessness and fever." (Sahih Muslim 2586a, Book 45, Hadith: 84).
A true faith adherent firmly believes that this world is a temporary abode and that Allah holds infinite wisdom that surpasses our limited understanding. The key here is to embrace this uncertainty, while actively seeking answers to the challenges we face in the mental health realm. We recognize that Allah is the master of our destinies, and it is only through knowledge and acceptance we can fully comprehend the intricate connection between faith and psychological well-being.
Now is the time to integrate faith into mainstream mental health conversations, empowering Muslim men to open up about their struggles and seek the support that can free them from the confines of repugnant gender. Support ImamConnect’s mission to create inclusive spaces, where mental health is prioritized and celebrated- taking the first step towards healing, emotional resilience and self-care above all.