Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Spiritual illnesses: diagnosis and treatment

All of us [with no exceptions] have been or may even be currently affected by spiritual maladies. Even if we are not currently, almost certainly we will be hit with them in the future. Indeed, we all have been  physically sick in our lives, in both major and minor ways, and it will happen again during the dying process.

Spiritual afflictions are transmitted through a multitude of avenues, such as our family members, friends outside the home, by the television programs [note the word "Program"] we watch, the music we listen to, even by the food we consume [FT.#1]. It is to be noted that the younger one is, the healthier one is spiritually[Ft.2].

Just as with physical ailments, spiritual illnesses can be a passing experience. On the other hand, it can also last many years, requiring exhaustive treatment and  long-term care. Having been cured of the illness does not negate the possibility of experiencing it again, especially if the medical instructions and subsequent advice was not followed through in a consistent fashion.

The Qur'an describes itself as a healing for those who believe in God [ Q 10:57]. So it, along with the Prophet [peace be upon him], act as the prescription for our ailments. We hope to have a glance at how Islam broadly diagnoses illnesses and treatment.

Build your immune system

The religion of Islam attempts to instill a sort of healthy foundation beginning with birth and lasting till death. Indeed, from the Prophet's Sunnah [Sunan Tirmidhee, Kitaab al adhiyaa 1514] we have that the Adhaan, or call to prayer, is made in the ear of the new born. Prayer is enjoined on children at an early age, and throughout the life of a Muslim, God's name is pronounced regularly as a part of daily life. These are some of the healthy injections. The five pillars of Islam, attending the Friday Prayers, reading and listening to the Qur'an, adhering to the basic ethical standards of the faith[ FT.3]. Consider the above as exercise, part of healthy living, All humans get sick at some point of their lives and all humans eventually experience physical death, however the [spiritually] healthy life will be more rewarding in the long term.

What are some of the main displays of a spiritual illness?

[1] Stubbornness: When sticking to the same position, practice or opinion, even though it's plainly dangerous. One example is smoking cigarettes[FT# 4]. It's harm is well-known, yet many smokers will dispute this by providing anecdotal accounts regarding others who lived till 100 yet still smoked. In spiritual health, one should always be seeking a better way to be connected with Allah.

There is a lesson found in the following supplication attributed to the Messenger of Allah, Sall Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam. O Allah, show me truth as truth, and provide me with the ability to follow it, and falsehood as falsehood, and the ability to abstain from it. اللهُمَّ أَرِنَا الحَقَّ حَقّاً وَارْزُقْنَا التِبَاعَةَ وَأَرِنَا البَاطِلَ بَاطِلاً وَارْزُقْنَا اجْتِنَابَهُ،
So we should be seeking truth in order to benefit from it. This is particularly important to the leaders and lecturers. You are teaching people, and to teach, one must be a willing and consistent student. When truth is identified and it is clear, we should- for our own sake- embrace it.

Imam Ash Shafi'ee [ d. 820 CE] is reported to have said, upon debating other scholars "I debate believing I am right and my opponent wrong, but I am also conscious that I may be wrong, and my opponent right."  That  statement is a sign of a truly healthy soul.

[2] Lack of empathy: A particular problem of our age. We see so much violence in our entertainment and our news that we no longer are surprised. We lose our empathy. To feel for others when they are in a bad situation is a sign of a healthy heart. To be emotionally touched by loved ones, children or even animals, is a sign of a healthy heart, even if that goodness is buried deep down- making it hard for others to see.

The Prophet Muhammad- upon whom be peace and the choicest of blessings, observed that the strong man is not the one who can wrestle another down, but one who can restrain himself while angry [Bazzaar].

This Hadeeth is particularly relevant, as in our age strength is determined by the amount of weapons and money at the disposal of one's nation or person.

[3] Sinful behavior:  The mainstreaming of irreligious ethos has made acceptable many things which was considered shameful in the past. When we discuss sinful behavior here, we mean that things which are clearly Haraam according to the religious texts has been made lawful, in the name of religion.  This weekend saw a failed attack on a "draw Muhammad" event in Texas. How can murder be made lawful as a Muslim? To add salt to the wound, it was said to have been staged to defend the Messenger of Allah. Yet, the Messenger of Allah, Sall Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam, was told repeatedly by God to simply withdraw from the company of those insulting the signs of Allah [ Q 4:140, 6:69, also see 6:108, which says Muslims aren't even supposed to ridicule the idols of the Mushrikeen].

Another example of mainstreaming sinful behavior is something widely promoted in the media, homosexual activity allegedly justified by Islam. An openly homosexual "Imam" by the name of Daa'iyee Abdullah, is constantly on the interview circuit, complete with a beard [in keeping with Sunnah] and a cap. It's one thing to have a weakness, but to lie about it, to justify it by misrepresenting the faith, and to even form an institution to promote it, is indeed a sign of a serious spiritual illness. It's better to just say "I have a weakness, and hope for God's forgiveness" than to search out loopholes on something that is beyond reasonable doubt.[Ft.#5]


This post is by no means meant to be exhaustive, but rather it's simply food, nay, a snack for thought. Are our beliefs, actions and attitudes in accordance with the Divine truths? Do we try to be better than we are today?

If we are questioning ourselves, then there is still hope. There is hope that we won't spiritually die in this life. So let us be a people who are constantly at work, striving to be healthy in all areas of our existence.


[1] Most religions have dietary codes as well as supplications to be recited during meals. From the Prophet's Sunnah, we are told to say Bismillah [In the name of God] before eating, praising God afterwards [Alhamdulillaah]. The Qur'an tells us to not eat meat slaughtered in the name of other than God as well [ 6:118, 6:121. 5:4].

[2] The Christian Gospel reports that Jesus [upon whom be peace] told his followers to become like little Children, if they want to enter into the Paradise. Matthew 18:3. The Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] observed that "Every child is born on the pattern [Al-Fitrah]". That Hadeeth [we have only quoted a portion] is understood to mean that all are born in a state of purity, of submission to God's will, and [as the remaining portions of the narration state] that society will change that child into something different. 

[3] Qur'an 25: 63-76 has the basic ethical code in Islam.

[4] Most scholars of Islam don't view Cigarettes or Tobacco products as forbidden, but only as Makrooh [disliked]. Even with that said, the harm is well-known and even printed on the packages.

[5] Homosexuals from Muslim ranks have basically picked up the same sort of arguments from their Christian counterparts to justify their activities.Lot ['Alayhis salaam] was, according to them, sent to condemn rape and highway robbery. This argument holds no water whatsoever when we see that the text has it that Lot says directly "are you approaching males, and not females?" [Q 7:80]