A Frenchman sadly committed suicide in the holiest city of Islam on the 9th of June 2017.
Every year millions of Muslims travel to Mekkah and Medina to perform pilgrimage. The trip is one of the five pillars of Islam, with exceptions for those who are unable to make the travel.
The trip encourages people to forget about the worldliness of life, but rather focus on spiritual development and your relationship with the creator.
Pilgrims wear simple and plain clothes, dedicates their time to prayer and religious rituals.
Hajj acts as a reminder of the concept of unity, bringing together races and creeds from across the world. Dressing in the same clothing, performing the same rituals and being gathered in congregational prayer together stresses that individuals are part of a community of brotherhood- the Ummah.
However, even in the busiest and most diverse of communities, individuals can still feel alone. Depression, and other mental health illnesses can affect anybody, in any context, a part of any community.
Whenever we hear of a case of suicide, we begin to wonder how the person must have felt, lonely, lost, depressed. How their family must be feeling, torn, distraught, to blame even. With this, we must be sensitive to the situation, never speculate, never judge, for it can affect any of us.
Society is more open to talking about mental health now, but how about the Muslim society? Are we discussing these issues as much as we should be in Mosques? Are the khutbas covering seeking medical help if you are feeling vulnerable to depression or thoughts of suicide.
Individuals suffering may feel isolated, and the mosque is their retreat. Imams, as leaders of the mosque, as councillors and advisers, must use the opportunity to speak out about mental health, offer support and guide individuals to medical advice. They must be adequately trained to spot the signs of depression, and to offer advice, even if this is at a rudimentary level. It is easy to remind those suffering that there are people out there worse off, after all, they have a roof over their head and food in the fridge, so much to be grateful for, but mental illness is not that simple.
The scope of mental illnesses is huge, and we cannot pinpoint how someone may be feeling, but being told to spend more time in prostration will not ease their pain. Do you think they have not tried this? Do not undermine the individual, but rather offer support, talk through things, and encourage them to seek medical advice.
If you know of a member of your community who has faced unfortunate circumstances, talk through it with them. Grief, divorce, rape, must be discussed openly not kept locked inside, building up till we are lost in our thoughts.
Yes, God tests those he loves, and yes, be patient because with adversity comes ease, but do not shy away from speaking about how you feel, do not shy from seeking a professional to help you cope with adversity. This will enable you to remain patient.
Link to Sakina Counselling video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SS0ZpyolkAU
Link to Sakina Website: http://www.wycombemosque.com/sakina
Link to Inspired Minds: https://inspiritedminds.org.uk/
— Inspirited Minds (@InspiritedMinds) June 7, 2018
Barking Mosque Counselling Link – http://barkingmosque.org.uk/project/counselling/