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  • How Muslims Can Manage Bipolar Disorder With an "Allah-Centered" Plan

    Managing bipolar disorder can be a challenge for anyone, but for Muslims with this condition, it can seem especially daunting. Our faith is an important part of our lives, and we want to make sure that we honor Allah in everything we do. But how can we do that when our mental health is impaired? In this post, we will explore how Muslims with bipolar disorder can manage their condition using an "Allah-centered" plan. We will also look at some of the challenges and blessings associated with living with this condition from an Islamic perspective. May Allah help us all to overcome our struggles and find peace in His guidance. Ameen. Our Moods Change but Allah is Forever Constant Allah is Al Hayy, the Ever-Living who doesn't die and is unchanging. Allah is Al Baaqi, The Ever-Surviving, The Everlasting. Our episodes don't last. Allah does. He was always there and always will be. He is Al Awwal and Al Aakhir, The First and The Last. When our moods change or we feel like bipolar disorder is taking over, remember that Allah is always with us. Keep Him at the center of your life, not bipolar. Keep Allah at the Center, Not Bipolar When you enter into "orbit of the creation" as Yasmin Mogahed terms it, your life is consumed with what other's think of you. Creation can be anything from your loved ones, to your marital status, or job status. When things other than Allah define you and everything is going well, you are happy. And when things fall and fail and fade away, which they inevitably do as is the nature of this life, you collapse or whiter away with them. However, when Allah is your Center, not your image, your body or even how healthy you are, then you have found the secret to your success and contentment. I am not referring to happiness for that is fleeting and comes and goes but contentment is a state of being. You can be sick and locked up in the psych ward and still be content with your station as was Prophet Ayub, may peace of Allah be upon him. He was the epitome of patience, the father of patience. He had everything, from wealth, to children, friends, status and then lost it all but his faith in Allah did not waiver even when one bit. He lost everything, including his health yet he was brimming with gratitude. How do You Define Yourself? How? How could a man remain thankful even when his whole life shattered right in before his eyes? Because he did not define himself according to what he had. Rather his definition of success was how well his relationship was with his Lord and the link he had with all was impeccable. His belief in his Creation was unwavering. So when his house shook and crumbled with the storm, he didn't. That is what it means to put Allah in the center. Fashion your identity according to what Allah wants from you. But you can't know what Allah wants until you pick up His book and engage with it. Learn what makes Him happy and live by that. Foster your love for Him because what or whoever you love is what you really worship. What you fear losing most is the very thing you love most. What You Fear Losing Most is the Very Thing You Love Most If you fear losing your health, sanity and figure, then that is god. But when Allah is at your center and your mind is telling you to end your life, your spiritual heart, your qalb rises to the occasion and stops your body from killing the body Allah gave you. Does that sound too good to be true? Maybe but that is what actually happened to me. During a deadly suicide attempt, my body gave out but Allah saved me through the soul that wanted to make Him happy. Of course, there was a strong support network behind all that but in the center was, is and inshaAllah will be Allah. Manage Your Relationship With Allah then Manage Bipolar for His Sake Living for your kids and family could be motivating when you are struggling with a mental illness but you can only do that for so long. What happens when your loved ones anger you or they disappoint you. Do you still want to go on for them? Living for yourself might be better when you are plagued with a mood disorder. But what happens when you become severely suicidal? What happens when the depression takes over and your own body turns against you? Do you still feel like living for yourself? Probably not. And therein lies the problem. When we live for a "feeling" such as a desire to be happy, those emotions evade us because they are temporary. When we live for other human beings or even ourselves, we too change. We are frail and imperfect. One day we might love someone and the next day we can't even stand the thought of them. What happens then? When you have Allah at the center of your life, your world view shifts. You are not living for some other being, you are living for The One who is always there. Moreover, Our Lord is very easy to please because He outlined all that in the Quran. Is it always easy to live for Allah? No, not always but it is worth it. Will you always "feel" like praying or being patient for His sake? Probably not. So stop worshiping "what you feel like." I know that is a monumentous task when you have a MOOD disorder but trust me it is possible with practice, patience and a little support. The Challenge: Many Bipolar Symptoms Are Taboo or Haram in Islam As if bipolar symptoms weren't tough already, add to that the fact that many realities with having this disorder are forbidden in Islam such as suicide, reckless behavior like sexual promiscuity and violent behavior. Many "soft" bipolar symptoms such as unbridled anger, laziness or lethargy, snapping at loved ones or neglecting your responsibilities are also looked down upon in our faith. Moreover, it is very challenging to determine whether the disorder is bringing down your energy or you just being plain lazy. The lines between your personality and bipolar symptoms can often become very blurry. And more often than not, you will be blamed for something that the mental illness is actually causing you to do. You might know it in your gut but others will not and will be quick to label you as "moody, not ambitious, lazy, lost cause, or failure." The Blessing: Bipolar Can Bring You Closer to Allah There is a silver lining. There always is my friend. When you see all the challenges that a mental illness brings as an opportunity to get closer to your Friend, your Companion and Protector, your whole point of view shifts. There are many challenges when it comes to managing bipolar disorder within the context of Islam. Many symptoms are taboo or haram in Islam which can make it difficult for people living with bipolar disorder to seek treatment and manage their condition. However, there are also blessings that come from having bipolar disorder. This illness can bring you closer to Allah if you allow it. You must manage your relationship with Allah first, then manage bipolar disorder for His sake. With patience, determination and guidance, we can make progress in managing this illness. May Allah bless us all on this difficult path and help us to overcome any obstacle in our way.

  • Moral Intelligence Is More Important Than Emotional Intelligence

    We Need Moral Intelligence to Survive It's moral intelligence that prevents me from ending my life. I just didn't have this term to coin before. I learned this interesting lingo from Shaykh Mikaeel Ahmed Smith in his book "With the Heart in Mind - The Moral and Emotional Intelligence of the Prophet. I've been following his work for years and am struck by how relevant his work is in our social media driven world. We seem to be ever so connected but are moving further and further away from real meaningful relationships. Prophetic Intelligence I finished reading his book "With the Heart in Mind" and am now rereading it so I can do a podcast series on it inshaAllah. In this month's episode, I go over the Introduction which in itself is replete with deep and insightful knowledge. In my view, the most important takeaway from this book is this notion of "Prophetic Intelligence." Shaykh Mikaeel states that Prophetic Intelligence consists of three main things: Social Intelligence Emotional Intelligence Moral Intelligence To my knowledge and in my readings, I've only learned about social and emotional intelligence. So you can imagine my delight when I stumbled upon or rather Allah guided me to this new - at least to me - term called "Moral Intelligence." My Antidote to Suicidal Thoughts: Revelation Alhumdulillah, for decades, I was motivated by Revelation to stay away from suicide. I didn't know that I was actually practicing moral intelligence. We live in a world where "shoulds" and "oughts" are unpopular terms. People who follow religious dogma are deemed "unintelligent." Well, I love rules and religious dogma thus Shaykh Smith's words and views really resonated with me. I'm a stickler for rules because they give to the mental chaos we live in. Rules, and especially relating to morality, help me keep my mind in check. In a world, where everyone is told to "live your truth," Truth itself has become and extinct species. When everyone is doing "what they feel like" and what "makes them feel good," chaos ensues. Why? Rules are Meant to be Broken? Well, if every driver on the road makes up their own rules and drive as they feel like, then accidents ensue. My views in this post might not resonate with everyone reading this but that's okay. I'm used to saying things that are unpopular. Before reading "With the Heart in Mind," I was very conscious of being a visible Muslim. I felt like a stranger. Now I know I am a stranger because I've accepted that reality. Narrated Abdullaah ibn Mas'ood: “Indeed, Islam began as something strange, and it will return to being strange just as it began, so glad tidings of paradise be for the strangers.” Reference : Sunan Ibn Majah 3986 A Moral Compass Our modern discourse is becoming more and more devoid of a moral compass. When everyone lives their truth, then Truth itself becomes blurred. We make demigods out of our feelings and they guide us to everything, for better or worse. Divine Revelation as Our Guidance I believe that following Allah's Divine Guidance as lived by the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is crucial for our mental fitness not that we obey Allah for that reason. At the same time, following the Quran and Sunnah pleases our Lord and is actually good for us. Moreover for the purposes of this blog, I focus on the mental wellness implications of living a life that is guided, and dare I say dictated, by the Quran brings us mental peace. And in a world grappling with confusion and chaos, we could all use a little serenity.

  • Finding Balance in a Nonprofit

    Mentally Fit Muslims is finally a nonprofit...yaay alhumdulillah. But meh... all the paperwork (though it's not even a lot) has suck some of the joy and passion out of blogging and just podcasting. I guess I am a content creator now? I see that term being thrown around and I do want to aspire to something higher like nonprofit founder or writer or even podcaster. What catchy, trendy titles do you use on social media? But does the label even matter? I don't know but in Allah's sight, I don't think so. People around me think I'm morbid for thinking or talking about death all the time. But I don't see it that way. You see, suicidal thoughts are just around the corner for me. If I don't take care of myself, (and I've been called selfish for taking care of myself too much but when I don't and sick, others have to jump in and pick up the slack so my "self-care" actually ensures others are taken care of ) it's very easy to fall into depression. Looking at the bigger picture... It turns out that I have very little to write about when I'm not venting or talking about myself. Yet, I must try...for you. For the one person who is having mental health challenges but doesn't know what to do. For the one person who feels alone and is drowned by the invisible mental storms. I used to write a lot of poetry. I even did some spoken word in cafes and gatherings. I felt so alive then. So unfiltered yet composed. Writing is immersive like that. I'm also an English teacher but haven't stepped in a classroom for over a decade. I was just watching a new show "Abbott Elementary" and it just took me back. I do love teaching. It's in my soul. I just know, after experience, that the stress level of a classroom is just not me. I have tutored a lot but this, here talking to you is where I shine. I shine in the sense that I feel alive. Anyways, this blog post is a letting go. A letting go of how fluid my content was before and then the structure of a nonprofit came in and now as I find a balance between the passion and the work. I recently had another baby and I had to ignore this baby, my blog and podcast, for a while. But as my baby gets older and sits and walks, my hands are more free. So I wrote this for you...I hope it resonates and I doubt it'll solve any of your problems but I hope it makes you feel connected even with someone you can't see or hear but someone who definitely feels your pain. I wonder if I'm an empath?! Go Back Home It screams It shrills It cries But never dies It screams It shrills It cries But won't die Living in "betweens" Highs and lows Jumps and blows This is not it This can't be it

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  • Mental Health Advocacy for Muslims | Mentally Fit Muslims

    Mentally Fit Muslims is a non-profit online resource for suppor mental fitndd . It offers an alternative perspective on what it means to be mentally ill in Islam, one that's empowering instead of stigmatizing. MFM dispels misconceptions about mental illness, promotes healing through spirituality, and helps individuals take care of their minds just as they would their bodies. We provide tools for self-care through podcast episodes, blog posts, videos, eBooks and infographics. Join our mailing list Email Subscribe Thanks for subscribing! Latest Content Saba Malik Apr 20 5 min How Muslims Can Manage Bipolar Disorder With an "Allah-Centered" Plan Managing bipolar disorder can be a challenge for anyone, but for Muslims with this condition, it can seem especially daunting. Our faith... Saba Malik Feb 20 3 min Podcast Moral Intelligence Is More Important Than Emotional Intelligence We Need Moral Intelligence to Survive It's moral intelligence that prevents me from ending my life. I just didn't have this term to coin... Saba Malik Jan 28 2 min Finding Balance in a Nonprofit Mentally Fit Muslims is finally a nonprofit...yaay alhumdulillah. But meh... all the paperwork (though it's not even a lot) has suck some... Listen Now to the Mentally Fit Muslims Podcast Apple Podcast Google Podcast Stitcher Spotify YouTube Latest Videos Tips For Mental Health: What To Do When You Have Sensory Overload and Too Much Mental Stimulation ​ This video is for all of you who have ever felt like your mind was spinning out of control. I want to share with you some tips on what to do when sensory overload strikes, so that next time it happens, you can feel more in control and know the best way to take care of yourself. ​ How Muslim Moms Overcome Self-Stigma And Shame Around Postpartum Depression ​ Are you a Muslim mom who is suffering from postpartum depression? Don't worry, it's not your fault! Postpartum depression is much more common than we realize and can be very isolating. I'm here to empower you with the knowledge of how to cope with postpartum depression as a Muslim woman. ​ Bipolar Muslim Mom Successfully Overcomes Mental Health Challenges ​ IThis video is a story of a Muslim woman, Hayat Omar Hubert, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and how she overcame it. She shares her life before and after diagnosis, tells you about the treatments that helped her, and gives some tips for managing your mental health. This is not a "rah rah" motivational speech. Rather it's about how we can use our struggles as fuel to help us find success in life. ​ Visit the Mentally Fit Muslims' Youtube Channel Featured Content Our monthly podcast is available for listening on this website and all popular platforms including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and more. Podcast An archive of posts about personal experiences with mental illness, personal development topics and coaching. Blog A collection of e-books, guides, and dua's. E-Books About the Author Saba Malik is the creative mind behind Mentally Fit Muslims. Saba has been dedicated to advocating for Muslim mental health since her own diagnosis in 2005. Mentally Fit Muslim represents the culmination of over 12 years of work. Join our mailing list Email Subscribe Thanks for subscribing! Testimonials "Saba has created an incredible podcast mashaa’Allah. Peer-to-peer support, a space for Muslims living with mental illness to be able to come together and share their stories is direly needed in the Muslim community. Mentally Fit Muslims is filling that gap by providing honest stories about what it’s like to be Muslim and live with mental illness. Saba’s podcast breaks down the barriers of mental health stigma and makes mental health and wellbeing accessible to everyone." DR. FARAH ISLAM SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW | DATA AND PSYCHOSPIRITUAL DEPARTMENT YAQEEN INSTITUTE FOR ISLAMIC RESEARCH "I love the Mentally Fit Muslims podcast. It feels good to be able to put a name or label to spiritual bypassing and toxic positivity (episode 25). Saba's voice sounds very comforting and she is able to articulate her thoughts very well." FATIMA HALEEM, MSW "I love the piece about Ayatul Kursi (episode 24) and the connection between reading it before we go to bed and the fact that Allah (SWT) is He who never sleeps. I never saw it that way. Thought we are going to sleep and into this state where we don't have a consciousness or control, we're leaving our affairs to Allah (SWT)." ZAINAB HAYAT

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