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  • Support with Saba

    Get confidential, one on one support for Muslims with mental health challenges Let's face it, we are all struggling mentally. This is why you need my help! You don't have to be alone in this battle... let's talk about it. I can help you find your way out of the darkness and back to wellness.

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Blog Posts (54)

  • What Depression Feels Like as a Muslim

    That Dark Stormy Cloud It never really goes away, at least not for me. I'm in a depression episode currently. It feels suffocating. Every step I take feels like I'm pulling the weight of a mountain. I have high anxiety also and things are still not settled in my life. My creativity and energy is at an all time low. I spent a month in the psych ward and I feel utterly depleted physically, emotionally and psychologically but spiritually, I hope not. Allah Builds Me Back Up The overarching feeling I have right now is: broken. I feel like I've been shred into a million pieces. I exaggerate not. It's a feeling that's all encompassing. And at the same time, there's a part of me that says I must go on, no matter how difficult things are. I must not give into the temptation of self-loathing and self-pity. These feelings seem like the natural reaction but they lead to an unnatural state of ingratitude. Self-doubt is at an all time high. Even writing these words to you is hard because the voice in me keeps telling me I have nothing worthwhile to say. I feel broken right now but not for long. Dealing with a Loss I'm dealing with another loss that took a long time to achieve. Then it was taken away suddenly in the blink of an eye. That's the nature of this life. Things can change so quickly and are volatile like a tropical storm. But I have to remember that one day I'm going to leave everything behind. On the Day of Judgement, I won't feel the loss of losing something in this dunya but of all the good actions I missed upon. That's the ultimate loss. فَإِنَّ مَعَ ٱلْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا إِنَّ مَعَ ٱلْعُسْرِ يُسْرًۭا So, surely with hardship comes ease. Surely with ˹that˺ hardship comes ˹more˺ ease. Surah Ash-Sharh (94:5-6) Source: Quran.com

  • How to Be Mentally Fit According to Islam -Moral Intelligence Part 2

    The Intelligence is your defining quality. It's the one thing that separates you from your pet cat or that fly on the wall. There are many kinds of intelligences. There's traditional academic intelligence, emotional intelligence, social, financial not to mention Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences. Any aspect of our life can be turned into a specific domain for us to excel in or be intelligent at. As Muslims need to focus on moral intelligence or rather 'aql. Baffled by Intelligence We live in an age of dysphoria. Slap any word next to dysphoria and you'll find someone suffering from it. But there is comfort in knowing that we are not the only ones going through confusing times. Alas, I found some solace as I read the first part of Shaykh Mikaeel Ahmed Smith's book "With the Heart in Mind." This post is part two in my close study of this enlightening work on the "Moral and Emotional Intelligence of the Prophet (S)." My previous article, along with a podcast episode, covered the introduction of this book. Mental fitness or battling a mental illness centers around your brain. But the Arabic term 'aql is much more than the mere facts stored in the grey matter in your thick skull. 'Aql is inherently tied to the Divine. Imam Muhasabi's Environment In the first section of "With the Heart in Mind," Shaykh Mikaeel describes the context of when Imam Muhasabi's influence grew. He is best known for his spiritual knowledge and asceticism. Imam Muhasabi was born at a time when rationalism was gaining momentum. Hindu mathematicians and Greek philosophers were growing in influence. This movement destroyed his family as his father started adopting rationalistic ideologies while his mom remained a traditionalist. Muhasabi Definition of 'Aql Scholars define 'aql as "a light in the heart just as sight is a light in the eyes" (Smith pg 28). Imam Muhasabi in "Theory of Intelligence" defined intelligence on three levels: Gazira Fahm Basirah Gazira is the first level of 'aql which Allah blessed us with. All humans with a sound and mature mind have this level of intellect and are held accountable for their actions because of it. The second level, fahm, is understanding and the third level, basirah, centers around insight. The Rationalist saw the intelligence as something that could distinguish good from bad on it's own. But Muhasabi saw the intellect as being capable of deciphering evil from good independently but that this quality was placed by Allah. This distinction in attributing our ability to tell right from wrong has important implications for the Muslim challenged with a mental illness. On one hand, bipolar may make you feel suicidal but your God-given intelligence or Aql rises to the occasion and helps you stop yourself from ending your life. Thus, true intelligence rests on your actions. You might know who Allah is and after reading this article, you might be aware of the levels of intelligence such as gazira, fahm and basirah but what is the point of all that when your actions don't align with your beliefs and words. Of the last level of the intellect, basirah, Muhasabi in Mahiyya al-aql states: This is what intellect is. And whosoever does not possess the last meaning (of the intellect) but has that base level of innate intellect by which Allah has differentiated between the intelligent and the insane, that person does not posses the divine intellect of understanding, and so against him, the proof has been established. (Smith, pg 23) A basic intellect (gazira) and understanding (fahm) are necessary to achieve the third level of intellect which is basirah. Thus, intelligence involves understanding and managing your emotions in a way that lives up to the moral standards set by Allah. This is how moral intelligence differs from emotional intelligence. Ghazali's Definition of Intelligence In his groundbreaking work "Revival of the Islamic Sciences," Imam Ghazali helped us understand what it means to be intelligent in Islam. Intellect is the spring and starting point of knowledge. The intellect is the seat of knowledge, and it is by means of knowledge we are guided. (Smith, pg 29) What does this actually mean? Simply put, if you can't use your knowledge, your brain to worship Allah better, get closer and show gratitude to Him, then you really are not intelligent or have any 'aql. Growing up, I was often told I had no 'aql. I would do strange things, moody things like run away or punch holes in the wall. So I started believing I had no intelligence. "With the Heart in Mind" paints a different picture of intelligence, one I can very much understand and relate to today. Take for example the case of a highly proficient professor or professional who is so skilled at their work or knows the ins and outs of the brain or their trade yet they fail to use that knowledge to know Allah, to be amazed by Him and show gratitude towards Him. Knowledge is not Power I have to admit that I said in one of my previous episodes that knowledge is power. I have to correct that now. Knowledge is power only in so much as so it can help you in your relationship to Allah. True Intelligence Furthers Your Relationship Allah The function of knowledge is to illuminate you. This means you accept your own shortcomings and know that your intellect and knowledge has a limit. You are not limitless. Allah is. Some might find that constricting but I find it freeing. That means it's not all on me. I'm not it. With bipolar, when you take your big head out of the way, you can actually see the light. Your moral compass takes center stage. Learn Traditional Islam to Decipher Right from Wrong One of my biggest fears is suicide but now I fear losing Allah more, not my life. That I believe is true 'aql for those of us blessed with mental illnesses. Your life doesn't revolve around how smart you are but how sound your relationship with Allah is. Your intelligence instead becomes the light in your heart with which you see and articulate. It becomes another tool in your toolbox to know Allah and to seek Divine Guidance. We can use our intellect to come close to the Divine and to know that he exists, but that is the limit of the intellect. (Smith, pg 53) Listen to the podcast version of this post here. Or watch the video version of it here.

  • 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.

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  • Mental Health Advocacy for Muslims | Mentally Fit Muslims

    Mentally Fit Muslims is a non-profit online resource for mental health support . 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. Latest Content Find out the types of intelligences in islam according to Imam Muhasabi and how they can help you achieve optimum mental fitness. Read more... Listen Now Apple Podcast Google Podcast Spotify Stitcher YouTube Latest Blog Posts How to Be Mentally Fit According to Islam The Intelligence is your defining quality. It's the one thing that separates you from your pet cat or that fly on the wall. There are... 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... 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... 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

  • Get Support | Mentally Fit Muslims

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  • Donate | Mentally Fit Muslims

    Play Video Facebook Twitter Pinterest Tumblr Copy Link Embed Video Link Copied SUSTAIN Salaam, I'm Saba and I got bipolar a long time ago. Learning about the disorder was easy but getting support for it wasn't. I felt alone in my struggle and misunderstood. Sure the doctor, family and friends helped but no one really *understood* what I was going through. Then, I shared my mental health challenges through my first blog in 2008. That's when my life changed. Alhumdulillah so many different Muslims came forward and shared their own experiences. I didn't feel alone anymore and my healing started. There are a lot of Muslim organizations out there offering mental health services and education but an advocacy group for Muslims with mental illnesses is very uncommon. My hope with Mentally Fit Muslims is to have a peer-to-peer support system where people with depression, bipolar, anxiety, OCD and other disorders can meet others just like them. There is power in stories and hearing about your brother or sister's struggle makes you feel less alone. You know that you're not the only one that feels like this. And that can make all the difference. I'm living proof of that and so many other amazing souls I've met along the way. I've tried twice to start an advocacy organization and "failed" both times. Unfortunately, I didn't think about how I could sustain my work financially. So, I'm starting again, for the third time, and this time I've set up Mentally Fit Muslims as an official non-profit with 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. It's a big deal for me mashaAllah because it means that this organization can continue long after I leave this earth. This cause is bigger than you and I. You might be suffering right now and helping someone else in their struggle will ease your pain inshaAllah. I have no numbers to prove that (not yet) but it's kinda of an unsaid universal law I've found to be true in my experience. Abu Hurairah (RAA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “If anyone relieves a Muslim believer from one of the hardships of this worldly life, Allah will relieve him of one of the hardships of the Day of Resurrection. If anyone makes it easy for the one who is indebted to him (while finding it difficult to repay), Allah will make it easy for him in this worldly life and in the Hereafter, and if anyone conceals the faults of a Muslim, Allah will conceal his faults in this world and in the Hereafter. Allah helps His slave as long as he helps his brother.” Related by Muslim. So please give generously to make sure I can keep raising awareness and giving a voice to the Muslims suffering silently. So far, I've been funding all my work through my own pocket and have volunteered all my time and I'll be honest, it's exhausting. A 20 min podcast episode takes me about a month to produce. I do it part-time as I raise my kids so it does take me long. I want to change that and hire more help so this work is not all on me. I made that mistake before with my last two blogs and I'm determined to learn this time inshaAllah. Some people also make fun of me that I start a project and then stop. I let them because with MFM I'm going to prove them wrong! And I need your help for that :) Read on for some info about our organization (currently it's just my husband and I) below. You can also see what expenses I have covered for MentallyFitMuslims.org this year and what future things I need help in sustaining. ​ ​ ​ Mentally Fit Muslims is a non-profit organization that advocates for the mental health of Muslims. We are looking for your support to sustain our work and continue advocating for those who need us most. Our mission is to advocate for the mental health of Muslims, provide education on how to recognize signs of mental illness in oneself or others, and connect people with resources that can help them achieve their goals. We do this through podcast episodes, ebooks and videos. You can make all the difference in someone’s life by donating today! Your donation will go towards helping us continue and sustain our advocacy efforts so we can reach more Muslims who need us right now. Every little bit helps! Also, inshaAllah we will post MFM's budget and financial report soon so you can see exactly where your hard earned money is invested in. We need your patience and prayers. Click on the "SUSTAIN" button to raise mental health awareness in the Muslim community. Click HERE to see our financial report. Donate Donate Mailing Address: Mentally Fit Muslims Association 125 Rickey Blvd Bear, DE 19701-9998 United States

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