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Incoporating Islamic beliefs and practices when supporting Muslims who experience addiction

How Islamic beliefs and practices can be incorporated into support for addiction to Muslims, based on experiences as a Muslim practitioner

In this video, Suhayl describes how Islamic beliefs and practices can be incorporated into support for addiction to Muslims, based on his experiences as a Muslim practitioner in a mainstream service and his lived experience of gambling addiction.

Suhayl advises Muslims to use religious practices such as prayer and service to the community to manage anxiety related to withdrawal. While addiction can make people selfish, giving something back, to God and the local community, can be a counterbalance.

Suhayl observes that Muslim communities can have ‘black and white’ understandings of what it means to be Muslim – you are either a good Muslim who prays, or you are not. He feels that there is no middle ground that people who are struggling with their mental health and aspects of their faith can occupy.

People experience Islam and being Muslim as part of a religious community. From his own research and observations, Suhayl sees that mental health stigma comes from fellow Muslims and not from scripture. In his mental health practice, Suhayl tries to embody what he sees as the true values of the Quran – empathy, compassion, and forgiveness.

Suhayl tells us that addiction is linked to trauma and references the work of Gabor Mate. Whilst personal responsibility is important, unresolved traumas and adverse childhood experiences need to be examined too. Trained mental health practitioners, Muslim and non-Muslim, can help individuals and families talk about and understand the effects of trauma.

Suhayl tells us that addiction makes people feel distant from their religion because they feel let down by God. Reminding them of the compassion of God can help them to overcome this. Suhayl sees his own experience of addiction as a test from God, but it does not mean that he is weak, or that his faith is weak. He describes addiction as a jihad – his own personal struggle. He lives with addiction and turns to God when he faces challenges. He does not see addiction as a reason to be distant from his faith, but a way to be closer to God through seeking forgiveness and repentance.


Find out more about the work of Gabor Mate.

For support around gambling addiction visit Gamblers Anonymous.

Mind’s guide to addiction and dependency support.

This article is from the free online

Understanding Mental Health in Muslim Communities

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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