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A Muslim experience of psychosis: religious practitioner perspective

Dr Ali presents a case study of a Muslim experience of psychosis, from the perspective of an Islamic scholar and imam

In this video, Dr Ali presents a case study of a Muslim experience of psychosis, from the perspective of an Islamic scholar and imam.

As had been covered in previous steps, psychosis among Muslims is often related to beliefs about spirit (or jinn possession). Although belief in jinn as an element of the unseen supernatural world is part of the worldview of Muslims, it can become implicated in a mental health problem – psychosis.

Dr Ali was consulted by the family of a woman who was considered, by the family and the woman herself, to be displaying signs of jinn possession. After speaking to the woman and her family, Dr Ali felt that this was a mental health problem rather than a spiritual problem and he advised the family to seek medical support.

As part of his support for the woman and her family, Dr Ali provided spiritual support by reciting verses from the Quran that are considered to have protective properties, including the Ayatul Kursi (The Throne), a Quranic verse (you can learn more about this verse below). Even when religious practitioners recognise mental health problems, spiritual guidance and support can be reassuring for Muslims with mental health problems and their families. Additionally, the ‘performance’ of religious rites can help to establish the authority of a religious professional such as a chaplain or an imam with those who are seeking support, making them more likely to accept their guidance.

Dr Ali prefers not to follow-up with people who he has identified as having a mental health problem after signposting them to mental health support providers. He explains that this is to avoid people relying on spiritual support from him rather than professional support from mental health practitioners.

In the next step, we hear from a trained Muslim mental health practitioner who supported a service-user experiencing psychosis.


Listen to a recitation of the Ayatul Kursi in Arabic with English translation.

Over to you

What biological, psychological, social, and spiritual causes of psychosis can you identify in this case study? Share your response below.

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Understanding Mental Health in Muslim Communities

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