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The importance of recognising the Muslim worldview

Dr Ali emphasises the importance of recognising the worldview of Muslims when providing mental health support.
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The worldview of a Muslim is to a certain extent very, very different in some aspects to the worldview of, let’s say, a white British person who was brought up in a Judeo-Christian tradition but no longer believes in that. It’s very different. And sometimes what happens is not understanding the Muslim worldview may lead to the diagnosis of problems which first of all, can be wrong, or at least from the Muslim point of view, it can be wrong, and also it can perpetuate the illness more. So, for example, a Muslim who is showing kind of some kind of psychotic behaviour.
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Because Western models of counselling and psychiatry has a distinction between the mind and the body, what we call the Cartesian distinction, does not acknowledge that there is anything which is supernatural happening. And immediately, somebody who is expressing those kind of behaviours, the way you treat them is to basically section them. Okay. Whereas, a Muslim who’s trained in this might basically recognize that there is some form of Presence, unholy presence, such as demonic possession. Muslims believe that. I believe that, that it is also possible. I’m not saying that every single case is like that, but not to have a category that there is a possibility. And this is not only specific to Islam.
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I mean, every single community in the world has some form of supernatural belief. Okay. Be it you know Friday the 13th, be it black cat, there is some form of supernatural and these are deep core beliefs, which does then manifest itself in how people kind of react. And I think that to completely close this,
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this option, and not even entertain it, will lead to people who are not very happy and also may lead to wrong diagnosis. So just to I mean, most of the time, 90% of the time it is mental health illnesses. You know, people confuse, you know, demonic possession with mental health. It is, but to completely from the outset not to have that category and not, your mind not even going there, I think that’s problematic. Yeah. So what I’m calling for is more cultural sensitive, culturally sensitive training

In this step, Dr Ali emphasises the importance of recognising the worldview of Muslims when providing mental health support. Dr Ali makes this point in response to a question about advice he would give to mental health practitioners.

Dismissive attitudes towards the spiritual and religious beliefs of Muslims can hinder attempts to provide effective mental health support. Great cultural sensitivity around different belief systems and worldviews lead to better relationships between those who provide support and Muslims who have mental health problems.

Dr Ali reminds us that many cultures across the world hold some form of supernatural beliefs, this is not restricted to Muslims alone. For example, the belief that a black cat crossing your path causes bad luck is a belief in the supernatural.

In the next step, we consider the role of mosques, as religious institutions, in the lives of British Muslim communities.

Over to you

In your experience, is the Muslim worldview (which incorporates spiritual beliefs about the unseen world) incorporated into mental health practice?

As well as including your comment below, you may also want to make a note on your thoughts around this topic in your reflective diary.

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Understanding Muslim Mental Health

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