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A Muslim experience of gambling addiction

Lived experience of gambling addiction and reflection on the impact that religion the experience.

In this video, Suhayl shares his lived experience of gambling addiction with Asma and reflects on the impact that religion had on his experience.

Suhayl shared his knowledge and experience of mental health problems in Weeks 1 and 2 of the course. As a reminder, he is a mental health practitioner, working for the mental health charity Beacon Counselling Trust which is based in the North West of England. Suhayl uses his lived experience of addiction to develop culturally appropriate mental health promotion and interventions for ethnic minority communities.

Suhayl talks about his experience of addiction. As a teacher at an Islamic school and hafiz (someone who has memorised the Quran) Suhayl was, and is today, a respected and authoritative member of the Muslim community. His position in the community had an impact on his experience of stigma and shame. He talks about being a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ figure when he was trying to mask his addiction.

Suhayl talks about a lack of understanding of addiction as a mental health problem in his local community. He feels that his actions were a cry for help but that they were not recognised as such, which led to missed opportunities for people to offer him much-needed support.

Based on his own experience, Suhayl thinks that it is the stigma and shame associated with mental health problems, and addiction in particular, that makes Muslim experiences of mental health distinctive. There is a lack of ‘space spaces’ for Muslims to talk about their mental health problems in Muslim families and communities.

Suhayl shares his experiences of attending Gamblers Anonymous. While he felt different in that space because of his Muslim identity and appearance, he felt empathy for his experience of addiction that he had not found in the Muslim community. Suhayl recalls verses from the Quran that emphasise the mercy and Compassion of God and says that it is this aspect of Islam that motivates him in his work.


Suhayl has spoken to ‘The Mindful Muslim Podcast’ about his experiences of gambling addiction, where you can listen to the specific episode: The Mindful Muslim Podcast 26 – Gambling addiction, escapism in the landscape of Islam.

You can also watch a video called ‘Breaking the Sharam (shame) with Gambling Harm’, produced by Beacon Counselling Trust and voiced by Suhayl.

Gamblers Anonymous website

Over to you

What aspects of ‘being Muslim’, the contextual and religious factors that have been discussed throughout the course, can you identity in Suhayl’s lived experience?

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Understanding Mental Health in Muslim Communities

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