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Can We Please Stop Saying, “You are not religious; that’s why you’re depressed?”

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Mental health and being religious don’t go hand in hand. While some would accept it, some fuel the misconceptions that being non-religious or not fitting into the framework of ‘faithful Muslims’ make you depress.

Or another assumption is jinn possession. If a person admits or reveals that he is mentally unhealthy, people quickly judge that they are possessed. Well, aren’t we living in a world that has more clarity and information to understand mental health has no connection to one’s faith?

I’ve heard people say that if you are a Muslim, you will not be depressed. Or you don’t need therapy or counseling, recite the Quran. I agree, reading Quran comforts one’s soul and mind, but neglecting professional help just because you have the Quran sounds absurd and unintelligent. Islam encourages people to seek medical help when needed, so I don’t see the point in accusing people’s faith when they are depressed.  

People must realize that these misconceptions and accusations will drive the person further away from Islam or make him feel lower than he already is.

We are Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) Ummah, and he wouldn’t want his community to forget kindness because he was kindness personified. In the Quran, Allah says,

“So by mercy from Allah, [O Muḥammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him].” (3:159)

It’s about time we realize that depression doesn’t relate to one’s faith or religion. Even if you are a religious person, you might still have a mental illness, but it’s important to seek professional help to get it treated. Of course, reciting the Quran or praying might comfort your heart but a professional’s help is essential for treating illness from the root. 

Depression is More Than Being Sad and Unhappy

First off, depression isn’t ONLY about being unhappy or sad, and it goes way beyond that. Second off, it can happen due to several reasons such as:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Pessimistic mindset
  • Traumatic or stressful experiences
  • Post-Traumatic Stress and other mental health disorders

But all these don’t make you a person with bad faith. You are a good human, and Allah (SWT) knows that you are trying.

Depression is an illness, and it needs treatment just like every other illness. There are symptoms that people with depression experience, and taking these lightly or asking them to ignore them isn’t a humane thing to do. We need compassion and kindness, and when we are not the victim, it’s so easy to sit on the throne and judge.

I’ve helped and lived with a person who developed PTSD, and it’s not something I’d like to recall. But I’m going to talk about it, so at least then people would stop relating faith to mental illness. He was a sweet person and never asked for help from anybody, not even from his wife. He lived a comfortable life and was a happy man.

But everything came to an end last Ramadan. He got paralyzed and was bedridden for three whole months. From eating, dressing, and cleaning himself was done by others. We also hired a physiotherapist as advised by the doctor. He developed a friendly relationship with the therapist. One day, he refused to exercise, but the therapist somehow talked him into continuing the session.

After a few minutes, we heard a loud cry that turned into laughter in a few minutes. That was the first time I’ve seen a PTSD patient, although I’ve read about them. The physiotherapist explained to us that he had developed PTSD because of paralysis.

It was then we realized why he was adamant at times when we tried to help while on some days, he’d hold his wife’s hand so lovingly. Some other days, he’d try to hurt her. There were days he recited so beautifully, whereas some days he struggled to utter a word.

Some nights he would sleep like a baby, and other nights he’d scream that we were helpless to aid. However, after 3 months of struggle, he gracefully returned to Allah (SWT) –Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un (Arabic: إِنَّا لِلَّٰهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ‎, ʾinnā li-llāhi wa-ʾinna ʾilayhi rājiʿūna).

This experience changed my perspective of life. Those three months were the hardest yet life-changing. I learned a lot of things, and I realized the meaning of life. I understood the value of being married to the right person. I understood that if someone loves you so dearly, not even at the worst of times, they’d leave your side. I saw his wife standing like a pillar during the days he hit his worst.

My Kind Request to You All

Mental disorders aren’t what you assume, so don’t judge. The patients with mental illness are already going through a lot; even if you can’t make their lives better, don’t make it worse for them.

I’ve seen quotes that say being religious would save you from mental health disorders. No, it wouldn’t because mental illnesses aren’t caused by faith or religion. The person I took care of was someone who gives charity, prays five times a day, and on top of all, he was the person who woke up every neighbor for suhoor through phone calls.

I’m afraid I can’t agree with you if you say religion or bad faith is the reason for depression. Can we please stop saying, “you are not religious; that’s why you’re depressed?” The world has so much negativity, and we don’t need more of that.

Depression needs to be understood and talked about more often. The Muslim community especially tends to ignore mental illness, assuming that it’s like losing trust in Allah (SWT). This is why we need to talk about it and spread awareness.

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The Scope of inter-religious pluralism within Islam

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Even though pluralism is a loaded term, its generic meaning suggests a phenomenon of peaceful coexistence between entities of diverse cultural, religious, and political inclinations. It is important to remember that pluralism does not mean the elimination of difference, nor does the word “tolerance” do justice to its intended purpose. Pluralism is not merely tolerating the other but engaging with the beliefs of others with peaceful dialogue and action. The scope of inter-religious puralism within Islam proposes this kind of pluralism.

Also, read Islamic Democracy: Is Democracy Compatible with Islam?

What does Pluralism mean in Islam?

Looking at the subjective meaning of pluralism within the ambit of Islam, the proponents of various Islamic discourses have proposed that pluralism is a pronounced feature of Islam. Many Muslim intellectuals claim that pluralism is central to the fundamental essence of Islam. A convincing case can be made for the presence of a compelling pluralistic ethos within the Islamic scriptures.

In his essay, Reformist Islam in Comparative Perspective, Mehran Kamrava claims that the rise in the level of religiosity amongst Muslims has given rise to other forms of Islam. One of which according to him is “likely to have the most resonating consequences for Islamic jurisprudence in both the near and the distant future” and calls it “intellectual Islam”. He claims that it is through this form of Islam that a Muslim reformist discourse is introduced. Which has produced significant work to locate the place of inter-religious pluralism in Islam. He further derives some themes out of the reformist discourse, very important with their reference to pluralism in Islam:

“First is a deep and abiding conviction in Islam as faith and a system of belief. In its current manifestation, the discourse of reformist Muslim intellectuals does not seek to instrumentalize Islam for purposes of achieving modernity in a manner palatable to the masses at large. Islam is not a means to an end; it is an end in itself. It simply needs to be re-thought and reformulated. The reformists’ reliance on and endless references to the Qur’an bespeaks of the text’s cultural centrality to them.”.

Such display of absolute faith by Muslim reformists whilst having reformist inclinations bespeak of their balanced position. A flexible modern vision can develop interfaith dialogue. The abiding conviction to Islam earns a sense of authenticity for their thought process in the eyes of fellow Muslims.

Read here, Islamophobia: Impacts on Muslim Women

What is Democratic Pluralism?

The next theme of the reformist discourse is “democratic pluralism”: “Pluralism, the reformist discourse’s proponents maintain, is a salient feature of the spirit of the Qur’an and the hadith.” (Kamrava )

To support his claim he cites another Muslim intellectual Abdulaziz Sachedina who quotes:

The challenge for Muslims today, as ever, is to tap the tradition of Koranic pluralism to develop a culture of restoration, of just intrareligious and interreligious relationships in a world of cultural and religious diversity. Without restoring the principle of coexistence, Muslims will not be able to recapture the spirit of early civil society under the Prophet.

In the globalized world, the facets of modernity like its political model of the nation-state have become a governing principle for all ethnic, cultural, and religious pluralism. This means the only larger identity governing the religious identity of the people is that of the nation-state. In the religiously pluralistic society of today, people may have different identities, but the model of the nation-state promises all of them the same status. People might identify with different religious inclinations, but the state identifies them as either citizens or residents of the state. This is exactly the kind of challenge that Sachedina talks about when he implores Muslims to revive the tradition of pluralism that is central to the Islamic texts for peaceful coexistence in the globalized world.

Also, read Why should dignified Muslims never normalize with Israel?

The Case of Muslims living as a minority

If Muslims live in a minority in a nation-state that runs on one of the political models of modernity like democracy or secularism, then for the sake of the welfare of Muslims they need to fulfill the duties that the nation-state demands from them. Andrew March talks about the jurisprudence of Muslim minorities also called Fiqh al-aqalliyyat al-muslima in Arabic:

Fiqh alaqalliyyat tends to be a discourse where departures from traditional Islamic commitments are not seen as desirable, and certainly not goals in and of themselves, but where creative rethinking often occurs in subtle and pragmatic guises. It is thus an important object of study for those interested in the ideal moral encounter between a public religion like Islam and modern/post-modern secularism. (March 6).

Important questions of interest toward non-Islamic institutions have been addressed from within internal Islamic discourses that advocate for a positive Muslim attitude concerning the issue of pluralism.

Read here, How Practical is the Secular Democracy of India? Curbing of Religious Freedom in Kashmir

Islam’s relation with other Faiths

The third theme within the reformist Islamic discourse is “Islam’s relations with other great faiths”. An important aspect central to the Muslim understanding of pluralism is the conception that god’s message in the Quran is universal and that the revelation was made through more than just one prophet, which means that the revelations had multiple manifestations. The basic underpinning for this idea can be seen in the Quran which mentions the monotheistic traditions of Judaism and Christianity. Far from denying the Quran in fact validates that Torah and Bible were predecessor scriptures affirming that their message has come from the same god. Many Quranic verses echo the sentiments which envisage a world where diversified people are united by their pious intentions and mutual devotion to God.

Also, read Islam in 2075: World’s Largest Religion!?

Some Important Milestones in the Islamic History

Apart from the theoretical contributions to promote Islamic pluralism, efficient action has also been taken within the Muslim discourse on a practical level to perpetuate inter-faith harmony.

One such historic step was the “1981 adoption of the Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights, whose article XIII states: Every person has the right to freedom of conscience and worship in accordance with his religious beliefs.”.

Apart from this, another significant step was taken in 1990 when the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam was adopted, Article 1(a) of which states:

“All human beings form one family whose members are united by submission to God and descent from Adam. All men are equal in terms of basic human dignity and basic obligations and responsibilities, without any discrimination on the grounds of race, color, language, sex, religious belief, political affiliation, social status or other considerations. True faith is the guarantee for enhancing such dignity along the path to human perfection.”

Read here, Is This the Ultimate Solution to Rising Islamophobia in India?

Islamic Tradition of Peaceful Coexistence

The Quran recognizes fundamental rights for all humankind whether Muslims or non-Muslims and explicitly forbids compulsion in faith. The Islamic texts also provide a practical model of implementing pluralistic ideals which have greatly affected the treatment of non-Muslims in Muslim lands. Contrary to the Islamophobic stereotypes, Islam not only acknowledges pluralism, but it also goes beyond the reductive concepts of tolerance and intolerance to endorse and encourages a tradition of peaceful coexistence.

Also, read Islamophobia: Impacts on Muslim Women

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How Practical is the Secular Democracy of India? Curbing of Religious Freedom in Kashmir

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In Kashmir, a Closed Mosque Belies India’s Religious Freedom

Even while a right-wing Hindu nationalist government is ruling India for the past 8 years now, India still professes to be a secular democracy. The constitutional grounds for India’s secularism have been carefully accommodating religious freedom. However, the past 8 years have been witnessing a shrinking of sorts for the religious freedom of Muslims. The Indian government seems to be particularly adamant about curbing the religious freedom of Kashmiri Muslims.

In 2022, the Indian authorities arrested prominent religious clerics across Kashmir under PSA (Public Safety Act). After that, the Indian government banned schools run by FAT (Falah-e-Aam Trust ). FAT is an affiliate of the banned Islamist organization Jama’at-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir (Jama’at). Another incident followed with the circulation of a video of Kashmiri students. The video showed students being forced to chant Hindu hymns sparked controversy over social media. However, these are not isolated incidents that reveal the curbing of religious freedom in Kashmir.  

Read here, The BJP Enforcing Patriotism By Instilling Fear- “Har Ghar Tiranga” Campaign in Kashmir and Other Schemes

Curbing Religious Freedom in Muharram

Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar is one of the holiest months for Shite Muslims worldwide. During this month, Shia mourners gather together to hold a procession. They recite eulogies, and chant slogans to mourn the martyrdom of the Prophet’s grandson Hussain.

However, since 1989, the Indian government has prohibited some of the major Muharram processions in Kashmir. The government issues an order each year prohibiting Muharram processions due to “security reasons”. Kashmiris claim that the Indian state has been curbing their religious rights on the pretext of “security concerns”. Kashmiri Muslims have a history of raising their voices against the curbing of their religious rights by the Indian government. Nonetheless, this history of resistance against religious inequality has always been violent for the Kashmiris. Every year, Shia mourners face police thrashings, beatings, and arrests while trying to take out Muharram processions.

Since the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019, the police arrested 15 Shia mourners. They also arrested a well-known preacher named Manzoor Ahmed Malik. The police charged them under the stringent anti-terror law UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act). According to the police, they allegedly chanted free Kashmir Slogans during Muharram processions.

While talking to the Wire, Arshid Ahmad, a Shia mourner told The Wire “In contemporary times, the ‘step-motherly’ treatment of Muslims is unacceptable and the government should reconsider the decision on Muharram bans. This minority bears the brunt of the repression, even though other religious pilgrimages are permitted with full security and pomp,”.

“We are protesting and condemning this ban but no one is listening to us. If the government can allow other religions to perform their religious rites, why ban the Muharram procession?” Muzzafar, another mourner asked.

Most mourners who talked with the media brought up the Amarnath Yatra, a 40-day pilgrimage. They questioned why the government couldn’t guarantee protection for the Muharram parade for one day.

Also, read Lawlessness in Police Custody- Custodial Killings in Kashmir

Janmashtami Procession held by Kashmiri Pandits Amid Police and Army Security

Days after Muharram, Kashmiri pandits staged processions throughout Srinagar to celebrate the birth of the Hindu god Krishna. The government allowed Hindu devotees to take out the religious procession and provided them with tight police and army security.  

Amid massive spectacle and show, the government supervised and safeguarded the religious procession. National news outlets in India were hailing this incident as “signifying a perceptible improvement in the situation in the strife-ridden Valley”. However, none of the Indian media called out the hypocrisy of the Indian government that has been curbing the religious freedom in Kashmir for Muslims for decades.

Read here, Kashmiri Pandits Face Targeted Killings

The Grand Mosque in Kashmir Closed For Friday Prayers For Three Years

The Jamia Masjid or the grand mosque in the heart of Srinagar city is a 600-year-old that has been cherished and venerated by Kashmiris for centuries and is of historic and religious significance. On important religious occasions throughout the year, thousands of Muslim worshippers have been visiting the grand mosque. Friday is considered the holy day of the week for Muslims and congregational prayers are of utmost importance. Yet, Kashmiris haven’t been allowed to offer prayers in Jamia Masjid for three consecutive years now.

Additionally, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Hurriyat leader, and the mosque’s chief preacher has been kept under constant house arrest and is not permitted to give Friday sermons. Recently, the Lieutenant Governor of Kashmir Manoj Sinha disputed reports of Mirwaiz being under house arrest, yet a few days later, the Hurriyat leader was denied permission to deliver the Friday sermon at Jamia Masjid. In attempts to deny the claim of “prolonged closure, of the Jamia Masjid” the LG declared that it had only been in effect on three Fridays this year. However, the mosque’s administration made it explicit that this year, prayers have been prohibited for 14 Fridays so far by the enforced presence of the CRPF and J&K Police.   

To Kashmiris, the prolonged closure of the Jamia masjid serves as a bitter reminder of their helplessness. And the attempts of psychological warfare. This is yet another incident that speaks of the curbing of religious freedom in Kashmir.

Read more here, India Bans Falah-e-Aam Trust (FAT) schools in Kashmir

Religious Freedom Vanishing From The Largest Democracy In The World

India prides itself internationally as the world’s largest democracy. According to the Indian constitution, the government “will not discriminate, patronize, or meddle in the exercise of any religion.” Its constitution guarantees religious freedom, which entails that individuals should be able to adhere to and freely practice their religious views. However, the religious freedom and claims of secularism mentioned in the Indian Constitution are utterly absent when it comes to Muslims and particularly when it comes to Kashmir.

Read here, The Case Of The Gyanvapi Mosque Explained

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Christians must not dance with Israeli apartheid under the guise of fighting anti-Semitism

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It has been revealed that major Christian Churches in the UK succeeded in forcing former British Prime Minister Liz Truss, to reconsider earlier thoughts of moving the British embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

According to news reports, the Church of England, the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church strongly urged Truss to reconsider her ideas in this regard.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, reportedly sent a letter to Truss warning her against moving the British Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,  which, according to international law, is considered an occupied territory.

Read also : Moving British Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is huge insult to 2 billion Muslims

 Cardinal Nichols probably reflected the views of his  fellow clerics when he warned that the relocation of the embassy would seriously damage British interests throughout the Muslim world: “A relocation of the UK Embassy would be seriously damaging to any possibility of lasting peace in the region and to the international reputation of the United Kingdom.”

Moreover, the chief cleric in the Church of England, Justine Welby, expressed a similar attitude in a newspaper interview.

 Predictably, Israeli leaders reacted furiously, accusing Christian leaders of ignorance and adopting an immoral stance toward the apartheid Israeli entity.

 Furthermore, one right-wing Israeli writer lambasted the three Churches which objected to the idea of relocating the British embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, claiming that the churches didn’t represent Christians around the world. He hinted that a Christian cannot be a true Christian unless he or she embraces the Israeli apartheid regime in the West Bank where non-Jews, e.g. Christians and Muslims, are treated as children of a lesser God, or using the biblical terms, as water-carriers and wood-hewers!

Interestingly, most extremist Israeli leaders subscribe to  the silly concept that the only authentic Christians are the evangelical groups, or the so-called Christian Zionists, who believe that the creation of Israel in Palestine in 1948 was a fulfilment of Biblical Prophecy and a precedent to the second advent of Jesus.

“The Hitler of  Bethlehem”

Jewish Extremists’ Attacks Rattle Christians in Holy Land

By the way, it might be appropriate to remind readers on this occasion that the Israeli government which claims to tend to and protect  Christian interests in Palestine is the very same government that pays hundreds of millions of Shekels to vehemently anti-Christian Talmudic colleges (Yishivot) that teach the filthiest possible hate literature, like Hesronot Shas, against Jesus Christ. I am not going to mention passages from this filth out of veneration for Jesus himself and as a gesture of respect for Christian brothers and sisters around to world. My ultimate goal behind these stunning revelations is not to incite Christians to hate Jews. In the final analysis, truth, not hate is my craft.

Before leaving this thread, I want to remind readers of an incident that occurred several years ago. Then I met an ostensibly moderate and respectable rabbi. And as we were speaking about monotheistic religions and the common grounds between them, the rabbi surprised me when he referred to Jesus, a figure I love so much as every other Muslim does, as “The Hitler of Bethlehem.”  The repulsive remark shocked me from head to toe, to say he very least.

Noticing my reaction, the rabbi said: I know that you Muslims venerate and sanctify Jesus, I am sorry if I have inadvertently caused you any offense.”

Venomous anti-Christian Hostility

Discrimination & Hate Crimes Against Christian Palestinians in the Holy Land

None the less, not all rabbis, especially in the West, are as honest as my interlocutor mentioned above. In fact, Zionist rabbis and other manifestly dishonest propagandists hysterically strive to distract attention from this colossal shame.

 Hence, they concoct all sorts of lies and disinformation about an alleged persecution in the Holy Land of Christians by Muslims and even by the unreligious Palestinian Authority (PA), which is absolutely and completely at Israel’s beck and call.

The truth of the matter is that the apartheid Israeli entity and Talmudic Jewish circles (the Pharisees of our time) are the only sources of harassment and persecution of al Palestinians, Christians and Muslims alike.

This unceasing persecution assumes many forms, including:1- Seizing land and real estate belonging to the churches, either by coercion or through suspicious purchase deals.

2-Routinly harassing Christian clergymen in the streets of East Jerusalem by spitting on them,  verbally abusing them or even bad-mouthing Jesus.

3-Denying Palestinian Christians in the Gaza Strip access to Christian Holy places in the West Bank such as The Nativity Church in Bethlehem and the church of Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.

4-Occasionally vandalizing and setting churches on fire by anti-Christian Talmudic fanatics who often act on instructions from their government-paid rabbis.

5-Constantly seeking to stir  Muslim-Christian tension, using Shen Bet agents to carry out this filthy feat. Fortunately, 99% of these toxic efforts have utterly failed, due to the exemplary vigilance of the Palestinian community.

An Australian Blow

A few days before the resignation of Liz Truss,  the Australian government decided to reconsider its erstwhile decision to relocate Australia’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The decision was warmly welcomed by the Palestinians and the PA, which described it as consistent with the rule of international law.  However, the Australian decision drew much anger and consternation from the Israeli government and jingoistic media, with former Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu blaming current Prime Minister Yair Lapid for the reversal of Australian policy.

Conclusion:

None the less, Christians are expected to show some justice toward the tormented Palestinians.

We all know that thanks to the grossly unethical and illegal western policy toward the Palestinian question, Israel has been given a carte blanch to murder, torment, savage and dispossess the Palestinian people. This utterly unfair and unjust policy by western governments, particularly the U.S. and UK, effectively condemned the Palestinian people to an unenviable situation that is similar to those proverbial orphan kids, sitting for dinner around the table of the cruel and the mean.

Hence, the gesture of the three churches in England is highly appreciated. We also sincerely hope that Church leaders will continue to raise their influential voices in defence of the virtually abandoned Palestinians. This would be consistent with the lofty Christian ideals of siding with the oppressed. 

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