Mental health seems like a very privileged thing to even think or write about when we look at the continued sufferings of our Palestinian brothers and sisters. I almost scrapped this article three times before finding the courage to pen it down.
Over the past couple of weeks, we have witnessed a tragedy in progress. As a mother, sitting next to my peacefully sleeping daughter whilst watching clips of children crying for their mothers and mothers mourning their children – I have two major feelings in my mind. Gratitude. I now realize the luxury I live in. The blessings I have. The second is guilt. Overwhelming guilt of having all the luxuries I do right now.
The roof over my head. Clean water to drink. Food on the table. How can I go about my life as normal when our ummah suffers so? How can I think of writing about anything else? Are you worried about anything else? The problems that seemed so overwhelming just a month ago seem insignificant. And I see my brothers and sisters suffer, too.
Witnessing tragedy after tragedy. News clippings of a massacre are coming in daily. Social media is filled with heart-wrenching images and videos. Our ummah on one hand is becoming desensitized. On the other hand, helplessness and inability to help leads to empathic distress. We find ourselves exhausted. The need to shut everything off and withdraw is so strong that it leads to immense guilt… and we are stuck in this vicious cycle all over again.
The question arises how do we combat this? Will we ever find a normal?
The New Norm
Seeing things like this happening on such a large scale, obviously, changes our brains irrevocably. This means that things won’t go the way they were because we have witnessed something that deeply impacted us and is life-altering.
As Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“The parable of believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.”
So, accept that things won’t be normal as we know it again. We will be affected. Our minds will not be at ease. But we do not have to give in to helplessness. There are several things that we can do.
Regain your closeness to Allah
This incident has given us an opportunity to not only realize our blessings but also regain our Taqwa. Be hopeful and fearful of Him once again. This is the perfect opportunity to focus on our deeds.
Allah SWT in Surah al Baqarah, verse 153 says:
“Oh, believers! Seek comfort in patience and prayer. Allah is truly with the patient.”
There’s not much we can do on the political map. The power is not with us. But remember, it’s the dua’a and faith in Allah that has changed tides for us in the past.
Perhaps, it is time for us to look at the strength and resilience of our ummah. Focus on our deeds. Correct our salah. Bring khushoo’ in our salah. Do voluntarily good deeds. Increase our sunnah.
Relying on Allah will not only improve our mental health but give us hope. But also improve our akhirah.
Manage the Guilt
Focus on the things you can do.
Be it creating awareness. Monetary help in the form of donations. Prayers and duas that you make daily.
Remember Allah promised us in Surah Ash-Shu’ara,
“Call upon Me, I will respond to you.”
So firstly, seek some tranquility in prayer and the promise of Allah.
The other thing you can do is be informed. Social media can become a wildfire of misinformation and the filter bubbles of Instagram and other platforms can create echo chambers of your own thoughts and ideas. It is important to look at the objective news to stay informed. Find objective resources to inform you of the situation.
In seeking information, try and understand the conflict, as well. There’s a lot of political and historical context here. Read that up. The objective side of the story. This will help you a lot in creating awareness about the issue. To raise your voice with half a knowledge might lead you to get your information disregarded and deemed untrue. If you step out of the echo chambers, you will realize that many people have contrary views, and you need to be well-informed to create awareness.
Always double-check your sources. Understand what you are reading. Dig deeper.
Don’t Give Yourself to Hate
Allah says in the Qur’an in Surah Al-Hujurat, verse 13,
O humanity! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may get to know one another. Surely the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous among you. Allah is truly All-Knowing, All-Aware.
Islam has acknowledged the differences that humans have in the forms of tribes, cultures, color, and race. But also reminds you that there’s no superiority based on these things.
In the hadith collected by Imam Ahmed, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says:
“O humanity! Your Lord is One and your ancestry is one. No Arab is superior to non-Arab, nor is any white superior to any black, nor is any black superior to any white except on account of their righteousness.”
It becomes very easy to end up negative in such circumstances and begin to hate a group of people or an entire religion based on the work of a few powerful people.
This negativity can further harm your mental health and also harm your cause to help our brothers and sisters. Remember to be calm and collected so that you can make the most beneficial decisions in such trying times.
Focus on What We Can Control
In therapy, we often ask our clients to make circles of control. If we focus too much on the things that are beyond our control, we can either become depressed or anxious. If we look at it objectively and logically, there are very few things we can change or control beyond our own thoughts, actions, and beliefs. So, what can you do?
• Make dua: We have discussed this enough in this article. But another reminder of the benefits of dua is in a hadith in Sahih Muslim, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says, “No Muslim servant supplicates for his brother behind his back but the angel says: And for you the same.”
• Help people around you: You might not have much to go about helping the brothers and sisters who are war-struck but you can actually make a change by helping the weak, elderly, and needy in your own society and the people around you. Take this opportunity to make things better for everyone.
• Make donations: Find authentic legitimate organizations to make donations. Or even volunteer if that’s possible for you.
Lastly, remember to stand up for what you believe but hate will not cure hate. Be proactive and educated to help our ummah in a productive way.
May Allah guide us all and ease the conditions of those who are suffering. Aameen.