What is Mental Health and Well-Being in Islam?

Mental health is an important topic that affects everyone, including Muslims. Through this article, we explore how collaborating between various stakeholders along with internalising our Islamic teachings, can ensure the well-being of an individual.
by Ustazah Amirah Munawwarah 2024-05-17 • 14 min read
Based in Singapore, Ustazah Amirah Munawwarah holds an MA in Art Therapy from LASALLE College of the Arts (2020) and received the MENDAKI’s ABC Youth Promise Scholarship Award in 2019. As an art psychotherapist at Promises Healthcare, she conducts individual and group art therapy sessions. In 2021, she founded ToLeaps to provide spiritual and mental health events for the community.
2024-05-17 • 14 min read

As an ongoing taboo subject that can spark shame and guilt, mental health and well-being in Islam has come a long way in addressing and debunking the misconceptions. It is important to understand that facing mental health struggles and illnesses are not, necessarily in any way, a punishment from Allah s.w.t. for being Muslims who are “non-religious” and “not religious enough”1

Rather, Islam acknowledges the many external factors and life stressors that can impact our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. These factors include the way we think, feel, and act such as in times of stress and decision-making.

Read: What does Islam say about Mental Health?

Therefore, having good mental health does not mean that it is the absence of pain, tests, and struggles but the ability to manage inevitable stressors and challenges that comes our way.

Muslim woman well-being mental health greenery reading

Although the term ‘mental health’ is not explicitly used in the Quran, Allah s.w.t. indirectly addresses the life stressors that we will encounter in this life in verses such as this: 

وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَىْءٍۢ مِّنَ ٱلْخَوْفِ وَٱلْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍۢ مِّنَ ٱلْأَمْوَٰلِ وَٱلْأَنفُسِ وَٱلثَّمَرَٰتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ

And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and crops, but give good tidings to the patient.” 

(Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:155)

While this verse mentally and emotionally prepares us for the tests and challenges of life that comes our way, it reminds us that it is followed by the delayed gratification and reassurance of receiving reward for practising patience. The inclusion of faith and Allah s.w.t. forms a large part of our belief and identity as Muslims, something that needs to be included should one seek professional mental health assistance for their well-being.

Read: Quranic Verses About Patience

Muslim Mental Health in Singapore

The term ‘Muslim Mental Health’ refers to the mental health and well-being of individuals who identify themselves as a Muslim. This encompasses our faith, religious beliefs, Islamic teachings, traditions, customs, values, and culture from our diverse Muslim backgrounds around the world. 

To ensure we are providing holistic mental well-being support for Muslims, we would need to take into account our Islamic teachings, values, faith, and spirituality in addressing issues that Muslims within their own community face, such as stigma surrounding mental health, cultural similarities and differences, and access for mental health services within the Islamic context of our identity, belief, and practice2. Therapeutic and professional help for Muslims should integrate faith and religion-based interventions such as Allah s.w.t, faith, prayers, and spirituality.

Greenery and architecture masjid sultan kampong glam

In addition, mental health issues faced by Singaporean Muslims are unique to our local context. Being in a multicultural and multiracial society, this signifies the diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds that the Muslim community in Singapore has. Hence, being culturally inclusive and sensitive by taking into account the various cultures practises, understanding the cultural nuances and customs, including respecting the various racial beliefs and practices is imperative for a Singaporean Muslim’s mental well-being3

In Singapore, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has launched Singapore’s National Mental Health and Well-being Strategy, where it aims to create an effective mental health ecosystem comprising accessible and good quality clinical care with a supportive community and society, where people with mental health needs can seek help early without stigma and be readily supported for their recovery.

Additionally, access to mental health services and support for Singaporean Muslims would require offering services in multiple languages, addressing the disparities in integrating faith and spiritual concerns in mental health sessions, providing mental health support within Muslim organisations and spaces and having initiatives to continue reducing stigma and debunking myths surrounding mental health in Islam. This is to ensure that Singaporean Muslims have access to culturally and religiously inclusive and sensitive mental health services.

In a Muslim.Sg article, a Singaporean woman, Rushsidah Abdullah, managed chronic depression holistically with medication, family support, religion, and exercise, understanding the potential for relapse. These elements facilitated her recovery journey.

The Revival of Islamic Psychology (Ilm an-Nafs)

Muslim man making dua mental health

With the increase awareness of the importance of mental health and well-being within the last few decades, Western Psychology has gotten traction with various therapeutic interventions and concepts such as Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Attachment-focused therapy, Trauma-Informed Therapy, and even mindfulness being brought into sessions. Names such as Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and van der Kolk are familiar within the world of psychology.

However, a forgotten area of psychology and psychiatry is making its revival in recent years. Helmed by Muslim pioneers such as Zayd Al-Balkhi, Ibn Miskawayh, Al-Ghazali, and modern psychologists such as Dr. Malik Badri, Dr. Abdallah Rothman, and Dr. Rania Awaad, Islamic Psychology or Ilm an-Nafs is now a field that has received significant attention. Research labs such as Stanford’s Muslim Mental Health Lab & Islamic Psychology, Khalil Center, and associations like International Association of Islamic Psychology (IAIP) providing research and services within this field. 

What sets the field of Islamic Psychology apart from Western Psychology is specifically the study of the human soul in relation to our fitrah (innate human nature as created by Allah) and the journey back to Allah s.w.t. in this temporary world. This distinction is rooted in Islamic teachings, particularly in verses such as Surah Al-Baqarah 2:286:

لَا يُكَلِّفُ ٱللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا

Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear” 

(Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:286) 

In this verse, the word “soul” is further understood to be the four parts of the self; aql (mind), nafs (self), qalb (heart), and ruh (spirit), and Islamic4. Psychology becomes a field where it aims to understand the relationship and impact that this dunya (earthly world) has on the four parts of the self in our soul’s journey back to Allah s.w.t. 

Accordingly, this field and paradigm merges and adopts concepts found within established religious texts and traditions such as fitrah, tazkiyatun nafs (spiritual purification), akhlaq (morality and ethics), Islamic philosophy, theology, and the work of Muslim pioneers such as Al-Ghazali, Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Khaldun and Al-Balkhi to help us better understand and guide our soul back to Allah s.w.t as our sole purpose as Muslims5.

How is Islamic Psychology Different from Muslim Mental Health?

From the abovementioned pointers, it can be observed that the field of ‘Islamic Psychology’ differs from Muslim Mental Health due to the concepts and focus applied in each field. 

In the field of Muslim Mental Health, we focus on understanding and addressing the unique experiences and difficulties faced by individuals who identify as Muslim. This includes exploring how being Muslim shapes their identity and the challenges they encounter due to their faith, beliefs, religious practices, and cultural background.

By delving into these aspects, a deeper understanding is gained of each person's perspective and struggles. This understanding enables professionals to offer guidance and support tailored to their specific needs and cultural context. The goal would be to assist individuals in finding ways to improve their well-being, heal from any emotional or psychological wounds, and grow as valued members of their community, all while honouring their religious and cultural identity.

Muslim and non-Muslim mental health professionals working on Muslim’s mental health may adopt a Western Psychology’s paradigm including psychodynamic, behavioural, cognitive, and humanistic/existential psychology, while integrating Islamic terminologies and concepts in sessions with their clients.

Mental health professional assistance help

Whereas the Islamic Psychology paradigm adopts the relationship and theoretical underpinnings between the interplay of the four parts of the self (nafs, aql, qalb, ruh) to better understand the individual’s soul and in guiding them towards the fitrah of Allah s.w.t through means that can guide the soul back to Allah s.w.t, including tazkiyatun-nafs, muhasabah (self-discipline), tawbah (repentance), tawadhu’ (humility), tafakkur (deep reflection), and many others6. Mental health professionals working within the Islamic Psychology paradigm, may or may not use Western Psychology concepts within sessions with their clients to further complement their sessions.

Read: Repentance in Islam

Conclusion: For a Psychologically Healthy Ummah 

Exploring the distinction between ‘Islamic Psychology’ and ‘Muslim Mental Health’ by uncovering and reviving traditional texts and knowledge provides us with valuable insights and understanding in approaching and addressing matters that the ummah (Muslim community) faces. Fostering collaboration between mental health professionals, community organisations, religious leaders and teachers can further provide a holistic, comprehensive, and inclusive approach to mental health care.

For those going through mental health issues, Rushsidah shares that it is okay to ask for help. You do not have to suffer in silence, and can talk to someone you trust.
Ultimately, in acknowledging and respecting the diversity within Muslim communities and embracing the rich tapestry of Islamic teachings, we can strive towards promoting psychological well-being, resilience, and flourishing among Muslims of all backgrounds for a psychologically healthy ummah.

If you need assistance with your mental health issues, do find out more about Club HEAL’s programmes on their website.

Pergas (Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association) offers the Asatizah Solace Care to provide emotional and spiritual support service. Alternatively, you may also consider the following helplines and online resources:

- Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222 (24 hours)
- Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444 (24 hours) /1-767 (24 hours)
- Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
- MindSG 
- https://mindline.sg/ 

If this article is beneficial to you, explore more of our mental health-related articles here



1 Islam & Mental Health. Institute for Muslim Mental Health.

2 Ciftci, A., Jones, N., & Corrigan, P. W. (2013). Mental health stigma in the Muslim community. Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 7(1).

3 Vaingankar, J. A., Choudhary, N., Chong, S. A., Kumar, F. D. S., Abdin, E., Shafie, S., & Subramaniam, M. (2021). Religious affiliation in relation to positive mental health and mental disorders in a multi-ethnic asian population. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(7).

4 Rothman, A. (2022). Developing a model of Islamic Psychology and psychotherapy: Islamic theology and contemporary understandings of psychology. Routledge Research in Psychology

5 Rassool, G. H. & Luqman, M. M. (2023). Foundations of Islamic Psychology: From classical scholars to contemporary thinkers. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group

6 Purwakania Hasan, A. B. (2018). The implementation of mental health concept by Imam Al-Ghazali in Islamic counseling guidance. Journal of Strategic and Global Studies, 1(1), 1-30.

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