Using the aphorisms from the Prophet (PBUH), some people undergo a lot of stress, emotional experiences and psychological conflict, and as a result, they are affected by mental illness. The person who suffers from mental illness can be diagnosed with three signs:
1. disturbed perception of themselves and others
2. Incompatible behavior
3. Feeling Miserable
A person with mental illness has confusing and distorted perception of reality and himself, therefore, his behavior is considered inconsistent and abnormal in people's view. He also suffers from mental pains and inability because of the anxiety caused by unconscious mental conflicts. Mental illness leads to the inability of the patient in expressing his opinion and judgment and doing his responsibilities efficiently and seriously and having a proper and healthy relationship with reality and people. (1)
Mental illness can result from improper learning which has occurred due to the definite pressures and suffering conditions to which the person exposed before. This improper learning has led to person's perception disorder of himself and the world around him and to learning specific ways of abnormal behavior in interaction with reality and people. It is possible that new learning occurs under proper and compatible conditions, in a way that the person gets a proper perception of himself, reality and people and learns new behaviors which are more compatible and satisfying. "Psychotherapy" refers to a directed action- necessarily based on psychological approaches- which the psychologist or psychiatrist uses to make this change in person's personality and behavior to make his life better and more productive. (2)
Islam made fundamental changes in people’s opinion, thoughts, habits, behaviors and manners to guide and lead humans and releasing him from ignorance, confusion and unpleasant habits and mean manners. Islam changed human understanding and perception of himself and gave him a new sense of life and his real mission in life. It changed bad thoughts and bad habits and taught humans new ways in living, thinking and in perception of oneself and others. In the area of ethics and social interaction, it taught him new techniques. Islam also taught him many human values and important characteristics that are important for realizing mental security, health and mental health.
The Prophet (PBUH) has always tried to provide mental and physical health for his companions. He also tried to cure mental and physical illnesses. Here, we study the methods he applied to modify his companions' behavior and mentally cure their behavior disorders.
Psychotherapy with faith
Having faith in God and worshiping him is not only an essential factor in mental health, but also an essential factor in the treatment of mental illness, because faith in God and approaching him strengthens spiritual aspects of human through prayers, piety (taqwa), and obedience to God and his messenger avoiding what God and the prophet prohibits, and enables the potentials in him which affect all his physical and mental functions. These energy resources give extraordinary power to the person and affect his body and mind in a way that he can get over his physical and mental illnesses. There are narratives on the influence of mental power in body in several hadith books from the prophet and it is said that the prophet went on fasting for several days but he prohibited his followers from this kind of fasting -vesal- and told them: "I am not like you, My God gives me food and water". (3)
It can be understood from this hadith that the Prophet (PBUH) received spiritual food from God and this food gave wonderful power to him, so that he could go on some days without food and water and without getting sick. This indicates the influence of spiritual power in body. One of the other reasons of spiritual power's effect on body and its functions is the prophet’s words (PBUH) to Hanzala Osidi in response to his question: “O, Prophet Muhammad, when we are with you and you talk about heaven and hell, we feel like as if we see them and when we leave and go to our family and home, we forget many things.” And the prophet said to him:
"I swear to God who has life in his hand, if you come to me and always keep God in your mind, angels always shake hands with you in your beds, in alleys, in the market, but O Hanzala, there are different mood to human every hour.” The prophet said this sentence three times. (4)
This hadith shows that approaching God through prayers and dhikr (citation; remembrance) creates a state of clearness and transparency in human and releases his spiritual energy from physical and material constraints, in this case human can perceive things he cannot understand while he is busy with daily and material life.
Holy Quran and the Prophet (PBUH) in educating human have tried to strengthen his spiritual aspect through blowing faith in his soul, because when his faith and his relation with God is strong, his spiritual energy is released and extraordinary power will be in him which affect his body and mind and heals his weakness or sickness. Nu'man ibn Bashir narrated a hadith from the Prophet (PBUH):
"In the body, there is a part that if it is healthy, all the body will be healthy and if it is corrupt, all the body will be corrupt, and that is the heart.” (5)
According to this hadith, the human betterment begins with improvement from inside, i.e. the reforming the heart; and its way is having faith in God and approaching him through piety, prayers and worship. So if human’s heart is safe and sound and is filled with faith and love, human will be pious and his behaviors and ethics will be beautiful.
Physical and psychological health is essentially based on adherence to the divine fitrah (human nature), i.e. the monotheistic faith and worshiping the Almighty God and passing the way that God has assigned for human and the prophet has shown it by his way of life. As long as human heart is completed with sound fitrah and is accords to divine sharia, human will be normal and havng mental health, but whenever human is affected by improper environmental conditions which distract heart from sound fitrah will have mental illness. Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman narrated from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):
"Insurrections cover hearts like. Every heart that doesn’t accept them will have a white spot and a heart that accepts them will have a dark spot on. So there are two kinds of hearts: one is white and smooth like smooth a rock and will be safe from deceptions and the other one is dark and black and is like an upside-down vase which does not know of any good deed and does not deny any bad deed and only follows its desires." (6)
So a normal person with mental health is the same human with a white and sound heart who is free from deceptions and does not distract his heart from its divine fitrah, i.e. worshiping God. But human with mental illness has a dark heart and the deceptions penetrate into it and distract it from its sound fitrah.
Thus, faith in God and worshiping him leads to proper behavior and prevents deviance, abnormality and mental illness and also cures them, because a person of faith who is adheres to his religion remembers God in his behaviors and words and keeps his faith away from abnormality and deviance and prevents mental illness. In a hadith, the prophet (PBUH) said:
"No thief is a believer when he is stealing. No adulterer is a believer when he is committing adultery. No drinker is a believer when he is drinking. I swear to God who has the life of Muhammad in his hand, none of you is a believer when he steals something valuable in the eyes of the believers and none of you is a believer when he betrays, so be Beware! Be aware!" (7)
True faith in and purity in worshiping God saves mankind from such behavioral disorders.
In another hadith the Prophet (PBUH) said:
"... There cannot be faith and envy together in a heart." (8)
So a heart full of faith in God will not be afflicted with jealousy and such behavioral deviances.
True faith in and purity in worshiping God and having trust (tawakkul) in God saves the believer from such anxiety arising from feeling guilty and it causes feeling peace and security.
God in Quran says:
"Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah . Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured." (9)
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has promised to those who believe in Allah and Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to go to heaven and this hope of going to heaven creates mental peace and security in the lives of believers. Abu Sa'id al-Khudri narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) said:
"Whoever believes in God as the Sustainer, the religion of Islam and Prophet Muhammad will enter heaven." (10)
Having faith in God, adherence to piety and righteousness, provokes peace of mind and contentment and joy and happiness in human being, because God promises a life in this world to believers and an great reward in the hereafter, and says:
"Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer - We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do". (11)
"For those who do good in this world is good; and the home of the Hereafter is better. And how excellent is the home of the righteous. (12)
Lack of faith in God and lack of commitment to piety and performing rites and immersing in worldly pleasures and following the whims and desires lead to a miserable life. About that, God says:
And whoever turns away from My remembrance - indeed, he will have a depressed life, and We will gather him on the Day of Resurrection blind." (13)
Anas ibn Malik narrated that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said:
"Whoever cares and tries only for hereafter, God will make his heart needless and the world will show its good sides to him, and whoever cares and tries only for this world, God will make him needy and his peaceful mind will be distracted and he will get only as he is meant to have in this world.” (14)
Psychotherapy with prayers and devotion
Performing prayers such as prayers, fasting, zakah and hajj that God assigned for us, cleanses our soul and refines our heart and prepares it for receiving light, guidance and wisdom from God.
"So is one whose breast Allah has expanded to [accept] Islam and he is upon a light from his Lord [like one whose heart rejects it]?" (15)
Performing prayers removes sins, raises hope for God's pardon and forgiveness and the desire to go to heaven in human and creates a sense of peace and security in the soul. Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman narrated that the prophet (PBUH) said:
"The sins a man commits regarding his relation with his wife, son, neighbor, his belongings will be removed by fasting, prayer and charity (or zakah) and enjoining good and forbidding wrong.”(16)
In another hadith it is said that a man came to the prophet (PBUH) and said:
"Guide me about a deed that when I do it I will go to heaven. “You should worship God, consider no partner for him, say wajib prayers, pay zakah and fast ….,”said the prophet (PBUH). “I swear to God that holds my life in his hand, I will not do except these,” said the man. When he left, the prophet (PBUH) said that whoever likes to see a man from heaven, look at this man. (17)
In another hidith the Prophet (PBUH) said:
"Whoever believes in Allah and His Messenger and says prayers and fast in Ramadan, God takes him to heaven, whether he does Jihad in the way of Allah or settles in the land he was born.” (18)
Abu Darda narrated that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said:
"There are five things that if everyone adheres to and believes in them will enter heaven: he who says prayers five times in their time with wudhu, rukū, fasts in Ramadan, goes to the Hajj, pays the zakah with satisfaction and upholding trusts (amanah). Abu Darda was asked: what does trusts mean? “Ghusl Janabat,” he said. (19)
Purity in worship helps human approach God and he can gain his affection and satisfaction and when God loves a servant, he will pay special attention to him and helps him in all works. It is said in a hadith from the prophet (PBUH):
"God said: Whoever is an enemy to my friend, I will declare war on him; my servant will not approach through anything more beloved to me than wajebaat (obligatory duties and rites). My servant approaches me through constant prayers until I will love him and when I love him, I will be his ears with which he hears, his eyes with which he sees, his hand with which he works, and his leg with which he walks. If he asks something I will give him and if he seeks refuge, I will be a refuge for him. (20)
This hadith shows that faith in God and approaching him through prayers and righteousness lets human under God’s protection and revives in him the hope for God's forgiveness and entering the heaven. This itself would eliminate the anxiety of guilt and creates a sense of peace and security in human.
Performing the prayers teaches many good traits to human, such as patience and tolerance, fighting with desires and dominating lust and desires, obedience, discipline, loving people and helping them, helping the poor, cooperation and social solidarity and other traits which are considered to be the important indicators of mental health.
A- Psychotherapy by prayers (salat)
Prayers have a significant impact on the treatment of anxiety, because standing before God with humility and obedience, irrespective of the preoccupations and problems of life, provokes peace of mind and confidence in the human mind and eliminates anxiety and nervous tensions caused by the pressures and difficulties of life. (21) The Prophet (PBUH) took refuge to saying prayers whenever an important issue happened to him. Hudhayfah says: "The Prophet (PBUH) used to say prayers whenever he was faced with a problem." (22) or at the time of the adhan (call for prayers) used to tell Bilal:
"O Bilal, comfort us with prayers (call for prayers)." (23)
According to this hadith and the previous one stress on the importance of prayers in creating peace and relaxation in mind. Therefore, prayers have important medical effect on releasing human from anxiety and stress. God has commanded us that when we are surrounded by difficulties and we are under pressure of sorrows and worries, we can get help from prayers:
(And seek help through patience and prayer). (24)
Human's relationship with God while saying prayer gives extraordinary power to human. This spiritual power has a great impact on important changes in body and mind: it eliminates tensions, removes weaknesses, and heals his illnesses. Some practitioners mentioned instant healing of some patients in holy places of Hajj and worship. (25)
Abu Hurairah said that he was suffering from stomachache. The prophet (PBUH) looked at him and said: “Does your abdomen hurt?” “O, Prophet Muhammad, Yes.” I said. “Stand up and say prayers, because prayer is healing.” He said. (26)
This hadith refers to the effect of prayers on healing physical illness. The spiritual energy that prayers release influences the mind: It provokes hope in human, enhances determination, strengthens the perseverance, and releases wonderful abilities in mind which prepares it for receiving knowledge, cognition and enables it to do heroic works. (27)
Prayers have an important influence in healing the feeling of guilt which causes anxiety and anxiety is the root of mental illnesses, because prayers cause sins to be forgiven, remove mind from filth of errors, and raises hope for God’s forgiveness. It is said in a hadith by the prophet (PBUH):
"Do you think if a stream of water passes by the house of one of you and that person washes himself five times in it, will there be any filth on his body?"
They said: "there will be no stain on his body."
He said "saying prayers five times a day is like that. God will cleanse the sins by them". (28)
In another hadiths it is said that:
"A person who performs wudhu and does it well, the sins will be removed from his body even from under his fingernails.” (29)
In another hadith it is said:
"When a Muslim performs wudhu, when he washes his face, all he sins he has committed by his eyes will be washed away with the last drop of water. When he washes his hands, all the sins he has committed with his hands will be washed away with the last drop of water. When he washes his feet, all the sins he has committed with his feet will be washed away with the last drop of water and his sins will be removed." (30)
In another hadith it is stated:
"There is no man who commits a sin and performs wudhu and stands up and says prayers and asks God for forgiveness but he will not be forgiven".
Then he said this verse:
"And those who do evil or wrong should remember God…." (31)
In another hadith it is stated:
"The five daily prayers and the Friday Prayers will remove the sins that have been committed during this time, as long as they have not committed fatal sin." (32)
In another hadith it is stated:
"If a Muslim performs wudhu on the time of prayers and says his prayers with humility, his sins will be forgiven, unless he has committed fatal sins. This covers the whole lifetime.” (33)
Abu Qatadeh narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) has said: "God said: I obligated the five daily prayers and assigned that whoever says them will enter the heaven and whoever does not say them, I will not have any commitment to him.” (34)
And many other hadiths like these have been stated in which the prophet (PBUH) has specified some times when saying prayers will make sins forgiven and makes entering the heaven possible. Including: before sun rise (dawn), before sunset (afternoon), midday, Friday, Al-Qadr night, Ramadan nights, and mid-Sha’ban night.
The Prophet (PBUH) taught his followers that for receiving their wants, problems to get solved and difficulties to be removed and reaching the right option in the cases where the person cannot choose the correct path, they have to get help from prayers (the Hajat prayers, the rain prayers, the Istikhara prayers).
The Prophet (PBUH) recommended his uncle, Abbas, to pray God for forgiveness of all sins, and reminded him of the great impact of prayers on forgiveness. Ibn Abbas narrated that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said to Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib:
"O, Abbas, O, Uncle, Don’t you want me to give you something? Don’t you want me to give you a present? Shall I say ten works that when you do them, God will forgive all your sins, your first and last sin, old and new, unintentional and intentional, little and big, hidden and apparent.” (35)
Then the Prophet explained how to say prayers to him and encouraged him to say them as much as he can: every day, every Friday, every month or every year, or once a lifetime. In another hadith it is said that the prophet (PBUH) said about the prayer:
"If you are the guiltiest people on earth, all your sins will be forgiven with this prayers.” (36)
However, prayers have great effects: it gives peace and comforts human. Releases human from the feeling of guilt, removes anxiety and stress, gives extraordinary spiritual energy to human which helps to recover from physical and mental illnesses and gives a lot of joy and abilities so that he can do great works and also prayers make heart bright and prepare it to receive divine inspirations.
Psychotherapy by Fasting
Fasting has many great benefits; it strengthens the willpower and increases the power to dominate over desires and lusts. God Transcendent says:
"O, you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous." (37)
It means becomes righteous regarding your sins, because fasting breaks down the source of sins which is lust. (38)
In a hadith by the Prophet (SAW) it is said:
"Lord said: each deed belongs to the man himself except for fasting which belongs to and I will reward it myself. Fasting is like a shield. So, whenever one of you is fasting and avoids insults and fights and if someone swears at him or fights with him he say 'I am fasting,…'." (39)
Bukhari narrated that: "Whoever quits eating, drinking and lusts, fasting belongs to me and I will reward it myself and I will reward it tenfold.” (40)
So fasting is like a shield, it prevents you from lust. The one who is fasting can control his desires: he does not eat nor drinks, he does not have intercourse, controls his behavior, does not insult, does not fight, he does not do what makes God angry. Fasting is a kind of domination over motives and emotions and provokes the power to fight lusts and desires. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) recommended fasting to youth who could not get married so that it helps them control their sexual motive.
Fasting is an exercise for tolerating poverty and having patience, and this prepares him to tolerate different kinds of deprivation which may happen in his life. The feeling of deprivation that happens to the one fasting makes him feel the pains that the poor people suffer from and this makes them sympathize with them and help them. Thus, his contact with people will be more and the feeling of belonging to the society will be strengthened and he will be more responsible.
These all make the feeling in the person that he is a helpful member in the society and as a result, he will feel satisfied and he will have mental peace.
Fasting is an effective cure for anxiety and guilt caused by it, because the Prophet (PBUH) has introduced a reward for fasting which is forgiveness of sins and entering heaven and said:
"Whoever fasts because of faith and for the sake of God’s satisfaction in Ramadan, his past sins will be forgiven.” (41)
In another hadith narrated by Abu Sa'id Khedri, the Prophet (PBUH) said that:
“If a man fasts one day for God’s sake, God will keep his face away from the fire for 70 years for one day of fasting.” (42)
Nadhr ibn Sheiban also narrated from his father that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said:
"God has made fasting as an obligation for you, and staying awake at nights in this month is optional, so if anyone fasts because of his faith in God and for God’s sake in this month and stays awake at nights, his sins will be removed, just like the day he was born.” (43)
In some hadiths, specific days are assigned that fasting on those days lead to forgiveness. Including, the Day of Arafah on which fasting removes the past sins. (44) Also there are six days of Shawwal that if anyone fasts in those days, it is like he fasted all his lifetime, (45) and also it is the same about the person who fasts three days of every month. (46)
Psychotherapy by Hajj:
Hajj teaches people to be patient and tolerant against hardships, and teaches to practice fighting and controlling desires, because men do not communicate with women in Hajj, do not insult, does not bother anyone, and does not anything to make God angry, Hajj cures illnesses such as pride, arrogance, because everyone is equal in Hajj, they all wear the same clothes, there is no difference between the rich and the poor. There is equality among women, all stand with humility before God and confess to their inabilities and weakness before God and hope for God’s forgiveness.
The place is full of spirituality and emotions, and it enhances the relationship between God and human and he can approach God; and as a result, human will be full of mystical moods and these moods make him happy.
In Hajj, human is released from hatred or jealousy towards people and love and affection and brotherhood are strengthened in him.
Hajj cures the feeling of guilt because the person who goes on the Hajj knows that the prophet (PBUH) has told us that forgiveness is the reward of the accepted Hajj, where he states:
"From Umrah to Umrah in Mecca is the atonement of the sins which are committed between them, and the reward of the accepted Hajj is the heaven." (47)
In another hadith the prophet (PBUH) stated:
"Whoever goes to the Hajj for God’s sake and obeys God when he comes back from Hajj, he is like the day he was born." (48)
In another hadith narrated by Abdullah ibn Mas'ud, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said:
"Perform Hajj and Umrah repeatedly!, because these two remove the poverty and sins as a furnace that removes impurities in iron, gold and silver and the reward for the accepted Hajj is nothing but the heaven." (49)
The pilgrim in Hajj hopes that God accepts his Hajj and give him his wants and forgives his sins. Thus, he comes back from Hajj being freed from the feeling of guilt and anxiety and is filled with peace, happiness and joy.