You can listen to Imam Adam’s Khutbah above (starts at 13:08) or read the summary below.
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ
ارْجِعِي إِلَىٰ رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَّرْضِيَّةً
فَادْخُلِي فِي عِبَادِي
Ya ayyatuha alnnafsu almutmainnatu
IrjiAAee ila rabbiki radiyatan mardiyyatan
Faodkhulee fee AAibadee
[To the righteous it will be said], “O reassured soul,
Return to your Lord, well-pleased and pleasing [to Him],
And enter among My [righteous] servants
And enter My Paradise.”
(Surah Al-Fajr, Quran 89:27-30)
All praises are due to Allah, the One who has blessed us with faith, the One that has blessed us with imaan, the One that has blessed us with لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ ٱللَّٰهِ, the One that has blessed us with so much and things that we ask for and the things that we didn’t even ask for. Allah has blessed us in so many ways. And the greatest of those blessings is لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ may Allah make our last words لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ ٱللَّٰهِ.
The Importance of Understanding Psychology
I remember when I went to school for my undergrad to study Islam at Islamic University. It was an interesting place. Most people when they go to Islamic University, they usually go to the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India or Pakistan. And I decided to go to France. That’s an odd place to study Islam because of the pressure in French society on Muslims. Their form of secularism says that they don’t want to see religion in the public space, even if it infringes upon the freedom of the individual. So you have laws in France, for example, where the hijab is banned at public schools. You can’t wear the hijab at a public school which most of our children go to. You also can’t wear the niqab in public places. So many of these kinds of laws exist in France, which is a strange place to study Islam. But the good thing was that it was closer in its experience to what we see here in America.
The kinds of issues that were presented to us, for example, when we were discussing Islamic rulings, we were discussing those things that were happening in France, not the things that were happening in the Middle East, or in India or Pakistan, because those issues were slightly different. Right? What would be the response to a sister who complains that she’s a single mother and cannot do every job, because her work says she cannot work. And there’s no law in place in that country to help with that. That’s simply not an issue that exists somewhere else. So I really appreciated that education that I got there. And my teachers who had lived in that country spoke the language of the people, and really, of all of Europe. And they were able to train me in that way. And this was before, we have very nice schools here in America now.
So some of the subjects that we studied were subjects that are not usually taught at Islamic universities. Specifically history is often not covered in a lot of detail. Psychology, Sociology, علم النفس ; علم الاجتماع these were the things that have been covered, not only from the historical perspective, but also from an Islamic perspective. So today, I’d like to talk a little bit about psychology in Islam. And we didn’t just learn about these things because they were interesting. But something like psychology can help you to understand yourself, your children, your spouse, or future spouse. It can really help you to understand many human relationships.
Many Muslims go into the very hardcore sciences, right? Math, physics, biology, engineering, medicine. There’s nothing wrong with those things. But a lot of times we neglect the human side of things. We neglect psychology, the understanding of people. How many of us have conflict in our relationships, whether it is with our families, with our children, with our elders? How many of us feel anxiety all of a sudden? All of a sudden, you’re anxious, and you don’t know why and you’re under a lot of stress that you don’t know why. The solution to these things is to understand your psychology and to spend time understanding yourself.
When it comes to marriage, I work with young people. So young people come to me and their parents also come to me. “I have a daughter or a son, I’m looking to get married, and so on.” A lot of times people become very anxious around these kinds of issues because we don’t get trained in these issues, do we? We spent 20-25 years becoming a doctor or an engineer or a lawyer. And we spend 10 minutes and the Imam gives us advice at the nikkah. That’s our marital education, isn’t it? The first marital education is the way that our parents were and the second marital education is those 10 minutes when we are doing our nikkah.
So understanding psychology can help us to navigate our relationships. When it comes to understanding how to raise children here in America. Don’t you want your children to grow up to be Muslims? Don’t you want them to follow your deen and to follow the Quran and the Sunnah. So you have to understand the psychology of your child. Not every child is the same. Some children want companionship or they want friends. Some of them want intellectual stimulation. Some of them are more about the lifestyle of being a Muslim. So you have to understand that not everyone works the same.
And so the Quran talks about the importance of emotional and mental health. And so I want to do a two part Khutbah. The first part, I’ll talk about the general principles that exist in the Quran with regards to that, and then in the second khutbah hopefully something more about mental health and how we can apply that inshallah.
Psychological Concepts in the Quran
Physical and Mental Health
So the first example of psychology in the Quran that I can think of is in the story of Yusuf (as). What happens in the story of Yusuf (as)? We know that he has a dream, he tells his father, and his father tells him not to tell his brothers. His brothers find out anyway, they conspire against him, and they betray him. Then he is sold into slavery and then he’s imprisoned and forgotten for many years. So he goes through many trials. But that story is known in the Quran as احسن القصاص – Ahsan ul Qasas, which says “the best of stories.”
It was revealed at a time when the Prophet (pbuh) was under great affliction because of the rejection that he faced by his own family, his own uncle Abu Lahab, his own tribe of Quraysh. The rejection that he faced was from family. In many ways, the betrayals that he faced were from his family, and Yusuf (as) also faced those betrayals. And so the miracle of the story of Yusuf (as) in Surah Yusuf is that it predicted that there will come a time when the Prophet (pbuh), his brothers will come back to him and seek forgiveness from him, just like Yusuf’s brothers did for him.
And so in that story, one of the things that happens is that when Yaqub (as) looses Yusuf, then he becomes fully in grief. He’s grieving over Yusuf, and his sons say to him, “you are in so much grief that you are going to perish. You’re going to destroy yourself out of grief.” And one of the things that happens is that Yaqub loses his eyesight out of grief for Yusuf. And when Yusuf is returned to him, then his eyesight returns. There was an acknowledgment there that our emotional and mental health affects our physical health. And there was no jinn there, right? There was no jinn affecting his eyesight. But it was the loss of his son, that grief, that led to the loss of his eyesight. And when his son was back in his life and فَارْتَدَّ بَصِيرًا (fa-ir’tadda baṣīran) – his eyesight came back. There’s this interconnectedness between the physical health and the emotional and mental health and the Quran acknowledges that.
I have always been fascinated by the concept of placebo. A placebo is that when doctors and researchers run the medical trial, they’ll give patients a pill that is empty (nothing but water or sugar maybe) and they will give them the actual pill. In one study, they give two medicines that were completely empty. One costed 10 cents a pill, and the other one was worth $2 a pill. They told the patients this and the patients took the pill. The ones who took the 10 cent pill that was worth 10 pennies, 50% of them said we feel less pain. And the ones who took the $2 pill, 80% of them said we feel less pain. And in both cases both of the pills were empty pills. They were nothing. Just being told the value of the pill and having that intention taking the pill reduced their pain. And that shows you the power of intention. And our deen, isn’t it about intention? Doesn’t it praise intention and having good intentions and to act with purpose?
The Prophet (pbuh) said – إِنَّمَا الْأَعْمَال بِالنِّيَّاتِ “indeed, all actions are judged by their intentions.” So there’s this acknowledgement in the Quran and the Sunnah, that our mind and our bodies are connected. And just in the way that we take care of our bodies, we should also take care of our mind. If our body is diseased, then what do we do? If our body is ill we go to a doctor and we seek help. We seek advice from someone who is trained in the body and trained in the health of the body. And then that person is not going to answer all the questions. He might refer you to someone who specializes in your specific part of the body. Same thing with mental health.
A lot of people come to me complaining about mental issues, issues in their marriage, issues with their children, and so on, and that’s fine. To seek that help of an imam, one-on-one advice, one sit down, one meeting to two meetings is fine. But anything more than that, you should seek the help of someone who is a professional in that. Alhamdulillah, we have Muslims who have specialized in this, not enough of them, definitely not enough them, but there are Muslims who have specialized in it and who can help you in that. Being able to notice someone who’s trained becomes very important. In Islam we believe in treating the mind just like we treat our body.
The Three Stages of the Nafs
The second aspect that comes out to me in the Quran, in terms of psychology, is the three stages of the nafs. And this was before Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If you’re familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy, basically he says once your basic needs are fulfilled. If you are hungry, and you are thirsty, you don’t care about morals and values and principles. But if your hunger and your thirst is quenched, then you can move on to the next need. You can think about the next thing. Even the Prophet (pbuh) said that, “poverty leads to kufr,” that poverty can lead to disbelief because your needs are not fulfilled. And so the Quran talks about three stages of the nafs.
The first stage that the Quran talks about is – إِنَّ النَّفْسَ لَأَمَّارَة – nafs-ul-ammarah – the commanding nafs. The nafs that tells you to focus on your basic instincts (food, water, shelter, family.)
Then you have the second stage of the nafs لنَّفْسِ اللَّوَّامَةِ – nafs-ul-lawwamah which literally means the accusing nafs. That’s the nafs you can call the conscience. When you do something wrong, you feel guilty. Especially the first time you lie, the first time you steal, you feel guilty. The second time it’s a little easier. Because as the Prophet (pbuh) said our hearts become dark when we repeat acts. When we seek forgiveness and we change our ways, then we can remove that darkness from our hearts. But if we continue then the heart becomes sealed and we ask Allah to protect us from that.
And the third stage of the nafs – النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ – nafs-ul-mutmainnah which is the content nafs, the satisfied nafs. The nafs not just that has satisfied those needs, but has reached contentment, contentment with their stage in life, with their position, the rizq that Allah has given them. That is the nafs to which Allah says in Surah Al-Fajr –
يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ (Ya ayyatuha alnnafsu almutmainnatu) oh you content satisfied, happy soul – ارْجِعِي إِلَىٰ رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَّرْضِيَّةً (IrjiAAee ila rabbiki radiyatan mardiyyatan) come back to your master – رَاضِيَةً مَّرْضِيَّةً the pleased and pleasing, pleased with Allah and pleasing to Allah. فَادْخُلِي فِي عِبَادِي (Faodkhulee fee AAibadee) enter amongst my other righteous slaves وَادْخُلِي جَنَّتِي (Waodkhulee jannatee) and enter My Paradise.
And that is the reward of that soul that is content, that is satisfied, in those levels that are mentioned in the Quran.
Hope and Despair
The third, very important psychology in the Quran, is the idea of hope and despair. If you look in the Quran where Allah talks about paradise, paradise represents our hope when He talks about jahannam which talks about our despair or fear. Then He talks about them always together. He doesn’t only talk about hell because if He only talked about hell then we would despair. We would lose hope. He doesn’t only talk about jannah because that would lead to inaction. Instead he talks about both together. Yes, Allah has justice. There is punishment, there is justice, but there is also reward. So the believer is meant to be between hope and fear.
And the believer is not meant to lose hope. Allah says –
وَلَا تَيْأَسُوا مِن رَّوْحِ اللَّهِ
wala tayasoo min rawhi Allah
do not lose hope in the mercy of Allah.
إِنَّهُ لَا يَيْأَسُ مِن رَّوْحِ اللَّهِ إِلَّا الْقَوْمُ الْكَافِرُونَ
innahu la yayasu min rawhi Allahi illa alqawmu alkafiroona
only disbelieving people lose hope.
(Surah Yusuf, Quran 12:87 )
It’s interesting that Allah uses a verb, uses a fi’al to talk about not losing hope. You have to take action. If you feel in a mode where you are depressed, or you are despairing, where you are losing hope, then you must take action on that. Whether it is seeking the help of your family, seeking the help of your friends, seeking the help of someone at the masjid, the imam, seeking the help of someone who is a professional in that. Because even the Prophet (pbuh), he did not go at it alone, did he?
The Quran talks us about the Prophet’s (pbuh) psychology. In Surah Al-Kahf which we read every single Jummah – فَلَعَلَّكَ بَاخِعٌ نَّفْسَكَ “maybe you are going to destroy yourself” because of their disbelief and because of their actions, عَلَىٰ آثَارِهِمْ because of their actions. And so the Prophet (pbuh) is feeling it. And the Prophet (pbuh) has a state of mind and his state of mind is suffering because of the actions and the beliefs of these people.
So even the Prophet’s (pbuh) psychology is mentioned in the Quran. Actually the Prophet (pbuh) has a whole year in his seerah, in his biography, which is known as ‘Ām al-Ḥuzn– the year of sadness. The year of grief, when both his wife and his uncle Abu Ta’lib, his two greatest supporters, they both passed away. And the Prophet (pbuh) had an ‘Ām al-Ḥuzn, a year of sadness. That is when Allah granted him the rewards and the hope in Al Isra’ wal Miraj and he ascended to the heavens to meet Allah.
And that brings me to the verse of the Quran where Allah says –
لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا
La yukallifu Allahu nafsan illa wusAAaha
Allah does not burden a soul more than it can handle.
(Surah Baqarah, Quran 2:286 )
So whatever we are going through with our family, with our work, whatever it is that we are going through, there is a way out. لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا. Allah only burdens us with what we can handle. Yusuf (as) was going through trial after trial, right? Betrayed by his own flesh and blood, into the well, sold into slavery, betrayed by his master’s wife, into prison, forgotten in prison. And then the king brings him out. And so all of the purpose behind all of those things eventually becomes known. It’s not apparent when Yusuf (as) is in the well, it’s not apparent to him when he’s traveling to Egypt, it’s not apparent to him in the house of the Aziz, the noble man of Egypt. It’s not apparent there. But later on, it becomes apparent that Yusuf is the answer to the problems of that society. He is the one who takes the reins of the treasury and devotes himself to his society and to his people. Those people, the ones who sold him into slavery, he devotes himself to those people. That purpose was not clear at first. Allah does not burden anyone except what they handle.
So the story of Yusuf is the story of hope in the face of despair. It was very easy for Yusuf to give up in the well, to give up while being carried by strangers to Egypt as a young boy, to give up when he was faced with what he was faced with in the home of his master, to give up when he was in prison, to give up when he was forgotten in prison. When he did someone a favor and said, “make sure you’ve mentioned me to the king,” and then he forgot for years. He could’ve despaired at all those times, but he kept his trust in Allah and Allah’s purpose for Yusuf was fulfilled.
How True Change Happens
The fourth point from the Quran about psychology and this is very important. We look at transformation and how true change happens. I asked a therapist about issues that the community faces- drug issues, issues in youth, families and so on. You know what’s the one thing he told me? He said, “if someone doesn’t want to change, you cannot force them to change.” It doesn’t matter how eloquent you are. It doesn’t matter what are the words that you choose. There’s no magic sentence that you can say. If someone does not, in their mind, want to change, they can never change. If there is no room to change, then you cannot force them to change.
And that is exactly what Allah says in the Quran –
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ
inna Allaha la yughayyiru ma biqawmin hatta yughayyiroo ma bianfusihim
Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.
(Surah Ar-Ra’ad, Quran 13:11)
We complain about the administration, the White House. Everyone’s thinking, in 2020, when we get rid of this administration, that all the problems will be solved. When, in fact, this administration and the White House is simply a symptom and it’s not going away when you get rid of one person or two people or 10 people. There’s another cause, another disease that needs to be treated. There’s something else there. And we all know it, but we have to change ourselves first
Every Muslim social gathering we are talking about political leaders in this country and that country. But those leaders are a reflection of those societies. The society has to change first. The individuals have to change first. It has to be a bottom-up approach. One time I was at masjid somewhere else, talking to a brother and he was telling me about all the problems. And he said, may be Allah will send us someone to help fix all these problems. I said, “Brother, Allah is not going to send someone, you have to be that person.” And this is what Allah tells us. Allah might send someone and I am not saying Allah can’t, of course. But you have to be that person to change. You have to fix it. Allah has given you the ability, freewill, action, the ability to create something, to make something, it’s in your hands. You have to be that leader. You have to be that person to fix the problems. And so these are the four things that I wanted to discuss today.
- The connection between our physical health and our mental health.
- How Allah talks about the stages of the nafs, the needs of the nafs.
- The idea of a balance between hope and despair or hope and fear.
- The idea that true change starts with oneself.
So I ask Allah that He helps us to understand this and bring this into our lives. Ameen.
أقول قولي هذا وأستغفر الله لي ولكم ولسائر المسلمين فَاسْتَغْفِرُوهُ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
I say what you have heard and I seek forgiveness from Allah for me and you from every sin.
In conclusion, I was to give you some actionable points. I would say:
- Practice having good intentions. We are the ummah of Alhamdulillah. Our book, our Quran, starts with Alhamdulillah. Ask any Muslim, “How are you?” He would reply “Alhamdulillah.” “How is the weather?” Alhamdulillah. “How’s the weather in June?” Alhamdulillah. We are the community of Alhamdulillah. Try to have good intentions, try to move away from pessimism and cynicism and be optimistic.
- Seek help when you need it just like the Prophet (pbuh). He had his companions, he had his Sahabah. When Jibrāʾīl came to him and he thought may be Jibrāʾīl was a demon, he went to Khadijah and he asked for support from Khadijah and she was the one to tell him, “No, this is something good definitely. I know you. I know who you are.” So seek help when you are needed
- Remember that the change starts with us. Change starts with each individual person. And the change that they can make around themselves.
I ask Allah that He help us to have good intentions, that He help us to be optimistic, that He removes pessimism and cynicism from our hearts. I ask Allah that He help us to seek help when we need it from those around us. I ask Allah that He help us to change and remember that change starts with us. I ask Allah that if anyone has any needs, ya Allah, fulfill those needs. If anyone is sick, ya Allah, cure them. If anyone is passed away, ya Allah, forgive them and give their family patience, and ya Allah grant us the ability to take action for ourselves and our community. And ya Allah forgive us for our shortcomings and our sins and our mistakes. Ameen.
عِبَادَ اللّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَيَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ
Servants of Allah. Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.
اُذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ الْعَظِيمَ يَذْكُرْكُمْ واشْكُرُوهُ يَزِدْكُمْ واسْتَغْفِرُوهُ يَغْفِرْ لكُمْ واتّقُوهُ يَجْعَلْ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَمْرِكُمْ مَخْرَجًا
Remember Allah, the Great – He will remember you. Thank Him for His favors – He will increase you therein. And seek forgiveness from Him – He will forgive you. And be conscious of Him – He will provide you a way out of difficult matters.
And, establish the prayer.
What did you think? Please share your reflections and questions below.
And come back next week for another khutbah!