Tests, patience, and trust in Islamic counselling

Islamic counselling is taking the psychology profession by storm. We are observing the growing awareness of mental health in the Muslim community, as well as finding more platforms to vocalise the demand for faith-based interventions. Clients often explicitly express their relief in finding a counselling space open enough to embrace variables of their cultural background, as well as religious practices and spiritual understanding. It might also be a fact that, for the first time, a Muslim client can find himself understood and not reprimanded or judged.


What is Islamic counselling?

Islamic counselling truly offers the unconditional acceptance for who you are at that very moment in your life. Power of acceptance, the quality of the relationship with the counsellor, and the comfort of being among 'your own' are also found in spiritual counselling's research to be the most effective factors in the face of clinical results.

"And surely We will test you until We make evident those who strive among you and the patient ones, and We will test your affairs" - Q 47:31

What is so different about Islamic counselling is that it shines a different light on psychology and religious education. Muslim clients are no longer affected by condescending attitudes, but rather try to make psycho-spiritual sense out of their worldly experience. In the face of havoc, the Muslim community often finds itself giving Nasiah - advice on subjects such as Sabr (patience), and Tawba (repentance).

In Arabic, a word for tribulation, mess, chaos, or life-pain is Ibtila, however, in popular culture, it is often interpreted as a clear punishment from God. Muslims, therefore, advise one another to purify in the forms of Sadaka (charity) and Salah (prayers). Reliance on God, however, was never meant to be understood for bargaining. Islamic counsellors can refrain this misconception for a client and give them a perspective which is compatible with their emotional and spiritual experiences.

Weltschmerz is unavoidable and is presented in Islam as God’s promise. Ibtila had always been prescribed for people, and evidence is found in the Seera - the biography of the prophet and other prophets before him. According to scholars, the higher the rank you achieve in this world, the tougher tests (of your character) you will encounter. During Islamic counselling, therefore, clients learn new skills, change their habits, and broaden their paradigms.

In general practice, new habits will hopefully lead to perfection in any aspects of life experiences, however, in the matters of psycho-spiritual interventions, it is important to put things into perspective. Accordingly, in the Quran, we are all tested for the main and the only true purpose - to revisit our alliance with God. The difficulties in life will take on a different shape: financial hitches, relationships heartaches, chronic diseases, and of course mental and emotional health implications such as anxiety or depression.

'Allah has sent down both the disease and the cure, and He has appointed a cure for every disease, so treat yourselves medically, but use nothing unlawful" - Abu Dawud

Islamic counselling incorporates the pivotal aspect of faith and therapeutic paradigm - a self-responsibility for our own health. Clients are not only welcomed to self-express but are most applauded for taking conscious control over their affairs and state of mind.

Islamic counselling tends to be the first step towards the practice of self-accountability for emotional and mental experiences towards oneself, others, and for God. The perspective of the infinity of life and a promise of liability for our actions serve as a motivation and a hope for 'better times'. The state of consciousness, when the client understands that everything is happening to them for the best of reasons, such as building character or equipping oneself with life skills, creates a degree of anticipation on the journey of becoming the best version of themselves.

"How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs, are all good, and that does not apply for anyone except the believer. If something good happens to him he gives thanks, and that is good for him; if something bad happens to him he bears it with patience, and that is good for him" - Muslim

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