The Quran is known by Muslims as a guide towards a more meaningful and purposeful life. Although to the Western world, fully understanding the implications of mental health is fairly new, in Islam it has been prevalent from the very beginning. Awareness of the mind is mentioned in the Quran as nafs, literally meaning the word “self”, but also holds deeper meaning and has been translated to the “soul” or ones “ego”, referring to our desires as human beings. Thus, due to the complexity of the Arabic language, nafs can be used to describe our minds, our hearts and our deepest desires. How we keep this desire under control, is key to understanding how mental health is addressed in Islam and how we can implement this advice in our daily lives.

The Science Part. 

There are three main states of mind that the Quran addresses, the first being Nafs-al-Ammarah, is perhaps the most harmful of them all. As a human being, negative thoughts, moments of sadness and doubt are natural to us all. However, a repetitive pattern of giving into destructive emotions and becoming subordinate to destructive feelings like anger, is proven to lead to emotional turbulence and inner conflict. We can also describe this using cognitive neuroscience. When our brain is being told “no”, we can use functional MRI measures to see the release of stress hormones which disrupts our normal brain function. Thus, the longer we think negatively to ourselves, our brain continues to release these transmissions causing anxiety and irritable behaviour.

What The Quran Says. 

The Quran makes us aware of this and teaches us how to reach a state of nafs-ul-lawammah, which means we are aware of our shortcomings but still strive to perfect them for the sake of Allah. This is a mental state in which many of us can find ourselves in. In describing this state of mind, the Quran teaches us to accept our imperfections and mistakes, recognising that we are all in a constant state of inner conflict between what we should do and what we want. What remains important is that we are always seeking to improve ourselves in all aspects of our lives and striving towards our goals in this life and the next.

Mindfulness Is Key. 

Although the Western world glorifies the concept of blind freedom and giving your heart whatever it wants, this may not necessarily align with what is actually good for us. Mindfulness is a way in which we can discipline ourselves by taking responsibility for our own thoughts and actions towards others and practising positivity, particularly at times when our heart is telling us otherwise. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy aims to help people relieve their stress by implementing adaptive behaviours and taking personal responsibility for one’s own actions. Similarly, the Quran pushes us to become mindful about what we put inside our bodies, and places just as a strong emphasis on what we feed our mind. 



Privacy Preference Center