Faith is Believing, Not Feeling – Dr. Ingrid Mattson

There may be times when we feel that we aren’t benefiting from our faith. But true faith is when we still believe that Allah will do what He has promised. In this address, Dr. Ingrid Mattson explains this concept in relation to the believer’s heart, mind, and actions.

How can Faith Benefit Me?

If faith is so beneficial, why are so many Muslims hurting each other? And why are they hurting?

When we see people who have hurt, we need to realize that many people have developed habits to help them survive in difficult times. These habits could come in the form of anger, dependency, and distancing themselves from others.  Rather than rush to judge them, we should rush to support them in their physical, mental and spiritual rehabilitation. Furthermore, we should strive to change the difficult and unjust circumstances that made them the way they were. Our faith tells us that we have been created whole, not broken, receptive to Allah and what He determines to be good. We have the inmate potential to connect with Him, and feel like we are coming home.

Depression: A Spiritual Disorder?

One of the fruits of our faith, is that it gives us happiness and hope, both in this world and in the next. But does that mean that a person who despairs because of depression or a related mental illness, is sinful or has low faith?

No, because someone who loses hope because of a mental condition, is not the same as someone who believes that there is no meaning to life from a philosophical or intellectual viewpoint. A person can have faith and be depressed as an emotional state, but not a spiritual state. Depression is not a spiritual illness, but a psychological and an emotional one. The real test is for the ones who do not suffer from those conditions, to support those who do have them. The onus is on those who are capable, not on those who are not.

Resources for Seekers

How the Qur’an Shapes the Sunni Community – Dr. Ingrid Mattson

How does the Qur’an shape the Sunni Community? What role should communities play in interpretation of the Qur’an? Dr. Ingrid Mattson explores these questions at the Boniuk Institute.

Cover Photo by Umar Nasir. Our gratitude to the Boniuk Institute for this recording.

Resources for seekers

Listening for God: Developing an ear for the Qur’an, By Dr. Ingrid Mattson

Listening for God

Listening for God: Developing an ear for the Qur’an, By Dr. Ingrid Mattson

Capturing the Spirit of Ramadan
Mercy, Forgiveness and Salvation

Every night our Ramadan scholars will explore one of the three key spiritual goals of Ramadan. Each talk will conclude with a dynamic conversation as we explore mercy, forgiveness and salvation deeply and see how we can attain these divine gifts practically. These talks will enliven and inspire us as we begin our nightly ‘isha and tarawih prayers.

Daily at 10:00 pm EST. Attend in person at SeekersHub Toronto or watch live. 

Let’s #GiveLight to Millions More

We envision a world in which no one is cut off from the beauty, mercy and light of the Prophetic ﷺ example. A world where the dark ideology of a few is dwarfed by radiant example of the many who follow the way of the Prophet ﷺ. But we can’t do it alone. We need your support. This Ramadan, we need you to help us #GiveLight to millions more. Here’s how.

Photo Credit: Ozma

Don’t Complain for a Day and Focus on the Blessings (30 Deeds, 30 Days), by Dr. Ingrid Mattson

Don't Complain

Don’t Complain for a Day and Focus on the Blessings (30 Deeds, 30 Days), by Dr. Ingrid Mattson

30 Days, 30 Deeds
Sacred Acts to Transform the Heart

Every night, our scholars in residence explore one simple deed that could have far reaching spiritual impact on our lives – and the lives of others. Every day we’ll make the intention to put that teaching into practice. Whether it’s forgiving someone who’s wronged us or putting service to others at the top of our list of priorities, these powerful lessons will remind us of the great gift the Prophet ﷺ‎  gave us: the best of character.

Daily at 8:10 pm EST. Attend in person at SeekersHub Toronto or watch live.

Let’s #GiveLight to Millions More

We envision a world in which no one is cut off from the beauty, mercy and light of the Prophetic ﷺ example. A world where the dark ideology of a few is dwarfed by radiant example of the many who follow the way of the Prophet ﷺ. But we can’t do it alone. We need your support. This Ramadan, we need you to help us #GiveLight to millions more. Here’s how.

Photo credit: Mycroyance

How Can Muslims Become More Effective Community Members?

How can Muslims be effective community members? Is it possible to step outside the framework and associated pitfalls of identity politics? How can Muslims be more grounded in communities where they live? These are some of the questions Dr. Ingrid Mattson asks and then answers by providing an alternative framework with five key areas that Muslims can focus on to be purposeful contributors in their localities.

On Fences and Our Neighbours. Dr Ingrid Mattson reflects.

Religions for Peace USA’s Our Muslim Neighbor Initiative  is a national effort to end Islamophobia. Since the Paris attacks the U.S. has seen an increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric that isolates our Muslim neighbors and feeds into a culture of fear. What can you do to counteract this trend?
Ingrid-MattsonFor the last three years the Our Muslim Neighbor Initiative has been on the ground in Tennessee buidling communities of trust across racial and religious lines. Over the years, they have developed strategies and resources to help people reach out and relate to their neighbors, to understand Islam and Muslims better, and to build communities of trust that break down stereotypes eating away at the goodwill that is so necessary for strong communities to thrive. To that end, they invited Dr. Ingrid Mattson to address the issue. Dr Mattson is a professor of Islamic Studies and the London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at Huron University College, at the University of Western Ontario. She is also the former president of the Islamic Society of North America.
Watch Dr Mattson’s lecture below and read her article on the same topic.

Resources for seekers:

Gems from the Inspired by the Beloved ﷺ Retreat – Imam Ibrahim Long

Inspired Retreat Group Photo On November 16, 2013, I had the great pleasure of meeting with Muslim chaplains, social workers, counselors, and graduate students from across southern Ontario for the first (I hope of many)
Inspired by the Beloved  ﷺretreats.
The idea for the retreat actually came from Dr. Ingrid Mattson who, after moving back to Canada, encouraged me to organize an event that would bring together Muslim chaplains in the southern Ontario region. Following this, and after circulating this idea among local Muslim chaplains, I encountered Muslim social workers (passionately dedicated to their practice), who professed to be experiencing related needs. So, with this in mind, and recognizing the many similarities between our caring professions, our chaplaincy event became a retreat dedicated to caring professionals (chaplains, social workers, and counselors) who have each been inspired by the Belovedﷺ.
Prayer Room EntranceOur retreat was focused on the various ways our spirituality both impacts and is impacted by our practice as chaplains, social workers, and counselors. Following Dr. Mattson’s opening presentation (discussed below), time was provided for attendees to introduce themselves. It was exciting to hear of chaplains, social workers, and counselors coming from as far as Alberta, Hartford, Ottawa, and London for this event. Soon after this, we were engaging in a discussion on “What makes Islamic chaplaincy Islamic?” It was enlightening to hear the varying viewpoints, some in disagreement and other supporting of another’s particular perspective.
During our discussion, two articles were cited and recommended:
Dharamsi, S. & M. Abdullah (2012). Islamic-Based Interventions. In S. Ahmed & M. M. Amer (Eds.) Counseling Muslims: A Handbook of Mental Health Issues and Interventions (pp. 135-160). New York: Routledge.
Islam: Between Old Fundamentalism, New Fundamentalism and Modern Sincerity by Sherman Jackson 
Later, during a case study which I facilitated with Adeel Zeb, attendees had the opportunity to role play a critical chaplaincy incident (one person playing the “chaplain,” another person playing the one seeking their help, and others observing). It was a great exercise which allowed individuals to get a feel for how they might provide care (or how they might like to receive care) in a unique and critical situation while receiving feedback from peers. It is difficult to put into words the excellent experiential learning that came out of this activity, but it was wonderful to see everyone passionately engaging the exercise and the various ways the “chaplains” sought to provide care.
And, finally, our day ended with a group reflection on a Qu’ranic verse led by Habeeb Alli, and an in-depth presentation on the signs of symptoms of compassion fatigue by AbdurRashid Taylor.
Since the event, individuals have contacted me for my notes and take away points. Thus, for their benefit, and yours, I have compiled five brief points derived from Dr. Mattson’s presentation below. I pray they are of benefit.

1. Muslim chaplaincy is an attempt to more fully implement the sunnah of the Beloved ﷺ; recognizing the importance of emulating his way of being with those he cared for in addition to following his words and actions.
2. Many who provide Muslim spiritual care do so in a directive manner; usually teaching and advising those in need. However, not all in need are ignorant or uninformed. They may benefit most from your modeling a calm-presence amidst their crisis, affirming their faith and desire to do what is right, and collaborating with them so they may reach their own conclusions.
3. In emulation of the Prophet’s sunnah, individuals may implement the form (i.e., how he did it) while neglecting the function (i.e. the purpose). For example, an individual may hold on to the hand of another (when shaking hands) without letting go in emulation of the Prophet ﷺ without recognizing that holding onto another’s hand served a purpose of letting them know: “I am here for you as long as you need me.” This was further expressed by the Prophet’s practice of turning his whole face in the direction of the one he is speaking with, letting them know that they have his full attention.
4. Chaplains specialize in caring for people in times of crisis and transition; and being in transition in life has become a general norm in contemporary North American society. Individuals, at varying times in their life, may be struggling with issues related to becoming an adult, or parent, learning how to be a husband, or wife, learning how to live on one’s own and/or away from family, and struggling with new physical, psychological, spiritual, and social challenges. And, these transitions may be an individual’s choice or forced upon them by others and/or external circumstances.
5.Chaplaincy is often times spoken of as “journeying with” or “walking beside the patient/ client/ individual.” Such language is appropriate to adopt as it is completely indigenous to the Islamic tradition. Consider, for instance, the Sirat al-Mustaqim (Straight Path), spiritual orders as turuq (pathways), or the title of Imam Malik’s famous hadith collection al-Muwatta (The Well-Trodden Path). Moreover, recall that the Prophet (peace be upon him) encouraged us to “be in this world like a traveller.” And, it was the Prophet’s custom to never travel alone.  
We are hoping to meet again for another Inspired by the Beloved ﷺ retreat. If you are interested in hearing more about this, or have any questions or suggestions, feel free to contact me: [email protected]
Other blogs by Imam Ibrahim Long:
The Messenger I Love
Selected Prophetic Prayers for Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Wellbeing
“What happened to Ahmad?”: Responding to Muslim Youth at Risk