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Schizophrenia – Fiqh Ruling

Shaykh Salman Younas is asked about the level or degree of religious responsibility of a person who is diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I have schizophrenia as diagnosed by a doctor who is not Muslim. Am I held responsible in terms of prayer, fasting etc?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

We ask Allah to grant you health, well-being, and the strength to cope with this test.

It is not possible to give a definite answer without knowing and observing the details of your condition, especially in light of the fact that schizophrenia is a spectrum disorder.

General Ruling

Generally speaking, being sane and in control of one’s rational faculties, as well as being able to understand the message of God, are conditions for moral responsibility. Someone who is not sane or suffers from deficits in cognitive abilities that renders him unable to understand and carry out divine commands is not under any responsibility to fulfill these commands.

If an individual suffers this condition on a temporary basis, scholars state that he will not be morally responsible for that temporary period. Thus, someone suffering from schizophrenia may find himself not morally responsible for long stretches of time, while he may be obliged at other times, i.e. when his symptoms subside and are not as severe, to perform his daily obligations.

One should note, however, that this is the legal ruling on the matter. From a broader perspective, we recognize that God is infinitely merciful. He is not an entity merely checking off requirements given to us in an exam. God knows the struggles people are undergoing, the challenges we face, the hardship, that we slip sometimes and succeed on other occasions, etc., and He approaches and judges us accordingly.

Suffering in This World

Suffering in this world may seem like an eternity, but it will pass and eventually the door to actual eternity will be opened, and it is here that our suffering will, in the words of one of our teachers, “dwindle to nothing before the next [world] not only quantitatively, because of its eternity, but qualitatively because of its nature.” The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, described this saying:

The person who had the most pleasing life in this world, of any of the people of hell, will be summoned on Resurrection Day and utterly plunged into the hellfire, then asked, ‘O human being, have you ever beheld any good at all; have you ever felt a single joy?’ and he will say, ‘No by God, my Lord.’ And the most miserable sufferer in this world, of any of the people of paradise, will be summoned and utterly plunged into paradise, then asked, ‘O human being, have you ever seen any bad at all; have you ever experienced a single misery?’ and he will say, ‘No by God, my Lord: I have never seen any bad or suffered a single misery.’ (Muslim)

All we are tasked to do is try our best in the situation we find ourselves in and in the little time we are given. One should not lose hope. We should continue striving as best as we can and continue turning to God.

Going Forward

Finally, in your case, I would advise you to connect with family, local scholars, members of the community, and mental-health professionals in your area. Having people around one who care and encourage us to live our lives meaningfully is important because it gives us the strength to persevere. Given the stigma surrounding your condition, this may seem challenging and intimidating, but finding a trusted group of people who support you will be invaluable and necessary.

We ask Allah to make things easy for you and give you the strength to live a life that is pleasing to Him.

Salman

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


How Do I Deal With a Person With Schizophrenia Who Claims to Be Muslim?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

I work as a support assistant, with adults with Schizophrenia. I have one individual that I support who claims to be a Muslim, but he says things like “I am God”. Also, I have seen him praying to Hindu gods. I still treated him like a Muslim, i.e. I asked him whether the meat he was eating halal. How should I deal with him?

Answer: Assalam ‘alaykum. Thank you for your question.

As a care-giver, your role is to support and assist the person with diligence and ihsan, regardless of their faith. If the patient is Muslim in origin, or has said he is Muslim during his sane state, then you should treat him as a Muslim and ignore his words during his schizophrenic episodes.

There does not seem to be any need in your capacity of work to ascertain the patient’s faith, and one should not make takfir of anyone, especially if they are mentally unwell. However, if your role includes choosing what food the patient eats by buying or preparing the patient’s food yourself, then you should choose halal meat for him.

If there are other religious considerations, then I advise you consult his family and discuss his background and history.

May Allah make your work easy and cure our hearts and minds.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.

Seeking Out A Culturally-Sensitive Counsellor, by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Working for the SeekersHub Question and Answer service constantly reminds Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil about the importance of looking after our emotional and mental health.

So many Muslims around the world are struggling with different forms of psychological imbalance. To name a few: anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and so on. These inward fractures mirror the outward fractures we see in our troubled world today.
We live in stressful times, and many of our trials begin in our family homes. Many families lack the knowledge and training necessary to deal with these issues, hence, difficulties often escalate.
I feel like in almost every question I respond to, I encourage the distressed questioner and his/her loved ones to see a culturally-sensitive counsellor.
What does that actually look like? Does he/she have to be Muslim? Not necessarily. That would be ideal, but it’s not always possible.
Some aspects of a culturally-sensitive counsellor are:

Understanding

A counsellor who understands Muslims and what is important to us would be much more in tune with your needs. It’s exhausting to need to justify and explain your stance to an ignorant counsellor. Most people who are at counselling are already tired and stretched thin.

Open-minded

An open-minded counsellor is able to support you even if his/her values are different to yours. This applies to both Muslim and non-Muslim counsellors.

Empowering

Many people enter therapy believing that his/her counsellor will magically solve their problems. This does not solve the long-term issue of whatever caused the issue to begin with e.g. victim mentality, difficulty handling strong emotions etc.
The best kind of counsellor doesn’t tell you what to do. Rather, he/she will help you tap into your own values, and help you come to your own decision.

Good rapport

Trust your gut. If speaking to your counsellor makes you feel worse, then reflect on that. Is it because he/she is encouraging you to step out of your comfort zone? Or is it because she is being condescending? Not liking what a counsellor has to say can be a signal for growth, or it could be a sign of a mismatch. Be honest with yourself.

Empathy

The right counsellor feels for your pain, but does not do so from a place of sympathy and condescension. The right counsellor helps to hold you accountable for what you do, and believes in your ability to overcome hardship.

Finding the right counsellor

So now that we’ve covered some important qualities in a culturally-sensitive counsellor, how do we go about finding one? I wish I had an easy answer for that. The reality is that it’s a hit and miss process. Some counsellors will click with you, and others will not. Some people are able to find the right counsellor straight away, while others need to look for months, or even longer.
As with anything, start with asking Allah. Perform the Prayer of Need. When you do come across a potential counsellor, then perform the Prayer of Guidance. InshaAllah, Allah will make it clear to you.
To help you find the right counsellor for you, speak to Muslims who are working or volunteering in the mental health field. Ask your doctor. Do your research. Above all, place your trust in Allah, and in His promise that after every hardship, comes ease.
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