“Above all, be the heroine of your life, be the fighter in your story, and be the survivor of your own mind – refuse to be the victim.”
- An adult human female.
Synonyms: lady, girl, member of the fair/gentle sex, female, sensitive, damsel.
Definition: A Muslim woman in society
- An adult female who follows Islam, in the aggregate of people living together in an ordered community.
Synonyms: lady, girl, sister, mother, daughter, companion, super mum, sensitive, fragile, expected to deal with it, super strong, honourable, respected, teacher, nurse, ignore the sadness, have to keep giving, can handle stress, can’t get depressed, have to stick to my fitrah, stay quiet, “is it shaytaan?”, this is embarrassing, “am I supposed to be this emotional?”, need to stay sane, can’t talk about this, can’t talk about this.
There is no such thing as being just a woman. We are women, and we are the backbone of society. When we are educated, another generation is educated. When we go out and work – other women are influenced and empowered via our financial influence and resources. When we are successful, we make the current image of Muslimaat successful. When we give birth, we are adding to the strength of the Ummah and raising the righteous. When feminists try to fight for the fallacy of our “freedom”, we can stand strong and say “we are already free!”, because Islam liberates us beyond any contemporary values. We have unity and sisterhood, guardians and companions, rights and status and yet, we are locked up, pushed into corners, restricted by unwritten, unofficial rules, we have tape over our mouths, and a blindness over our minds. With all the gems we have within Islam, the diamonds of the Qur’an and the treasures of the Sunnah – what could we be possibly exposed to that is so horrific, that we become prisoners in our own minds, our own homes, and our own circles – because of ourselves?
Is it due to ignorance? Embarrassment? Lack of knowledge? The stigma? Is it due to the possibility of delving into the “unknown”? The labels? The fear of being thought of as incompetent, or having low iman, or being a bad Muslimah? Unfortunately, it’s a combination of all of these– there is a whole culture behind why people don’t speak out.
What I want to ask you, is when you’re not feeling well, you’re not afraid to pick up the phone and call your mum for advice, you’re not worried about what sisters will say if you ask them for tips, and you certainly don’t fear that people will think you are lacking in spirituality – so why is it that when it comes to our own mental health, our sanity, our minds, the sole base of our daily life, we clamp up and we refuse to acknowledge what is happening and why? We refuse to call our mums to just talk; we refuse to ask sisters for tips on how to deal with emotions– we refuse to seek help. We lock our feelings up; we push our sanity into the corner, we restrict our thoughts by unwritten and unofficial rules. We tape our mouths with fear of a negative outcome and we become blind to the hope of care and relief. We create our own burdens, resulting in feeling like a burden for anyone else, when in reality – that’s the total opposite.
As women in Islam – alhamdulillah our roles, duties and status have been clearly defined. Some of us are students, some are graduates, some are career women, others are noble stay at home mums, some are self-employed and there are a few of us who are all! We’ve all been created with a fitrah, created by Al-Musawwir (The fashioner, the bestower of forms) and within that fitrah, women have aspects which are unique, special and fundamental for the Ummah. We have been created to be more emotional, so it supplements our natural motherly instinct (however evident it maybe). We’ve been created with a resilient nature so we can be the rock for our husbands, a gentle nature so we can be the teachers of our children/siblings, and a firm nature so we can stand strong with our sisters. We’ve been created with perseverance which comes with patience as we’ve been chosen to be ambassadors of a religion which honours our dress code, behaviour, speech and thoughts. Emphasis on thoughts. Islam honours our thoughts. Islam isn’t just an external duty – there are internal duties such as sincerity, honesty, love and sacrifice, a healthy soul and a healthy mind. We’re all aware of this – however, the healthy mind aspect is often forgotten about.
We’re so focused on being givers around the clock – it’s an unknown territory to start being takers. It could be seen as a selfless act, to not worry about ourselves and devote all of our attention to others. However, in the long run, it could be considered as selfish. When dealing with our own problems, there will come a time when we have to think of those around us – and those of us who are yet to come, there is a concept that suggests mental health begins in the womb due to the environment the unborn baby is in – if a mother is stressed, and depressed, the environment will be the equivalent in brain chemicals and hormones. Women are the captains of ships – if we begin to sink, everything around us will start sinking. We’re the basis of the family, the foundation of the home, and thus pillars of society, what will happen if we start to deteriorate? That is why it is so important to accept problems, particularly in relation to your mental health – because, there is only so long you can keep the water out of the house during a flood. It is one thing accepting problems – but that is not all there is to it. You have to acknowledge the problem, and tell yourself that it is okay to not be okay all the time – but it is not okay to not ask for any help when faced with these obstacles. In order to solve them, to find out the roots of these griefs filled branches, you need help, we all need help. Nothing is ever successful on its own, a tree needs a planter, water, good soil, sunlight, and Allah in order to grow, blossom, and come up with ways to deal with harsh winter times. The same way we need a support network, nourishment of the soul, embracement of our nature and effective solutions – but none of this can be successful. IF we keep building these barriers around taboo’s, just because it’s something unfamiliar and looked down upon. As many sisters who have recovered have often said, “Who cares what the aunty down the road thinks? If someone seems like they are attention seeking – give it to them, because they need it.” There needs to be a stop to this name calling, the labelling and pointing of fingers, but there also needs to be a stop to all the fearful thoughts around what would happen to your appearance, your identity and your status. Having a mental health problem does not make you a bad person, nor a bad Muslim, nor a bad mother or bad anything in fact. It makes you a survivor, a fighter. The same way an illness can escalate and have devastating, life threatening consequences if ignored – a mental health problem can too. Having a mental health problem is not a part of you – it’s something you have, just like an illness – there are measures to recover. Just as you seek out a cure for a physical illness, you must seek support for your mental health.
The most important thing to remember, is regardless of what you have – you remain an honourable, noble, and righteous Muslimah. A chosen ambassador of Islam – so, above all, be the heroine of your life, be the fighter in your story, and be the survivor of your own mind – refuse to be the victim. Refuse to lock yourself up, refuse to push yourself in a corner, and refuse to be defeated.
As the Public Relations Manager for Inspirited Minds – Meanha Begum aims to raise awareness around mental health, particularly among the Muslim community in order to diminish taboos and reach out to anyone who is suffering alone – and give them the light they need.