Mental Health Stigma and Marriage in Muslim Communities

Where ever you turn, you’ll hear people talking about the abundance of single people in the Muslim community (and other communities as well). Despite the fact that there are ‘tons’ of people who are single and searching for a spouse, it’s still super difficult to find a spouse.

Ultimately, only God knows why people are single, but I know that the moment that I mention that I was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and PTSD, I’m no longer as ‘desirable’ as I’d once been. All of a sudden, I find the brother interpreting my actions (“did you react that way because of your mental health disorders?”) or not wanting to pursue the conversation without really giving me any reason why. I just found out about my mental health a month ago, but there have been times where I’ve wished that I would have found out about my condition after marriage so that I wouldn’t have to deal with so many rejections. But then I realize that it’s from Allah’s Mercy that I was diagnosed before having serious issues, alhamdulillah.

I just feel down though that despite all the things I have going on for me, I’m still being rejected for something that’s beyond my control and which I’m honest about. There’s no shame because God chose this for me. As my therapist says, “You’re not your diagnoses and you shouldn’t define yourself by them.” So, what does that mean? It means that brothers are missing out on a strong, hardworking and beautiful sister! And that’s fine because Allah takes away something in order to replace it with something better.

What makes me share my issue so openly? I remember reading Yasmin Yonus tweeting about her experiences with bipolar disorder (and other topics) and thinking, “I can’t believe that she just shared that.” Like Yasmin, I’m Somali and I know what it’s like to talk about these types of issues so openly in a culture where there’s silence regarding mental health. I mean, things are getting better and people talk about mental health more now, but I still feel like there’s dead silence the moment that someone mentions their mental health. A response that reminds me that “that’s too much to share.” And I’m sick of it.

Everyone needs to understand that there are people in our lives who we never know have mental health issues and are doing perfectly fine. And yeah, it’s your loss if you can’t go beyond the diagnoses.

Eid 2017 and My Goals After Ramadan

Eid Mubarak!!! I can’t believe that we’re done with Ramadan already! I had a very interesting (that’s the only word that I can think of) Ramadan this year.

Anyway, the Eid lecture was really inspiring. Something about it really made me wish to get closer to Allah (SWT). Sitting next to one of my friends also helped. MashaAllah, she’s one of the most inspiring woman that I know. That said, I regret having missed many Eid prayers before.

Now that Ramadan is over, my goals include:

  • Fasting the six days of Shawwal (something that was mentioned in the Khutbah) because fasting this month is important and leads to abundant good deeds.
  • Reading and memorizing Quran.
  • Reading books that will get me ready for teaching in August.
  • Planning lessons and units for the school year
  • Working out 6x a week.
  • Blogging more often.
  • Getting more involved in the community, inshaAllah.

We’ll see if I can keep up with my goals, inshaAllah. Well, Eid mubarak!!!

Ramadan Mubarak and Reminders!

Ramadan Mubarak!

So, I decided to post ayaats as I read the Quran. Here are some for today:

[2:272] Saheeh International
Not upon you, [O Muhammad], is [responsibility for] their guidance, but Allah guides whom He wills. And whatever good you [believers] spend is for yourselves, and you do not spend except seeking the countenance of Allah. And whatever you spend of good – it will be fully repaid to you, and you will not be wronged.
[2:274] Saheeh International
Those who spend their wealth [in Allah ‘s way] by night and by day, secretly and publicly – they will have their reward with their Lord. And no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.

Decolonizing Education

I read this article a couple of weeks ago, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Basically, students at the School of African and Oriental Studies want to decolonize the College’s curricula by including nonwhite thinkers. I really like the movement, but I think that the conversation needs to be move beyond “including PoC because nonwhite thinkers have a lot to say about race.” Here are some of my thoughts:

  • Just like white thinkers, PoC not only talk about race, they also talk about other issues such as economics, politics and education. 
  • The idea of “including” nonwhite thinkers goes back to W.E.B DuBois’ discussion on if nonwhite people (specifically Black people) have contributed to their societies. Assuming that PoC must be “forced” into the curricula is problematic because it suggests that there aren’t many nonwhite thinkers out there (which isn’t true).
  • It’s tokenizing and obvious.
  • A thinker’s exploration of race isn’t always there to “teach” a hypothetical white audience and these ideas might sometimes be meant for nonwhite audiences (so that’s it more of an opportunity to discuss things with people who share a common experience). A College like SOAS would definitely need more nonwhite thinkers for this very reason since it speaks to a specific type of experience.
  • Talking about race shouldn’t be seen as always political (although nothing about education is apolitical) and as having a multicultural basis (Kante did write a whole book on different ethnicities!).

I have a lot to say about this, but this pretty much sums up what I think.