Anxious or Depressed: Are You in Need of Islam?

The case of those who take helpers besides Allah is like unto the case of the spider, who makes for herself a house; and surely the frailest of all houses is the house of the spider, if they but knew! (Al Quran 29:42)

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

It is in remembrance of Allah that hearts can find comfort. (Al Quran 13:29)

The recent tragedy of death of 20 elementary school children in Newtown, Connecticut, has brought to focus the bitter reality that almost 20-25% of the general population suffers from anxiety and depression.

According to a BBC survey from 2008, almost one billion people world wide are suffering from anxiety and depression.

If you are anxious and depressed, you may need anti-anxiety medication and anti-depressants and professional advice, but many or most of you only need a better understanding of yourself and your psychologists.  There are a billion of you out there and I cannot be presumptuous enough to be your physician, your psychologist, your psychiatrist or your counselor.  But, I can be your librarian and your spiritual guide and point you the information that you may badly need.

A famous, almost legendary mystic poet from Sub-continent India, Bulleh Shah  (1680–1757) a Punjabi Sufi poet, humanist and philosopher wrote:

پڑھ پڑھ علم تے فاضل ھوییں

تے کدے اپنے آپ نوں پڑھیا نھیں

 بھج بھج وڑناں اے مندر مسیتی

تے کدے من اپنے وچ وڑیا نھیں

He says that you have read scores of books to become a scholar but have never read yourself.  You run to the temple and the mosque daily but have never entered your own soul! To listen to this couplet and another one by him, stressing the need of self analysis, in Punjabi: Bullheh Shah – Self analysis.
As you try to understand yourself, you are confronted not only with your own rationalizations but also with the modern science of psychology.  It helps you in some ways but at the same time sets up road blocks in your more complete understanding.  If you have sought professional help then as your psychologist begins to analyze you, you have no choice but to analyze him or her, if you are not to surrender your peace of mind, to forces that are beyond your control, to the alchemy of modern day psychology, a 100 billion dollar industry.
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and his colleagues defined man as a purely “Psychological man” driven by his past experiences and memories as opposed to “Religious man” who has a constant attraction and a drive towards his Creator and Protector, the God of Monotheism. Freud theorized that personality is developed by person’s childhood experiences. He was not vague about his claims for atheism. He actually predicted that as the masses of people become more educated, they would ‘turn away’ from the ‘fairy tales of religion.’ Among other details, we will examine how his views were shaped by the anti-Semitism of his time.
Carl Jung, a contemporary of Freud took an exception to Freud’s views, he wrote, “Freud has unfortunately overlooked the fact that man has never yet been able single-handed to hold his own against the powers of darkness — that is, of the unconscious. Man has always stood in need of the spiritual help which each individual’s own religion held out to him.”

Carl Jung (1875 – 1961)

Totally on the opposite pole of Freud in matter of religion, Carl Jung explained at length, in the chapter, Psychotherapists or clergy of his book, Modern Man in Search of a Soul:

During the past thirty years, people from all the civilized countries of the earth have consulted me. I have treated many hundreds of patients. … Among all my patients in the second half of life — to say, over thirty-five — there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life. It is safe to say that every one of them fell ill because he had lost that which the living religions of every age have given to their followers, and none of them has been really healed who did not regain his religious outlook.
Sigmund Freud wrote in a letter to Carl Jung, dated January 17, 1909, “The more the fruits of knowledge become accessible to men, the more widespread is the decline of religious belief.” In his essay on war & death, he wrote, “Religion is an illusion, and it derives its strength from its readiness to fit in with our instinctual wishful impulses.” Both Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung were psychologists of great repute. So, are we to believe in “Psychological man” of Freud or the “Religious man” of Carl Jung?
In the last century it seems that Carl Jung lost to Sigmund Freud as it became increasingly apparent that Christianity is often a religion of make belief, like Santa Claus, Easter Bunny and the nativity scene, which according to the Pope Benedict the XVI’s own admission, in a recent book about Jesus, may peace be on him, reveals many a myths like inclusion of animals in the scene.  The Pope confessed that the animals in the nativity scene were a much later interpolation and not based in history or reality.
If you are anxious or depressed, in the 21st century, you need to examine the “Psychological man” of Freud or the “Religious man” of Carl Jung, in a new light, in the light of Islam, as understood by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
A belief in Santa Claus, tooth fairy, Easter bunny, little purple man, Triune God of Christianity, who does not exist, Harry Potter,  Superman or Spider-man can serve no useful purpose.  According to the Holy Quran:
Unto Him (Allah) is the true prayer. And those on whom they call besides Him answer them not at all, except as he is answered who stretches forth his two hands toward water that it may reach his mouth, but it reaches it not. And the prayer of the disbelievers is but a thing wasted. (Al Quran 13:15)

Christian apologists want to make a case for Christianity based on laws of nature and science, by showing that there ought to be a Transcendent Creator of our universe.  They make this case, in one breath, and in the very next, deny all of science, by insisting on Eucharist, man-God of Jesus, who is not Transcendent, resurrection and miracles that violate laws of nature.

Atheists are right in exposing the irrationality of the Christian dogma. However, the Christians are right in as far as their claim that there needs to be a Creator of this universe, Who employed natural means to do His work. However, both parties in their self-conceit are not listening to how Islam resolves their conflict; Islam as understood by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

In a trilateral discussion between atheists, Christians and Muslims, I believe we can appreciate reality better and come up with better theology, especially if the discussion not only involves the Creator and purpose of the universe, but, also His complete Transcendence, Original Sin and evolution of life on our planet, Trinity, Mother Mary and Eucharist.

No wonder, majority of the young generation, according to a recent poll in UK is agnostic or atheist.

It is hoped that reading of the articles linked in this post will help you understand yourself better.  The need for better and sturdy foundation for your thoughts and beliefs is highlighted very well by the following verse of the Holy Quran:

The case of those who take helpers besides Allah is like unto the case of the spider, who makes for herself a house; and surely the frailest of all houses is the house of the spider, if they but knew!  (Al Quran 29:42)

Sigmund Freud remembered all his life the disgust and bitter disappointment he felt as a boy of ten years when hearing that his father refused to defend himself against the anti-Semite bullies who pushed him off the side walk of his home town, suggesting that a Jew should not walk on the side walks and leave it for the self righteous Nazis. This framed his spiritual struggle for the whole of his life that can be considered as a conflict between his Jewish identity possibly his faith and the anti-Semite Christian majority of the time.

Jean-Martin Charcot

His journey in psychoanalysis can be framed and understood by reviewing achievements and academic career of Jean-Martin Charcot. “Diseases can be caused by ideas” said Charcot and it heralded a new era in human understanding. This laid the foundation of Psychology, an identity separate from Neurology which was rooted in physical causes. Charcot, a French neurologist was the founder (with Guillaume Duchenne) of modern neurology and one of France’s greatest medical teachers and clinicians. He became a professor at the University of Paris (1860–93), where he began a lifelong association with the Salpêtrière Hospital; there, in 1882, he opened what was to become the greatest neurological clinic of the time in Europe. A teacher of extraordinary competence, he attracted students from all parts of the world.

In 1885 one of his students was Sigmund Freud, and it was Charcot’s employment of hypnosis in an attempt to discover basis for hysteria that stimulated Freud’s interest in the psychological origins of neurosis. Charcot was the “foremost neurologist of late nineteenth-century France” and has been called “the Napoleon of the neuroses.” For the rest of the story read an article titled, Freudian conflicts and slips.

Allah says:
‘Those who believe, and whose hearts find comfort in the remembrance of Allah. Aye! it is in the remembrance of Allah that hearts can find comfort; ‘Those who believe and do good works — happiness shall be theirs, and an excellent place of return.’ (Al Quran 13:29-30)

Further Reading

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