Frequently Asked Questions
Overcoming Difficulty and Seeking Help and Healing
A lot of us have dealt with difficulties in our lives. It’s a natural process in life. Allah tests us and through these tests we learn about ourselves and learn about our relationship with Allah and others. Through these tests we are told to draw closer to Allah and not run from Him. He is the source of peace and tranquility.
However, many of us lose sight of this and tend to fall deeper into hopelessness, depression and despair. It is ok to admit weakness without the fear of ridicule or shaming. We all deal with difficulties in our lives and many of us have our own unique ways of dealing and coping with them. We must know that while Allah is the ultimate source of peace, tranquility and success there are resources in our community to help you navigate your difficulties.
With trained and qualified Muslim professional counselors, therapists and social workers you can work to overcome the difficulties in your life.
Often times when we face difficulties we ask ourselves: Why me? What did I do wrong? Am I being punished for something I did? Does Allah hate me? Has he forsaken me? While these questions are natural, know that Allah tests us in different and unique ways and that Allah does not test us with tests or difficulties we cannot bear.
Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. (Quran 2: 286)
We also must remind ourselves that we are not weak or necessarily responsible for the difficulties in our lives. Sometimes Allah tests the best of us even if we’re the best of Muslims. People may not show it, but they may be facing some extreme difficulties, yet have a smile on their face. Know that you’re not alone in your struggle and others are faced with different tests and challenges in their lives.
Also, know that you’re strong and can overcome any obstacle or difficulty that has come in your path.
At times you may feel like you’re the only one going through the difficulty you’re going through but know that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was tested as well as were many of the Prophets (peace be upon them all) and they were tested at every level of their being. Allah comforted them with words of peace, tranquility and hope and told us not to despair.
Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (Quran 39:53)
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was faced with extreme difficulty in what is called the “Year of Sorrow.” Allah comforted him with the words of Surah Inshirah and Surah ad-Duha.
We also must keep in mind the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) needed to seek help and support from not only Allah but those around him, his Companions and his beloved wives (may Allah be pleased with them all). We all need friends, family and those around us to sometimes help us through our most difficult times.
While the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was tested in his own unique way he also helped others who sought his help. He played many roles for the Muslim community which he was in charge of as a statesman, leader, general, husband, scholar, and also a counselor. What many Muslims may forget is that the Muslims during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) not only came to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) for religious advice, but also personal advice and sought his help and counsel. Some questions were basic, some were intimate and both men and women came to seek his help in their personal matters. He not only healed individuals’ physical hearts, but also their spiritual hearts and sought to heal their souls as well through beautiful words, advice and the words of Allah.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) came as a Mercy to Mankind and sought to make the lives of Muslims and non-Muslims alike easier and not more difficult. Muslim women and men sought his advice for the most intimate of matters and he advised them and gave them counsel to solve their problems. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) gave practical advice to each and every Muslim woman and man who came to him for help and advice. Not only did he give practical advice, he gave unique advice to each person’s situation, their character, personality and strengths and weaknesses.
Likewise, we should seek those of knowledge and counseling experience who can help when we are facing difficulties. Sometimes we can’t navigate the stormy waters of life and need someone to be the lighthouse for us to guide us out of the stormy waters and bring us safely to shore. So when you need advice or help—seek it from those who are trustworthy, qualified, and knowledgeable about how to counsel and advise you. Allah provides resources to cope with tests He gives us including the Quran and Sunnah, but Allah also gives us resources in the form of counselors, therapists who can help us navigate our problems and tests.
You may be feeling helpless and that no one understands you and can make a difference. However, seeking counseling can help you overcomeand guide you through the problem in a more productive manner. You may have spoken to friends, family, teachers and others, but a trained counselor can assist you in making an effective strategy and plan to overcome your problems. Counselors and therapists are traiend to support, guide, and help bring you clarity. Getting an outside perspective on your problem or issue will help you get a new and objective perspective. Also, discussing your issue or problem with a counselor outside of your normal environment allows you a safe place in which you can speak freely, honestly and openly about your feelings and thoughts.
Now you may be asking yourself: “I don’t need counseling my problem isn’t that bad and I’m not crazy…I can handle it.” However, as we discussed before Muslims during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) sought his help and they weren’t “crazy” or abnormal in any way. They were average Muslims with everyday troubles, challenges, and personal problems.
Know that even the wives of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and closest companions asked him about intimate matters and asked for advice for their personal problems.
So the answer to this question is: get counseling as soon as you feel lost, confused, helpless and feel there are no options left on the table to pursue. Seeking counseling sooner than later can help you solve your issue or problem and avoid the issue or problem getting worse.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) counseled his entire community and the individuals’ problems and their own emotional and psychological backgrounds differed. What counseling seeks to do is promote self-awareness and is not for individuals with major problems or challenges, but for all individuals who need help no matter how big or small their problem is.
There are several misconceptions about counseling and Islam. However, many of these misconceptions stem from cultural and traditional beliefs and ideas. Some may discourage counseling based on the belief that personal and private matters should “stay within the family” or may say that to seek help from outside one’s family will bring disgrace upon the family. Others may deny that the problem is that serious to seek help. Probably the most dangerous belief is that a problem is not that serious.
Seeking help with a Muslim counselor or therapist can assist you in using your faith and belief to overcome your problems and challenges and help you overall discover yourself and help you strengthen your faith to help you overcome future challenges in your life.
The first step towards solving a problem is identifying there is one.
Counseling can help you in many ways. Sometimes it’s good just to have someone to vent your problems to and have someone listen with an attentive ear. Your counselor will do his or her best to listen attentively, take notes, evaluate your problems, issues and challenges and help you find a solution and also empower you to overcome the challenge or problem you have. Counseling simply isn’t a quick fix like medication you can take to cure a sickness. Rather, counseling will help you understand deeper levels of your problem, identify ways you can overcome them and also help you learn methods and strategies to implement in your own life to help you live a healthier lifestyle and become a stronger and more confident person.
Also, having an outside perspective can help you get a fresh perspective about the problem and also help you come up with constructive solutions to your problem.
Absolutely not. The strongest Muslims during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had major problems in their lives and sought the help and advice of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Faith waivers in times of difficulty and that’s normal. However, what matters is keeping strong and remembering we are all tested in unique ways by Allah.
As was discussed before, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) heard the most intimate of information and private of information from both Muslim men and women. He kept the information confidential and advised them privately according to their own situations. Some argue that you should not expose someone’s sins and should cover others’ sins and shortcomings. They abuse the hadith about these by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to discourage individuals from seeking help and counseling. However, in a matter of one’s well-being it is absolutely necessary and permissible to disclose all information when you seek help form a counselor. Counselors will not seek to destroy or damage relationships you have so you can be at ease knowing that your counselor will only work to solve your problem or issue in a constructive manner that takes into account all aspects, viewpoints, and most importantly your wellbeing.
Counselors and therapists are legally mandated to maintain confidentiality and privacy, except in cases of mandated reporting.
Counseling, just as any health related service, requires patience, time and effort on behalf of the one seeking help. Thus, to truly make the best of your counseling it is best to keep up with counseling sessions, be truthful, clear and honest with your counselor. Find a counselor who you can work with that you feel safe and comfortable with and if you have any preferences of having a male of female counselor make that request. Whatever you do, find a counselor who you can work with, stick with the counseling sessions, follow the prescribed advice, be honest, be clear and don’t feel shy about any topics, information or issues you’re having.
Trained counselors are educated and prepared to help you and have a confidentiality clause in which they cannot share any of your private information, so you can rest assured your information is confidential. However, in more critical cases where other parties’ lives nd your own life as well may be in danger your counselor holds the right to report cases that are critical cases.
Depending on your problem the number of sessions will differ. You and your counselor will create a strategy and a schedule of sessions. Stick to the schedule and follow directions that your counselor gives you when it comes to solving your problem. Your counselor is there to help assist you every step of the way and help you empower yourself to solve the issues using your own strengths while working on strengthening your weaknesses.
If you still feel uncomfortable about counseling simply set up an introductory meeting with a counselor to voice your concerns and get all of your questions answered. Once you feel more comfortable you can discuss further sessions with your counselor.
While dua to Allah is important and essential to overcoming difficulties, it’s important to find help from qualified individuals who are trained in counseling. Luckily there are Muslim counselors who can help you or non-Muslim counselors who can help you as well. No matter where you find help it’s important to find it when you need it most.