Islam Saved My Soul


I am a 26-year-old Irish American who converted from Christianity to Islam in order to save myself.

Although I never had a problem taking the Prophet Jesus as a role model for a way of life, I needed more specific guidance with day-to-day behavior — my own was out of control. After studying Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism, I concluded that the example of the Prophet Muhammad served as a blueprint for a comprehensive spiritual life.

And that saves me. Literally.

Let me explain. When I turned 14 I was put in a psychiatric ward for my out-of-control behavior. I felt high and acted on any impulse as though it were a fabulous idea. I would try to kiss girls I just met, as if we had been going out for a long time. Not a good idea.

Then the pendulum would swing from high and energetic to low and depressed. I found no pleasure in anything. I wanted to sleep all the time, and, far worse, I wanted to die. I slit my wrists several times.

First I was diagnosed with "paranoid-schizophrenia," a label psychiatrists give you when they’re not sure what your problem is. Later I found out I was bipolar. "Bi" means two, and "polar" means extreme. Trying to have any kind of relationship, a job — a regular life — while shuttling back and forth between two extreme moods has been the biggest struggle of my life.

Many of those who knew me treated my episodes as immature misbehavior and blamed me instead of my illness for my antics. I remember getting fired from a pizza shop job in less than a week for my manic behavior. I would talk a-mile-a-minute, like Robin William on stage, while I rang up customers.

If that sounds funny or even romantic, that’s not how it feels. Mania might be fun, but the ensuing depression is pure hell. It sneaks up on you like the devil, insidiously. I remember staring at something innocuous, like a coffee table, and suddenly being overwhelmed by the conviction that life is meaningless.

Western medicine may help, but it does not cure me.

Medication was mandatory at the adolescent psychiatric ward in San Jose. We had seven group therapy sessions a day, chores, wretched meals, and then medication time. As the shrinks mixed and matched my meds I felt as if I were wading through thick oatmeal.

Eventually, outside the mental institution I found something that finally helped me with being bipolar: Islam.

I’d always felt, deep down, that my illness had something to do with my soul. Western medicine — drugs and therapy — could, therefore, never cure me. How could it when it does not even recognize that I have a soul? Islam, on the other hand, taught me how to purify my soul from disease through a science called Sufism, a holistic system of diet, belief, law and social structure. Islam gave me a sense of personal responsibility that chemical-dependent Western psychiatry did not.

I found the emphasis on reciting certain invocations to God most helpful. In order to protect themselves from demonic elements that can do harm, followers of Islam recite prayers. The discipline and the act of praying helped me deal with my mania directly.

When that mania comes around, I feel like I’m surrounded by a dozen cops, all hurling accusations and insults at me. So I pray. I listen to and believe in the words that I utter. I grow lucid and peaceful and calm, and then — click — I am.

Reciting prayers, though, may not be for people who just want to deal with mental distress. And I’m not at all suggesting that people go off their medications just yet. There are prerequisites to the effectiveness of the practice, such as the belief in what one recites. And it’s about more than just prayer: a strict life is a must. Avoidance of pork and intoxicants, as well as a supportive, mosque-based community are crucial parts of being Muslim.

Dealing with mental illness is a lifelong struggle, but now I feel that I am finally in control. I have a soul. And Islam teaches me how to purify it.

Christopher Patrick Nelson, 26, writes for Silicon Valley De-Bug, a PNS publication by young workers, writers and artists in Silicon Valley.



By: christopher p. nelson | Source: pacific news service | Category: Articles, Faith, Featured, Society | Topic: islam, soul | Views: 4,771 | Comments: 58

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58 Comments

  1. urls on Schizophrenia and Depression. We live in a demanding and technological age not to mention that a lot of us lack the basic understanding of dealing with health from an Islamic perspective.

    As part of research for a community I found the following resources from islamonline.com which I hope would benefit a lot of people. Please do a search under health & science also.

    Knowledge has no boundaries if shared in a positive way and I hope we can all contribute to this knowledge to help mankind across the globe.

    Urls:

    1)Causes and Perceptions of Schizophrenia By Karima Burns, MH, ND

    http://www.islam-online.net/English/Science/2001/04/article4.shtml

    2) Natural Cures for Schizophrenia By Karima Burns, MH, ND

    http://www.islam-online.net/English/Science/2001/05/article1.shtml

    3) Health Benefits of Saying “Alhamdulillah”

    http://www.islam-online.net/English/Science/2000/2/article3.shtml

    4) Potential Biological Marker for Schizophrenia Identified

    http://www.islamonline.net/iol-english/dowalia/health-23-11/health1.asp

    5) Natural Cures for Schizophrenia

    http://www.islam-online.net/English/Science/2001/05/article1.shtml

    6) The “Yoga” of Islamic Prayer

    http://198.65.147.194/English/Science/2001/01/article6.shtml

    7) Prayers and Healing

    http://www.islamonline.net/English/Science/2002/10/article09.shtml

    8) Vibrational Medicine And The Human Energy Field

    http://www.islamonline.net/completesearch/english/mDetails.asp?hMagazineID=25470&hTitle=Vibrational

    9) The Healing Power of Prayer Beads

    http://www.islamonline.net/English/Science/2002/04/article07.shtml

    10) Depression: A Social Illness?

    By Hwaa Irfan

    http://www.islamonline.net/english/Science/2001/04/article7.shtml

    11) Natural Causes of depression

    http://www.islam-online.net/English/Science/2001/03/article15.shtml

    12) Natural Cures for depression

    http://www.islam-online.net/English/Science/2001/03/article16.shtml

  2. Salaam Alaykom,

    Dear Mr. Nelson, I was very impressed by your story I am a Muslim physician with an active interest in Islamic-based therapies for mental illness. I would be delighted to correspond with you and anyone else that has a story to share about struggle with mental illness and Islamic support.

    sincerely,

    Dr. Amero Mansour

    emai: aamansour@hotmail.com

  3. WOW, I am very happy that Islam helped it just wanted to say Mashallah, and thank u for sharing ur story. It makes me appreciate that i didnt have to go finding Islam.

  4. I am a new muslim and suffer with my bipolar disorder. I feel so alone and always feel that no one likes me. I have been muslim for 2 years now. but all the feelling I have change so araticly that I just feel like I am in a hole. I married 1 year ago but my marrage my husban turned out not to have the deep belifes that he led me to belive. I dont know what to do and I become very sad. I loose control of my tears everytime I talk aloud. I need help but so far any atempt has just led to a more severe depretion. I love Islam and I know that it is all true but I had to give up all my family to convert and now I am sooooo alone. what am I saposed to do can anyone tell my

  5. Masha’allah! May Allah bless you and may Allah guide all Umatul-Muahamad the same way he guided you, amin.

    Islam is a cure to everything from day to day life to life hereafter. May Allah guide us all to the right way.

  6. Assalamulaykum.

    Dear brother,Schitzopherinia is not an easy thing to be accused of.Iv’e read a few books on schitzopherinic’s and i dont blame you for your behaivior.Actually i encourage you to persuade your new religion.Alhumdurillah, you are on the right track.As it is stated Allah subhanawata-allah has bestowed upon us two ‘rehmats’,cures or things ,The Quran and Honey.

  7. May Allah continue to guide you. As my brother in Islam I would like to tell you I am proud of you and hope that you continue on the never ending task of purifying your soul. Even those of us who were born Muslim alhamdulilah are trying very hard to reach this goal. Fee amaan illah (may you always be in the protection of Allah subhanahu wa ta3alla).

  8. Dear Christopher.

    First of all I would like to thank for sharing your story. Two years ago my son was diagnosed having bipolar disorder. It was very difficult for me to understand. Your story help me understand. I pray to Allah that he will find the same path as you.

  9. alhamdulillah.dear bro, my friend encounters the similar problem as you but she is a born muslim.due to this often sudden change of mood, she is always alone, no one dares to be close to her.is this due to the demons that has possessed her?she always lose her balance, one moment depression another moment anger…and so on …can u share how to overcome such an “illness”?

  10. I converted to Islam 8 months ago and before conversion,I was experiencing even different, but a little bit similar feelings. I used to have some personal problems and I used to go to a psychologist.however, I also felt that this was concerning my soul.the doctor was not able to help,because she used to treat me on the level of medicine,etc.however, since I found the truth, I do not feel anymore desprite and do not feel the life being meaningless.my prayers are the best cure for me and I know that if I please Allah,I do not have to worry about anything anymore.Islam is the best cure for everything.I ask Allah for the guidance of everybody

  11. Asalum Acalekum

    I wish you luck, in finding cure for your illness, and May Allah you.

    When ever I get sick or don’t feel well, I recited suratul Al-Nas, Al-Falaq, Al-Had. there is also a book you might find helpfull called the “phophet’s medication”, that gives details of how the phophet used to deal with illness.

    If you really wanted it I can let you borrow my copy.

  12. May Allah bless you and reward you in both the worlds. Patience have been emphesised in Islam so be patient, and definitely you are in a better position to extened Dawah to other people who are ignorant of Islam which is being maligned in the name of “Terrorism”.

  13. Kindly help me, I’m a Muslim brought up in Europe

    and the States . I NEED desperately to speak to the

    author of this tremendous article. I live in Hawaii a lot of

    the time but can be on the mainland if needed. The

    prayers and recitations and their meanings are of

    crucial importance to me. I can’t say how much I need

    your help.

    Asalaam-u-alaikum

  14. As’Salaamu Alaikum. Many of the comments for this article, themselves, contain remarkable stories – that to me were very inspirational as well as quite informative. Masha’Allah. Alhamdulillah.

    Would any of those who posted comments possibly care to submit their stories and insights to IslamiCity – so as to potentially share them with a wider audience? Insha’Allah I shall attempt to do the same myself. Jazak Allahu Khair!

    Praise be to God for your good deeds and intentions, Christopher. I thank God that you exist. May all praise be offered to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Insha’Allah.

    –Yahya Bergum

  15. Dear Brother in Islam, Wassalam,

    Alhamdulillah! It is His mercy upon you that He has given you an opportunity to go towards Him. Whatever has caused your attraction towards Islam is an aspect of Islam, it is not entire Islam. Please avail this opportunity and go ahead with true Islamic philosophy. Study Quran & perfect literatures, Inshaallah, you will get answers to your entire questions for which your mind and soul is wandering. You will be embebed with eternal peace. May Allah help you. Amin|

  16. i also went through a wretched time in my life and my doctor suggested i go on prozac. but what contemplation on the existence and perfection of god can do, prozac can not. secularism cuts our ties to the eternal and the truth, antidepressents are presented to us as solutions but they do not rebuild that ladder to The Infinite. allah gave us a soul aswell as a material body, the world today only recognizes our material selves to the detriment of our mental and spiritual well being. i do implore anyone who is facing mountains of hurdles in their lives to seek allah, he will make ant hills out of your mountains, slowly but surely…secure your rope to eternity.

  17. Alhamdullilah!! I wish more youngsters (even muslim teens) can read this article and make attempts to become firm believers. The great thing about Islam is that it is a complete religion and helps one in all turns of life. Pray to Allah that he may cure all that is unknown to us. Your firm belief in “dhikr” (Allah’s remembrance) will take you long way to success. Ameen.

  18. As Salaam Alaikum, Christopher.

    It was a delight reading your words. I applaud you for your efforts. I thank Allah for bringing you to your success. I pray that you never have another episode. My late husband left this life with bipolar. He died in the hospital. Only Allah knows what happened. He suffered a lot. He was 39 years old. He suffered with bipolar for over 10 y ears. We were married for 23 years. We married as teenagers. Our lives together were very difficult; however, everything is Mashallah. We must learn from all of our experiences. I ask Allah to forgive him his sins, and bless him with paradise for his good deeds. He was indeed a good husband and father. He truly did his best. He loved his children and myself very much. He just could not defeat that evil illness. I pray that one day the medical field or some field discover a cure for bipolar that does not poison the victims with medications such as lithium and others. I pray that all of my children are protected from such a devastating disease, and I pray that extenuating circumstances and dysfuncting behaviors are no where near my children or myself, thereby giving us protection from bipolar. I pray that my family, myself, and other families and communities seek Allah’s help in all problems, negative situations, or bad upbringing so as to give us even more protection against bipolar. There can be different causes and contributors to bipolar, biological, and mental. With knowledge, discipline, prayer, patience and appreciation for all the good things in our lives, InshaAllah, we;ll be able to wipe bipolar from our lives. “VERILY WITH DIFFICULTY THERE IS RELIEF, VERILY WITH DIFFICULTY THERE IS RELIEF. SO, WHEN THOU ART FREE FROM THINE IMMEDIATE TASK, STILL LABOR HARD, AND TURN ALL THY ATTENTION TO THY LORD. AMIN”(QURAN)

    May Allah bless us all with good health, long life, and true prosperity. Amin.

    AsSalaam Alaikum

  19. As-Salaamu-Alaikum,

    Dear Christopher,

    Allah be praised, certainly you are worth saving and I am happy to witness the light of truthfulness in your profound words.

    Certainly Allah (SWT) has given you a gift as a trust that you must share with others over and over again. He gave you back your life.

    It doesn’t matter where we are when Allah (SWT) calls us we bare witness and rise up like the sun. I too am a convert to Islam. I am in my sixties and was on a road to nowhere. I had been searching for Allah (SWT) since a girl of 8 years old. My mother had told me that it was God who had reclaimed my father’s life. This began my journey to Islam.

    Islam is without a doubt the truth and from God. It has dealt with every aspect of my life and answered any and all my questions with such clarity that for years Christian authorities constantly told me to just trust in the Lord (and basically don’t ask questions). Today I truly feel saved. Allah (SWT) says in Qur’an that the believers are those who have knowledge so keep studying and gain more strength, Al-Hamdulilah.

    Allah (SWT) will raise you to heights unimaginable as you continue to bare witness to His truth.

    I love you for the sake of Allah (SWT), you are my brother in Al-Islam.

    P.S. Your story gives encouragement. Keep telling it and watch it grow.

  20. Peace be Upon you,

    Alhamdullilah for having found the light of your life. It is so good to hear of your Journey to save your soul. May Allah bless you always

  21. praise be to ALLAH who created the soul and heals souls. May ALLAH protect you and keep you well .I enjoyed you article.will pray for you INSHALLAH will be accepted.

  22. Brother, may Allah (swt) bless you! I had grown soft, even weak in the faith. But then I read your account, and it has helped to set me back on the right path. You see, my story is very similar to yours, as were my problems. I finally was led to peace through The Prophet (pbuh). But as I said, I guess you’d say (may Allah forgive me) apathy had sunk in–about my faith, my life, everything. Tonight I felt a move to log on to this page, saw your story, and refound my zeal! Thanks be to Allah, and peace be to you.

  23. bismillahalrahmanalrahim assalamoalekum congratulations on finding true light of islam holy quran and sunnah of prophet is a powerful medicine itself may allah keep your faith in him strong this country needs an islamic way of life in practice ameen

  24. As-salamu-alikum,

    Muslims all around the world should learn from stories like this brave individual’s. Many muslims take the religion for granted and never attempt to dig up the enormous benifits hidden in it. We all should be proud of this young individual. He is one of the righteous.

    May Allah show us all the stright path.

  25. i feel like there’s probably one way to find your soul, just as my opinion, you have to want to be saved. if your heart is not in it then it’d just be a waste of your time. islam is the only way but it’s not the medicine the doctor prescribed

  26. Dear Brother Assalamalaikum:

    Your story inspire me a lot and it is good lesson for our muslim brother and sister who are deep involve in this material world and less care about spirtual belief,its only the soul whom we should take care of it the rest is going to diminish as Allaha said in Quran the soul passes from four stages like from mother womb and the person dies and when he wake up at the day of judgemnt. The only way we can preserve our soul in good shape through rememberence of Allah and to follow the sunnaha of prophet mohammed(PBUH).

  27. well it’s great to come closer to islam, as a convert myself i love to dream of a huge muslim america. But it seems to me that this person came to Islam but might not stay with it for life. Let me try to explain myself. There are unfortunatly more and more young westerners who become muslim just like they’d become part of a gang, following a dress code etc. There is this habit of “studying” oriental religions in the western world because they seem exotic and far enough from the west(hindu, buddhist etc.). But Islam is so close! I’ve been on psychiatry for years a while ago and a good doctor will not give you pills, he’ll try to use brain. i’m afraid that if the only reason for someone to become religious is that he feels bad, it will not last when he’ll feel good. The old saying of the unbeliever who calls out to god just before dying…

  28. Islam…the solution to all kinds of different problems/issues that life may have, it is the only true way of achieving a happy and successful life here and the hereafter.

    May Allah (SWT) grant us all Hidayah and Deen so we may achieve happiness and success in this life and the hereafter…Ameen.

    God Bless you my brother.

  29. Guidance is from Allah (swt). All of us need guidance. The prayer of the humble heart is the most powerful force on Earth.

  30. Salaam Alkuim,

    As a muslimah that has bypolor this article really touched me and I want to say how nice it is when you are up or down that you have your salat and quran to turn to. I hope this article inspires many other who suffer from mental Illness.

    Wa Alkuim Salaam

    Susan

  31. My eyes are filled with tears when i read stories of someone embracing Islam. How beautiful. What could be better than the reward of Paradise? Yet, it is not an easy way to submit completely to Allah, and following the Messenger (PBUH). May Allah guide muslim brothers and sisters and those who are sincere in finding the right path. Amin.

  32. With Allah, all things are possible. May his grace rest upon the young man who wrote the article and may he continue to find peace in his life.

  33. what a greatn story!i’m glad you turn your life around in the best and smartest way possible and thats through Islam.you couldn’t be anymore right in your comments.as a muslim Brother and human being,i congratulate you and i’m so happy for you.In chaa ALLAH you will be rewarded for your sacrifice and great work

  34. ALhamdulillah, Allah is so great. At a day and age when muslims are running further away from their belief, a promise fo allah come true. The more islam is coming under fire, the more Allah choosing to show light. Subhanallah, this story is heart touching and a very powerful shock that makes to feel what we muslims are failing to understand! Islam, a way of life which is not not merely a religion that concerns with very limited rituals. Rather, Islam, a complete and comprehensive way of life that offers the perfect solution to every problem of human life.May Allah accept the Brother and accept all as his rightly guided servants and enables us to become the mujahid of his way.

    Ma’assalaam.

  35. I was really delighted to here your part of the story.

    I am a medical student myself in my final year now. you can seek any sort of information about medicine or islam. I would like to be of any help in any way. Please keep up your search for the good in this world and hereafter. I wish you all success. Best wishes zarrin

  36. All praise due to Allah who’s mercy bestowed on you. May Allah Subhana Taala Guide you and guide us all in the straight path of Islam.

  37. As Salamo Alaikum Dear brother and all Muslims who read this posting and comment from me, Insh’Allah Kheir!

    I can relate HUGELY!! I have been dealng with Manic-depressive Illness(Bi-Polar Illness)since I was diagnosed in 1990 at 17 yrs old and fresh out of high school. I soon was in and out of ‘Crazy homes’ for much of my adult life. I also felt as an experiment for the government,pharmaceuticals, and the state doctors. Lithium was there very favorite medication even though I was showing Toxic symptoms from the first 3 mo. They did not hear my complaints of lethargy,catatonic state, memory loss from the nightly Valiums(Roche 10mg), severe entire leg muscle spasms at night,insomia, 40lb. weight gain after few monhts,acne of the jaw line,a steady drool of saliva and super-slurred speech,hair loss and thinning,lock jaw,and constant going back and forth from foot to foot when standing or when sitting a constant movement of my legs. I mean if I sit here and think I will remember more severe side effects of the over 36 pills a day I had to swallow down while trying to keep myself from gagging due to the fact that my body wanted to reject all those pills. I was taking like 6 diffrent medications. One for this side effect and so on. I think the worst one of all was being catatonic, basically blind during the day. I could not see.

    After 2 years living like this the state doctor finally switched me off of Lithium when she felt I was toxic at what was a ‘dangerous level’. I was thinking to myself at that time….Yeah, wow, after all those sleepless nights and embarassing days. I was now the girl who went coo-coo, or crazy. I tried to self-medicate by smoking marijuana,which really made it worse,and by drinking alcohol. My road was paved for chaos and hellfire. Islam Saved My Soul too!

    9 yrs later on meds I entered Islam after hearing of it a year before. Islam saved me.I am hoping to study Sufism to one day stop my meds alltogether, Insha’Allah. Allahu Akbar, Q

  38. I would certainly find time to read about Islam (correct me i am wrong – means “submission to all mighty GOD’).

    May the lord all mighty have mercy on us & guide us to the purify our souls & beyond.

    Bob

  39. Islam saved my soul this article should teach the whole world that today too in this difficult time there are people in the world who can understand and proof ISLAM is a religion of peace and I am very impressed by this new muslim the way he wrote the changes in his life MASHA -ALLAH .May allah give him success in his life and to all muslims in the whole world. May allah show us the right and pure path which leads to Jannah. May allah help Islamicty Organisation in successfully contiuing their mission of spreading islam –Khudahafiz.

  40. The article touched on some important issues/truths–that modern medicine can only control and not cure illnesses, that the Word of Allah SWT and His many names/attributes have healing powers, that one needs to have deep faith and belief in the concepts as presented to us in Islam for them to work for us in positive ways, that one needs to obey to the Word of the Almighty, in other words, be submissive–which involves paying attention to the do’s and don’ts as mentioned in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet, and aattempt to adhere to them sincerely and consistently.

    However, Islam cannot be ever presented in one single, simple package. In other words, sufism is only one aspect of Islam. Muslim sufis of many tariqas tend to isolate themselves in their little brotherhoods, as do Muslims of different magdhabs, schools of thought, Sunnis, Shias, Arabs, Turks, Pakistnis, etc. Unity and fragmentation cannot exist in the same place/concept, at the same time. When Muslims creates separate groups, sects, sufi orders, they are in fact creating fragmentations where there should be unity. I believe, they are also violating the most fundamental concept of Tawhid/Unity. We need to make our Islamic way of life all-comprehensive, all-embracing, one that attempts to shed all culturally, socially, politically,tribally-created barriers. We need to come together in genuine and respectful dialogue with one another if we are to ever allow the true meaning and worth of Islam to be understood by all Humanity.

    At the heart of it all, I believe, is the conscience of men and women. No laws in the books, no religious holy books or traditions can, it seems to me, grow a Conscience in our hearts and souls. We need to work at this diligently and honestly evey moment of our life.

    The catch word is Conscience. You, dear readers, be the judge of this: How many of us in the Muslim ummah have it or live by it?

  41. Alhamdulillah brother.

    When u learn and understand Islam fully later in your life, U will know that the soul or spirit or in Arabic – Ruh – lives in 4 worlds. In the first world all the Ruh bowed to Allah and declare that there is no God but Allah. Then they enter another world that is the world in their mother’s womb. Thirdly is our present world now where we are living. Then lastly the world after death.

    The third stage is very important because this is where the Ruh or soul will be searching for the truth. Those who deny their declaration to Allah will easily be strayed by Satan, while those who seeks the truth will find peace and harmony in their life. That is why if u read examples of those who converted to Islam they felt a great burden lifted off their shoulders.It’s as if their Ruh have finally reach their goal. Then the next destination will be to maintain the faith till the next world.

    I guess your Ruh has finally come home.

    Keep on learning brother.

    Assalamualaikum.

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