Addressing the Topic of Trauma and Faith

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Omar Suleiman

Channel: Omar Suleiman

Episode Notes

ISNACON 2019

Episode Transcript

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October 20. Come to the lab. Now going on to three years, was the birthday of European Institute for Islamic research was the official outward launch of European Institute. And when we set out and obviously there was a lot of work that went into European before we actually launched the Institute, when we set out to launch this institute, knowing that we would have a difficult time for the first couple of years just trying to explain what your pain is, some of you probably still don't know what it is. But inshallah Tada, we've done at least a better job of providing the resources about what it is now if you were to go online, and to and to get a good understanding. And hopefully through this

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session, shortly, you'll get a broader understanding of what we're trying to do also, we set out to study doubt, that was the very first thing what causes Muslims themselves, to leave faith or to not feel solidified enough in faith, to meaningfully absorb it and practice it as well as contribute through its lens. And the goal was to take people from doubts, to contribution, and not just from doubt, to belief, but doubt, to contribution, doubt, to belief, to a place of contribution, where they feel, not just solidified in their faith, but again, they feel like it is enabling them to do great things for the world around them through the lens of Islam, as we all know. And because you

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can only give what you yourself have, if you don't have peace, you can't give peace, you need peace on the inside, in order to be able to give it on the outside, or else it's very much so short lived, and not as substantive as it needs to be for the society around us.

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This is going to take a lot of deep research. And so the first survey that we actually launched was called the doubt survey where we did a the first analysis through 32, imams chaplains, social workers, people that work hands on with the Muslim community to identify the sources of doubt, and doubt, and this senses internal conflict, right with the faith. How many of you know someone who has left Islam? Can I see some hands?

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If I asked, Can you raise your hands? Again?

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If I was to ask that question at an Islamic convention 10 years ago, it would not have been even 50% of those hands. Right? I mean, if you looked around the room, that's a lot of hands to go up. Right, that people that we actually know that have actively left their faith. How many of you know someone that is struggling with the faith, including, it could include yourself? How many of you know someone struggling with the faith?

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vulnerability? So when you look at the Pew studies, and you see 23%, of American born, Muslims No, no longer even identify with Islam that tells you something, but the statistics can be very telling. Why is it that 80% of American Muslims fast, but only 39%? prayed? When prayer is more important than fasting, and the hierarchy of the pillars of Islam? What does that say about identity and belonging and different factors that come into play with our worship. So we launched the doubt survey. And most people did not identify intellectual reasons for their departure from Islam, but deeply personal ones, because you cannot separate your personal experiences, from your belief, from

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the way that you would view God and from the way that you would view the world around you. We are complex beings, but everything is deeply interconnected. If the authority in your life has been abusive, then naturally when God is introduced into your life as an authority, you're going to view him probably through an abusive lens, because that's what it was, if it was highly disciplinary, gods, you know that there are triggers and anything that's disciplinary associated with God and the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet, slice Allah, if culture was presented to you packaged as religion, and you had an aversion to that cultural idea, thinking that it was Islam that might have

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turned you off with a religion, if you've been constantly bombarded with this idea that you are from a backwards way of thinking and inferior religion, and inferior way of life, and you went to public school your entire life and everyone around you, you know, felt sorry for your pity Jew and viewed you as being oppressed, and you naturally start to view yourself as oppressed. All of those things are deeply interconnected. So there is an intellectual component because what those things do at the personal level is they expose our intellectual deficiencies as well, and our spiritual deficiencies as well. But at the same time dealing with the personal and what that particular personal impact is

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on my faith, which is, you know, which is at the bare minimum, from an Islamic perspective, the definition of my life's purpose, and what the personal means with that. So, we started to address a lot of the misconceptions about Islam, we started to talk about some of those intellectual attacks on this

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And a lot of our research initially focused on that. And of course, those intellectual those intellectual conflicts might stem from the personal, but we started to do a lot of work on the intellectual. And then we started to do a lot on spiritual because you know what, there is a way to spiritually anchor yourself

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in a way that Islam and faith would be rooted in your heart so that when the intellectual and the personal come, they cause your tree to bend, but not break because it's deeply anchored in the heart, there's a spiritual anchor in the heart, there's that that relationship you have with a law, that knowledge of the person of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, which personally I think, is one of the greatest ways to solidify faith in your heart is learning about the seed of the Prophet sallallahu wasallam, the person of the messengers leisel him that, all of that, that is based in the heart and that belief in Allah and knowing Allah, and who Allah is, and connecting all

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of the questions that you have to the attributes of Allah that render primary concerns about Islam to secondary concerns about Islam. All of that is extremely important. And so we launched the proofs of prophethood series and, and these things about, you know, solidifying the spiritual in the heart. But how do you then deal with the personal

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Now, here's one wrong way to approach this, the wrong way to approach this would be to suggest that there is no value whatsoever in counseling in therapy, that there are no concepts of depression, just read, like a southern rock, and everything will just go away, or, you know, all that all of these deeply traumatic things that have taken place, have a, you know, just a scripture that needs to be recited and then it's all going to go away spiritual bypass, bypass the entire, you know, the entire corpus of advancement that we've made, in how we personally take care of ourselves, and how we, how we, you know, how we internalize the experiences around us in a way that's healthy, not just

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spiritually healthy, but emotionally healthy, that allows us to not, you know, to make progress in our lives. Whether that purpose is worldly in its nature, or it's towards the Hereafter, but how do you, you know, deal with everything that's taking place. So the suggestion can't be that the solution to depression is just recall

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and bypass it all. And the solution also cannot be to equate depression with low faith.

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That connection does not exist in the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet slice. That's an interpretation that I think is very faulty, but it does not exist in the Quran and the Sunnah. However, it is very useful to understand the connections between what happens to me on a personal level, and what that means in terms of my faith, and how I can make sense of that in a way that's productive, and in a way that allows me to take the first steps towards not just rectifying that chaos in regards to my faith, but that chaos in regards to life as a whole and how I start to put that back together. And so hamdulillah at that point, you know, we had the blessing of reaching out

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to sister sada, Sultan and sister Naja. And, you know, really exploring deeply, both of them have a background and in therapy. So they have the secular background, as well as being grounded within the tradition of trying to put together a series on the relationship between trauma and faith,

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on the relationship between trauma and faith, and the relationship between our personal and everything that happens to us at an experiential level, because Islam is a lived faith, it's a lived experience, it's not just sorting out creedal concepts. It's a lived experience, it is supposed to touch every element of your life. So I need to better understand how that connection plays out in a healthy way in my life. And I'm glad they did. They did incredible research over almost the course of an entire year. And I've been producing and hunted a lot, or we've been releasing a chapter of that research on about every four to six weeks and have done a lot of lobbying on the relationship

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between trauma and faith. And I can tell you that it's groundbreaking, and that I myself have personally benefited from it in ways that I think any person, any person that is either in the position of caregiving in any capacity or any person that is in need of care, which I think all of us are, we're a deeply traumatized community, deeply traumatized community, and we have a lot of issues and one thing I've realized and a lot of our group sessions recently is that most collective Muslim gatherings whether it's a holocaust or whether it's a group of people in hajj, become group therapy sessions just without calling it that but you know we have a lot that's that's that's built

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up inside of us and we don't have healthy outlets inshallah. Tada. What I hope this can do is this can be the beginning of embarking on a healthy conversation and

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Let's talk about the relationship between the personal and the trauma and our faith and you know and crafting healthy solutions inshallah tada for the community, both at the individual level and at the collective inshallah so we can start to move into more productive direction with the lifetime. And I want to leave you with this one point, inshallah Tada. Before I hand it over to, to Sister najwa, and sister sada, and I hope you'll attend both sessions in Charlottetown. And really benefit from the incredible work that they've done in this regard.

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A lot of people think it's not just equating low Eman and depression, which is the problem. A lot of people think that if I do something like counseling, or start to try to put these pieces together that that is because I failed to do it all myself with just what the Quran and the Sunnah gave me.

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So it's like, why did you know i but by doing that, by by trying to get help by trying to understand these things, it means that I couldn't put it together myself, it was easy to recommend it to someone else when I saw them in a bad situation and say, hey, look, maybe you should get counseling. Or maybe you should do this or maybe that. But for me myself, I'm gonna be strong and do it all through the Quran and the Sunnah of the prophet SAW someone, I'm just going to understand it myself and put it all together myself.

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We are made up of so many different components as people.

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And if any of you have ever taken a Tesco class with me, you would have heard this statement. You cannot be disciplined in anything unless you're disciplined and everything cannot be disciplined than anything unless you're disciplined in everything. Eventually the areas of your life that are not put together are going to bleed into the other areas. And they're going to have real impacts on those other areas of life. So I can't leave one area of my life in shambles and run to the area of my life that makes me feel better, and just focus on that. And I come back to a statement from a biohazard Rahim Allah to Allah one of the tambourine who was asked by today madam Abdul Malik Rahim

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Allah, who was the Khalifa he said, Why do we hate death so much? Why do we hate death as people? Why does death cause us the apprehension that it causes us and he responded, he says Leanna Kumar, Martin dinyatakan, will hereafter archaelogical because you have established yourself in life and you have ruined your hereafter. But second of Hunan, hirogen, or moron, you know, haha, so you naturally a person hates to leave an area that they feel well established into an area of uncertainty and a place that's in shambles. If you apply that methodology to the things that take place in our lives,

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then you'll also find it to be true. A lot of times, if things are not put together in one area of life, I'm not going to try to fix that I'm just going to continue to to indulge, disproportionately the area that makes me feel good about myself, the area where I feel fulfilled, and hope that I can continue to bleed into that and just focus on that, but that's not sustainable, and it's not healthy, and it's not Islamic islamically speaking.

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Whatever you do for yourself, to make yourself a more capable Abdullah, a more capable slave of Allah, and a more capable hadham, a more capable servant to the people is rewardable in and of itself. So all those notions of self care, and emotional health and taking a break and shot what to how to make things better for us in that regard. I will just continue on this on this note. And I'll just end with something which I think is very important about the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam and who he is and what we can take as a lesson from him. You know, you look at the messenger sallallahu wasallam, you always see this perfect balance that he had in his life that the Prophet

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sallallahu alayhi wa sallam was who he was inside the house outside the house, his excellence in worship was represented in his excellence in his work ethic is being a community leader was also tied to his being, you know, a good father, a good husband, someone that was considered. So those qualities that you see that led to the excellence of the prophets, I send them in those different areas of his life, were not circumstantial. So the quality of empathy, for example, was something that impacted the profits license and impact of the profits, I set him how he dealt with his family and impacted the Prophet slice of them and how he dealt with his community. That quality of seeing

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things through the perfection of an action making sure that an action is done right, was something that manifested itself in every aspect of life of the Prophet slicin with the way that he did his will, to you know, the very famous

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beautiful Hadith one that really moved me from our beloved navio for a lot of time and he said that, describing the Prophet slice I'm going to come out and mohammedia he said that the Prophet slicin was not too proud well, yet knuffle he was not too proud and young share of morality with miskeen to be seen constantly walking with an orphan or with someone who is poor or a widow. Why hotteok Lila, home and hajah until the profit slice I made sure that they saw the end of what they were seeking. So

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He wouldn't just touch something he would see it through, right. So it's a quality that the prophets lie some develop that he could take intentionally to every single aspect of his life. And so when we're talking about adopting these qualities of the Prophet sly sentiment are different aspects of life, it's to help put us together in the most wholesome way possible, in a way that benefits our Deen and our dunya way that benefits our careers and our family lives in a way that benefits our productive role as community servants, as well as not being sloppy with our acts of worship with a loss of Hannah horchata. So it's to develop those frameworks, those qualities and that balance. And

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on that note, in sha Allah tala, you cannot expect religion to be put together for you, if you don't give it its time. anything in life, you got to give it its time. So you got to be attentive to it. If you want it to come together in a way that's healthy, you have to be willing to give it its time. So if you want things if you're in a turbulent marriage,

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you need to be willing to give it time to reduce that turbulence right. And you have to be willing to take the necessary steps. The same thing with faith. This isn't something that just comes to you when it's in shambles, like I'm just going to make drown and why isn't it happening for me, giving it its time and taking the necessary steps to put it together. And if this is our priority, to have our purpose in line, to have our faith in line, then we have to be willing to be extremely intentional about doing whatever it is that's necessary to keep it put together and streamlined within it. So with that, inshallah Tada, I'm going to hand it over in sha Allah tada to Sr najwa, Sr

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sada to talk about the research in sha Allah and how we can benefit from that document la platosa. I want to go home Salonika