Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

Is Faith A Good Anti-Depressant? Thought For The Day, BBC Radio 4, Today Programme, Friday 23/02/2018

February 24, 2018

Is Faith a Good Anti-Depressant?

[FINAL TEXT AS DELIVERED]

Thought For The Day, BBC Radio 4, broadcast Friday 23 February 2018, 0748-0751

Imam Dr Usama Hasan

[Listen to the 3-minute audio clip here]

Good morning, and good news! Anti-depressants do work: that’s the emphatic conclusion of a major medical study published in The Lancet two days ago. But is faith a good anti-depressant?

Mental health is like physical health, in that it may be good or bad, or fluctuate over time, taking turns for better or worse. And just as we take drugs for physiological ailments, we know enough about brain function to be able to prescribe targeted medicines for mental health problems. It is pleasing that there is now a greater awareness and acceptance of the nature of mental health problems and treatments.

But medication is neither the first resort, nor the only method, in treating depression. Indeed, one of the main authors of the scientific study confirmed that other treatments, including psychological therapies, should always be considered alongside drugs. But psychology and psychotherapy, literally meaning ‘the study and treatment of the soul or self’ respectively, are rooted in faith for many people in cultures around the world.

Religious practice, individually as well as communally, was always supposed to develop spirituality, or the improvement and growth of one’s self. A key passage of the Qur’an speaks of the human soul: to purify and develop the soul is success, but to bury the soul with heavy and harmful burdens is perdition.

Many of us will know people, perhaps including ourselves, who were cured of depression once root causes, such as the effects of trauma or other negative experiences, were neutralised appropriately, perhaps with medication. But often, people living through depression do not know what the root causes are, and why exactly they feel the way they do. For some, replacing negative thoughts and attitudes with positive ones, and taking part in social activities, can be extremely helpful, often with the help of a support network of family and friends.

Yesterday’s news coverage included the fascinating experiences of two people who’d had to cope with long-term depression.  One discovered a hidden talent when he started doodling, and the appreciative response he got for his artwork gave him unprecedented confidence and self-belief.  Another, a comedian, spoke of being able to share his experience with audiences after deep therapy.  He went on to say how lovely it would be if, once people knew his situation, they could offer to help. It was crucial for both of them to be open and expressive about their issues.

The Prophet of Islam taught that we should always “speak goodness only.” Mystics from all religions encourage always seeing the good in situations and in other people.  So, we all have a part to play in supporting each other with positive encouragement, kind words and optimistic attitudes.  For many, this will complement medical interventions, and such supportive relationships can be fundamental for good mental health and wellbeing.

Mirrors

August 1, 2013

Bismillah. The Prophet, peace be upon him, taught: al-mu’min mir’at al-mu’min – “the believer is the mirror of the believer.”

This morning, I read a mind-boggling commentary on this teaching from Ibn ‘Arabi, of which more later.

But first, here is a traditional explanation of the hadith, adapted slightly from Sheikh Abdul Ghaffar Hasan in his Way of the Prophet:

In this Hadith, a believer has been declared to be the mirror of another believer. This is a profoundly meaningful comparison. Keeping this comparison in mind, the following aspects of a believer’s relationship with another believer become apparent:

 (1) A mirror reflects only those spots and stains that actually exist. It neither reduces nor enlarges them.

(2) The mirror only reveals spots and stains when the face is present. If the person goes away, the tongue of the mirror is silenced.

(3) We have never heard of anyone becoming annoyed or angry at seeing their spots and stains in the mirror. On the contrary, we see that people gratefully keep the mirror in a safe place so that it may used when needed later.

(4) The mirror only reveals the spots and stains when it is level with the person’s face. If the mirror is above or below the face, it does not serve its essential purpose.

Instead of simile and metaphor, it can be stated in plain words that through the comparison with the mirror, the Messenger of Allah (may God bless him and grant him peace) has given us four pieces of guidance:

(1) If there is a need to mention a person’s defect, it should only be described as far as it exists.

(2) The defect should be mentioned in the person’s presence, not behind their back.

(3) If someone informs us of a defect or criticises us, we should be grateful to them instead of being annoyed with them.

(4) When a sincere adviser or critic criticises, he should neither show himself as greater and higher, nor use flattery and sycophancy [to be lower].

Now onto Ibn ‘Arabi: al-Mu’min (the Source or Guardian of Faith) is also a Name of God [Qur’an 59:23]. Hence, the hadith also means:

a) “The believer is the mirror of God” and

b) “God is the mirror of the believer.”

Explanations:

a) A person of pure faith has annihilated the ego and inculcated godly or saintly qualities such that the person’s heart and being is filled with (faith in) God, so God and other people only see a reflection of God in the person.

b) Since the World (the Universe or Nature) is also a locus or place of the reflection of God’s Names, and the human is a microcosm of the universe (the macrocosm), the believer learns about himself/herself through experiencing life, looking at the world and God’s action in it.  This teaching is related to the one that “a believer sees by the light of God”: s/he also sees by the multiple, renewed reflections of God’s light.

 

Islam and Science Workshop 2013

November 27, 2012
Bismillah.  This is a cross-post from http://www.quilliamfoundation.org/events/islam-science-workshop-2013/

Islam & Science Workshop 2013

FINAL CALL: Deadline extended to 9am on Monday 14th January 2013

Quilliam, in association with the American University of Sharjah, Université Interdisciplinaire de Paris and Muslim-Science.com, are pleased to announce a workshop entitled, “Islam and Science: A Reasoned Approach” for students and young researchers to be held on 18th-20th January 2013 at a prestigious location in Central London, UK.

This event will be the latest in a series of educational workshops that have previously been held in Algiers, Paris and other locations. A “reasoned approach” will be taken to Islam and Science: one that is well informed, balanced and constructive. The workshop will represent a unique opportunity for Muslim students and young researchers to discover the contemporary field of ‘science and religion’ through lectures by, and in-depth discussions with, internationally-recognised thinkers and experts in this field, including Prof. Nidhal Guessoum, Prof. Jean Staune, Prof. Bruno Guiderdoni, Ehsan Masood, Dr. Athar Osama and Dr. Usama Hasan.

Participants can attend the workshop by invitation only. There will be 20 invitations and in order to be selected, potential participants must complete and submit this application form (also below) and an accompanying essay on a subject that directly relates to the general theme of the workshop and to the topic of ‘Islam and Science.’

The eligibility criteria to apply for an invitation to the workshop are as follows:

• Participants must be either senior undergraduate students, graduate students, or young researchers (post-doctoral fellows or equivalent).
• The essays submitted by potential participants must be 1000-2000 words in English with an abstract of roughly 150 words.
• The essays must present an argument representative of the author’s opinion. They must be written in an academic style and include bibliographic references for every citation or factual statement, while avoiding being a summary or compilation of ideas expressed by other people.
• Potential participants should try to be consistent with the “reasoned approach” of this workshop and project on the theme of “Islam and Science.” In their essays, potential participants must avoid excessively focusing on “separationist” approaches which relegate religion to people’s private lives and science to the material world, or “concordist” approaches which “find” specific science in the scriptures and end up merely trivialising Islamic culture and its relationship to science.
• All essays must be submitted by email to workshop@QuilliamFoundation.org by 9am on Monday 14th January 2013. Essays received after this time will not be considered.

• Telephone interviews may be conducted to complete the selection process and to verify participants’ interest in, and familiarity with, the subject.
• The best essays may either be presented verbally by their authors during the workshop or published on the project website.The 20 participants who demonstrate their aptitude to fully benefit from the workshop will have all of their expenses paid (including transport, hotel accommodation and catering) and receive valuable educational material (books, articles, DVD, etc.).

Application Form
Islam & Science Workshop in London
18-20 January, 2013

Full name: ………………………………………………………………………..
Date of Birth: …………………………………………………………………………………..
Postal Address: …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
Telephone Number:…………………………………………………………………………………………………
Current educational / employment status:……………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
Academic Qualifications (include college and university attended): …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Email Address: …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Website (if applicable): ………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Important: Please attach this form to a short essay of between one thousand and two thousand words, include an abstract of roughly one hundred and fifty words, and send to the following email address: Workshop@QuilliamFoundation.org by 9am on Monday 14th January 2013.

LECTURERS:

Nidhal Guessoum: Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Associate Dean at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates; he has published several books on science with direct or indirect relevance to Islam, as well as dozens of scholarly papers in astrophysics and numerous articles on science, education, and culture. He has also organized two conferences (and co-edited the proceedings) on the application of Astronomy to Islamic problems.

Bruno Abdelhaq Guiderdoni: Director of the Observatory of Lyon (France), his main research being in galaxy formation and evolution, with over 100 papers published in the field. He is also a prominent Muslim figure in France; from 1993 to 1999 he was in charge of a French public television program ‘Knowing Islam’; he is a member of the Board of Advisors of the John Templeton Foundation.

Ehsan Masood: Science policy expert, writer, teacher, journalist, and broadcaster. He is the editor of Research Fortnight and Research Europe and teaches at Imperial College London. Masood’s latest book is Science and Islam: A History, in which he tells the story of how science developed during Islam’s imperial period, from 800 to 1500; the book was the official tie-in to a three-part documentary series on BBC Television presented by the award-winning Jim Al-Khalili, Professor of Physics at the University of Surrey.

Jean Staune: with degrees in Philosophy of Science, Mathematics, Paleontology, Political Science, Computer Science, and Management, he has taught at two Pontifical universities, in China at Shandong University, and is currently an adjunct professor at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne; he is also the founder and General Secretary of the Interdisciplinary University of Paris, and has published several best-selling books on science, philosophy and religion in France.

Usama Hasan: Senior Researcher in Islamic Studies at Quilliam, he has a PhD, MA & MSc from the Universities of Cambridge and London in Theoretical Physics and Artificial Intelligence, and is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. Also a traditionally-trained Imam with certification in Qur’an and Hadith, he is the author of a number of translations and academic papers in the fields of Qur’an, Hadith, Islamic law and ethics. He is a regular contributor to mainstream, international media.

Athar Osama: Science and innovation policy consultant and advisor. He is the founder of Muslim-Science.com and the Pakistan Innovation Foundation.

Others TBC