Islam Eating Disorders and Suicide

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Allah has never created a disease but created its treatment, that is known by some people and unknown to others, except death. (At-Tabarani).


Dear Readers!

Eating Disorders are destructive and contrary to Allah’s way, you have to seek treatment. God says explicitly in the Qur’an: “And do not throw yourselves in destruction”. (2:195)

وَلاَ تُلْقُواْ بِأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ

Last week I covered the topic of Eating Disorders and Suicide in Islam on my Face Book page. This comes after a friend suffering from an eating disorder made a futile attempt at ending her life. Alhamdluilah she survived, but her effort to end her life was terrifying in its scope and impact. Does she really want to die? NO, I don’t think so! I think what she wants is for mental anguish to end. Nevertheless, a suicide attempt is a cry for help that should never be ignored. It is a warning that something is terribly wrong.

In eating disorders, it is the chemicals in the brain serotonin and noepinephne that are most frequently out of balance and causes sufferer to develop unhealthy attitude to life. This is WHY I always stress on seeking professional help. Both Anorexia and bulimia nervosa are highly associated with the risk for suicide. The necessity for early intervention in Eating Disorders is becoming increasingly clear.  With an increase in the number of cases of eating disorders world-wide, the time has passed for the wait and see how it goes attitude. If you think you exhibit signs of disordered eating or know someone who has an eating disorder, then please take immediate action.

 

Why are Eating Disorders contrary to Allah’s way?

Eating Disorders are merciless; they spare no one and have a profound impact on one’s lifestyle. Eating disorders are a psychological disorder that at times cause strong mood swings, anxiety and depressive episodes. You don’t develop these mood swings and depressive episodes over night but with time. The longer you live with an eating disorder, the more complex and severe it becomes. With time sufferer develops anxiety, depression, manic mood swings and failing health. And then comes a point in life when sufferer believes that there is no other alternative but to put an end to this misery by taking their own life. Eating Disorder mantra, ‘you have to lose weight’, ‘you are fat’, ‘you are crap’ simply impairs one’s cognitive skills, paralyzing their mind to the point of having a single positive, happy thought. In such manic despair, one ends up covering their ear, shutting their eyes, but there is no relief, respite from the voice in their head. In desperation suicide thoughts fester, develop and get stronger and stronger till one plunges to their own death at their own hands.


Do you really think that by abusing your body, you will live happily ever after? No, because our bodies are not designed for abuse and starvation, but for love, nurture and respect.

 

God is the author of life and it is only He who could take life. As human beings we don’t own our lives, God does! As such we don’t have the authority to take it. Suicide is disrespecting God and being ungrateful for the life He has given us. God has made life sacred for human beings and all his creatures.

It is He Who giveth life
and who taketh it,
and to Him shall ye
all be brought back. [10:56]

My example, I practiced anorexia for several years. First few months of restrictive eating, no one noticed, even I didn’t notice that I was changing. But after several months affects were more visible, I was always sad, lethargic, and angry and I just could not concentrate on anything. As more time passed, I developed anxiety and insomnia. I started neglecting my personal appearance, had no emotions left, could not concentrate or think clearly. I always cried, had very limited interaction with others, felt hopeless and helpless. What were worst were those feelings of pessimism, worthlessness that raced through my mind. I lost interest in everything and there was absolutely no joy left in life.

Just when I thought I’d go over the edge, I was sent off to an Eating Disorder unit. A blessing indeed. After leaving the unit, my challenge was how to progress further in life with weight gain and a very disordered mind, which over the course of years had become a hub to distorted thinking. This is a battle I fight everyday because my quest in life is to live a life free from the whispers of the demon of eating disorder. Inshallah, One day I will achieve this freedom.

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We all have a purpose in life and we are not put on earth to live in such a state of melancholy and with such feelings of worthlessness. And I invite you all to embark on a journey of happiness and freedom from the slavery of Eating Disorder.

So how do you know whether you or someone you know has an eating disorder?

Become familiar with the symptoms, and if symptoms are present, see a medical doctor and a therapist immediately. Do not delay. Eating Disorders are highly treatable, so get help.

Suicide is not an escape from Eating Disorder!

Are you feeling worthless, yourself? Allah created you for a reason and loves you. You are of great value to Him.

Sheikh Azad Rasool said ‘existence cannot be seen as purposeless’

Why do people with Eating Disorders attempt suicide?

Eating Disorders = Depression and More Depression

Please note: A suicide attempt must always be taken seriously. Without intervention and proper treatment, a person who has attempted suicide is at greater risk of another attempt and possible suicide.

Please Bear in Mind that A person living with an Eating Disorder such as anorexia/bulimia nervosa does not always have the same thoughts as a healthy person. This chemical imbalance can lead to the person not understanding the options available to help them relieve their suffering. Many people who suffer from eating disorder report feeling as though they’ve lost the ability to imagine a happy future, or remember a happy past. Often they don’t realize they’re suffering from a treatable illness, and seeking help may not even enter their mind. Emotions and even physical pain can become unbearable. If the person is sick too long with an eating disorder, it can lead a person to taking their lives. This isn’t always the case, as many live with their eating disorder and never attempt or die by suicide, but with awareness, education, and treatment, people can be helped so that suicide does not become an option.

 Suicide is forbidden in Islam and living with an eating disorder and not seeking treatment is a truly irrational choice. Just remember that Eating Disorders are not God’s will, Suffering from eating disorder is involuntary, just like cancer or diabetes, but it is a treatable illness that can be managed and cured.

In Allah’s care…
He brought together the sperm and the ovum from deep within two separate individuals, lodged the fertilized egg safely and prepared the uterus for the creation of a life – helpless and dependent on its Creator from the day of conception and beyond its birth, the vibrant youth, prudent adulthood up to its death at a senile old age and beyond to another life – its real home.  Not a day passes except that the same Creator sustains this life – and the six billion others like it on the planet – with attention to the most minute of its needs.  It breathes effortlessly without even noticing the complex art and perfection in the organs that enable it.

Why despair then…
With such care and attention for detail in each individual, is it then warranted to despair of the help of the most Merciful?

Along the same lines we find these verses in the Quran, (their translation) “Has there not been over man a period of time, when he was not a thing worth mentioning?  Verily, We have created man from a drop of mixed fluid (of man and woman) in order to try him so We made him a hearer and seer.  Verily, We showed him the way (gave him guidance in all matters), whether he be grateful or ungrateful (lit. kafoor i.e. who conceals and denies the favours or signs of Allah).  [Surah Insan 76:1-3]

I share this in the hope that my experience will reach others who have given up on life, on recovery, on freedom from the demon of eating disorder and who need God in their lives. Years have passed and I don’t regret one single moment of my life. You won’t either. Everyday I learn something new. When you feel you are hitting the rock bottom and feel that life has lost its meaning, try to look at your life with an open heart and an open mind.  It may feel that its only you and your Eating Disorder in this world and that life is full of trials and tribulations- Allah promised in the Quran, “Alif, Lam, Mim, do people think that they will be left alone on (merely) saying: ‘We believe,’ and not be tested (in their claims)? We have indeed tested those who were before them; and Allah will certainly make it known those who were truthful and He will certainly make known the liars.” [Surah Ankabut 29:1-2]

Everyone

Who comes into this world

Brings a reason for living with them.

Those who strive not

With deeds towards it,

Are among the living dead.

Drench this universe

With the rain of your actions.

Only those who sow the seeds

Of action

Reap the fruit of bliss.

The destination is reached only

After suffering the hardships

Of the journey.

Those who know the reality

Of the suffering are the ones

Who will know joy.

Each suffering

carries a message of joy,

just like winter

holds out the promise of spring. He who flows on

like a river

is oblivious to the plains and mountains.

There is a treasure

That is distributed with abandon, in

The late hours of each night.

He who is awake, receives it

And he who sleeps,

Loses it.

(Anon) – Taken from The Search for Truth, ‘The life and teaching methods of the Indian Sufi Shaykh Hazrat Maulvi Muhammad Sa’id Khan (r)

Do you suffer from suicidal thoughts? If so, please tell your counselor, your Imam, your doctor, a loved one, someone. Have phone numbers easily accessible. In addition to those you know there are also hotlines available. Some professionals even have their clients make promises or sign contracts committing not to hurt themselves, but to get in touch with someone when they feel they can’t take it anymore. It’s vital that you have some kind of plan in place because when those suicidal thoughts invade a person’s mind, they can easily take control.

 

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About Author

Islam and Eating Disorders founded in 2012 – run by Maha Khan, the blog creates awareness of Eating Disorders in the Muslim world, offers information and support for sufferers and their loved ones.

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