MONDAYSWITHMEEDA Session: Theme Eating Disorders in Muslim World

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What can we do to encourage our Muslim government to seriously consider the illness and offer treatment to all? Tala responds, “It is not only in Muslims community but also in none Muslim countries. The issue of eating disorder has not been taken seriously by the entire global governments.”  She says that the solution is through raising awareness to the health specialist about the problem. By doing this we can reach to a point where there is a strategy or a plan to handle eating disorder problems.

Dear Readers,

 

Please find below a paper based on IG session with MondayswithMeeda. Thank you Ryan from Kenya for this wonderful contribution.

 

 

 

You can watch the video by visiting MEEDA IG page.

 

 

 

This paper is written from a video discussing the relationship between Islam community and the typical eating disorder, such as bulimia and anorexia. Islam community looks at eating as a challenge in religion. It promotes the sense of handling it efficiently and in critical situations. The video was captured by Meeda’s Monday and presented by ED dietician Hala Abu Taha and founder of @islamandeatingdisorders, Maha. The two specialists discuss various health issues challenging the entire global communities, especially Muslims, and gives their solutions. In Mondayswithmeeda session, the two specialists discussed treatment from an Islamic point, marriage, Ramadhan and eating disorder, cosmetic surgery in the middle east, and men with eating disorder.

What can we do to encourage our Muslim government to seriously consider the illness and offer treatment to all? Tala responds, “It is not only in Muslims community but also in none Muslim countries. The issue of eating disorder has not been taken seriously by the entire global governments.”  She says that the solution is through raising awareness to the health specialist about the problem. By doing this we can reach to a point where there is a strategy or a plan to handle eating disorder problems.

The other issue discussed was Ramadhan and eating disorder. Under this topic, there was this question: If someone has a severe condition such as cancer, would their Doctor allow them to fast Ramadhan? Maha responded that “the doctor would not.” Furthermore, Tala said, “Ramathan is a law given by God to all Muslims. Also, God’s permits people to break the diet for some time, and we all know that this will be compensated in many ways in our lives because sometimes we would feed poor people or give out money. Therefore, I believe that eating disorder, primarily anorexia, is life-threatening. However, people will say that they will be healed, get cleaned, and healthier when they fast. If they could manage too fast for, let’s say, 14-16 hours, they can do more to improve their power of control. However, the emptiness or hunger they prompt themselves into may cause more harm to their bodies. The more we restrict, the weak our bodies become. There is a case of a lady who had anorexia. She was tested after Ramadhan, and was found to be okay. I can say God beautifully created us, but we can revive our bodies, and we will always have them defending us. However, there is a point when the body cannot protect us anymore. Talking about eating disorder or bulimia, we can fast for 14-15 hours, but then our brain will send a message that we have to eat more, which is dangerous. Therefore, people with an eating disorder should not fast unless advised by the doctors.  I believe that we know there are many benefits associated with Ramadhan, such as medical and protection. However, God mercifully created us, and it is a manner that we have to protect our bodies and not abuse it.

There was also a question on whether the other partner has to know about the eating disorder or not. Tela Abu said, “In Islam, marriage is taken as a holy relationship. The evidence-based therapy for adult based on a nice guide line is cognitive based therapy enhanced with family says. therefore, for a marriage, the closest family member that will help is a husband of a wife. So, if there is an underlying health problem within an individual, it must be known earlier before getting into marriage. This is importance because you will need an assistance. Moreover, we are required to tell about our disorders, diseases or problems before marriage to make the marriage firm. So, we need to open up, because it is a holly relationship. Mates should support each other, and if your partner is not ready to support the other, otherwise the relationship cannot be called holly. I believe that cognitive based therapy is a key to the family support.”

A question targeted plastic surgery that was picking up in the middle east, especially in Lebanon.  Those concerned could say that Lebanon was offering plastic surgery, especially on the chest and face, which has negative impacts on the body. The standards set by the entire process on appearances are not healthy to the people living with eating disorders and low esteem. Tala said, “We live in a society where we cannot control the business or who will do what. We can only focus on the people who live with eating disorder. We cannot promote self-neglect, although in Islam, we all know that it is not allowed to change what God has already created. There are cases where a woman has conceived 3-4 kids, leading to body changes. For this case she would want to improve what has already been already in good shape. This can be sometimes approved. If the core purpose for the surgery is self-worthy, or beauty, then we do not need to go for it. Instead we should seek an alternative help. Furthermore, if someone has an eating disorder or traces of eating disorder, we do not encourage plastic surgery, because it will cause self-worth issues. We can raise awareness on it, but we cannot stop it completely.”

There was also a question on why Muslim men are silent about eating disorders. Maha confirms that “men from the other communities have addressed the issue, but Muslim men are masking the problem.” It is not in Muslim society alone, but the issue cut across all communities. We are raised in communities where men are encouraged to show the right image that they cannot be sick or complain about any weakness. However, we come across men in our organization, and the evidence-based therapy works perfectly for them. Therefore, men and women engaged in this therapy are doing well. Therefore, it is time to break the silence and seek help.

Conclusion

Maha’s concludes that “Even if you feel you are getting better, you should continue visiting your Doctor. Let the final verdict come from the therapist if you are getting well or not. Don’t conclude that bulimia ed is more extreme than anorexia, or anorexia ed is more extreme than bench ed. Therefore, we have to get help for all of them.” Tala’s says that “It will be masked because you would not have treated the problem entirely. This is because the cycle pathology inside your brain and the maintaining mechanism have not been resolved. Moreover, if this problem is not eating you physically, then it is eating you mentally. Therefore, it is important to get rid of all them.”

 

 

 

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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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