the [mental] health of our ummah

Tariq Nelson has written about people with obvious extreme mental issues who convert to islam.

This one hits close to home.  Madison was the first real muslim community I could call mine.

Madison man in custody after deadly rampage in Chicago

And of course, the islamophobic right wing blogosphere is having a field day over this:

A law enforcement source, citing preliminary information, told the Tribune that James Larry said he was hearing voices that told him to bring his family to Allah. He also told police he didn’t have enough ammunition, the source said.

A person close to the investigation told The Associated Press that Larry, who was later arrested several miles away, told police he went on the shooting spree after hearing voices that told him to kill members of his family.

Twanda Thompson’s older sister, Shirina Thompson, said in recent days that James Larry fought with her sister because he wanted her to dress in Muslim garb but she refused.

Relatives said James Larry became a Muslim while in federal prison on a gun charge, and Shirina Thompson said he recently was acting strangely, talking about “going to Allah.

I think it’s pretty obvious in hindsight that the man was ill.  So who failed here?  Society can never catch all the deranged people before they snap.  But if he was in prison priviously, would there have been something there that should have caught it?

And in our own communities, where we have many vulnerable people coming to islam out of bad situations, what is our obligation towards these people?  What can we do to help them to get their lives back on track?  Here in the Twin Cities, we have mentoring programs for brothers who are released from prison.  We most definitely need more of these.

And what about counseling?  Can our communities have counseling services available, or a safe place where someone can go if they suspect someone needs help:

Letisha Larry said her brother was a “little weird” lately. “He was, like, just saying little weird little stuff about (how) he was an angel and we were demons, there’s demons in the house.”

She said her brother carried around the Quran, and about a week ago started telling his family something in the book told him to kill someone.

If someone is telling you these things, that person needs help.  And inshaAllah our communities need to be prepared to provide it.

I know this is not a problem of islam.  But, each new convert becomes a part of our ummah, and become our brothers and sisters.  Would we let our blood brothers and sisters suffer?  If not, why aren’t we concerned when our brothers and sisters in this deen are in trouble?

We can’t bury our heads in the sand, and dismiss these problems by saying, oh, this is not from islam, not from islam, islam doesn’t condone this.   This is what Islam says:

“And verily this Ummah of yours is a single ummah and I am your Lord and Cherisher: Therefore Fear Me.” [23:53]

The believers, in their love, mutual kindness, and close ties, are like one body; when any part complains, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever. [Muslim]

The faithful are like one man: if his eyes suffers, his whole body suffers. [Muslim]

Why are we so quick to chastise our fellow muslims when their beards aren’t long enough, or their pants aren’t high enough, but when their sanity is at stake, we’re like, nope, sorry, none of my business?

Sure, islam did not cause this.  But what could muslims have done to prevent it?


3 thoughts on “the [mental] health of our ummah

  1. There’s only so much you can do, as I was forcefully reminded last weekend. One of my longtime online friends has been slowly but surely falling apart. He lives 2000 miles away from me and all I could do was give him my supersekrit private cell phone number and tell him to call me ANY TIME and continually urge him to seek medical assistance. In his state, there were no open beds in any of the mental hospitals (and, in hindsight, what I should have told him was to camp out in the lobby of one of those hospitals until he was admitted). Last Friday he shot himself–but, if there’s any consolation, the bullet went into his shoulder, not his heart. He’s now getting the care he should have gotten weeks/months ago, but he’s also getting a huge medical bill. Believe me, I’ve turned this over and over and over in my head in the past week–what could I have done differently?

  2. I’m so sorry to hear about your friend Mirele. Hind sight is always 20/20 (cliche, but it really is true), but it sounds like you did what you could do.

    So what does one do if one threatens to harm themselves or others? I would guess that in this situation in Chicago, the family didn’t take this man seriously. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have someone threatening to kill someone, but I would hope that there would be some one I could talk to about it :(

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s