How to Help Someone with Schizophrenia and Bipolar: An Islamic Approach

الحَمْدُ لِلهِ وَالصَّلاَةُ وَالسَّلاَمُ عَلَى رَسُوْلِ اللهِ وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ وَمَنْ وَالَاهُ وَبَعْدُ

Please read this article on ontology and theology of healing in Islam as a pre-requisite to reading this one.

Context: The context of this article is to help educate Muslims who have friends or family with mental health issues such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. This is a religious article and should not be a substitute for professional advice, therapy, and counseling. One should also be intelligent about selecting a counselor and making sure they find one with a very good reputation. I am not a counselor myself. I did manage a mental health clinic for a short while, though I do not work as a counselor or psychiatrist. The following article, however, may be beneficial insha’Allah. For those who have not seen these mental health cases up close, they may have a harder time understanding them from a simply theoretical approach. Human beings, as we know, are different, and each person’s recovery may be different from another person’s based on their personality, their past, what they’re dealing with, etc. Just think of all the different people you know and how different they are–their lives, backgrounds, the way they think and believe, etc. So add in a mental health issue and the complexity grows. If you look up the prognosis and success rate for schizophrenia in the US, it’s around half of patients. About 15% wind up in hospitals and do not improve.

Protect Yourself

Firstly, protect yourself. Don’t hurt yourself. If they are violent or toxic to your own life, it may be wiser for you to avoid such a person until things get better.

Certain cases and types of mental illness can frequently involve jinn, magic, generational curses, evil eye, etc. Don’t directly try ruqya if you’re not trained and experienced in it or authorized by a sheikh. Drugs and alcohol and Haram habits can sometimes be involved as well. So be careful with yourself. It’s better to see yourself as someone who perhaps can give sound advice and be a good friend if you feel like it is helpful and not harmful (to either of you) to do so. If you meet, only go to good places like your local mosque or Muslim third space etc. Avoid anywhere with a bad vibe, and encourage them to avoid bad things, places, and harmful relationships. Invite them to the light. Your companionship could be as simple as sitting in a mosque and reading Qur’an together, and beyond that saying “I don’t know, but I’ll make du’a for your shifa.” This alone can profoundly impact their life in a positive way. So do not underestimate the daily Islamic practices.

The following Qur’anic verse can be very useful for protection:

Surah Al-Baqara, Verse 257:
اللَّهُ وَلِيُّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا يُخْرِجُهُم مِّنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَوْلِيَاؤُهُمُ الطَّاغُوتُ يُخْرِجُونَهُم مِّنَ النُّورِ إِلَى الظُّلُمَاتِ أُولَٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ

Allah is the Protecting Guardian of those who believe. He bringeth them out of darkness into light. As for those who disbelieve, their patrons are false deities. They bring them out of light into darkness. Such are rightful owners of the Fire. They will abide therein.
(English – Pickthal)

This Divine Name, al-Wali, the Protector or Guardian, is important when being around the darkness and problems in the unseen. Trust in Him and do not let fear get to you. Be sensible. And you can recommend they use this verse for their own selves as well.

Every Disease Except Death is Curable

Make sure you read the article on ontology and theology of healing in Islam, as it strongly pertains to this section.

There is a common misunderstanding in the complex Western healthcare system that numerous diseases are “incurable.” Even on, they state that “While there is no cure for schizophrenia, research is leading to innovative and safer treatments.” Granted, the job of a psychiatrist is to prescribe medications, and the pharmaceutical industry makes a lot more money treating chronic illnesses with expensive drugs rather than curing people.

The truth is that Allah ﷻ is the Healer. Allah ﷻ sent down the cure for every disease except death and it is part of our theology (aqida) to believe this. So there’s always a way even if you can’t see it in the moment. Begin with believing and encouraging them to believe that this is curable. This is very important. Do not ever believe any disease cannot be cured–yes it can. If you do not believe this you are likely falling into a misunderstanding. We know that Allah ﷻ can cure every illness and it is unlikely that someone would believe in limiting Allah’s ﷻ power and ability. He controls everything, He just says “Be,” and it is. He can make it happen in any moment. Believe this. Trust in Him. The more likely problem is the idea that He will not cure the illness or did not send a cure or that we need Western medical research to find the cure first. You actually do not know this. You are making assumptions which are likely false. You do not know the future and you may not know how Allah ﷻ wants to cure this illness. But know that in His hands is all good and evil is not attributed to Him. He does not want us to be sick and hurt. His name is al-Shafi, the Healer, he wants to heal us. His name is al-Mu’afi, the One who gives us ‘afiyah and keeps us well. He wants us to be well, to be protected, to be safe. His name is al-Wali, the Protector. So these Divine Names tell us about who He is. Think very well of your Lord and that alone can lead the sick down a path to being completely cured insha’Allah.

Get Help

Learn about your community mental health resources in your locality and consider chatting with them about their experiences. Know where to refer to if they have a manic episode–contacting your local mental health clinics can get you this information. Asking your friends if anybody works in mental health is helpful as well, since you can perhaps chat with them about your friend or family member on a more personal level.

Contacting your local mental health resources may help you grow in knowledge and understanding of your friend’s illness and what kind of help is available and what situations. Interact with professional counselors and psychiatrists and gain more perspective. Know that mental health professionals, just like human beings in general, vary considerably in their own professional skill and development as well as spirituality. So I recommend talking to those who you are comfortable with and share your values. Or be like a bee and take the good and leave the bad. Many counselors themselves may have no idea what to do to really help these people if they haven’t had many patients with these conditions or symptoms. So find the right one and it may take several tries. Look for Muslim counselors in your area and get in touch with them.

Enlist other sincere Muslim friends. Surround them with good suhba if it is safe for everybody. Bring them to the light. This can be very healing.

If they are open to Sufism, finding their murshid or asking a valid murshid can be very helpful. Sometimes just finding your sheikh and giving him the bay’ah can lead to great healing for many sick people. The wird they give their student can bring in spiritual help (madad) that can be beneficial. Just make sure the murshid is trustworthy, reliable, authorized via a valid chain of transmission, reputable, and follows the Shari’a and has good, upright, prophetic character.

The following du’a can be used to ask Allah to bring you to your murshid:

اللهم دُلَّنِي إلى من دَلَّني إليك
“Oh Allah point me to the one who will point me to You.”
Your sheikh is a particular murshid decreed for you to bring you to Allah ﷻ. Though you may go through another murshid who may train you before meeting yours.

Western Medicine

Western medicine and therapy can be helpful, but it can take a lot of trial and error to get the right providers. The medications can have a lot of side effects so do plenty of research on these. Medication can, in many cases, be very important to maintain stability and sanity until the cure is obtained. If a therapist or medication is not helping, consider asking around for someone reputable and never give up trying. Western medicine, for schizophrenia, seems to rely heavily on medication and act helpless in seeking a cure. Yes you can be cured. Do not believe any naysayer. Do not believe anybody who discourages you. Go to the positivity and what feels right in the heart and aligns with Shari’a. Ask Allah ﷻ to enable you to get off your medications and be healthy, of sound heart and mind and intellect, and be well. Ask for His complete afiyah.

Be a Sincere Friend

Be a sincere friend. A lot have a hard time keeping good friends. So just be a good friend. Help when you can. They may have all kinds of life issues and be unstable from time to time so get to know your local mental health resources. Suggest du’as and righteous deeds. Give general Islamic advice. Give sincere nasihah. Be their friend and ask Allah if that is good for you two. Say “Lillah,” this friendship is for Allah’s sake. Make all of your friendships for His sake, it will only make things better and bring Him into your life more. All goodness is in His hands. Tell them to shun the darkness and ignore it. Turn to the light. That’s where the healing is. Believe you can fully heal! Encourage them to fill their hearts with Allah’s light, love, goodness, and mercy.

Know that this can last years before they are cured, or a lifetime for some. Be patient with them. They may relapse many times over the years. Just do what you can and don’t burn yourself out or hurt yourself. Ideally, if they’re decent and sincere, building a team of friends around them can be helpful so you can support each other in supporting them.

Turn to Allah ﷻ

Encourage positivity and optimism and husn Al zunn billah. Turn to Allah ﷻ in a private moment of dhikr, using His name, and seek His guidance, His help, and His shifa. Ask Him how to seek His cure. Ask Him what the true cause of it is if that’s beneficial to find out. Ask Him to guide you out of this illness. Ask Him to guide you to the best help. Ask Him to remove your ailments and grant you complete ‘afiyah. Keep turning to Him and asking Him about the cure until you are granted it and do not give up or lose hope, but keep up the positivity. Say “la hawla wa la quwwata illa billah” and know that He has unlimited power and ability. He can easily remove this. Saying this dhikr is also a means of healing and removing anxiety.

Give up everything haram. Stop the drugs and alcohol. Turn away from the darkness. You need Allah’s help, so give up the things He forbade and draw nearer to Him. Distance from Him is where suffering and pain is. Nearness to Him is where the big help and healing is. So seek to draw near to Him and be sincere in this and He will give you a lot of help. If you truly want to give up evil, He will give you big help in that. Just turn to Him sincerely.

The Heart and Soul (Ruh and Qalb)

Another one that might help is they can ask Allah to put their soul in charge of the heart. The heart is the battleground of the human being. There are many inspirations that can come to the heart, some are light and some are from the darkness. Some are from demonic whisperings, some are from the nafs, some are from the angels and Allah’s inspiration. Some are intellectual. Focus on the good and shun the darkness. Don’t mull over the darkness, such as nightmares and weird dreams. Ignore them and shun all darkness. Just turn away from it completely and turn towards the light.

Non-existence or nothingness is pure darkness. Creation is the isthmus between the Light of Allah and the darkness of non-existence.

The soul wants light. It loves a proper Islamic lifestyle. It wants to go to Allah ﷻ. Asking Allah ﷻ to give it control of your heart may wrest the heart from the fetters of evil forces, and Allah ﷻ knows best.

You want your ruh in charge and your aql (intellect) under it and serving it. The aql serves as a fetter on the nafs, it ties it down and tells you not to be excessive, not to do anything sinful, etc. You don’t want the intellect to be used for bad things, but to turn you to the light, shun the darkness, avoid falsehood, investigate for the truth correctly, and serve Allah ﷻ. It’s important to grow it and develop it with sound knowledge, especially of fiqh and aqida (the sacred law and theological creed).

So you can make this du’a for yourself and suggest it to them: “ya Allah, put my soul/ruh in charge and my aql under it and serving it.”

Studying spiritual knowledge of Sufism is also very valuable here. Study the heart and the spiritual journey to Allah ﷻ from sound sources. The more you grow in knowledge, practice, and spiritual wayfaring the more equipped you are to help others. Don’t forget your own journey.

They may have weird, demonic memories, inspirations, and experiences and want to get rid of them. One way that might help is dhikr. Turn to Allah and ask Him to remove their problems. Get into the present and forget the evil in the past. Have quiet dhikr time with Allah ﷻ in a good place with good company if that is helpful. Repent for your sins and remind them of how forgiving Allah ﷻ is and never give up hope in his mercy, ever. We do not damn people in Islam, we remind them of the good and call to it. Turn away from sin. Regret it, ask Allah to protect you from repeating it, and move on from it. Allah ﷻ is al-Ghafur, al-Ghaffar, al-Afuw. He can erase your sins like they never even happened, that’s His afuw. He can erase your sins. The following supplication is good for this:

وعنها قالت‏:‏ قلت‏:‏ يا رسول الله أرأيت إن علمت أي ليلة القدر ما أقول فيها‏؟‏ قال‏:‏ ‏ “‏قولي‏:‏ اللهم إنك عفو تحب العفو فاعفُ عني‏“‏ ‏(‏‏(‏رواه الترمذي وقال حديث حسن صحيح‏)‏‏)‏
‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported:
I asked: “O Messenger of Allah! If I realize Lailat-ul-Qadr (Night of Decree), what should I supplicate in it?” He (ﷺ) replied, “You should supplicate: Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun, tuhibbul-‘afwa, fa’fu ‘anni (O Allah, You are Most Forgiving, and You love forgiveness; so forgive me).”


Sincerely turn to Allah with ikhlas and a sound intention. Ask Him for tawajjuh, tawbah, and sidq (sincere turning to Him, repentance, and truthfulness). Forget the evil in the past. Get a good dhikr session going and leave the evil in the past. Once it’s forgotten it’s like those memories are gone forever, annihilated. Everything in the creation is fani. Including and especially thoughts. Just leave them and they disappear forever insha’Allah.

كُلُّ مَنْ عَلَيْهَا فَانٍۢ ٢٦
وَيَبْقَىٰ وَجْهُ رَبِّكَ ذُو ٱلْجَلَـٰلِ وَٱلْإِكْرَامِ ٢٧

Everyone that is thereon will pass away;
There remaineth but the Countenance of thy Lord of Might and Glory.

Surat Al-Rahman 26-7

Suggest Supplications for Them

The following are supplications that may perhaps help the person, though each person may be different.

When making a lot of supplication it’s good to add to the end, “if it is good for me.” Allah knows all of the possibilities. He knows the outcomes of things. He knows the future. So we want to use His knowledge, not ours. He is al-Aleem, al-Hakeem. His Wisdom is the highest wisdom. So ask by what He has and not by our limited selves.

Every heart is under Allah’s ﷻ control. He turns the hearts. The following supplications can be very useful here:

يَا مُقَلِّبَ الْقُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِي عَلَى دِينِكَ

Anas reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, would often say, “O Turner of the hearts, keep my heart firm upon Your religion!

Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2140


Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Never is a servant struck by worry or grief but let him say, ‘O Allah, I am Your servant, the son of Your servant, the son of Your maidservant. My forelock is in Your hand, Your decision over me has passed, and Your decree upon me is in justice. I ask You by every name with which You have named Yourself, or revealed in Your Book, or taught to one of Your creatures, or kept hidden in the Unseen with You, that You make the Quran the spring of my heart, the light within me, the banisher of my depression, and the expeller of my anxiety,’ then Allah will expel his worry and replace his grief with joy.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, should we study these words?” The Prophet said, “Of course, whoever hears them should study them.”

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Ibn Ḥibbān 972

The supplication for light can also be very helpful and healing for any health issue. Find it here in Hisn al-Muslim. The ideal timing is to say it every time you go to the mosque, but it can be said at any other time as well.

Know that everything is under Allah’s control. He can easily change things for a person for the better. He can change our inward states and give us gifts to help us in our journeys to Him to stay on the good path.

عَنْ أُمِّ سَلَمَةَ قَالَتْ قَالَ رَسُول اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِذا أرَادَ الله بِعَبْدٍ خَيْراً جَعَلَ لَهُ واعِظاً مِنْ نَفْسِهِ يَأمُرُهُ وَيَنْهاهُ

Umm Salamah reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “When Allah intends goodness for a servant, He appoints a conscience within him to command and prohibit him.”

Source: Zahr al-Firdaws 227

You can suggest that they Allah ﷻ to never get bored of the goodness, of Him, and of the Quran.

Also asking Allah ﷻ for the suhba (righteous companionship) that’s best for them.

Asking Allah for His ‘inaya and ri’aya (العناية والرعاية), His Divine care and concern, can be very helpful as well.

Sometimes they can have like a fascination with the darkness. This is not good. It’s usually just stagnation and poison to the heart. You want to heal the heart, not give it more darkness to stare at. Look at the light! You can advise them to ask Allah ﷻ to remove this fascination and instead give them what He wants them to focus on. Advise them to focus on the light, the goodness, Islam, the rights of Allah over them, and the rights of those around them. Shun the darkness–it’s weird, sinful, and never makes sense. It’s usually not worth spending your time on beyond what you need to heal. From time to time, a strong person who was cursed later on becomes a great raq. This is a rare exception, though they aren’t fascinated by the darkness but rather are firm in removing the evil. Their experience as a victim may motivate them to desire to remove it. You want the keys to lock up evil and unlock the goodness. That’s from Allah, by Allah, for Allah ﷻ.

The Majnun and the Majdhub

Some folks think that the majdhub (the one with a strong spiritual pull by Allah) is outwardly similar to a person with mental issues. There’s a big difference between the majnun and the majdhub.

Majnun: Someone dealing with demonic whisperings. It may just be a problem with their mental health, brain chemicals, and/or spiritual heart. In some cases they may also be possessed, dealing with magic, evil eye, jealously, or other types of spiritual attacks. They need to get away from the darkness, shun it, and turn to the light and be healed. Ruqya from a trustworthy raq can sometimes be necessary if spiritual attacks are involved and some are skilled at differentiating and diagnosing these issues. One way the ruqah use is to just say the related words in Arabic 7x each to the person: “sihr, sahir mashur; hasad, hasid, mahsud; ayn, aa’in, ma’yun.” Then checking for a reaction. Another is they may shy away from good things like the Qur’an or have weird reactions to it. Strange things in the house that are blatantly jinn is another sign, and not just paranoia but obvious, blatant things even to a normal person. Do not be afraid of them and ask Allah to protect you from them and all of their falsehood. The Divine Name Al-Wali can be helpful, such as using the above Quranic verse (2:257) for protection when around them. Do not engage in ruqya yourself if you are not trained or authorized, but find a raq to help you and perhaps encourage them to do ruqya on their own selves which can also be a test for these issues.

Jadhbah: The jadhbi or majdhub is the one who is pulled by Allah into His presence and their heart is illuminated. They are very close to Allah.

Murid, murad, and irada: The irada is the will to go to Allah for the murid, the one who has irada. The murad is the one sought by Allah. His irada is on them. They are like locked in on seeking Him, obeying Him, serving Him, and witnessing Him in the moment. Your sheikh/murshid is a murad and a majdhub. Their hearts are pulled by Allah. The heart is the focus of the Divine Gaze and has great potential, but the intellect is limited, though very important. “Imaginations/intellects (awham) cannot reach Him” (al-Aqida al-Tahawiyah).

  1. The majnun is struggling with the darkness. The majdhub likely sees a ton of light and they do not like the darkness at all, because it can take away their light. They do not like sin. The majnun may be struggling with sins in their life and sinful thoughts.
  2. The majdhub may actually be a seemingly normal and sane person, as well. Many or most are actually like that. They’re just hidden by their humanness. They may do things that are a bit strange, but within the Shari’a. They may be fixated on doing a lot of good deeds or have certain behavior that is hard to understand until later on, perhaps even in the afterlife. The story of Musa and Khidr (peace be upon them) in chapter 18 of the Qur’an is a good example of this, though they may not do such extreme things as Khidr, but the lesson it delivers is a good example that you may not understand them and perhaps even think they’re a bit off, but actually they may be doing exactly what Allah wants them to do in the moment. Respecting them and having husn al-zhunn can be a great blessing, though be careful keeping their regular company because it may or may not be good for you.
  3. Some cases of the majdhub/murad can involve someone who seems totally lost in Allah. Like they’re insane but actually they have powerful spiritual insight. They are the ones who need al-Baqi and are looking for the baqa’. They’re missing a Divine Name, al-Baqi. Some mistake cases of the majnun and cases like this. But these two are very different. The darkness and the light are very different and what is written above should be enough to make things clear.

Personal Stories

In this part I’ll share some personal stories of people struggling with mental health that I have tried to help to perhaps benefit others and give a reference for certain situations.

Texas Story 1

One friend immigrated to Texas from East Africa. His family was Muslim and his mom was very strong and patient. She had a lot of faith. One day he asked me to pick him up and when I was sitting in the car with him he was talking kind of strangely, but not enough to suspect immediately that he had schizophrenia. After several minutes I finally realized he was making weird associations that were not actually there. He was paranoid that the police were after him for some very strange, tiny thing (I honestly forgot what it even was, it didn’t even sound like a crime at all either) when they were not. Then that day some tape was put up around a dumpster to keep cars from parking too close and he thought it was about him. I immediately offered to take him to the ER and he rejected it. He just wanted to stay out of his house for one night at a friend’s house. I contacted a single brother I knew who took him in for a night before. I did not know he had any mental health issue prior to this. I called up a counselor I knew for professional advice and she did not answer. Later she said, in that state of paranoia, he probably would not trust her, but as his friend he trusted me. I was shocked. I’m not a professional, what am I supposed to do? He refused taking him to the hospital. I kept telling him he’s fine you can just go home. He said “I’m not tripping bro. Come and talk with my friend and he’ll tell you I’m not tripping.” He thought the police were out to arrest him. They were not, actually. We went to meet his friend and he said “I didn’t notice anything man. You’re fine. Nobody is after you.” Eventually he stayed at my friend’s house. He’s otherwise a very sweet and kind young man. He’s decent. He never engaged in dangerous behavior with others like theft or violence or anything. Later on he had another episode and actually went to the police and told them he was turning himself in. The said he was clean. There’s no arrest warrant. Just go home. He didn’t even believe them. He kept telling them he’s guilty (of nothing?) until they did arrest him for a day. Eventually he got over this belief.

The most helpful thing I seemed to do for him was just to be a good Muslim friend. His mom wanted him to go to the mosque and not be with non-Muslim guys. He tended to spend his time with non-Muslims if he was not with Muslims. So just offering to be a friend can be a big difference. Those non-Muslims smoked weed and perhaps other haram drugs we don’t know about. That can be devastating to the mind. So just offering a better alternative is very helpful sometimes. We just sat in the mosque and read the Qur’an together and after about an hour he said he felt way better and his behavior apparently improved afterwards. I didn’t say much or give much advice at all really. I just sat there with him. Doing good deeds together can bring in the light. Being a good friend and just being a person they can be around who is a good influence can make a world difference for some people.

Texas Story 2

I had another friend in the same city in Texas. He and his brother converted to Islam. In his case, his symptoms would go up and down. Sometimes he would go out and sometimes he just wanted to stay home until it improved again and I wouldn’t see him for awhile. He was otherwise very sane to talk to, but admitted he had schizophrenia and it was just very bothersome and annoying to him. I don’t have much else to add to beyond this. Some folks just need good companionship when they’re ready to go out. Be good to them. They may find healing by just being around other Muslims insha’Allah.

Texas Story 3

A guy and his wife converted to Islam and she had schizophrenia. Her hallucinations here were kind of unsurprising: she said when it got bad, the walls started bleeding and she saw hallucinations of demons who threatened to kill her. So it was very frightening for her. This is not a big surprise and you can guess that she’s getting strong waswasah but her faculties are weakened and the waswasah can get very bothersome and strong. Her medications were helpful here.

My Aunt

Another example is my own aunt. She has severe schizophrenia. Her case is clearly demonic to me for several reasons. She has a history of messing around with magic and tarot cards and other strange things like that. She has a weird affinity for dark stuff. She always wears black. She sees weird things and behaves very strangely. She had a problem with intoxicants. Just watching her move she indeed looked possessed. One day I started reading Qur’an over her with an intention of ruqya, from a distance, and a bunch of demonic stuff came back after me. I found out quickly, yes, this is a case of demonic possession. She had been possessed for decades and this is also a good example to be careful with ruqya because you can get attacked back if you’re not ready for it. Some cases can be quite nasty, some can be simple. It depends on the case. But it’s good to enlist a proper raq for these things if you are able. Sometimes a family can deal with it on their own if there’s no raq available, which has been successful before as well. Sometimes you have to make du’a for a dream to find the source of the magic then go to that location and recite over it or pour zamzam. Be careful with dealing with this stuff, get sound advice, and take all necessary precautions.

والله أعلم


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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s