There are many elements of spiritual health, including obedience to Allah subhanahu wa ta’Ala (God, the Exalted) through those things He has made obligatory, avoiding what He has prohibited, remembrances and good deeds. I wanted to touch upon a few necessary elements that are often overlooked in today’s world.
Community – To me, this is the primary means of spiritual uplliftment in Ramadan. Doing the same devotions with our family and community spurs us on to be better. Some people fast and pray during Ramadan but find it difficult to do so for the rest of the year. I would argue that they fast because they’re inspired by the communal aspects of the fast. We’re communal beings by nature (recall the story of Adam, who felt lonely in heaven and was granted the company of Eve). Our souls are helped when we do things with other people. Jumu’ah prayer is another example of this. After Ramadan, try adopting acts of devotion together with other people.
Mental and Emotional Health – People are suffering from many mental and emotional health issues which impact their iman (level of faith), such as depression and loneliness, but are convinced that their iman alone is to blame. They may try to connect with God in the typical ways, but because of these other issues they feel no success and feel worse about themselves. Rather, mental and emotional health issues must be identified and properly treated. If you’re experiencing difficulties like depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, anger, addiction and loneliness to name a few issues, seek the appropriate treatment. You might start by talking to counsellors in your school, institution or neighborhood, who are often available for free or at a low cost. This will, God-willing, give you clarity on what you are struggling with internally, and facilitate spiritual health.
Physical Health – In order to feel good about ourselves, we need to feel healthy. Things like healthy food, exercise and sleep provide nourishment for the soul. Consider how high your spirit is when you’re eating, sleeping and exercising well. When we deprive ourselves of these, we often feel lethargic and apathetic. Let’s change that for our inner selves this Ramadan.
Inroads to the Soul – The eyes, ears and tongue are considered inroads to the soul, channeling information which inevitably impacts our spiritual health. Consider what watching a movie or listening to a song does to the soul? Is it helped? In today’s world we’re bombarded by the media and consuming it has become the norm. Yet deep down we know the impact of viewing obscenities and vulgarity. It’s a very tough choice but if we want spiritual health, we’ll need to avoid what harms us.
Remember that spiritual growth is a journey and it’ll be challenging. It’s the nature of the heart to turn and the soul to have ups and downs. If we don’t feel “close to God,” it doesn’t mean that we’re not in His merciful care. The feeling of “closeness” is itself a gift and a joy of life, and like any other, it won’t always be felt. But as God says, He is closer to you than your jugular vein. Always have faith that God is fully aware and that a better state awaits.