With the prevalence of social media, body image and self-esteem have taken a hard knock. As a result, many people, especially teeneagers, suffer from negative body image and low esteem. The solutions can be found in Islamotherapy, according to an Islamic Psychology practitioner.
More than half of the world’s population is connected. This means we’re constantly served a barrage of feeds, stories and pictures of people living their good lives. We have become locked in an interminable competition, and it seems there’s almost no way out.
With current rates of hyperconsumption, it comes as no surprise that social media has been labelled one of the leading culprits when it comes to negative body image and low self esteem. With the use of Islamotherapy, psychotherapist Saeed Malizani hopes to assist those struggling with such issues.
According to Malizani, poor mental health conditions like these often arise from the search for external validation. He said Islamotherapy suggests prioritising internal validation instead.
“This comes from when you’re looking outside of yourself and you’re looking for people to tell you how you should look and you get addicted to these likes on social media. It becomes problematic. Islam shifts our mindset from that in saying of course you’ve got this body and you have to take care of, but that’s not the main reason why you are here,” he said.
Dealing with these issues
Malizani explained the Islamotherapy response to negative body image and low self-esteem were derived from the idea that validation stemmed from spirituality.
You should also worry about the spiritual needs of yourself and worry about your relationship with Allah more than you would worry about your relationship with people. When you look at it that way, you find that [people who] used to have issues that could have given them stress and depression don’t have that because their mindset was different,” – Saeed Malizani, Islamotherapy practiotioner.
Malizani added that one of the primary needs of humans is an identity. He said since social media was a convenient tool in the search for identity, it had disastrous effects on body image and self esteem.
“Mostly on social media – that includes TikTok, Facebook and Instagram – they want to show themselves as beautiful; dressed in certain ways, following the trends and so on. Obviously,” he continued, “that is the reason why if they are not accepted by society [by way of likes and follows], they feel that they are not approved by society and obviously low self-esteem creeps in.”
He encouraged people instead to seek such identity in the crafts of their own abilities; from within themselves.
Holding degrees in both Islamic Studies and Psychology, Malizani initiated a model of Islamotherapy in 2017. He said the model used Quranic and Hadith teachings which could be applied specifically for Muslims.
“Islamotherapy is a model that we use to help Muslims cope with mental health. It is a way that we use to cure them where we take concepts from the Quran and from the Hadith and say this is specific for Muslims,” he said.
Malizani said one of his main aims was to establish affordable mental health care. Another was to destigmatize mental health within the Muslim community.
“We’re not doing this for the money. We’re doing this to help people because the need is there, but because of the stigma people are not coming forward. A large
group of Muslims do not believe that mental health exists and they therefore do not
seek help as they should,” he said.