Rituals in Recovery

Eman is the Arabic word for ‘sincere faith’ and is balanced by having love, fear, and hope in God.  Increasing eman is the key to improving our recovery and avoiding relapse. Addiction stems from diminished or weakened eeman. The lesser the eman, the more likely we are to lean towards sinfulness. Therefore, it makes sense that in order to improve our chances of recovery we need to engage in new behaviours that lead towards increasing our faith.

The best way to overcome an addiction is to create new habits the replace the old ones. Islam is a ready-made recovery programme, a way of life. The Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him is an example of the perfect way of living, by aspiring to his way, taking him as our role model we can start to change the way we live our lives and strive towards the pleasure of Allah.

In recovery, we begin to filter out the old negative behaviours and replace them with the new ones, and Islam provides us the perfect platform to begin to build a new foundation for life.

Love of God increases the desire to please Him, fear of His Punishment causes a person to stay away from sin, and hope in His reward provides the motivation to keep striving.

Islamic Rituals Useful in Facilitating Successful Recovery

The following acts of worshp acan be incorporated into our recovery programme and will help us to establish a new routine that we can continue with realistically.

Ritualistic or congregational prayer (salah).

Studies have shown that prayer and meditation reduces anxiety and depression (Al-Krenawai et al., 1997); offering a way of acheiving peace and tranquility in an environment that can be stressful, preventing a relapse. Through prayer, we can cleanse ourselves of negative emotions such as anger. Twelve step programmes promote sayings such as  “one day at a time” or “keep it in the day” and these mantras can be helpful when the addict is clinging onto their recovery. These phrases can help take the pressure off when  we ask ourselves questions like “can I really stay clean forever?”,  When the cravings set in we often dont think we will make it until the next day. Muslims who establish the daily ritual prayers are mindful of their timetable, setting their daily routines around the timings of prayer, thus enabling them to work their recovery programme from one prayer to the next.(Ali-Northcott, 2012).

When we pray five times per day, its a time we can sit and reflect. The simple act of putting the head to the ground in Sujood (prostrations), can reduce or even eliminate cravings to use or engage in negative behaviours. Through the prayer we reach out to Allah, through His Words, and seek His help and His support. By turning to Allah five times per day, with sincerity we ask Allah to keep us on the Straight Path. We have Allah on our side.

“Some Muslims that have a misunderstanding and lack of knowledge around their religion believe that they cannot approach their prayer until the drug has completely come out of their system, and for some this might include methadone. They may believe that praying five times a day will help them stay clean and sober but at the same time feel that they cannot start praying until they are clean and sober.  However, as reviewed by Michalak and colleagues (2009), Islamic scholars encourage Muslims to turn back to God at the nearest opportunity. The Qur’an states not to approach prayer in the state of intoxication, but does not require the substance to be entirely out of the body before one can pray.  A suggestion that clinicians can make to clients is to offer prayers unless psychologically or physically impaired due to intoxication “(Ali-Northcott, 2012)

Supplication (duaa`). There is nothing like the connection felt between Allah and His servant when the servant reaches out to Allah through duah. By speaking in ones own mother tongue using words from the heart does the addict beg of Allah to help them. Duah is one of the types of worship that carries a garauntee from Allah. It is a promise of Allah that He answers every duah.

“If My servants ask you about Me, I am near. They should therefore respond to Me and believe in Me so that hopefully they will be rightly guided.” (Surat al-Baqara, 186)

 Dua is an important part of our recovery programme. We seek help and assistance from Allah and ask for His Guidance and His Protection. Dua has the potential to change our destiny. We ask Allah to surround us with good company and steer us away from those who can mislead us and we ask Allah that He protect us from shaitan and our desires. Ameen.

Repentance (tauba). Seeking forgiveness from God directly (tauba) with no intercessors needed is a fundamental part of our recovery programme. During our addiction, we have wronged ourselves and others on so many levels. The act of using sustances or gambling in itself is a major sin, but think of all those things we said and did as a result of having used susbtances or gambled.

We will be asked about ever word me uttered. Every lie and excuse. We will be asked about every penny we earned and every penny we spent. Just stop and think for one moment about the tears of our loved-ones as a result of their anguish about our addictions. All that pain we put them through. Are we not in need of Allahs Forgiveness and Mercy? Is it not time we stopped and asked Allah to forgive us for all those terrible sins?

The literal meaning of Tauba is to turn back, meaning to return back to the Straight Path of Allah. Repentance can help us put the past behind us focus on the future. When we seek Allahs Forgiveness we must have certainty in His Mercy. Dwelling on the past and our mistakes can lead us to relapse. Tauba offers us a fresh start and a new leaf to overturn.

The Qur’an can help recovering Muslims counter negative thoughts with the frequent reminders that God is All-Forgiving and forgives all sins, even if these sins reach the sky. For example the Qur’an states, “Say: O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (Qur’an, 39:53).  Verses such as this, should increase our motivation and hope that Allah will forgive us. In fact, not only will forgive us but He will do something much more amazing than that;

“…Those who repent and believe and do righteous deeds; for those, Allah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allah is Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful.”[25:68-70] 

Just imagine all those sins we have clocked up over the years, all those crimes, all those people we have hurt, private sins and open sins, sins that we know of and sins that we we were ignorant of…all converted into good deeds! SubhanaAllah, Glory be to Allah. Let us make tauba and repentance a part of our recovery on the Straight Path to Allah.

Recitation/memorization of Qur’anic verses. Many recovering Muslim addicts have found that reciting from the Quran has provided them with many benefits including: occupation of their time,  a distraction from cravings, promotion of well-being and peacefulness and enabling them to reflect on the messages in the Qur’an that relate to their own lives (and their hopes and fears for their afterlives).

The Qur’an is a cure for the sickness of the heart and is one of the best ways to come to understand Allah, His likes and His dislikes and what He commands and expects of us as Muslims. Through pondering on the Words of Allah we are able to have a direct communucation with our Lord, and He Guides us through.

When cravings or urges to use substances or engage in negative behaviours emerge, the recitation of the Quran can have a calming effect that restrains the desires. This is also a way of replacing the response to the cravings. In our addiction our old response would be drug-seeking behaviours. Recovery is about replacing that with something new. What better way to counteract this than through the Words of Allah Himself?


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