22 Apr

Importance of integrating faith, religious identity and religious practice into coping and healing strategies for Muslims

Religious identity and practised faith can be important factors in a person’s mental health and quality of life. They can have a positive and healing effect and be an important resource for people, or they can have a negative impact on their mental well-being (Koenig, 2009). In any case, they are factors that need to be taken into account in order to holistically assess and understand a person’s condition and mental state (Dein, Cook, Powell & Eagger, 2010).

Positive effects of their practiced faith on Muslims’ mental health have been identified in various studies, such as (Abdel-Khalek & Lester, 2017; Saleem, Saleem, Mushtaq & Gul, 2020), including the following:

  • Increased resilience and reduced vulnerability to depression, anxiety disorders, emotional and psychological stress.
  • Promotion of personal development through clarity of identity and self-concept.
  • Increased self-efficacy.
  • Greater overall life satisfaction.

A recently published study (Rutledge, Pertek, Abo-Hilal & Fitzgibbon, 2021), whose participants were Syrian women in different refugee camps, highlights the importance of faith, religious identity and religious practice for the mental health as well as psychosocial support of Muslims. At the same time, it highlights the great lack of recognition and inclusion of these religious factors in existing support programmes.

Possible negative effects of their practiced faith on Muslims’ mental health and quality of life may include (Stuart & Ward, 2018):

  • Increased exposure to religious discrimination and racism.
  • Increased stress due to adaptation to unfamiliar cultures and living conditions.

In my opinion, the following should also be mentioned here:

  • Emotional and psychological stress due to distorted beliefs.

During my work with Muslim clients in the context of Islamically integrated psychological counselling and support, the following approaches, among others, have proven successful:

  1. Constructive integration of faith, religious identity and religious practice as positive resources in development, coping and healing processes.
  2. Recognition and reduction of possibly existing negative and destructive aspects of faith and religiosity. Here, among other things, competent Islamic theological education can contribute to a positive restructuring of distorted beliefs.
  3. Sensitizing non-Muslim therapists and doctors to the religious needs and resources of their Muslim clients and patients. In general, cooperation with therapists trained in Islamic theology seems to me to be meaningful and important here.


It would be gratifying if in the future, especially in Germany, the topic would find more recognition among doctors and therapists and thus understanding and comprehension with regard to Muslim clients and patients could be improved.

C. Muhammad Kasprowicz



Abdel-Khalek A.M. & Lester D. (2017). The association between religiosity, generalized self-efficacy, mental health, and happiness in Arab college students. Personality and Individual Differences. 109, 12-16.

Dein S., Cook C.C.H., Powell A. & Eagger S. (2010). Religion, spirituality and mental health. The Psychiatrist. 34, 63-64. DOI: 10.1192/pb.bp.109.025924.

Koenig H.G. (2009). Research on religion, spirituality, and mental health: a review. Can J Psychiatry. 54, 283-291. DOI: 10.1177/070674370905400502. PMID: 19497160.

Rutledge K., Pertek S.I., Abo-Hilal M. & Fitzgibbon A. (2021). Faith and MHPSS among displaced Muslim women. Forced Migration review (FMR). 66, 24-26.

Saleem T., Saleem S., Mushtaq R. & Gul S. (2020). Belief Salience, Religious Activities, Frequency of Prayer Offering, Religious Offering Preference and Mental Health: A Study of Religiosity Among Muslim Students. Journal of Religion and Health60, 726-735 (2021). DOI: 10.1007/s10943-020-01046-z.

Stuart J. & Ward C. (2018). The relationships between religiosity, stress, and mental health for Muslim immigrant youth. Mental Health, Religion & Culture. 21, 246-261. DOI: 10.1080/13674676.2018.1462781.

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