Paranoia and mistrust

In the land of survival, paranoia is king, er, queen?

by Mohamedaif Suleman (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) is a hobby writer, an educator, and an entrepreneur. His professional career is involved in digital marketing as well as education. He has served the community for many years in both Dar es Salaam and Nairobi.



ow that we are all ranting so much about mental and emotional health and how it needs to be in balance with our physical health, Islamic teachings had, of course, prescribed this centuries ago, but then what is a religious tradition when not echoed by science, right?

But since we are all talking, let us not worry excessively about who came first, instead let us zero in on what you might prefer to be called ‘the Elephant in the room’ – bluntly put, the mental health of our community. If this has not galvanised you yet, let us break it down further to the incredibly high number of questions we have about our community? Both young and old, are today living in some form or another of social crisis, exacerbated by the impact of twin events such as the technological revolution and the pandemic.

To understand the extent of troubles we are facing, we need not go any further than our social gatherings as well as individual dealings. The mosque, central to our belief system, and around which all of our other facilities are located, was in fact supposed to unite us, but we seem to grow distant more and more, each moment. This is exhibited in how groups ‘abuse’ their privileges by bad-mouthing others, how lies pervade our business dealings, and how we ask others about their health and general well-being (your kemchho’s and how are you’s), while only ready to accept single line answers such as ‘fine’, anything beyond that, then our minds ger wired to either distance ourselves from such people or that we use that content to spread wildfires around us. Ironically, none of us is ready to accept blame as we tirelessly justify why we did what we did.

I frequently find myself in gatherings and conclude that we share one thing in common – mistrust. Well, let us then be bold enough to label it accurately. This condition is actually known as Paranoid Personality Disorder. This is so persistent in us that it is slowly destroying our fabric. Each time we see someone acting, we jump to the negative and then we broadcast it so that the aspersion now becomes validated news. We view our community members as people or constantly out to harm us, and whereas in the present situation of Paranoia, that may be true, as discussed earlier, something or someone has got to give way to allow for a social equilibrium to take off.

One very dangerous thing that we are now part of is to judge everyone according to their perceived wealth, and then tie their success, their reliability, and their responsibility quotient to that wealth. In other words, our paranoia leads us to falsely believe that only the wealthy are successful, reliable, and responsible people. And as all this manifests on a daily basis, the disorder also makes us averse to sharing our views and thoughts with others for the real fear that it would expose us to false spreading as well as create a negative impression of us. This is followed by considering everything else to be happening in the same vein, as in treating your whole environment as hostile.

Because most of our relationships are so superficial, we are also begrudged fast enough. And then we keep holding these grudges for longer making things far different from what they originally were, and burning us out in the process. All this, while we keep sending messages of forgive me if I have wronged you prior to trips to holy places

So where did we go wrong because if we were truly following the principles of Islamic social life, then PPD (the Paranoia) would be the least of our troubles? The answer lies therein, we did not follow through on our pledge of Tawheed. We turned round and took antagonists as our life leaders to guide us into turmoil and then viciously turned us back towards the cure of these and other disorders.

If we truly follow the prescriptions of the Holy Ahlul Bayt (AS), then why should we be scared of each other, mistrust one another, and even feel threatened by one another? You get the drift, the answer lies in the question, and that leads us back to address this Paranoia.

Allah (SWT) says in the Holy Qur’an 49:12 ‘O you who have believed! Avoid much suspicion, indeed some suspicions are sins, and spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would detest it. So hate backbiting and be pious to Allah. Verily Allah is the one who accepts repentance, the most merciful’

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