Spiritual abuse, which is also sometimes called religious abuse, is mistreatment inflicted on others using the excuse or rationale of religion, faith, or spirituality. Spiritual abuse can include harassment, shaming, abuse of power, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, violence, and/or humiliation. It often involves a person in a clerical position misusing power, religious doctrine and/or ideology to harm individuals. This can happen in any religious community. It is important to recognize the signs of this type of abuse, know how to get or provide help, and avoid blaming the victim when these incidents occur. Below, we have outlined a list of resources to help inform our community.
Spiritual Abuse as described above often creates religious distress in the victims and harms individuals not only on a physical and emotional level but a spiritual one as well. The following articles give more depth to the issue and offer considerations for individuals and communities experiencing this type of abuse.
HEART Women and Girls put together a white paper that “provides recommendations for institutional responses to sexual assault based on surveys with direct services providers.” Additionally, they have collected a list of resources including videos, infographics, and articles on the topic of sexual violence and sexual abuse. You can also find a resource map, talking points on responding to allegations of sexual violence within the community as well as a toolkit on how to talk to children about sexual violence and sexual abuse. Click here for the list of resources
Victim blaming is when the victim of abuse, a crime, or any harmful act is held responsible, fully, or in part for the incident that happened to them. This often puts the victim in greater danger and decreases the chance that victims will reach out for help in the future, increasing incidents of abuse and violence.
The RuhCare Directory can help you find a verified Muslim therapist.
The toolkit provides guidance on how to process a tragic event, alone or with your family.
Acknowledge the impact, ground yourself spiritually, and channel your energy.
This guide will help you answer questions about therapy, how to search for a therapist, and what to expect from therapy.
This toolkit was compiled by Sarrah AbuLughod, MA; Amal Killawi, MSW; Madiha Tahseen, Ph.D.; and Sameera Ahmed, Ph.D.
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The Family & Youth Institute, or The FYI, is a well-known Muslim organization in the United States. It works to promote mental health and wellness by strengthening and empowering individuals, families, and communities through research and education. It has been working for many years to bring Islamic perspectives to understanding and promoting mental health in our communities.
It is dedicated to serving and supporting Muslims – safeguarding our deen, our families, and our future generations. Therefore, the work of The FYI comes in the category of ‘fi sabeelillah’ or the Path of Allah, within the eight categories where Zakat money can be used.
“Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah, and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah, And Allah, is Knowing and Wise.”
According to scholars who widen the meaning of fee sabeelillah to include any activities that promote Islamic growth, The FYI is indeed eligible to receive part of the Zakat funds for its programs and services. I urge Muslims in America to support this organization through their donations, general charity, and through their Zakat. I ask Allah swt to strengthen and guide The FYI to continue its good work in supporting Muslims.
Shaikh Ali Suleiman Ali, PhD
Sh. Ali Suleiman Ali was born in Ghana where he spent his childhood studying with various Muslim scholars. He then moved to Saudi Arabia and enrolled in the Islamic University of Madina. He graduated with a degree in both Arabic and Islamic Studies. Dr. Ali went on to complete his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Sh. Ali serves on the Advisory Council of The Family & Youth Institute. He is the Senior Imam and Director of the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs in Canton, Michigan. Additionally, he serves as the Director of Muslim Family Services in Detroit and is a council member of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA). He is also a member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF) and the Association of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).