Trauma: “a sudden or unexpected event that goes beyond a person’s ability to cope which often can lead to a disruption to the individual’s psychological well-being”
Trauma due to domestic violence (DV) can have a profound effect on one’s mental health as well as physically, verbally, emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically.
The traumatic event itself is a negative experience. Posttraumatic growth occurs when healing journey begins. This healing occurs internally.
It is not only inner strength that produces the growth, but also develops from a range of possibilities such as building new relationships, a stronger connection to Allah and a stronger appreciation to life.
From an Islamic worldview, posttraumatic growth can be applied to key faculties of the human such as the soul (nafs), heart (qalb), intellect (‘aql), and spirit (ruh).
In Ihya Ulum-al-Din, Al-Ghazali (d.1111) discusses human nature, outlining a model that describes a relationship between four of these key human faculties.
Al-Ghazali described the qalb both physically and psychologically, and the ruh as a substance which knows and perceives.
The nafs is the ego that can move across different levels such as the lowest soul which is known as the evil commanding soul (nafs al-ammarah bi su) and can move to a higher level known as the tranquil soul (nafs al-mutmainah).
The aql according to Al-Ghazali plays two important roles-the ability to understand knowledge and meaning of things.
Though the faculties have their own tasks, ultimately, they function as one entity, developing through different stages in life. The ruh in particular plays a significant role in a person’s healing and growth due to its tendency to seek growth (Rothman, 2018). Healing and growth come from knowing and understanding trauma and how much it has affected one’s ruh.
The question arises about what Muslim women need to support their healing journey following DV. Spirituality plays a key role in healing as it provides a coping mechanism and functions as a healing process.
Having total reliance on Allah (tawwakul) guides this process as preliminary research analysis have shown. Interviews indicate that growth occurs as a result of spirituality and a reconnection with Allah through various means such as prayer, meditating upon the Qur’an, daily invocations and tawwakul.
Tawwakul creates a symbiotic relationship with Allah and finding and knowing yourself; ultimately creating a balance. This has been key in creating that balance for DV survivors as illustrated by “In your deepest, darkest, covered, and most hurtful parts of your life where no one knows about, understands, or has access to. You can find Allah swt there. Healing you, comforting you, restoring you, from the inside out.”
DV survivors sometimes choose to do their own research to understand what is going on. Having tools and methods that can help in their healing journey means they can self-reflect and use this as a guidance if they are not ready to seek other means of support.
Education and knowledge empower Muslim women during their healing journey, giving them inner strength, and potentially clarity of their own personal journey.
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