By ANISAH ARIF

A video circling social media showing a young man being ‘baptized’ in a bathtub has sparked anger across the Muslim community.

The video showed a young Muslim man following the instructions of two older men, for a Christian baptism.

Social media users revealed that the young man is named as Wasim and from Wakefield. Whilst the individual conducting the baptism is said to be from Keighley.

Posted by Shehraz Ali on Sunday, December 16, 2018

In the video a man says, “I am baptising you in the name of the father, son and holy spirit.

“You are going down into the water and you are raising up as the child of god.”

He is also asked if he is doing this of his own free will and he states he is

This created controversy where many Muslims were outraged and left hate and abusive comments for the man.

It was later revealed in the comments that Wasim suffers from mental health problems, and some members instantly decided to take the video down. Others reflected on their spiteful words and apologised publicly.

The immediate reaction to such a video, has commonly been seen as hateful in the Muslim community, thus creating a negative image of the religion.

Being a good Muslim means overlooking the faults of others and guiding them towards the ‘righteous’ path. If there are no good examples of a Muslim man or woman, why is one so quick to jump to the conclusion that the media are to blame?

The media play a prominent role in shaping the ideology of the public, this is well known, but it is up to marginalized groups, such as Muslims, to change their attitudes.

While the video was being shared across all social media platforms, the underlying issue should have been focused on the mental health problems that the individual was facing. In the video, it was clear that Wasim was not in the right state of mind.

The importance of mental health is a subject that is usually shied upon in the South Asian community. A topic that needs to be so widely discussed, is hidden away in to a closet of the unknown. Is it because there is no knowledge? Is mental health not deemed as important?

This is not to say every South Asian does not care about mental health problems. However, the discussion surrounding this is minimal. In some cases, there are other factors to consider. Such as the environment you are in, your upbringing, cultural differences etc.

Now Sharing Voices in Bradford are planning to hold a Free Mental Health Training course for Imaams on the 26th January 2019.

This aims to provide basic mental health training to equip Imams, to be able to support and advise those in need, with the addition of an Islamic perspective.

The purpose of this training is to better understand how this connection could be made in order to both appreciate the specific mental health needs of the community and to know how best to respond to those needs.

Imams play a pivotal role in the religious and spiritual growth and often take on additional roles within the Muslim community, they perform marriages, mediate between disputes and are regularly the first people to go to for advice and guidance.

Many Imams have felt ill-equipped to give advice on mental health problems that they were frequently approached with. Therefore SVB decided to pilot a half-day Mental Health Training Programme which would balance the professional and spiritual perspective and engage, educate and empower Imams in their roles within the community.

SVB recognises that the Muslim community have particular complex experiences of stigma and misunderstanding around both their spiritual identity and mental health.

Many Muslims are reluctant to seek out mental health professionals because of the stigma attached to mental illness or because they fear that a Western-trained therapist will not understand their culture or religion.

This training is sought to understand how both SVB and mental health services could best engage with and support the Muslim community to identify mental health needs and access appropriate services.

The stigma attached to mental illness and those seeking advice and treatment is common in Bradford, where it has one of the largest Pakistani communities in the UK.

One in eight children and young people aged between five and 19 had a mental disorder in England 2017 according to NHS Digital.

In Bradford and Airedale, Sharing Voices aim to promote Mental Health Awareness Training in mosques and encourage Imams to attend.

By using this training, Imams can help the community and help to prevent mental health problems arising or, when they do occur, promote early intervention and clear pathways for improving access to services for the Muslim community to prevent illnesses from getting worse

The training will take place at Sharing Voices Bradford, 10 Mornington Villas, Bradford, BD8 7HB on Saturday 26th January 2019 (10am-2pm) and will be delivered by a qualified Muslim Psychologist who has many years of experience in the field. Spaces are limited, if anyone knows of any Imams who would be interested in attending the course please ask them to contact us on info@sharingvoices.org.uk or 01274 731166

Maybe this initiative is something that should be placed on all faith institutions?