Getting Therapy for Irreligious Thoughts

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: I have recently started therapy for my ocd and self esteem/anxiety issues. These things have been affecting me greatly and through therapy etc i hope to get better soon.

One of my ocd behaviors is to do with getting persistent intrusive thoughts which are of a religious nature. These thoughts tend to be blasphemous type of thoughts and they truly disgust me and lead me to be very sad/stressed.

I am at a point where i really need the therapy so i can function and enjoy my life, but i greatly fear getting sin when it comes to dealing with thoughts of a religious nature or blasphemous nature.

1) I wanted to ask you if it would be allowed from a religious perspective for me to continue with my therapy so that i can get better. Would i be allowed to take part in therapeutic exercises and techniques, which may for example involve me writing down these horrible and blasphemous thoughts (in the exact way they appear in my head) or to let them rest in my mind and not say or do anything in response to them?

2) Would i be allowed to implement the techniques and strategies i am taught day to day when it involves religious thoughts e.g. regarding religious figures and God etc.
I fear so much for the sin i would get for actively allowing these thoughts to be in my head/writing them etc, but I feel like I need therapy to function in day to day life.  Please help.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health states.

This would be permissible in your situation. Writing down such things is actually prescribed by spiritual guides as a means of ridding oneself from them. And keeping them in your mind is fine if it is part of your therapy, since you by no means accept them in your heart.

Your disgust and hatred for these thoughts is a sign that you are a true believer, by Allah’s grace. Show gratitude to Him for your faith and the fact that you hate such thoughts. The devil doesn’t bother whispering such notions to people of no faith, but rather goes after the people of true faith.

Some of the Companions once came to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and said, “We find within ourselves such notions that overwhelm any of us from speaking about it.” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked: “Do you also experience it?” The Companions replied, “Yes.” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) replied “That is real faith.” [Sahih Muslim]

That is, the fact that you deem it abominable and blasphemous, and that you fear it and fear vocalizing (or writing) it — let alone believing in it — is a sign of your absolute true faith (iman) and that you are free of doubts. [Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim]

Take the therapy as prescribed by your doctor, and give no weight or importance to the thoughts, as their source is an accursed creature of no weight or importance.

Also, try to renew your wudu often and be in a pure state, and incorporate a daily routine of dhikr, Qur’an, and salutations upon the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Good company is also essential.

And Allah knows best.
Faraz A. Khan

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani