How Should I Deal with Waswasa?

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

I find it very hard to get hold of soap or toothpaste that does not have intoxicant ingredients in it one way or another. Is benzyl alcohol (used commonly in soaps) najis because it is an anesthetic even though it is not used as an intoxicant? Are ingredients (used in soaps) not intoxicants themselves but made from intoxicants najis?

Are synthetic intoxicants pure? If so, does that make soaps pure even if they have intoxicant ingredients because most of the ingredients used in cosmetics are produced synthetically? I am having much waswasa regarding purity and purification. This is affecting my practice of religion incredibly.

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to that which is pleasing to Him.

Contemporary Shafi‘i scholars consistently rule that liquid intoxicants used in everyday items are pure, based on reliable alternative views, Allah knows best.

In your case, you shouldn’t be asking these questions. Instead, focus on dealing with your waswas. Remember that Allah’s Mercy is far greater than your minor religious mistakes.

Waswasa–A Spiritual cum Psychological Problem

What you described appears to be waswasa and is also referred to as Srupulosity, a form of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). Waswasa is one means the devil uses to misguide people and distract them from Allah by casting doubts and whispers (waswas) into their hearts. You should categorically ignore these, and Allah knows best. We strongly advise you to oppose the devil by not paying any attention to the purity of things and simply ignoring these distractions. If you do not follow through with this, you will find more and more doubts until your life becomes unbearable, Allah forbid.

You may benefit from consulting a Muslim, God-fearing mental health expert to help you manage your condition, and Allah knows best.

Dire Warning

Based on the lengthy description you sent, life has already become unbearable. The solution may be more complex for you at this stage. The solution you seek is not a technical Fiqh answer but a combination of spiritual and psychological treatment. Waswasa, in all of its forms, is not the way to Allah but a path for Shaytan to destroy your relationship with Allah, and Allah knows best.

Please see the answers below for more details and solutions to this severe affliction.
How Can I Deal With Waswas Regarding the Prayer? [Shafi‘i]
How Can I Overcome Excessive Waswasa (Misgivings) Concerning Purity?
How Can I Overcome My Fear of Falling into Kufr and My OCD of Constantly Apologizing?
Does Repeating Verses of Surah Fatiha out of Waswas Breaks Continuity?

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and has completed his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.