Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah
Question: Assalamu alaykum
I think I’ve committed apostasy. How do I repent? I don’t know if I feel remorse. I’m terrified though. Is a panic attack enough to qualify as remorse? I know I should avoid waswas but I can’t trust myself anymore after all the things I did in the past.
Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam. Thank you for reaching out to us. May Allah grant you ease in your difficulties.
Tormenting thoughts about the validity of one’s faith is the work of the devil and far from what Allah the Most Merciful desires for us. It is essential that you recognize what is happening so you can move on. However, rest assured that your faith is sound, for the anxiety that you are experiencing only comes from someone who has faith in the first place.
Know that the devil’s one and only mission is to lead the believers astray, until they give up faith and end up in Hellfire with him. Allah Most High says, ‘Verily Satan is an enemy to you: so treat him as an enemy. He only invites his adherents, that they may become Companions of the Blazing Fire.’ [35:6]
He whispers thoughts to you that settle in the mind, which you take as your own thoughts, causing doubt and an inability to move on. This is how he ensnares the believer and obstructs him from moving on and doing any good. When the situation continues, the believer can become indifferent to the religion all together. The devils work is done.
Fortifying oneself from the devil
There is always hope, no matter how bad things seem. Don’t despair. The best way to defeat the devil is turn to Allah with even more sincerity and do good works, particularly by fulfilling your obligations. Once the devil sees you moving on and closer to Allah, he will leave you alone.
Remorse and Shahada
It is more than clear from your words that you are remorseful for whatever action you think may have resulted in disbelief. Therefore, pray two cycles of repentance (tawba), make du’a for Allah to increase you in faith, and move on.
It suffices that you simply pray tawba and get on with practicing the faith. However, to put the matter beyond all doubt for you, simply say the Shahada aloud (English or Arabic, even if just to yourself). After this, do not open the door to satan’s whisperings by questioning your faith again.
Do not panic. Belief is a simple matter and entering into it, even re-entering in it, is the simplest matter.
When the doubts occur, do your best to distract yourself through some other activity. You may find physical activity more useful in this. If you feel a panic attack coming on, take deep breathes and if possible, get some fresh air.
Keep the company of good, religious people. I would also recommend taking a course in basic belief, either locally or with us at SeekerHub.
Also, repeat this du’a when the doubts arise:
أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم آمَنْتُ بِاللهِ وَرُسُلِهِ هُوَ الأَوَّلُ ، وَالآخِرُ ، وَالظَّاهِرُ ، وَالْبَاطِنُ ، وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ
‘I seek refuge in Allah. I have believed in Allah and his Messenger. He is The First and The Last, Al Dhahir and Al Baṭin, and He knows well all things’ [Hisnul Muslim]
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May Allah grant you the highest levels of iman, and protection from all harm.
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah
Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.