What is the Ruling For Someone Who Has Thoughts of Disbelief Without Saying Them Aloud?

Answered by Sidi Faraz A. Khan

Question: I know it is haram to say kufr things with your mouth, but what if you only say it in your heart/mind?  Is this haram?  I am not talking about waswas but i mean if someone intentionally makes a kufr/shirk statement in their mind only (for example if they swear at Allah) but they do not verbalize it.  What is the ruling for this?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and faith.

Bad Thoughts versus Kufr

Bad thoughts alone do not render a person outside of Islam. Many times people get bad thoughts of kufr/shirk, which is not sinful and by no means entails disbelief, as the person doesn’t actually hold those thoughts to be true. However, the devil will play tricks on the person and make him think that perhaps he willingly and intentionally held those thoughts, which he did not.

Imam Tahawi states in his primer of creed, “A servant is not considered to have left his faith except by denying that which originally caused him to enter it.” i.e., his very belief in Allah’s oneness, or the resulting faith in all that is necessarily known of the religion. [Maydani, Sharh al-Tahawiyya]

And again, thoughts of such denial do not entail kufr; rather, kufr results only when the thoughts are accepted in the heart as true and transformed willingly into concrete beliefs.

To do so—Allah forbid—is not only haram, but also renders one outside of Islam. This holds whether one holds the belief only in one’s mind/heart, or actually expresses it verbally. The only difference between the two is that when done verbally, the Islamic court classically would convict one of apostasy, as opposed to if one kept it internal. In such a case, one would need to make tawba and renew one’s shahada, and seek the means to increase one’s iman.

Having said that, it is highly unlikely that a Muslim, especially if concerned about his/her religion, would leave Islam. Even Muslims who openly sin and trangress hold dearly to iman in their hearts, let alone those who practice. The real problem, then, is usually baseless misgivings.

Dealing with the Devil and His Whisperings

One must be vigilant and not give in to baseless misgivings (waswasa).

The devil is a trickster, and deceit is his profession. He has been in business for as long as humans have existed. He is cunning and crafty, and he works very hard to achieve his goals. He has many tactics, at the top of the list being baseless misgivings and creating doubts in our minds and hearts. He wants us to become confused, obsessed, and compulsive to the extent that it destroys us. He knows our psychological makeup very, very well.

Take the means to ward off the devil, as taught by our Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him). These include the following:

(a) Seek refuge in Allah Most High, by saying, A’udhu bi Llahi min ash-shaytani r-rajim [Bukhari, Muslim]; and recite Ayat al-Kursi, as well as the last three surahs (Ikhlas, Falaq, Nas) [Tabarani, Mu’jam Kabir].

(b) Be consistent in remembrance of Allah (dhikr). Dhikr is a powerful fortress that blocks out the devil’s whisperings, which are in reality of no power or consequence. As Ibn Ata’illah states, “If the devil is not heedless of you, then do not you be heedless of the One in Whose Hand is your forelock.” Allah is in full control. Allah created the devil to spur us forward in our journey to Him Most High.

(c) Find good company—people who make much remembrance of Allah, and who remind you to do the like.

(d) Learn sacred knowledge under righteous scholars so you know the reality of the Sacred Law and its limits. Implement what you learn. The more sound knowledge one has of the religion, the more empowered one is to deal with baseless misgivings.

(e) Seek Allah’s help in this situation. Express your need and weakness to Him, and be hopeful of His gifts. As Ibn Ata’illah says, “Nothing pleads more for you than real distress; nor is anything quicker in bringing divine gifts than lowliness and impoverishment.”

(f) Turn to Allah with hope, gratitude, contentment, and love. Let Allah take care of it. Relax and give no weight whatsoever to the devil’s whisperings. The most frustrating thing for Shaytan is that we ignore his insinuations, and focus on Allah and His remembrance. Shaytan hates when we are full of hope and reliance in Allah. He hates when we are grateful and sincere. He hates when we give no weight to him, but rather turn to Allah with love.

(g) Rejoice in Allah’s mercy. Our Beloved Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:

“Verily the religion is ease, and no one shall make the religion hard except that it will destroy him. So be balanced, do your best, and rejoice! And seek help in the morning, the early evening, and something of the night.” [Sahih Bukhari]

Relax, and as our Prophet taught, rejoice. Allah is not trying to take you out of your faith. He loves that you draw closer to Him. Take the means outlined above and then, trust in Allah.

And Allah alone gives success.



Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani