Advice for Sufferers of Extreme Waswasa or OCD in Issues of Purification

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Sidi Wasim Shiliwala

Question: I am suffering from extreme waswasa. Sometimes I bathe five times a day and I find concentrating in salah difficult. I have read everything about waswasa and I try to ignore it, but I can’t.  Also, after istinja, I am always doubtful about my hands. I try to open my fingers during washing but sometimes I forget whether I opened my fingers or not and I worry about whether I washed the spaces between them. Please advise me.


Answer: Walaikum As-salaam wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu,

May Allah ease your burden upon you. Wasawis are a difficult issue to deal with, but alhamdulillah you have already begun dealing with the issue in two important ways: 1) by recognizing that there is a problem and 2) by seeking help and guidance.

Seek Professional Help

From what you have described, it appears to me that your condition might move beyond waswasa and into the realm of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, which is in reality a serious disorder that requires professional attention. Therefore, I highly encourage that you seek counseling from a qualified mental health professional who can help you understand and deal with this condition.

Have no doubt that seeking medical help is part of our religion. Consulting others in serious matters is an emphasized sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and seeking necessary medical help is required upon those who are able to seek it. When we are in doubt about something, Allah commands us to ask those who know [16:43].

Remember that when the Prophet (peace be upon him) learned that two Muslims had given an injured man ill-informed advice that resulted in his death, he (peace be upon him) blamed them for the man’s death and asked why they did not simply seek a more knowledgeable source for guidance. [Sunan Abu Dawud] By not taking the time to seek proper advice from a knowledgeable source, the two men carelessly and needlessly caused their companion’s death.

I mention all of the above merely to emphasize the point that you should seek professional advice to help you deal with these problems. It may very well be that there are underlying issues that need to be treated before you can address the wasawis.

Seek Allah’s Help Through Dua and Prayer

In addition to seeking help, make sure you consistently ask Allah’s aid during these trials. Make much dua (supplication), and also establish and increase your prayers – pray the five daily prayers on time, establish the sunnah prayers, read the Qur’an daily, send salawat on the Prophet (peace be upon him), and make sure you increase in your remembrance (dhikr) of Allah as well.

Limit Your Indulgence, Say the Ta`awwudh, and Move On

In addition to implementing the professional advice and guidance of a counselor, you can also try to reduce the wasawis in the following manners:

1. Establish clear limits and stick to them: 1 shower a day for 5 minutes max, 1 wudhu per prayer for 1 minute max (5 seconds on each limb), 10 seconds for washing your hands max, and so on and so forth. Once the timer is up, you stop the action, assume cleanliness, and move on.

2. Say the ta`awwudh (a`udhu billahi min ash-shaytan ir-rajim) when you hear the whispers calling you to redo an action. You can also recite surat al-Nas, which is also a dua for protection against wasawis.

3. Leave the washing area immediately and do NOT look back. Go straight into your prayer (after wudhu) or continue with your day. In other words, busy yourself and your mind before Shaytan tries to take over.

4. Trust in Allah that your prayer and purity are accepted. Remember that the sahaba and the Prophet (peace be upon him) all had less water than we do now, and without a doubt their prayers were accepted. So there is no doubt that we, who use (and waste) so much more water than they ever did, are performing our wudhu in a matter acceptable to Allah.

The Blessing of Good Company

Above all, do not try to handle these problems alone. Seek the help not only of a counselor, but also of those close to you as well. Your family and friends can uplift your spirits and shift your attention away from the wasawis to other good things: remembrance of Allah, enjoyment of beneficial company, and the general goodwill and love that exists among all of us. Spend your free time in gatherings of dhikr, sacred knowledge, and other lectures at your local masjid, Islamic center, or Muslim neighbor’s house.

Shaytan is strongest when we are alone, and weakest when we are in good company (suhba), so make it a habit of immersing yourself in blessed gatherings. With Allah’s help, you will see that Shaytan’s influence will slowly but steadily dissipate as you fill your head with remembrance of the All-Merciful, and how majestic and glorious and exalted He is!

Other Readings on Waswasa

As you tread this path to well-being, it might be of benefit to read and re-read the various points of advice found in the following answers for guidance and inspiration:

Does the Qur’an Mention OCD or Waswasa Being Caused by Jinn?
A Reader on Waswasa
Waswasa as a Trial from Allah: Punishment or Blessing?
Medical Conditions and Waswasa
Satanic Whisperings are Making Me Withdraw from Muslims

Final Word

Again, I must reiterate that it sounds like you have a serious condition, in which case you must seek counseling and treatment. This is of the highest priority, as sound health – mentally, physically, and emotionally – is an essential part of our religion. Without it, we cannot excel in our path to Allah – rather, establishing it is, in many ways, how we achieve closeness to our Lord.

May Allah aid you in your time of difficulty, cure you of your afflictions, and give you – and all of us – good health. And only with Allah comes success.

Jazakum Allahu Khairan,

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani