How Can I Remove Guilty Thoughts That Stop Me From Praying?

Question: How can I overcome my guilt?
Answer:
Dear questioner,
Thank you for your important question.
Know that your desire to remove these thoughts is a sign of absolute faith and Allah placing mercy in your heart. What you are going through is something that many Muslims go through and with the help of Allah, Most High, they overcome!
One of the names of the Quran is “The Cure” (al-Shifa). Whenever we feel sick, inwardly, or outwardly, we should turn to the Quran for its cure and remedy.
Allah, Most High says in the Quran:
  1. Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” [Quran 39:53]
Imam al-Qushayri comments on this verse saying: “By his saying “all sins”, Our Lord is telling us “I forgive you and I never leave you! I overlook your faults and I never leave you alone!”
[Qushayri, Lataif al-Isharaat]
  1. And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided. [Quran 2:186]
Constantly bring this verse to heart and repeat the words of the great Imam Sahl al-Tustari: “Allah is with me. Allah is near me. Allah witnesses me.” [Ghazali, Ihya Ulum al-Din]
These statements mean that Allah’s mercy, generosity, kindness, and forgiveness are always with you, no matter how you feel.
My sincere advice to you is:

Do not give in to these thoughts for they are but whispers from the devil (waswasa). When they come to you, don’t pay them attention and let them flutter away. There will come a time where they will not return.

Make a habit of making fresh ablution (wudhu) before each obligatory prayer. This will help you in bring Allah, Most High to heart, and repel the devil. The Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “The key to paradise is prayer, and the key to prayer is ablution’.” [Tirmidhi, al-Sunan]

Keep yourself engaged in the remembrance of Allah, Most High. This can be by a daily routine of zikr, taking a class, or sitting with righteous people.

Repent to Allah, Most High from any wrongdoings with certainty that he will forgive you.

May Allah, Most High reward you abundantly for taking these steps toward him, and may he place clarity and contentment in your heart.
And Allah alone knows best.
[Ustadh] Omar Popal
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani