How Should I Deal with Waswasa?

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

I’m twenty years of age and suffer from Severe Chronic OCD (I am plagued by thoughts of disbelief and other evil thoughts. Please help me. I cannot stand this anymore; I can’t take it.

My question is, how can I know whether I purposely think of them and accept thoughts of disbelief or whether I reject them?

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.

You should categorically ignore these thoughts, seek refuge from Shaytan, and seek psychological and spiritual guidance from reliable God-fearing therapists and spiritual leaders. Allah knows best.

When these thoughts arise, take refuge in Allah from Shaytan and say la ilaha illa Alla (there is no god but God), then carry on with life.

Waswasa – A Spiritual cum Psychological Problem

What you described appears to be waswasa and is also referred to as OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). Waswasa is one means that 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 entertaining the thoughts and simply ignoring these distractions (it may feel hard but pretend they never happened). 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 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 or Aqida answer but a combination of spiritual and psychological treatment. The problem begins when one conceptualizes one’s ideas of holiness and the way to Allah. 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 waswasa regarding the prayer?
How Can I overcome excessive waswasa?
Can I mitigate overwhelming waswasa?

Prophetic Advice

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) informed us that these thoughts/questions come from the whispering of Satan. When the believer is confronted with such thoughts/questions, they should reaffirm their faith in Allah and stop trying to think about it logically because it is not a logical thought.

Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “Satan will come to one of you and he will say, ‘Who created this and that?’ until he says to him, ‘Who created your Lord?’ Let him seek refuge in Allah and stop such thoughts.” [Bukhari]

In another narration, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “Let him say: I have faith in Allah.” (Amantu biLlah)

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 pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.