Question: I suffer from extreme anxiety regarding missed prayers. If I ever miss a prayer, even a recent one, I get extreme anxiety about death and the hellfire. This has had a bad impact on my life. I struggle with prayer as it is, this just makes life harder. My heart gets palpitations like a heart attack. I feel like this isn’t normal. I see people who miss prayers and never feel a thing, so there must be something wrong with me. I also stress about how it will be difficult to make them all up. From my knowledge, the Prophet once said that if the prayers aren’t good then everything in the hereafter won’t be good either. Thinking about that, and my current struggles amplify my pain and anxiety. I also have waswasa I regarding purity which makes it hard for me to pray already. All in all, this anxiety has taken the peace out of my prayers and prayer has started to just feel like a way to stop my anxiety.
Thank you for your question. I am sorry that you have so much anxiety surrounding your prayers. Although it is healthy to have a deep fear of Allah’s punishment and to know that missing a prayer is a serious sin, one should not allow this to take a toll on one’s physical health, and when coupled with waswasa, it can be damaging.
Hope and fear
It was narrated from Anas that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, came upon a young man who was dying and said, “How do you feel?” He said: “I have hope in Allah, O Messenger of Allah, but I fear my sins.” The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “These two things (hope and fear) do not coexist in the heart of a person in a situation like this, but Allah will give him that which he hopes for and keep him safe from that which he fears” [Ibn Majah].
A believer finds his solace and balance in having fear of Allah’s punishment and hope in His mercy. Some scholars have said that one should have more fear in one’s youth and transition to having more hope in one’s old age. Others have said that believers should have fear at the beginning of their day and hope towards the end of the day. His fear will then translate into action for the day.
To take action, learn your obligatory knowledge, your tajweed, your basic fiqh, learn about the Prophet’s life, may Allah bless him and give him peace, and take some `aqidah lesson- these are all free at SeekersGuidance. Read some Qur’an every day with the meaning.
Commit to praying as well as you can, on time, and ask Allah to help you by praying the Prayer of Need. A scholar once told me that if you pray all of your sunnahs, Allah will help you accomplish your fard (obligatory) prayers. If you have missed a prayer due to a valid reason, such as “someone asleep (N: when its time first came who remained so until the time ended)” [Reliance of the Traveller, f1.5(1)], then you need not worry or fear about punishment. Simply make up the prayer and move on.
Making up missed prayers
If you have a large number of obligatory prayers to make up, start off with tawba, and then gratitude for having being given this guidance, and come up with a system of making them up in sustainable and speedy fashion. Please see these links for some advice:
Desperation and mercy
Consider the following prophetic hadiths:
“When half of the night or two-third of it is over, Allah the Blessed and the Exalted, descends to the lowest heaven and says: Is there any beggar so that he be given? Is there any supplicator so that he be answered? Is there any beggar of forgiveness so that he be forgiven? (And Allah continues it saying) till it is daybreak” [Muslim].
“Allah created a hundred mercies, and He placed one mercy among his creation, they show mercy to one another by it, and there are ninety-nine mercies with Allah” [Tirmidhi].
And most importantly, heed the words from Allah, Most High, from His book, “Say, ˹O Prophet, that Allah says,˺ “O My servants who have exceeded the limits against their souls! Do not lose hope in Allah’s mercy, for Allah certainly forgives all sins. He is indeed the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful” [Qur’an, 39:53].
See these excellent articles and videos for more information to defeat your despair:
If you feel like you get a rapid heartbeat over this issue, I recommend that you get a check-up just to make sure that your blood pressure and general health is in order. Try seeing the tips on this website for generalized anxiety disorder:
Also please see this link on waswasa and intend to do your best to overcome it, for the sake of Allah, He will certainly help you:
May Allah give you every good and success and help you make up your prayers easily in their entirety.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.