How Do You Deal with Waswasa and OCD in Purification and Prayer Acts?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad


I am a revert following the Shafi’i school who suffers from OCD and waswasa, especially in najasat and prayer issues. I perform istinja with 2 mugs and still felt unclean. This happens sometimes so I just ignore it and pray.

But just for my ease of mind, after praying, I check with a tissue and see a small yellow dot. I check it again and I see a bigger yellow dot, and then a third time, there is even more yellow. I always wear trousers and a skirt with a top tucked inside my skirt because I take a half-body shower every time I use the washroom. I use four mugs of water, two mugs for each side of the back. Then without drying off, I put my clothes back on so my clothes get wet.

Are these clothes impure now? Or do I have to be certain they are impure? I am unsure of when the najasat came. If I have to wash my clothes, do I have to wash the prayer area too as I pray without a prayer mat? How do I solve this waswasa issue? I waste a lot of water because of najasat and purifying clothes every time I go to the washroom.


Thank you for your honest question. There are two issues that need to be addressed, the yellow spots and your over-purification.

The Yellow Spots

If you are having yellow discharge, it is considered menstrual flow in the Shafi’i school. Is this your usual color of discharge when you are not menstruating? If you saw this yellow right at the end of your period, then your period is not over, and you should wait until your discharge is clear or white to take your obligatory ritual bath (fard ghusl).

If this is the usual color of your discharge, then you must consider this yellow as abnormal bleeding (istihada). To be sure, it is better to check for the yellow discharge before praying, not after.

If it is abnormal bleeding, this is how you prepare to pray.

  • Wash the private parts;
  • Apply something absorbent to them and a dressing (such as a sanitary pad and underwear);
  • Then perform ablution (intending permission to perform the obligation of the prayer as you begin the ablution.);
  • You may not delay commencing the prayer after this except for reasons of preparing to pray such as clothing your nakedness, awaiting the call to prayer (adhan), or for a group to gather for the prayer. If you delay for other reasons, you must repeat the purification. [Keller, Reliance of the Traveller]

Over-Purifying When You Use the Bathroom

When you use the bathroom, you should not overdo the purification. This is from the Devil (Shaytan). Cleaning oneself (Istinja) is accomplished by washing the private parts with flowing water and as a woman, you should dry well. Not drying can easily lead to infections in the private parts that are hard to get rid of. Be sure that your underwear is 100% cotton as well so that your skin can breathe.

Using Too Much Water

If you found that you have yellow discharge, it is unnecessary to use four mugs of water, especially on the back which should not be affected by filth. Just wash the private parts normally. If you have gotten filth on your clothing, start to use a kursuf (small napkin placed between the vaginal lips) or panty liner to catch the discharge. A panty liner is similar to a sanitary napkin, but a little lighter, thinner and not used to soak up too much of your menstruation or period blood. It can be used to absorb daily vaginal discharge, post-intercourse discharge, or even a light period flow.

You can’t possibly have regular yellow discharge and wash your clothes every time it comes. Catch it with a liner and throw it away, or use a re-usable cloth. It is considered impure, and invalidates the ritual ablution (wudu). And washing your underwear and putting it back on wet every time is dangerous, non-hygienic and can cause sickness. You would have no need to purify the area where you prayed in either case.

Please take a look at the following Answers to learn about dealing with misgivings (waswasa). Allah has made the religion easy, so please make it easy on yourself. May Allah give you success.
How to Handle Constant Waswasa in Acts of Purification and Worship
Advice for Sufferers of Extreme Waswasa or OCD in Issues of Purification

May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[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, tafsir, 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 later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.