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Waswasa, Apostasy and Pure Faith

Ustadh Tabraze Azam explains that baseless misgivings about one’s Islam are part of pure faith and such thoughts do not put one outside of the fold.

 

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I have bad thoughts keep coming over to me this last few days. It was really hard and I tried my best every time to not entertain these bad thoughts. I have bad thoughts about like “get out from Islam,” or something like “Apostate, I’m an apostate” and such.

For the last few days, I didn’t entertain this thought but today, when I was studying, thoughts like “Get out from Islam, you’re not a Muslim” come to my mind. I made a mistake, I deliberately utter this word “Get out from Islam” and then part of myself said “Who?” I’m not sure if I said, “I want to get out from Islam” or “Get out from Islam.” It’s like the word “I” is only in my mind and heart but utter the words “Get out from Islam.”

I have no intention to get out from Islam. Although I’m not a good Muslim I still want to die in Islam and I still want to be a Muslim. What should I do? Does doing this makes me a disbeliever? Should I just ignore these thoughts ? I have retaken my shahadah.

Please help.

 

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

You are still a Muslim, by the Grace of Allah.

Faith is something deeply rooted in the heart. It isn’t something that leaves by mistake because its entailment is clearly belying Allah and His Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, and that takes conviction. This is why Imam Tahawi stated in his Creed that a person leaves the faith only by rejecting “that which brought him into it.”

What you are experiencing is some form of unhealthy misgivings (waswasa). This is something that even the Companions (sahaba) dealt with, and the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, remarked to them that they were from “pure faith.” (Muslim) That is to say, deeming them to be odious and abominable statements is a mark of true faith.

Busy yourself with righteous actions and company, recite regular remembrances (adhkar), send many blessings upon the Blessed Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and continue supplicating to Allah Most High to relieve you from this difficult situation. If you continue to struggle with these matters, I suggest that you get in touch with a mental health professional, ideally somebody from a Muslim background so they can assist you more ably.

Please also see A Reader on Waswasa (Baseless Misgivings).

And Allah Most High knows best.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

 

Doubts on My Islam

Ustadh Salman Younas is asked about having doubts on one’s Islam and feeling overwhelmed by bad luck and misgivings about one’s faith and acts of worship.

 

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I keep thinking with very strong conviction that i keep committing apostasy and fear on the loss of my good deeds. I feel that it is me not Shaytan, may Allah’s curse be upon him, doing this although I know this might be him only. I keep suffering from “bad luck” issues like getting hurt unreasonably and most of the time things not going my way.

Also in Salah and wudu I get strong convictions that it becomes invalid due to breaking wind, etc. I feel that the whole world is against me because every time bad things happen to me. Am I affected by some magic or evil eye?

Please reply as I have been going through much since I started becoming a practicing Muslim.

Answers:

So long as you believe that God is one and the Prophet (blessings upon him) is His last messenger, you are a Muslim.

Thoughts that may occur to you of having committed apostasy are most certainly from the devil. Islam is not a faith that a person can be casually removed from. Rather, as Imam al-Tahawi states, a person only leaves faith by denying (in a clear and decisive manner) that which brought him into faith. Take the following hadith that illustrates this point quite vividly:

Hudhaya said, “The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: ‘Islam will wear out as embroidery on a garment wears out until such a time that none will no what fasting, prayer, pilgrimage, and charity are. The Qur’an will be taken away at night and not a single verse of it will be left on earth. Some people will be left – old men and women – who will say, “We saw our fathers saying these words there is no god but Allah and so we say them as well.”’ Silah said to Hudhayfa, ‘What good will saying la ilaha illa Allah do them when they do not know what fasting, prayer, pilgrimage, and charity are?’ Hudhayfa turned away from him. He repeated the question three times and Hudhayfa turned away from him each time. Then Hudhayfa turned to him on the third instance and said three times, ‘Silah, it will save them from the fire.’” (Ibn Majah with a strong chain)

You should, therefore, ignore any whispers that enter your heart regarding your faith. Rather, continue to strengthen your faith through righteous acts and turning to God in your needs.

It seems from your other remarks that baseless misgivings are something that you are suffering from regularly. I would advise you to seek out people whom you trust who can help you in your struggles. These would include not only family, friends, and reliable scholars, but also professional counsels if required.

Salman

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

 


How Do I Strengthen My Faith and Truly Repent?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question:1) How can one be firm in faith? What causes faith not to stay firm in the heart?

2) I know we have to repent immediately for sins but my repentance is not sincere as there is no strong remorse, so how can I truly repent? Please help me.
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. You have asked a very important question – many of us are concerned about how to make our faith firm in our hearts, and how to truly repent. May Allah bless you manifold for your deep concern about such weighty matters.
Turn to Allah in Sincere Supplication
My first suggestion is for you to turn directly to Allah using this beautiful dua every time you start to feel a dip in your faith, and after each prayer:
Shahr ibn Hawshab (Allah be well-pleased with him) said, “I said to Umm Salama, ‘O Mother of the believers! What was the most frequent supplication of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and give him peace, when he was with you?’ She said, “His most frequent supplication was, ‘O Turner of the hearts, make my heart firm in Your deen!’” [Tirmidhi]

‏يا مقلب القلوب ثبت قلبي على دينك‏
Ya muqallibal-qulubi, thabbit qalbi ‘ala deenika

Faith and Knowledge
Ultimately, it is not knowledge, books, or teachers who can grant you lasting faith, but it is only Allah’s Mercy which descends and makes faith firm in your heart. Make it a point to study at least one book on belief with a qualified teacher (e.g. The Creed of Imam Tahawi) to strengthen your understanding of our belief as Muslims. I recommend the course on Islamic Belief on SeekersGuidance.
Attaining solid faith is a lifelong journey, so be kind and patient with yourself as you strengthen your faith. We live in a time of instant gratification, so remind yourself that attaining lasting faith is a tremendous gift which cannot be attained simply because we want it right now.
Keep your faith on the increase through daily good works using all of your limbs e.g. kindness with your tongue, charity with your wealth, service with your limbs. Link all of your actions to attaining Allah’s pleasure, and inshaAllah, your faith will strengthen. Do your best to avoid sin, because that darkens the heart and is a blow to your faith.
Repentance
Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace) said, “Verily, Allah is more delighted with the repentance of His slave than a person who lost his camel in a desert land and then finds it (unexpectedly).” [Bukhari and Muslim]
On the authority of Anas (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace) say: Allah the Almighty said: O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great at it. [Tirmidhi]
Know that Allah loves the repentance of His servants, and it is a sign of His Concern for you that you wish to make good your repentance. Attaining deeper levels of repentance takes continual practice. Please explore this brilliant reader on repentance. I pray it is of benefit to you.
To cultivate your heart, commit to saying “astaghfirullah” a 100 times every day. Pick a time where you can sit, face the qibla, be in a state of wudu, and be truly be present with your Lord. Before or after Fajr, or Isha prayer are often times of quiet. Even if it feels dry on your tongue, persist until it comes alive in your heart, and then all of your limbs will follow. Strive to rise before Fajr prayer, even if it’s for five minutes, to cry out to your Lord.
May Allah bless you and all believers with lasting faith, sincere repentance, and hearts alive with remembrance of Him.
Please refer to these following links:
Doubts About Islam: I Don’t Find Any Observable Effect or Peace in My Worship
Selected Prophetic Prayers for Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Wellbeing by Chaplain Ibrahim Long
Weak Iman, Misgivings, and Loving the Messenger (Allah Bless Him and Give Him Peace)
I Have Baseless Misgivings (Waswasa) About the Soundness of My Faith and My Marriage
Raidah Shah Idil
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

How Can I Regain My Faith After Doubts and Exploring Other Religions?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Khan

Question: After being faithful for several years in my youth, I fell into depression because of life circumstances and lost faith. I had very blasphemous thoughts, and I can not imagine much worse than that. I even experimented with other religions and philosophies, even with polytheism, although I could never find truth in them, I always failed to find truth in them, although I tried.

Now that led me to a situation in life where I am desperate and fearing that what I did is unforgivable. I am regretting what I did, I do my prayers, but it seems that my faith is not as strong as it was before. It seems that even while I read the Kor’an I seem to have doubts. I wish to have no doubts, and to have pure faith, but I feel that I no more have the right to ask for that, because I have left Islam for a period of time. How can I clean myself and is that even possible, regarding to what I did.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.

A sincere repentance (tawba) to Allah Most High is the most powerful gift we have been given. It conquers all, in that no past sin or mistake — even disbelief, heresy, or murder — proves too great for repentance. If one turns to Allah in sincere remorse, having stopped the sin with a commitment to never return to it, then Allah has promised us He will forgive it, for He loves to forgive.

Allah Most High states:

“Will they not then turn towards Allah in repentance and ask His forgiveness? And Allah is Ever-forgiving, All-merciful” (5:74), as well as “Those who commit evil yet afterwards repent and believe: verily, after such repentance, your Master is indeed Ever-forgiving, All-merciful” (7:153).

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) once described a man alone in the desert with a camel carrying all his belongings, which then disappeared, leaving the man in utter despair for his life. The man eventually sits down and readies himself for death, only to turn and suddenly find the camel beside him.

Overwhelmed by utter joy, he exclaims, “O Allah, You are my slave and I am your Lord!” He erred in speech due to the intensity of his joy. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) taught that when we turn to Allah in repentance, Allah is more overjoyed than that man upon finding his camel. [Bukhari, Muslim]

The Vastness of Divine Mercy

Relax and focus on Allah’s unimaginable mercy, of which He states, “Your Lord has prescribed mercy upon Himself” (6:54). He has not described any other divine attribute in this manner.

Our Masters explain that one of the reasons Allah describes Himself as “The All-merciful” (al-Rahman) in the verse, “The All-merciful has assumed the throne” (20:5) is that just as the entire cosmos is like a speck in an ocean compared to Allah’s throne, so too is the throne like a speck in an ocean compared to Allah’s vast mercy. Never despair, and always keep the best opinion of Allah.

Our Master Ibn Mas’ud (Allah be pleased with him) used to frequently say, “I swear to Allah, no person ever maintained a good opinion of Allāh save that Allah in fact blessed him accordingly,” based on the hadith qudsi related by Imam Bukhari, in which Allah Himself says, “I am in the opinion of My servant.” And remember that Allah created one hundred parts of mercy and sent down only one part to creation, which is the basis of all kindness and good in this life. Ninety-nine parts remain with Him, awaiting His servants on Judgment Day. [Bukhari, Muslim]

Whatever good we think of Allah, that — and even better — is what we shall find inshaAllah. Keep up your prayers, perform them on time, and try to inculcate as much good in your life while focusing your mind and thoughts on Allah’s mercy and love.

Understanding Doubts

As for the doubts and misgivings you experience, Imam Muslim narrates in his Sahih collection that some of the Companions of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) came and asked him, “We find in ourselves [thoughts] that any of us would consider too enormous to even mention.” He (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “And you all have found it?” and they said yes. He said, “That is pure faith.” Imam Nawawi clarifies, “Considering it too enormous to mention is pure faith.” [Sharh Sahih Muslim]

Shaykh Nuh Keller comments, “As long as one has fear and disgust for passing thoughts of unbelief (kufr) and the like and does not make them convictions, they do no harm.” [Sea Without Shore]

And Allah knows best.
wassalam
Faraz

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Dealing With Increasing Doubts as My Practice and Knowledge Increase

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Question: As-Salaam Alaikum
I am an 18 year old Muslim girl and for the past two years I became more serious about Islam. I now make all my prayers and they are a priority. I do my best to be a good person and do good deeds. However my problem are the doubts that creep into my mind and I’ve noticed how they started and became more persistent as I become more knowledgeable about Islam. With everything I read, despite initially thinking yes this makes sense, some thought suddenly creeps in that gives me doubts.  I hate to read things that demonize Islam, and have continuously defended and promoted Islam at school, but I still have these doubts later. Do you have any advice?

 

Answer: In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Dear Sister,

Wa alaikum as-salaam wa rahmatullah.

Thank you for your question.

It is very possible the key to your dilemma might be in your statement that your doubts have become more persistent as you have become more knowledgeable. It’s important to realize that we don’t seek knowledge for knowledge’s sake. We seek knowledge as a means to better worship God Most High and realize our purpose of slavehood to the divine. As we recently discussed during the SeekersGuidance Appalachian Retreat, knowledge without guidance is like a rudderless ship. In other words, it’s critical that our seeking of knowledge be accompanied by clear vision, sincere intention, and a firm goal. One of our teachers, Ustadh Muhammad Mendes, mentioned the importance of assessing one’s intention many times: before one acts, while one is acting, and after one acts. I would suggest that when seeking knowledge, step back and perform an assessment of what you need to know to worship God Most High right now and fulfill your social obligations. Although this might not seem like a lot–trust me, one could spend a lifetime learning what is personally obligatory. Then, at every step of the way, make sure you have a regular program of dhikr, supplication, and salawat upon the Prophet, God bless him and give him peace. Having this practice helps to still the heart.

We know shaytan will constantly tries to assail the believer with doubts. It is our responsibility to stop listening to these whispers and start trusting in Allah Most High. And stop filling your heart and mind with dross, which characterizes much of what is written about Islam these days. The other day I was with a group of people who were complaining about Islamophobic, ignorant radio hosts. My question to them was: Why do you listen to these people? By listening to them, you are keeping company with them. With Ramadan coming, we should be aware of the advice of Imam al-Ghazali who taught that the beginning of guidance lies in taqwa (awe, reverence, and fear) of Allah and keeping good company. Taqwa is defined as hastening to obedience and shunning disobedience. Part of leaving disobedience is that we protect our limbs and faculties from being subjected to filth. So guard your heart and beware of being submerged in media, which has become our constant companion.

Finally, you might want to read this excellent spiritual advice from Shaykh Faraz A. Khan on the role of the intellect in seeking God.

May Allah Ta’ala give you ease,

Zaynab Ansari

Differentiating Between Legitimate Questions and Satanic Whispers

Answered by Sidi Wasim Shiliwala

Question: Ever since a recent class in school, my Iman is not with me. I don’t know what ruling will apply to my situation. I know the scholarly answer would be to ignore all forms of waswas. Nevertheless, as I have grown, I have come to understand that “knowledge is power” so whenever the doubts that arrived came into my head, I noted them down. Please answer them for me in detail as they have tarnished my iman, they don’t feel like waswas, they have almost drawn me away from the faith.

1. Nabi (saw) could have been a fortune teller himself, learning from Jinns the matters of the heavens
2. He (saw) was a magician
3. When he used to retreat to the cave, he slowly built an agenda, wanting power. In the cave he (Saw) worked on how he would receive “revelation” and how he would postpone it (in the initial stages). In the cave a christian like Waraqa or any individual accompanied him teaching him the works of the bible.
4. He forged the Quran
5. His plan failed, that’s why in the initial stage, he contemplated suicide.
6. If he was Allah`s beloved, why did he get poisoned, as a result of his demise.
7. The Quran says “a few years” for the victory, why couldn’t Allah say the exact date.

I know to all these you might tell me to ignore them, that’s not working, please do help me with rebuttals.

JazakAllah Khair
Was-salaam.

Answer: Walaikum As-salaam wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu,

May Allah reward you for your questions. Rather than being wrong or shameful, seeking answers is an important part of this religion: Allah commands us to “ask the people of remembrance if [we] don’t know” (16:43).

Differentiating Between Legitimate Questions and Satanic Whispers

Islam is a religion of knowledge, so questions, whether big or small, are not discouraged in our tradition. However, it is also important to recognize when such questions carry Satanic whispers with them (wasawis), and act accordingly.

My advice to you in this regard is to mark down your questions and ask them, but to not let them affect your faith. Questions are natural, but know that any damaging effects they have come from the Shaytan. Remember that this tradition is solidly based on rational knowledge as well as revelation, and that any question you may have has been asked and answered numerous times before.

Therefore, you should realize that the problem is that you simply haven’t learned enough about Islam. Shaytan exploits this knowledge-gap to make you doubt your religion by making you assume the worst, even though you have no evidence for that assumption. The true and measured reaction is to suspend judgment on the issue in question until you have learned about it.

The more you study this religion with reliable scholars, the more certainty you will have that any and all questions or doubts that a Muslim might encounter have already been answered. The only issue at hand is that you haven’t found such answers yet.

Dealing with Specific Doubts

You mention a number of questions, so I will try to answer them in a concise manner. If they are not detailed to your satisfaction, I suggest you embark on a more detailed study of the related subjects, since that is the only way to really learn about the religion in a beneficial manner.

Doubts about the Prophet

The first four questions of yours return the broader question of the veracity of the Prophet (peace be upon him): namely, how can we trust that he is who he says he is? The following answers should help clear this matter up:

1. The following answer contains some of the proofs for the veracity of the Prophet’s message: The Truth of Islam, the Qur’an, & the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him)

2. This answer addresses the related issue of how we know that the Qur’an is from Allah: How Do We Know the Qur’an is Inimitable and Thus From Allah?

3. This answer outlines the differences between magic and miracles: What is the Difference Between Black Magic and a Miracle?

Some additional points to remember:

– If the Prophet (peace be upon him) spread lies concerning revelation, Allah the Exalted would have destroyed him (see 69:44-48).

– The Prophet (peace be upon him) had no say in what went into revelation, as evidenced by the fact that Allah revealed that which he (peace be upon him) would have rather concealed (see 33:37) and chastised him for any minor errors he made (see 80:1-10)

– If the Prophet (peace be upon him) wanted power, he could have simply taken it from the Quraysh when they offered it to him in exchange for stopping his message. It is related in the books of sirah (Prophetic biography) that he rejected their numerous calls for a compromise, saying that he wouldn’t stop preaching even if they “put the sun in his right hand and the moon in his left hand.” Even after numerous victories, the Prophet (peace be upon him) led a simple life, advising others to abstain from this world and from what other people have [Sunan ibn Majah]. This demonstrates that he (peace be upon him) wasn’t after power or wealth.

– When it comes to previous revelations, the important information that the Prophet (peace be upon him) brought was that which corrected the errors of previous scriptures, which no one at the time could have told him about. This includes correcting the notion that Jesus (peace be upon him) was crucified or that he (peace be upon him) was the son of God.

The Prophet’s Mortality

As for the idea of the Prophet contemplating suicide, the reports that mention this are considered weak and rejected. Its chains are broken and sounder versions of the same narration do not mention the line about him contemplating suicide. (See the following explanation from Shaykh Gibril Haddad: http://www.livingislam.org/k/whb_e.html)

As for the Prophet (peace be upon him) being poisoned, this is simply a manifestation of his human nature. He was affected by physical things just like any other person. As Allah tells us, the Prophet (peace be upon him) is only “a man like you, to whom it was revealed that your lord is One God” (18:110). Furthermore, Allah says that the Prophet is a messenger like those who came before him, and just like them, he will pass too (3:144).

Allah also informs us that previous prophets were killed by their own people (ex: 2:61). Indeed, the Prophets (peace be upon them) were protected by Allah with regards to revelation and committing errors, but they were not protected from all types of harm or death. They were humans as well, so they were capable of being hurt, poisoned, or even killed, just like the rest of us.

Exactitude and Dates in the Qur’an

As for your final question, only Allah knows best what He reveals and what He conceals. There is no doubt that Allah knew the exact date of when the victory was going to happen, much as He also knows when the Hour will come and when the Judgment will happen. However, the Qur’an is not a book of historical facts and predictions: it is a book of guidance.

The wisdom behind concealing this sort of knowledge is to encourage us to prepare for these events. If Allah told us when the Day of Judgment was to happen, many of us would delay in our preparations for it, not realizing that every moment counts.

It is a vain pursuit for us to obsess over what the Qur’an doesn’t say; rather, we must focus on what it does say, and strive to implement it. Remember that what the Qur’an does tell us is plenty: knowledge about the afterlife, guidance for success in this world and the hereafter, the essentials of belief and action, and much more.

The General Solution

The answers I provided above are but a drop in the ocean of Islamic knowledge. If you are serious about getting answers, you have to study the religion in a clear and organized manner with reliable scholars, such as the ones here at SeekersGuidance. I suggest you begin with courses on aqida (creed) and seerah (Prophetic biography), since those will answer a lot of your concerns about how Islam began and why we follow the noble Prophet (peace be upon him). These classes will be perfect opportunities for you to learn and ask your questions.

General Advice on Waswasa

I hope the above answers helped, and that you use this as motivation to take classes on Islam. However, as I mentioned before, the very fact that you are having a crisis of faith indicates that these questions have an element of Satanic Whispering in them. Satan is a clear and persistent enemy, and he will always be there to whisper doubts into your mind as you keep learning. Therefore, I highly encourage you to guard yourself from his damaging insinuations, and to carefully follow the advice outlined in the following answers:

Satanic Whisperings Are Making Me Withdraw From Muslims

Dealing With Devilish Insinuations Regarding the Existence of God

May Allah guide us all to the straight path, increase us in knowledge and certainty, and protect us from evil thoughts. And only with Allah comes success.

Jazakum Allahu Khairan,
-Wasim

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Dealing with Devilish Insinuations Regarding the Existence of God

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: Shaitan is making me doubt the existence of Allah and putting wrong things about Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) in my mind. How to deal with it?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states. The following are some short pieces of advice that can help deal with your problem inshaAllah:

(1) Ignore the devil. There is no doubt that you believe in Allah and the Prophet Muhammad. You hold the Beloved Messenger in high regard, and you believe in his sincerity, truthfulness, gracious character and prophethood. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and all prophets.

You are a believer, and the fact that you are concerned and disturbed by these whisperings is a proof of your faith. You are disgusted by such notions, and only a believer hates the devil.

Turn to Allah with love and gratitude. This is the most potent weapon against the devil, who hates the servant who is sincere and grateful. Our sincerity to Allah renders the devil’s insinuations utterly weak and useless.

(2) Stay busy and preoccupy yourself with beneficial things. Participate in activities that enrich yourself and others, and find projects of service to those in need. As the English idiom goes, “Idle time is the devil’s playground,” as well as “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”

This is a reality, and we should take heed of it. If a person is exhausted at the end of the day — from work, from studying, from serving others, from taking care of their family, or from any other righteous action — then such a person has no energy to entertain foolishness. The devil leaves such people alone, as he knows his baseless whisperings will have no effect on them.

(3) Keep good company, people who motivate you and elevate your spiritual state. Too many of our young folk get caught up in bad virtual company, and doors of satanic whisperings and doubt become opened. Indeed, garbage and filth only attract fleas.

Allah Most High states, “O you who believe! Fear Allah, and be with the sincere and truthful.” (9:119)

When you are around beauty, you will not think of ugliness; and when you are around light, darkness dissipates.

(4) Be a person of prayer and remembrance of Allah.

Realize that the devil is a creation of Allah, and that Allah alone is in full control. So seek refuge in Allah, the only One with power, by saying, ‘A’udhu bi Llahi min ash-shaytani r-rajim.’ [Bukhari, Muslim]

Recite Ayat al-Kursi, as well as the last three surahs (Ikhlas, Falaq, Nas), every morning and evening. [Tabarani, Mu’jam Kabir]

Be consistent in the remembrance of Allah (dhikr), especially by sending salutations upon the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Maintain a strong relationship with the Qur’an, reading some portion daily, however little.

Make sure you pray all five prayers on time, and try to attend the mosque for as many of the five as you can. Again, when a person is busy with good, there is no time or energy for its opposite.

Make supplication (dua) to Allah to help you deal with these thoughts. Be keen to observe the various etiquettes of dua, such as eating lawful and wholesome food, praying with sincerity and focus, and being certain that Allah will answer your dua.

I pray that these whisperings cease, and that you come out of this trial with strengthened faith and conviction in Allah Almighty.

And Allah knows best.
wassalam
Faraz A. Khan

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

How Do I Combat Thoughts of Disbelief That Enter My Mind?

Answered by Sidi Faraz A. Khan

Question: I recently had trouble with 1 ayat in the Qur’an. I took it out of context and thoughts of doubt flooded my heart. I almost even skipped one of my salat. During this prayer I had all sorts of disheartening thoughts. I later found out i was misinterpreting this verse and praised Allah. But I just don’t want to become like the hypocrite who believes one second then chooses disbelief.  I felt a that moment I was walking a fine line. What can I do?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and faith.

Your fear of hypocrisy is a sign of your iman.

Doubts and thoughts of disbelief are from the devil. Take the means to ward him off, as taught by our Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him).

These include the following:

(a) Seek refuge in Allah Most High, by saying, A’udhu bi Llahi min ash-shaytani r-rajim [Bukhari, Muslim]; and recite Ayat al-Kursi, as well as the last three surahs (Ikhlas, Falaq, Nas) [Tabarani, Mu’jam Kabir].

(b) Find good company – people who make much remembrance of Allah, and who remind you to do the like, such as those described by the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) as follows: “Verily among people are keys to Allah’s remembrance – when they are seen, Allah is remembered.” [Tabarani, Mu’jam Kabir]

(c) Turn to Allah and seek His help in this situation. As Ibn Ata’illah says, “No task is arduous if you seek to fulfill it through your Lord, and no task is facilitated if you seek to fulfill it through yourself.”

And Allah knows best.

wassalam

Faraz

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Doubts About Islam: I Don’t Find Any Observable Effect or Peace in My Worship

Answered by Sidi Abdullah Anik Misra

Question: How can I convince my self about the truth of Islam and that my ceremonial actions like salat and dua have any effect? I converted when I was a teenager and have been practicing regularly. Yet, for everything else in the universe, or at least for the things I care about, I observe cause and effect.I do an action and an effect is produced. But with invocation, prayer, and dhikr no observable effect is produced. I have not experienced peace in the remembrance of Allah. Shaytan feels closer to me than Allah. Then I keep hearing from Christian coworkers, classmates, etc. how such and such miracle occurred in their lives or how they got a sign from God – and I think they honestly believe what they say. What should I do? Please advise.

Answer: In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful,

As salaamu alaikum brother,

I want to tell you that what you have done is very brave- trying to get help to clear your doubts about the Truth is something that is necessary for any Muslim to do. Many people live and suffer with the disease of doubt in silence for years while it takes a toll on their mental, spiritual and even their physical health.

It is also very reassuring that despite this issue, you keep up your worship to Allah through the five daily prayers. However, we must not think for a moment that we are doing a favor to Allah; rather it is He who is doing us a great, incalculable favor, a sign of His immense generosity that engulfs us even while we have been unmindful of Him.

First, we will look at why you might feel emptiness in your worship, then your confusions regarding God and His existence and how to solve that, then finally, why these problems might be occurring and the cure for it.

Why Does My Prayer Feel Like an Empty Ritual?

Part of the reason that people feel emptiness in their prayers is because they feel that by praying and fasting and supplicating, they are doing something to benefit Allah, and that He should feel obliged to reimburse them for their efforts. Then, they desire certain outcomes that their limited insight feels is best for them, and that if those do not occur, then Allah has not answered them, so they become despondent.

Rather, do we ask ourselves how Allah can possibly owe us anything, when, long before we were even created, in His infinite knowledge, He willed that we would be guided as Muslims today? Did He not choose you and I out of billions of people to believe in Him?

What did we do in pre-eternity, what great act of piety, what service, what obedience, for which our creation and guidance was recompense? Nothing whatsoever.

What was there before this entire world of cause and effect and ups and downs and desires and actions? Allah alone, and His pure largess and mercy.

So is it not fitting that we worship Him out of a profound sense of gratitude, solely because He alone deserves to be worshiped, rather than for outcomes, as if He has to pay us back for acts of worship that He guided us to in the first place?

When we choose freely to worship Him (even after He makes us inclined to do so), He creates the act and enables us, then we acquire that prayer in our account of good deeds, then He Himself appreciates it and rewards us for something He created. That is the reality for our devotions. They are in fact a gift from Him to us, not the other way around. Knowing this should change the state of our worship, insha Allah.

The Wordly Returns of Sincere Worship

The scholars of Islamic spirituality say that the one guaranteed (though not obligatory) worldly effect of sincere obedience (such as prayer) is the tawfiq, or divine facilitation, to do more good deeds. This is much more beneficial than any worldly thing to ask for, and of course, the rewards in the Hereafter are permanent.

Still, none of a believer’s prayers are unheard: they are either answered, or something harmful is averted in its stead, or delayed till the Hereafter where the result is better.

Perhaps the reward for your steadfast prayers and devotions for all these years since you became Muslim is that, even through your difficult times of doubting the very One who gave you all of these blessings, He still enables you to worship Him and keeps you connected to Him, out of His love and divine concern for you.

He, Most Gracious and Merciful, is what is keeping us from falling into disbelief at all times, not our practice, though He can make that a means to attach ourselves to Him.  Seeing Allah’s gentle hand behind the blessings in our life can uplift us so much, and seeing how He has saved us from so much potential harm as well can make us appreciate what we have now and feel content.

Know Your Lord – Study the Science of Beliefs

Sometimes, we as Muslims confuse our priorities in this religion. One might think that having small doubts about the existence of the Creator whilst continuing outward practice is the relatively better position to be in, rather than having firm faith while slipping in and out of practice due to laziness.

Both are bad and undesirable, but the preference of the former over the latter is putting worship (‘ibadah) before the One who is worshiped (al-ma`bud), which doesn’t make sense. The first obligatory duty upon us as Muslims – rather, as human beings – is to know Our Lord. Everything else follows after firmly confirming that knowledge in our hearts [al-Dardir, Sharh Kharida al Bahiyya].

That’s why it is highly recommended for us all to study at least one basic primer in Islamic Beliefs with a qualified teacher. This primer can be one that lists the general beliefs that a Muslim needs to have without explanation if it is readily followed.

However, in an age where doubt and confusion are widespread, a work should be studied which allows the beginner to logically understand how it is necessary that this world have a Creator who is unlike His creation, and why Islam’s teachings on the nature and qualities of the Creator make it the indisputable religion of truth. In the case of someone who has doubts, it becomes an obligation to seek that knowledge. Seeker’s Guidance offers a course on Islamic Beliefs that I would personally recommend everyone to take.

Then, once one sees how Islam’s view of God is the necessary truth that accurately reflects and applies to what actually exists, the message from God which carried the proofs for this knowledge and obligated us to believe (al-Qur’an) can be verified as true, after which the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) can be verified as true, after which one can be convinced, as you asked, of the truth of Islam as a religion in all its various aspects.

It is also worth reminding you that, years ago, you made a conscious decision to accept Islam, Alhamdulillah. You came as a result of seeing the truth in it; of being sure and knowing that Allah is One and that Islam is His religion. What has changed? Don’t sell yourself short in thinking you don’t have faith – you might actually have all you need to discern truth from falsehood, but the problem is lying in your outlook.

After all, you are seeking this help and trying to convince yourself because you know deep down inside this is the truth- not because some other non-truth has convinced you and is dawning on you, and you are afraid to admit that. The issues you bring up are not well-formulated lines of reasoning, but scattered doubts mixed with emotions.   If you had been led totally astray by disbelieving in the truth of Islam, you might not have felt disturbed about this; if there wasn’t some good in your heart, you would never be concerned about this. Then what is the problem?

This is where it is important to understand the role of baseless misgivings (wasawasa) and the effect that they can have on the Muslim’s heart and mind, tempting even firm believers into thinking that they don’t really have faith, or to doubt something they know exists as rationally and necessarily true, but can’t see.

Baseless Misgivings in One’s Faith – Shaytan’s Weapon of Choice

The Devil (shaytan) is mankind’s sworn enemy, as Allah Most High tells us in the Qur’an. After his own straying from Allah Most High’s pleasure and subsequently being cast out of divine favour, he vowed that he would lead all of mankind astray, out of envy for the close relationship that Adam (peace be upon him) and his progeny (us) shared with their Lord.

His main influence is by the fact that he whispers evil thoughts into our hearts. Then, we take these suggestions, and begin to repeatedly think about the evil (or less good) action, until it becomes our own thought, which then leads to determination, then to action.

One thing I have learned is to constantly remind yourself that not every thought you have is from your own mind- especially the gross ones and ones we wouldn’t repeat.  When the Devil whispers doubts into people’s minds, sometimes they mistaken them for our own, and feel disgust and shock for thinking such a gross thought, then they blame themselves over and over, allowing themselves to re-expose their mind to the thought repeatedly, till it actually does start confusing them, until it finally settles and becomes an internal struggle.

To have these fleeting doubtful thoughts, at the initial stage, is something normal, and to seek refuge in Allah Ta’ala from the Devil immediately is the remedy. Do not let those thoughts grow, rather, say “a`udhu billahi min ash-shaytan nir-rajeem” and if you pondered on the thought, seek forgiveness (istighfar).

It is narrated from Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him), who ascribed it back to the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) that he said, “Truly, Allah has overlooked for my Ummah that which is whispered, or the which is thought about in the lower self, as long as they do not act upon it, or speak about it.”  [al-Bukhari, Sahih]

He also narrates that people from amongst the Companions came to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and consulted him: “We surely find within ourselves things that one of us would consider an enormity to even speak about.”  So he [peace and blessings be upon him] asked, “And you have really found that [within yourselves?]”  “Yes,” they replied.  “That,” he replied (peace and blessings be upon him), “is clear faith.” [Muslim, Sahih]

You mentioned that you felt the Devil was closer to you than Allah Most High. It is true that the Devil “runs in the children of Adam like the circulation of blood.” [Bukhari, Muslim]. You feel so sure of this, yet, the Devil can make you doubt even his existence as well, because if he admits his existence to one with doubts, isn’t it plainly obvious that the One who created him must exist?

Perhaps the feeling of the Devil being closer is actually about how you spend your time- do you, from your side, make yourself closer to your vain desires and ego, or to Allah? What are the hidden departments in your life which you need to address? Often, it is our connection to sinful or vain things that we overlook that causes us to feel emptiness.

We may feel far from Allah at those times, but is Allah far from us? No, never! Allah Ta’ala says in the Qur’an:

“And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then [tell them] surely, I am near. I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he calls on Me. So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led aright.” [al-Quran, 2:186]

So knowing that Allah Ta’ala is closer to us than the Devil or anything else, if we act on the second part of the verse, namely to call on Allah sincerely and to rely and trust in Him to fulfill our every need, we get the result, which is being led aright, which is the means to attaining success in both this world and the Hereafter.

Someone might look at people of other faiths and think that they experience peace. Most of feeling tranquil is a mental thing; anyone can do that if they put their mind to it, even if they do the worst of things at other times, or worship false gods or have corrupt practices. That false sense of “peace” can mislead them into self-satisfaction and contentment with misguidance; it also doesn’t guarantee anything beyond this-worldly feelings.

But true peace is from Allah, al-Salam, when the believer combines truth with his/her love for the Divine, because He says: “Indeed!  It is in the remembrance of Allah that hearts find rest.” [al-Quran, 13:28].

If a person chooses their religion based on what makes them feel good, and not based on whether they are worshipping the one true God the way He wants and deserves to be worshiped, who, or what exactly are they worshiping then? Their Lord, or simply their own base desires and fancies? In conclusion, these issues are simply things in our mind that we have to deal with by taking positive steps to developing a meaningful relationship with Allah Ta’ala.

May Allah Ta’ala make it easy for you and us to stay on the Truth of Islam and may He shower His love and mercy upon us and the entire ummah of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.

I tell myself all of this first and foremost, and then remind others.  And Allah knows best.

Wasallam,
Abdullah Anik Misra

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani