Posts

Am I a Disbeliever for Being Unable to Anwser Waswas Regarding My Belief in Allah?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaikum

I have sudden doubts about Allah and His Essence. I end up responding each time I’m facing these insinuating whispers until I become confused with my own belief. I am saddened by this problem. Am I a disbeliever?

Answer:Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

What you are describing is true faith. Rejoice, and don’t let the devil fool you.

Please see the following: What is the Ruling For Someone Who Has Thoughts of Disbelief Without Saying Them Aloud? and: How Do I Combat Thoughts of Disbelief That Enter My Mind? and: Tormented by Thoughts of Disbelief

And Allah Most High alone knows best.

wassalam,
[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam was born and raised in Ipswich, England, a quiet town close to the east coast of England. His journey for seeking sacred knowledge began when he privately memorized the entire Qur’an in his hometown at the age of 16. He also had his first experience in leading the tarawih (nightly-Ramadan) prayers at his local mosque. Year after year he would continue this unique return to reciting the entire Quran in one blessed month both in his homeland, the UK, and also in the blessed lands of Shaam, where he now lives, studies and teaches.

Anse Tamara Gray Answers Your Aqida Questions

Anse Tamara Gray recently spent over two hours answering some of the most pertinent contemporary aqida questions, as a background to understanding modernism and how it has affected us. Worth watching in the Rabata video below.

Is My Faith Valid Even If I Can’t Answer All Doubts?

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: My Mother is dealing with someone at work that is dedicated to making her doubt Islam by trying to find contradictions between Hadith and empirical science. What’s your advice to her?

Most “contradictions” are very specific and would need specialists in those fields to determine accuracy.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

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

Obligatory Faith

We are obligated to believe everything that the Prophet – peace and blessings of God be upon him – delivered to us from God, and that he was truthful in transmitting what he did.

Does Failing to Resolve Apparent Contradictions Negate this?

Someone may point out apparent contradictions between certain narrations and empirical science, in an attempt to demonstrate the unreliability of the former. A Muslim’s faith is not impugned if they do not know how to resolve these apparent contradictions, or how others have sought to resolve it, even if they do nothing to find out.

Reasons for Faith Remaining Intact

This is for two reasons. One is that, as you have mentioned, many such resolutions require specialist knowledge, or at least a familiarity with Islamic or other disciplines. A layperson is not obligated to know such information for their faith to be sound.

The second is that a person is obligated to believe in a general framework that is internally coherent; this is the belief that I mentioned above, that the Prophet – peace and blessings of God be upon him – transmitted to us truthfully from God.

With that as the default, singular confusions or lack of understanding of the interpretation of specific traditions attributed to the Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him, cannot be said to render the entire framework of belief untrue.

This understanding of knowledge accords with the manner in which we normally see and operate in the world. For example, a person can have a general belief in the idea of gravity, which may be as unsophisticated as believing that things are supposed to fall down. That, as a default belief, is based on good evidence, namely, the vast majority of a person’s life experience. If, however, one comes across something that seems to militate against this – say, something that rises instead of falling down – one wouldn’t discard their belief in the general applicability of gravity, even if they don’t understand precisely how this exception fits into the entire system, or never bothers to find out.

A similar scenario plays out for faith beliefs, such as a person’s belief in the prophecy of Muhammad – peace and blessings of God be upon him. An inability to readily explain certain narrations, or even to access scholarly discussion on such matters, does not render the entire coherent framework of belief untrue.

This easily applies at the level of the layperson, because of the lack of access to scholarship. It can also applies at the scholarly level; this is why scholars, who by virtue of being human have access to limited knowledge, may at times indicate that they are not sure yet how to fit certain traditions into the overall framework of established belief.

How Scholars Deal with Difficult Traditions

That said, if one is able to, it is generally encouraged to seek out answers to anything one thinks might impugn their faith.

To this end, it is useful to know how scholars tend to deal with traditions that, while transmitted through sound methods, appear to contradict empirical truths. They usually do this in one of two ways.

The first is to interpret the text in a non-literal fashion when possible, according to linguistic and social convention. This is a preferred method, as it allows for scholars to conserve and continue to make use of the maximum amount of available evidence, as opposed to discarding it.

When this does not appear possible, scholars may consider the tradition fabricated; a general principle is that a sign of a tradition being fabricated is that it irreparably contradicts other clear evidence, whether it be established texts or principles, or empirical truth.

Understanding that there are hermeneutical principles at play in interpreting and dealing with traditions can – God willing – assuage the layperson in remaining content in their faith, especially if one does not have the time, means, or concern to delve into the issues raised. If this is not the case, one should seek out reliable scholarship in an effort to determine how others have specifically dealt with such apparent contradictions.

Wassalam,
Shuaib Ally

I Have Bad Thoughts About My Faith. How Should I Deal With Them?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam’aleykum,

1. I know in my heart that my faith is strong and I always think that I will never leave islam but how can I be sure about that? I have bad thoughts about my faith!

2. Do I have to perform a ghusl after renewing my shahadah because of these doubts?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

Ignore it. What takes a person out of the fold of Islam is, as Imam Tahawi states, the very thing which brought them into it, namely, belief in Allah Most High and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace).

As for passing thoughts of disbelief and the like, they do no harm as long as you don’t act on them. Thus, say the ta`awwudh, ask Allah Most high for facilitation and success, and seek out some righteous company.

And consider taking the following free class: Excellence in Faith & Action (from Ghazali’s 40 Foundations of Religion)

And Allah Most High alone knows best.

wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Confronting Atheism and Our Own Doubts

In Islam, faith is an active rather than passive concept. From the sinner to the saint, everyone’s faith will waver from time to time.

What do we do about it?

Regardless of which faith group we belong to, we will waver in of our faith in the existence of God, our confidence in the applicability of faith in modern times, as well as in the strength of our spiritual connections.  As Shaykh Walead Mosaad explains, a decrease in faith is a test just like pain, fear, or financial difficulty. Watch him discuss this difficult topic and advise us how to keep our religious equilibrium.

Clarify your inderstanding of the Islamic beliefs and creed by taking a FREE SeekersHub course: Ghazali’s Foundations of Islamic Belief Explained

Cover photo by Ryan Melaugh.

Resources for Seekers

How to Answer Claims That the Prophet Never Existed?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: 1. I was deeply disturbed by reading claims that the Prophet never existed. Can you give me a solid response to those claims? I am really struggling inside.

2. Does really struggling inwardly with doubts caused by what I just described makes me a disbeliever?

Answer: assalamu alaykum

1. Questioning the existence of the Prophet (blessings be upon him) is a revisionist thesis forwarded by certain Orientalist scholars as a consequence of their rejecting/questioning the historical literature authored by later Muslims in its entirety.

The theories of these revisionist scholars are untenable and have been rejected even by many in the Western academy. The Islamic historical tradition, as you know, establishes the existence of the Prophet (blessings be upon him) through mass-transmission. To deny this existence is, consequently, an absurdity, and the explanations justifying/explaining any alternative narrative are equally absurd sounding more like conspiracy theories than anything else. Even those who question the oral tradition of Islam have recognized that the archaeological record and non-Muslim sources (Thomas the Presbyter; Sebeos; Khuzistan Chronicle) contemporaneous/near-contemporaneous (i.e. mid-late 7th century) to the Prophet (blessings be upon him) make mention of him, his teachings, his companions, and many other things affirmed by the oral tradition.

As such, to question the existence of the Prophet (blessings upon him be peace) is to question both the mass oral Islamic tradition and also numerous other external sources. My personal advice to you would be to steer clear of such revisionist theories concerning early Islam. It will only create doubts where none should exist.

2. Internal struggles are not to be equated with disbelief. Disbelief is actually rejecting the tenets of Islam, not the thought of doing so or questions about these tenets. As Imam al-Tahawi says, “a servant is not considered to have left his faith except by denying that which originally caused him to enter into it.”

The best way to straighten ones faith is through (a) study and (b) practice. The latter is essential as it is the nourishment of the heart that protects one from the whispers of the self and the devil. For more, I would advise you to read the following:

Differentiating Between Legitimate Questions and Satanic Whispers

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

Salman

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Photo: Fraz Ismat

Must We Have No Doubt Whatsoever in Order to Stay Within the Folds of Islam?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: 1. Must we have no doubt whatsoever in order to stay within the folds of Islam? Is doubt allowed as long as you don’t affirm it as your central belief?

2. Does someone dying in a state of drunkenness or from a drug overdose dies as a disbeliever?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

1. Such a person would still be deemed a believer. Having “doubts” is inconsequential to one’s faith unless one actually accepts them in a manner that entails rejection of the core beliefs of Islam.

In fact, doubts about aspects of faith is natural and simply part of the struggle that a believer must undergo. The Companions themselves experienced such doubts when they confided in the Prophet (God bless him), “We have thoughts that any of us would consider too enormous to even mention.” The response of the Prophet (God bless him) was this was a sign of the purity of their faith. [Muslim, Sahih]

In such situations, it is important to seek refuge in God, thank Him for the blessing of faith, and anchor oneself in the religion through study and spiritual practice.

For more on this, see:

What is the Ruling For Someone Who Has Thoughts of Disbelief Without Saying Them Aloud?

Tormented by Thoughts of Disbelief

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

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

2. These are all major sins but their perpetrators are still considered believers.

The default is that one only exits from the faith through rejecting that which brought him into it as Imam al-Tahawi and others stated. In other words, committing certain impermissible actions is generally deemed insufficient a reason to consider someone outside the fold. This is a very prominent position upheld by the Sunni majority in opposition to other sects, like the Khawarij.

For more on the principles of disbelief, see the first heading here: What Are the Consequences of an Oath of Disbelief?

Salman

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

What Can I Do to Strengthen and Increase My Faith?

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: Assalam alaikum,

I am very very distressed. I have a lot of doubts concerning my religion but I really don’t want to deal with them at all. I have no interest in leaving Islam and I only want to find again my peace of mind.

What can I do to free myself from these doubts?

Answer: Assalāmu ʿAlaykum,

I hope that you are in the best of health and spirits.

Should I Be Worried because my Faith Is Low?

The desire to remain steadfast in one’s faith is praiseworthy. The Qur’an describes believers as those who are afraid, or hate to return to disbelief. That is why it relates them as supplicating:


رَبَّنا لَا تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنا بَعدَ إِذ هَدَيتَنا
Our Lord, do not lead our hearts astray after you have guided us! [Qur’an; 3.8]

It is normal for one’s faith to increase and decrease, depending on a variety of surrounding circumstances. This was recognized early on by Ḥandhala and Abu Bakr – God be pleased with them – companions of the Prophet – peace and blessings of God be upon him. They worried about their potential hypocrisy, because they cannot maintain the level of purity of mind they enjoy in the presence of the Prophet – peace and blessings of God be upon him. He consoled them, saying, “Were you able to maintain the state you are in with me, as well as your remembrance, the angels would openly shake your hands in your bed and when you are about” [Muslim].

Therefore, the fact that one’s internal state ebbs and flows is not the cause for concern. Rather, the important thing is to take the requisite steps that allow one to maintain a sustainable level of faith, as well self-correcting when one starts to slip.

What are the Practical Steps I can take in this Regard?

1. Have a regular daily schedule for reciting to a portion of the Qur’an, even if it is only a few verses. The Qur’an itself promises that reciting it increases faith: “When his verses are recited to them, it increases their faith” [Qur’an; 8.2].

2. Remain constant in your prayers, as prayer is the relationship and connection between a servant and his creator. The Qur’an says, “Seek assistance through patience and prayer; that is difficult except for those who fear” [Qur’an; 2.45].

3. Seek to nurture one’s love of the Prophet – peace and blessings of God be upon him. This is because faith is directly tied to love of the final messenger. He is reported to have said, “None of you truly believe until I am more beloved to him than his parents, children, and all of humanity” [Bukhari, Muslim]. Do this by studying his life and characteristics, and following his noble way.

4. Give regularly in charity, even in small amounts, and especially to causes where you will accrue no foreseeable worldly benefit. Doing so is one of the ways in which a servant demonstrates his trust in God, because they are giving something presently in their hands with the hope that God will recompense them for it later, and that “God will not squander the reward of those who do good” [Qur’an; 12.90].

5. Give thanks to God for the blessings he has bestowed on your life. The Qur’an says, “If you give thanks, I will grant you increase” [Qur’an; 14.7]. The greatest of God’s blessings to be shown gratitude for is faith.

6. Spend time with righteous people, as one’s company affects a person’s internal state. The Prophet – peace and blessings of God be upon him – described this by saying:
The proper comparison of a good and evil companion is to one carrying musk and another working the bellows. If the former does not give you some of it, or you do not buy it from him, at least you might catch a breath of its lovely scent. If the latter does not burn your clothes, you will at least get from him the rancid smell [Bukhari, Muslim].
Do this even if you do not consider yourself at their level, as the point is to spend time with those who will have a positive impact on your state. By the same token, decrease time with people who waste your time or adversely affect your internal state. Imam al-Shāfiʿī – God be pleased with him – recited:
I love the righteous, even though I am not one of them / I hope to acquire through them intercession;
I despise those whose trade is in disobedience / Even though we are the same in terms of wares

7. Pray to God to increase your faith in whatever manner you like. Here is a suggestion:

اللّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ إِيمَاناً يُبَاشِرُ قَلبِي، وَيَقِيناً صَادِقاً حَتَّى أَعلَمُ أَنَّهُ لَا يُصِيبُنِي إِلَّا مَا كَتَبتَ لِي، وَرَضاً بِما قَسَمتَ لي، إِنَّك عَلَى كُلِّ شَيءٍ قَديرٌ

Allāhumma innī asʾaluka iymānan yubāshiru qalbī, wa yaqīnan ṣādiqan ḥattā aʿlamu annahu la yuṣībunī illā mā katabta lī, wa riḍan bimā qasamta lī, innaka ʿalā kulli shayʾin qadīr

Lord, I ask of you faith that envelops my heart; true certitude, such that I realize that whatever befalls me is what you have decreed for me; the satisfaction with what you have apportioned for me; you have power over all things!

Conclusion

These are some suggestions which you can try to implement in your life in a way that is sustainable; however, any course of good action will have this effect, and different people will incline towards different types of good action.
When engaged in this or other good acts, do not pay attention to false misgivings. Live your life in accordance with what you know to be goodness, and rely upon God to grant you the ability to continue to do so.

Please see also: Struggling to Maintain Faith and Practice After Opening the Door to Doubts

God alone grants success.

Shuaib Ally

Am I Sinful for Experiencing Unintentional ‘Images’ of God?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: When I was a child, someone showed me an image (of a person) and said ‘that’s God’. Since that time, I have flashbacks of this image when I think of the name ‘Allah’.

Is there any way that I can remove this image from my mind, and am I sinful for having this image in my mind?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

This is not sinful because they are images that your mind unintentionally produces during these moments.

The important thing is that your belief regarding God is one that recognizes His complete transcendence, that He is not a form, person, or in any way similar to human beings.

I would advise you to continue in your worship and remembrance of God. Eventually, as the heart of an individual is purified through sincere acts of worship, the traces of the world, which include these “images”, will disappear. Try your best to ignore them for now and when they do arise recognize that God does not take you to account for things not completely in your control, such as some of the thoughts you might have.

Salman

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

What To Do When You Hear Slander and Backbiting

tree-tunnel
When a poor opinion of others occurs to mind, recognize that it is a type of whispering the devil has sent your way. You should consider it a fabrication, as he is the most evil of evildoers, and Allah has said, “When an evildoer brings you news, verify it before you harm others in ignorance and are then sorrowful over what you have done.” It is therefore not permissible to lend credence to the devil.

If there happens to be some circumstantial evidence that indicates impropriety, but it is also possible that the charge is not true, it remains impermissible to harbor malignant thoughts towards another.

Tenuous Threads

One of the signs of having such thoughts towards others is that your heart is no longer the same with respect to them; you flee from them and find their company burdensome; you are unable to give them due consideration, to be hospitable towards them or to feel pain at their situation.

That is simply because the devil tries to convince the heart, with even the most tenuous of threads, of the evilness of another. He even throws into the heart the idea that this observation of another’s state is actually due to one’s own perspicacity, intelligence, and sharpness of mind, and that after all a believer can see clearly with the light of the Divine, while he is really speaking through the deception of satan and his darkness!

Even were one trustworthy person to tell you something about another person, do not lend credence to it, but do not at the same time consider it false. This is just so that you don’t end up thinking badly of another.

Do The Opposite

Whenever a malevolent thought towards another Muslim comes to mind, respond by doing even more to treat him well and honor him. That alone angers the devil and drives him away from you, such that he no longer throws those kinds of thoughts your way, for fear that you would respond by busying yourself with prayers for that person.

Whenever you learn of the misstep of another Muslim, through clear proof that does not admit doubt, advise them secretly. Do not allow yourself to be deluded by Satan, who calls you towards speaking about them behind their backs.

When you admonish them, do not do so happy that you’ve managed to come across a deficiency on their part, such that they have to look up at you in your position of strength, while you look down at them as if they are nothing.

Rather, have as your ultimate goal ridding them of this sin, while being in a state of sorrow, the way in which you would be sad over your own character when it is found to be be in some way deficient.

It’s Not About You

And finally, let it be the case that this person’s leaving off this blameworthy trait without you having said anything is more beloved to you than them having done so due to your having admonished them.


May Allah reward Shaykh Shuaib Ally for unearthing this valuable advice from Imam al-Ghazali, as quoted in Nawawi’s Adhkar.

 

Resources for seekers: