Sura Nisaa Verse 137: Doubts, Hypocricy, and True Faith

Answered by Ustadha Shaista Maqbool

Question: There’s a part in Surah Nisa that was translated as “God will not forgive or guide to the right path those who first believe, then disbelieve, again believe and disbelieve, and then increase their disbelief.”

What does this mean and how does this relate to people with doubts? How do you know you’re if you’re a hypocrite?

Answer: Assalaamu alaikum,

The verse you are referring to is in Surah Nisaa:137:

“Indeed those who believe, then disbelieve, then believe, then disbelieve, then increase in their disbelief: Allah will never forgive nor guide them to the [right] path.”

Some commentators do say this refers to hypocrites; however, hypocrisy and having doubts is not the same thing.

Some of the Companions came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) and said, “O Messenger of Allah! We find something in ourselves that is graver than us to speak of it; we don’t wish that we had the entire world and we were to speak of it.” So he (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) said, “Do you really find that? That is true faith.” [Abu Dawud]

What the Companions meant here was finding the waswaas, or whispering of the shaytan in themselves by casting doubts. The commentators say that is not the doubt that is true faith, as the doubt itself is from shaytan; rather it is their fierce adversity to these thoughts or doubts that is true faith. So doubts may occur to one’s heart, but if one seeks refuge in Allah from them and is repulsed by them, this is faith, not hypocrisy.

In Sahih Bukhari, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) said, “The shaytan comes to one of you and says, ‘Who created such and such? Who created such and such?’ Until he says, ‘Who created your Lord?’ So if one of you finds this, let him seek refuge in Allah and quit.”

Hence, from the advice of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him), one should seek refuge in Allah and stop oneself from thinking about such matters. This is when the doubts are concerning the being of Allah. If the doubts are regarding the Sacred Law, one should seek refuge in Allah and seek the opinion of a scholar to help him dismiss his doubts.

And Allah knows best.


Shaista Maqbool

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

Taking Far-Fetched Things Into Consideration When Determining Legal Rulings

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Should obscure possibilities be given consideration? For example, if someone creates a video, it is possible that another person takes a snapshot of a frame in the video and makes it into a physical picture. Another example, most well-versed people are adamant that whey does not come from pig, but the possibility still exists. In this case should whey be avoided unless certain that it does not come from a pig source?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

No, obscure or far-fetched possibilities are of no consideration when it comes to legal rulings. Their very obscure nature shows that they are without basis. Both the examples you mention fit the definition of an obscure possibility.

Yes, possibilities that have some sort of basis may be of consideration when it comes to specific rulings. However, when it comes to other rulings, it too may not be of consideration.

Varying Degrees: From Certainty to Conjecture

The scholars generally divide the levels of certainty and doubt into:

a. Certainty (yaqin), defined as the attainment of conviction regarding the occurrence of something or lack of.

b. Reasonable surety (ghalaba al-dhann), which is preponderation towards correctly deeming something to have occurred or otherwise while the heart is generally assured of one’s preponderation.

c. Likely probability (dhann), which is preponderation towards correctly deeming something to have occurred or otherwise while the heart is generally not assured of one’s preponderation.

d. Doubt (shak), where there is no preponderation towards any one of the two equally possible choices and there is in fact no way of doing so either.

e. Misgiving and conjecture (wahm), which is preponderation towards incorrectly deeming something to have occurred or otherwise without any basis.

[`Ali Haydar; Durar al-Hukkam; Hamawi, Ghamz `Uyun al-Basa’ir]

Misgivings & Conjecture

From the above, misgiving and conjecture are never of any consideration and must be ignored. To follow such misgivings would be sinful and contrary to the way of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace).

Obscure and far-fetched possibilities would fall into this category.


As for doubt, then it has some details to it.

Firstly, a person must in fact be sure of being in doubt, namely (a) there being two equally possible choices (b) where the individual does not lean towards any of the two, and (c) nor is there a way of preponderating one over the other.

Thus, if one choice is an obscure possibility and the other is more probable in the eyes of the individual, it would not be
considered doubt as deeming one as being more probable is preponderation itself. Nor is it considered doubt if one has the means to prefer one choice over another, such as through sound inquiry.

If both lack of preponderation and lack of means to preponderate are present, the person would be considered in a state of doubt. Here, there are three possible scenarios:

1. Doubt arising concerning something whose basis is impermissibility in which case the ruling of impermissibility would hold. An example of this is consuming the meat of animals, the basis of which is impermissibility until proper sacrifice is established. As such, if one comes across meat and is doubtful whether it is permissible or impermissibile to consume, it would not be permitted to consume it.

2. Doubt arising concerning something whose basis is permissibility or certainty in which the ruling of permissibility would hold. An example of this are issues relating to purity as purity is always deemed the base assumption. As such, if one comes across some water whose color has been slightly changed and is doubtful whether this change was an effect of filth or simply due to passage of time, it would be permissible to use this water for ablution assuming it is pure, which is the default assumption.

3. Doubt arising concerning something whose basis is unknown in terms of impermissibility ot permissibility in which case the ruling of permissibility would hold with dislikedness. An example is taking wealth from someone the majority of whose wealth was gained unlawfully without being sure whether the wealth one took from this individual was from the unlawful or the lawful portion. Here, it would be permissible to deal with such a person but there would be dislikedness in doing so. As such, it should be avoided.

[Ibn Humam, Fath al-Qadir]

From the above, it is clear that in certain cases doubt may effect a ruling while in other cases it may not. The important thing to note as mentioned previously is differentiating between genuine doubt and misgivings as the latter is of no consideration whatsoever.


Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

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

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:

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,

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Key Principles Relating to Certainty, Doubt, and Baseless Misgivings (waswasa)

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: I was wondering about doubts while fasting. I rinsed my mouth for ablution (wudu) but thereafter had doubts whether I had swallowed water or not. I understand that for matters of purification (tahara), doubts are ignored, is this the case with worship (ibadat).

Answer: Walaikum assalam,

When in such a situation, find out what is the right thing to do, and simply do it.

Do not think about the problem or worry about it. Rather, think and thank: think about the blessings of Allah for you, and thank Him for them with your tongue and heart. This is a means of making Shaytan leave you, and despair of making you despair.

Exercise Caution

It is important to calmly find out:

a. what all the relevant related rulings are;

b. ask as many specific questions as you have to (don t make assumptions!);

c. then figure out what you were doing wrong, if anything, and what the consequences are.

Don’t Have Baseless Misgivings

It is essential that one not have baseless misgivings (waswasa). This usually occurs from unawareness of the sunna, as operationalized by the fuqaha, or by lack of intelligence (in one’s behavior).

As such, we should take the proper means, as described above, and not go beyond them.

Our legal responsibility (taklif) is within the limits of reason: Allah Most High has informed us, “Allah does not burden souls with more than they can manage.”

Principles Related to Certainty & Doubt

Once you have taken the reasonable means, the default assumption is that you are now free error. Then, we return to the important fiqh principle:

“Certainty is not lifted by a doubt.”

[Ibn Nujaym, al-Ashbah wa’l Nadha’ir; Majallat al-Ahkam al-`Adiliyya]

This means that if one is certain about something, such as the validity of our worship, with this being the basic assumption for all human actions, then we will keep assuming it valid until certain that it was not. Mere possibilities and even likelihoods do not change this.

The important fiqh principles related to this matter include:

1.    Certainty is not lifted by doubt;

2.    Certainty is only lifted by another certainty;

3.    The default assumption about a matter is akin to certainty;

4.    The default assumption about all matters is validity and soundness;

5.    Mere doubts and suppositions are of no legal consequence.

Ibn Abidin points out that following one s misgivings (waswasa), whether about the validity of one s works or about  how hard  we imagine the legal prescriptions of the Shariah to be,  is highly blameworthy in the Shariah: it is from the Shaytan, and Allah Most High has commanded us to refuse his enticing.

As such, until you are certain that any of your prayer was invalid, you do not have any prayers to make up. One should, however, take the steps described above in  exercising caution.

This deen is mercy. The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) is mercy. It is a means of mercy, success, and felicity. When one does not find this, one must be doing something wrong.

“Ask the people of remembrance when you know not”,  Allah tells us in the Qur’an.

This is an important final point: when in doubt, one should not make up legal rulings. Rather, one should seek reliable knowledge, either from a reliable book one is able to understand or from persons of sound traditional learning.

May Allah grant us success in doing that which He loves.


Faraz Rabban

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.

Abdullah Anik Misra

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Having Doubts About Allah

Answered by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam

Question : Having doubts about Allah.

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful
Answer : Having doubts in Allah Almighty is natural and one should avoid being too concerned about them. In fact, doubts and evil thoughts are a sign of one’s faith.

Sayyiduna Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that once a group of people came to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) and asked: “We experience such evil thoughts that it is impossible to bring them on our lips.” The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Do you really experience these thoughts? Yes, they replied. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “They are clear signs of faith.” (Sahih Muslim)

Sayyiduna Abd Allah ibn Abbas (Allah have mercy on him) narrates that a Companion came to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him give him peace) and asked: “Sometimes I experience such thoughts that I would rather be reduced to charcoal than get them on my lips” (meaning that to speak of these thoughts was worse than burning in fire, m). The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “All praise is to Allah who restricted the devil’s designs to mere evil promptings.” (Sunan Abu Dawud)

The above two narrations cleary show that it is not unusual to have these evil thoughts neither is one more sinful or evil due to them. Even some Companions of the blessed Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) received these thoughts, as we have seen in the above narrations.

Therefore, one should not be worried on their account or feel sad and deterred, for these thoughts are signs of faith.

Some scholars have explained this by saying that a robber or thief only strikes at a place where he knows that there is wealth or money. He would not break into a place where there is no wealth. Similarly, when the devil (shaytan) whispers and puts these evil thoughts into anyone’s heart, then this shows that this person has the wealth of faith (iman) in his heart. If there was no wealth in that heart, Shaytan would have never entered it, thus one should not worry about these evil thoughts.

No sin on mere thoughts
It should also be remembered that one is not accountable for the evil thoughts that occur in the mind and heart as long as they remain thoughts.

Sayyiduna Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Verily Allah forgives my Ummah for the evil thoughts that occur in their hearts until they don’t say it verbally or act upon it.” (Sahih al-Bukhari & Sahih Muslim).

Therefore, one does not come out of the fold of Islam due to experiencing these evil thoughts, neither is there any sin., as long as one remains a believer with his heart, mouth and action.

What to do?

When experiencing evil thoughts one should do the following:

1) Do not be worried about them, rather one should be happy, for the occurring of evil thoughts is a sign of faith. A saint said: “Shaytan can not tolerate a believer being happy, thus when he sees him being happy for receiving these thoughts, he stops from whispering them.”

2) When these thoughts come, one should occupy one’s self with something else. These thoughts will not disappear by simply desiring them to go, rather, one should get busy in some work or task.

3) One should seek Allah’s protection and refuge from the devil. Sayyiduna Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him &; give him peace) said: “The devil (shaytan) comes to one of you and says: “Who created this? Who created that? Until he says: “Who created your Lord?” When one experiences this, one should seek Allah’s refuge and stop the matter there”. (Sahih al-Bukhari & Sahih Muslim).

4) Recitation of the following verse from Surah al-mu’minun may be beneficial:

“Rabbi inni a’uzu bika min hamazat ashayatin wa a’uzu bika rabbi an yahdurun”

Trans: O my Lord! I seek your protection from the instigations of devils and I also seek your protection from that they (ever) come to me.

Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa
Leicester , UK