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I Struggle with Thoughts of Disbelief and Suicide

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil is asked about despair and contemplating suicide from being a lone Muslim.

I struggle with thoughts of disbelief and suicide. I have non-Muslim family members and feel so guilty when I spend time with them during Christmas and so on. I feel ashamed about telling them I am Muslim, because of ISIS.

I have so much uncontrolled anger because I am overwhelmed by my problems. Sometimes I wish I was not brought into existence. I wish for new type of prayer because I’ve been humiliated badly in grade 7, and whenever I want to pray, my mind starts to flashback and then I start to feel shy, embarrassed and then I stop praying,

Can I meet the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and ask him to reverse time? I have so many regrets. My grandfather died a Christian and I am so sad.

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us. Please forgive me for the delay.

Suicidal Thoughts

Dear questioner, you sound like you are in a tremendous amount of pain.

Do you have a plan to end your life? If so, I urge you to please seek professional help. At a very minimum, please contact a suicide or mental health hotline in your locality. You need to speak to someone compassionate, to help you break the cycle of despair in your mind.

Thoughts of Disbelief

It may be useful for you to seek out culturally-sensitive counseling to help you manage and eventually overcome these thoughts which plague you.

Please continue a daily litany of repentance and other duas to help protect you from these thoughts: Selected Prophetic Prayers for Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Wellbeing by Chaplain Ibrahim Long.

Please refer to these links to help start your journey towards healing:

Getting Therapy for Irreligious Thoughts
Having Seriously Evil Thoughts
Types of Thought, Blasphemy, and Sin

Uncontrolled Anger

Please read this resource about the Anger Iceberg. You are lugging around so much unresolved pain, which contributes to you feeling so triggered, so often. When you start to release that pain, then will slowly feel less angry.

I encourage you to try some calming meditations, specifically, Islamic Meditations by Shaykh Muhammad Mendes.

Prayer

I am so sorry that you were so shamed for praying in public while you were in Grade 7. May Allah help you heal from this, and increase you in reward for your struggles.

There is no way for prayer to be changed, but perhaps there are ways you can find a private, secure place to pray. Could you speak to your school counsellor about what happened, and ask him/her to facilitate a safe place for you to pray?

Past Trauma

I urge you to contact Sidi Zuhair Girash of Aafiyah Healing. He is a compassionate and wise Muslim holistic healer who can help you, insha Allah. He can help you loosen the grip of your past trauma, and help you live more easily in the present moment.

It sounds like beneath your anger lies deep feelings of shame, powerlessness and sadness. There are ways to overcome this, with the right help.

Reversal of Time

Except those who repent and believe (in Islamic Monotheism), and do righteous deeds, for those, Allah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Sura al-Furqan, 25:70)

A wise high school teacher told me once that instead of a “rewind” button for life, Allah gave us something better – He gives us the gift of repentance. Please know that Allah can transform all of your bad deeds into good deeds.

No matter what happened in your past, know that Allah’s Mercy is greater than that. He loves you, even with all of your imperfections.

Non-Muslim Family Members in Hellfire

Only Allah knows where any of us end up in the Afterlife. Because you are already in a troubled mental state, I urge you not to dwell on the fate of your grandfather.

Trust in the Mercy of your Creator. It is not difficult for Allah to have created belief in your grandfather’s heart, before he passed away, for example.

Please seek comfort from this: How to Deal With a Non-Muslim Relative’s Death.

Christmas and Other Festivals

Please know that because you have non-Muslim family members, then it is very important for you to be part of their lives, and attend their festivals. Please attend the social aspects of these gatherings and avoid the religious components, as best as you can.

Please seek comfort from these answers Is Christmas Haram? Being Muslim in a Non-Muslim Family and Partaking in a Thanksgiving Dinner: Permitted or Not?

Meeting The Prophet, Peace and Blessings be upon Him

Narrated Anas, may Allah be pleased with him: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever has seen me in a dream, then no doubt, he has seen me, for Satan cannot imitate my shape.’ (Bukhari)

One interpretation of this is that one will see him in this life in one’s waking state. (Fath al-Bari)

I pray that you do see the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, in a dream. Know that his heart is connected to yours, he feels your deepest acutely, and he is making dua for you. I encourage you to be open to the winds of mercy from God, even if they do not fit your current rigid concept. Rigidity comes from fear and pain – you have endured a huge amount of suffering. Flexibility and openness comes from surrender.

I pray that Allah eases your terrible burden of pain. Please know that you will will feel better, some day soon. It will not always hurt this much. Please choose to keep alive, so that one day, you will look back at your younger self with compassion and love.

You may not believe me right now, but because you have endured so much, you will be able to offer so much comfort to other broken-hearted souls.

Please write back if you need any more help.

Please also see A Reader on the Problem of Evil, Suffering, Destiny, and Allah’s Mercy and A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah.

Raidah

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Is It Wrong to Feel Guilty About Muslim Acts of Violence? [Video]

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Assalamu alaykum

Is it wrong to feel guilty about Muslim acts of violence?

Answer:  Wa’leykum Salam,

Here is a video answer by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani to this question:

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani is a scholar and researcher of Islamic law and Executive Director of SeekersHub Global After ten years overseas, Shaykh Faraz returned to Canada in the Summer of 2007. In May 2008 he founded SeekersHub Global to deal with the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge—both online and on the ground—in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He has been repeatedly listed as one of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims (The Muslim500).

I Conducted a Sinful Event, Will Allah Ever Forgive Me? How Do I Assert Myself?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: I recently organised a sinful event for my course project. During the end of the semester, I realised that I did a grave mistake but it was too late. I had to conduct it unwillingly and I hated every bit of it. How should I repent? I feel really hopeless and guilty now. I fear people’s reactions a lot.

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah ease your distress and fill your heart with tranquility.

Repentance

“Say: My servants who have wronged yourselves, never despair of God’s mercy. God forgives all sins: He is truly the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful.” [Qur’an, 39.53]

Dear sister, only the Prophets were Divinely protected from sin. The rest of us will continue to make mistakes, sin and do things we regret. Knowing this, it’s important for you to focus on moving forward, instead of dwelling on what you cannot change. The conditions for a valid repentance are as follows:

1. Leaving the sin;
2. Remorse over having committed the sin;
3. Resolve never to return to the sin;
4. (If it relates to the rights of another person, then to) Return the rights or property one wrongly took. [al-Bariqa fi Sharh al-Tariqa; Riyad al-Salihin, excerpt from How Do You Know If Your Repentance Is Sincere?]

There is a place for feelings of guilt and remorse, but if you let it get out of hand, you can end up getting very depressed. Allah forbids despair for His servants. Try your best to focus on Allah’s Mercy instead of giving your sin so much power over you.

Assertiveness

Each of us have different temperaments. Some people are very bold and can dominate the room very easily. Others are mild-mannered and struggle with asserting themselves. Allah knows each of us better than we know ourselves. Rather than beat yourself up over being unable to assert yourself in your Islam, do something about it. Enrol in public speaking classes. Learn how to be assertive from a counsellor or psychologist.

Seeking knowledge

It sounds like you could benefit from active seeking of sacred knowledge. When you know more about Islam, you will naturally feel more confident. More importantly, you will be connected to teachers whom you can ask advice from. Please look at the list of SeekersHub global courses and start by completing one.

Patience

Give yourself time. Be patient with yourself. Learning and practising Islam is a process, and a journey which will span your entire life. Don’t expect to transform into a confident defender of the deen overnight. Set realistic goals, and learn from your mistakes.

Please refer to the following links:
A Reader on Tawba (Repentance)
What Are Some Prophetic Supplications That Can Help Me Deal With Trials in My Life?

Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Should I Marry a Fornicator With No Remorse out of Guilt?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: I have committed zina (fornication) with a muslim girl who has had relations with several men previously.
She did this aiming to get married so she doesn’t regret it. If I marry her I may be able to make her better muslim. I feel guilty. It is a good reason to marry her?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah grant you clarity and guide you to what is most pleasing to Him.

Zina

“And go not near to fornication; surely it is an indecency and an evil way.” [Qur’an, 17:32]

Sexual intercourse outside of marriage is fornication (zina). It does not matter if the man and the woman intended to get married.

Marriage

Please do not marry this woman out of guilt. You cannot ‘make’ her a better Muslim. That is up to her. I pray that Allah guides her to khayr, and helps her see the error of her ways.

I strongly recommend that you complete this course – Islamic Marriage: Guidance for Successful Marriage and Married Life before considering marriage to anyone. I pray that Allah blesses you with a wife of religion and good character.

Please refer to the following links:

Is it Prohibited to Marry Someone Guilty of Adultery/Fornication?

Wassalam,
Raidah

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Overwhelmed by Guilt? – Mental Health 4 Muslims

Overwhelmed by Guilt? – Mental Health 4 Muslims

“How blunt are all the arrows of thy quiver in comparison with those of guilt”. -Robert Blair

Guilt is one of the most powerful of human emotions. It can motivate one to seek redemption or it can leave one feeling hopeless; it can set one on a path of true renewal and change or on a dangerous and dark path of depression and moral decline.

Feelings of guilt can surface for a number of different reasons. One may feel guilt after disappointing or hurting a loved one. A teenager who disobeys his/her parent or a spouse who betrays their partner may struggle with serious feelings of guilt both during and after their indiscretions. Guilt can also emerge from having negative feelings or thoughts about others, which are undeserved, such as being jealous of someone else’s success.  Perhaps the most demoralizing form is extreme guilt that can afflict someone after committing a sin or a serious moral offense.  The one suffering from this type of guilt is not just feeling deep regret for his/her wrongs but they are in fact overwhelmed with despair, hopelessness, and self-loathing.

There is a clear difference between guilt that leads to remorse which inspires one to sincerely seek God’s forgiveness and a much more destructive and sinister feeling that perpetuates guilt so strong that it distances one from God.  Some people hold on to the hope that God will accept their despair as penance so they allow thoughts of extreme guilt to consume them. Others are perpetuated by the misguided belief that their actions are beyond redemption; easily becoming depressed and withdrawn, they drown in a sea of their own guilt. In both cases they are literally unable to disconnect or move beyond the past because they see every subsequent negative event in their life whether it is a loss, disappointment or tragic event as a direct consequence of their past deeds. They are unable to forgive themselves and so they convince themselves that God is punishing them.

Muslims believe that such grim and ominous thoughts are inspired by mankind’s greatest enemy, Satan. He will stop at nothing to demoralize, diminish, and spiritually destroy us. Through despair he pushes us to the brink emotionally and psychologically in order to lead us to moral and spiritual apathy or the sense that we’ve crossed the point of no return and have no way for redemption. Once we’re convinced of this then our actions will follow suit, our heedlessness will increase and we will ultimately perish.

So how can one distinguish healthy feelings of guilt & remorse from these destructive feelings of despair and hopelessness? You must first know the answer to the following questions:

1)   Identify the cause of your guilt. What is the offense you think you’ve made?

2)   Whom have you offended?

3)   Is there a way to redress it?

The first point is very important because oftentimes we aren’t very clear on what God actually deems blameworthy. As Muslims, we are very fortunate in that we have a faith that covers in great detail both personal and social etiquette as well as legal rights and responsibilities. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is our role model and his standard of conduct in every area of life is how we should measure our own behavior. If our actions/deeds are offensive by his standard then they are certainly offensive to God.

In the second point you must determine the degree of the offense. In other words, is it something that you will actually be taken into account for or is that just what you’ve been led to believe? Is the action truly offensive to God? We have to keep in mind that many of our cultures impose certain things on us that have nothing to do with Islam. This can obviously cause serious confusion for the average Muslim, most of whom haven’t formally studied the religion. For example, there are some cultures who look down upon a woman who remarries after a divorce; they erroneously believe that she is somehow dishonoring herself and her family. This clearly has nothing to do with Islam but nevertheless some women who come out of divorce feel conflicted about remarrying and even believe that it’s shameful to talk about it.  The fact that many of the female Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) were divorced and remarried during his lifetime is enough of a proof to contradict this ridiculous claim.

And finally, the third point focuses on the possibility of redemption by redressing the wrong itself. One of the many treasures of Islam is that it gives nearly everyone and anyone [who sincerely seeks it] hope for redemption. This point couldn’t be more perfectly articulated than in the following hadith:

Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (May God be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There was a man from among a nation before you who killed ninety-nine people and then made an inquiry about the most learned person on the earth. He was directed to a monk. He came to him and told him that he had killed ninety-nine people and asked him if there was any chance for his repentance to be accepted. The monk replied in the negative and so the man killed him also completing one hundred. He then asked about the most learned man in the earth. He was directed to a scholar. He told him that he had killed one hundred people and asked him if there was any chance for his repentance to be accepted. The scholar replied in the affirmative and asked, `Who stands between you and repentance? Go to such and such land; there (you will find) people devoted to prayer and worship of God, join them in worship, and do not come back to your land because it is an evil place.’ So he went away and hardly had he covered half the distance when death overtook him; and there was a dispute between the angels of mercy and the angels of torment. The angels of mercy pleaded, ‘This man has come with a repenting heart to God,’ and the angels of punishment argued, ‘He never did a virtuous deed in his life.’ Then there appeared another angel in the form of a human being and the contending angels agreed to make him arbiter between them. He said, `Measure the distance between the two lands. He will be considered belonging to the land to which he is nearer.’ They measured and found him closer to the land from where he left.  So God commanded (the land which he wanted to leave) to move away and commanded the other land (his destination) to draw nearer and then He said: ‘Now measure the distance between them.’ It was found that he was nearer to his goal by a hand’s span and was thus forgiven”. It is also narrated that he drew closer by a slight movement of his chest. (al-Bukhari & al-Muslim)

There are many lessons we can derive from this hadith but undeniably it teaches us that God’s mercy has no bounds and no one can limit Him in anything. His judgment is His alone so to assume that He will not forgive something is not only incorrect but it’s also blasphemous.  Simply put, we do not have the right to make any assumptions about God or His judgment.

So no matter how guilty we may feel about something we should be certain that God’s forgiveness is available to us so long as we sincerely repent.  And repentance is more than just wallowing in guilt or articulating sorrow and regret on your tongue; the process of sincere repentance necessitates action and includes:

1)   Recognizing the offense itself and its admission before God

2)   Promising to never return to it again

3)   Repenting sincerely to God for your transgression

As long as one commits to all 3 points then their repentance is sincere and they should resist any negative thoughts that make them feel unworthy of God’s mercy and/or dissuade them from drawing nearer to Him. About this the Prophet (peace be upon him) related that God 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 as its.” (al-Bukhari)

There are many other similarly beautiful hadiths where God, the Exalted, illustrates His immeasurable mercy and compassion.  The onus is ours to learn about His attributes and come to a better understanding of our own creation. We must remember that He created us with the ability to choose between right and wrong and, when we err, to experience guilt, so that we seek His forgiveness not so that we fall into despair, drowning in our misery. This is the abode of Satan, the one who is truly without hope.

For those who repent sincerely, guilt is a powerful means to direct our hearts back to God, to find the hope to persevere and to experience the ultimate gift of Divine grace.