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Am I a Hypocrite for Losing Focus in Prayer?

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: Assalam alaykum,

I think I might be a hypocrite. Whenever I do an act of worship, I find it very difficult to think about Allah, and I nearly always end up thinking of something or someone else, and it feels like I am worshipping them. Am I committing major shirk?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

I pray that this message finds you well, insha’Allah.

Being Fearful of the State of one’s Worship

Having fear that one’s worship will not be accepted is not a sign of hypocrisy or shirk. It is, rather, a sign that a person recognizes the importance of worship, and is trying to fulfil them, while also recognizing their own shortcomings.

The Qur’an describes fear over one’s state as a sign of belief, not one of hypocrisy or shirk. It describes believers as “those who are fearful of the punishment of their Lord;” [Qur’an; 70.27]; and “those who give what they have been given, while their hearts tremble at the thought that they will return to their Lord” [Qur’an; 23.60]; and, “for those who fear standing before their Lord shall be two gardens” [Qur’an; 55.46].

It is in this vein that ‘Umar b. al-Khattab (may God be pleased with him) is reported to have said, “Had I known that God had accepted one of my prostrations, or one silver coin in charity, nobody would have been more beloved to me than death.”

However, the proper way to deal with this fear is not to be paralyzed by it, but to take the steps towards beneficial action.

Difficulties in Focusing in Prayer

Building focus and concentration in prayer here is the desired goal, as prayer is truly beneficial when one’s heart and body work in concert, not when one is distracted by outside concerns. The Qur’an says, “Successful are believers; those who are attentive in their prayers” (Qur’an; 23.1-2).

However, while one should work on building this presence of mind, one should recognize that being distracted is a good sign that the devil is attempting to come between you and your Lord.
The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of God be upon him) said that “when the iqama is done, the devil approaches, to the point that he comes between a person and his soul, saying, ‘Remember this and remember that,’ about things that he hadn’t thought about prior, until a person can no longer remember how much he has prayed” [Bukhari, Muslim].

Imam al-Shaʿrawi, in his exegesis, explains the verse, “Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and be on guard…” [Qur’an; 5.92] by saying that we are instructed here to be on guard because the devil cannot stand one obeying, and thus seeks to confuse a person or otherwise compromise their worship while they are doing so.

In this regard, al-Shaʿrawi relates a story that has been told about Imam Abu Hanifa (may God be pleased with him), who was approached by a man who had buried some money and could no longer find it. He instructed him to spend the night in prayer, and then come back and report to him. The man later came and told the Imam that while he was standing in prayer, he suddenly envisioned the precise location of his money. The Imam replied, ‘By God, I knew that the devil would not allow you to complete the night with your Lord.’

Achieving Presence of Mind in Prayer

Imam al-Ghazali, in his Ihya ʿUlum al-Din, puts forward various pieces of advice related to building concentration in prayer. He lists among them:

-Proper preparation for prayer, including thinking about the afterlife and standing before your Lord

-Pondering over the words and meanings that are recited during prayer

-Removing from one’s immediate surroundings anything that can distract during prayer

-Removing from one’s life things that distract during prayer

-Removing from one’s heart love of this world, that is a root cause for much distraction

-Immediately dragging one’s mind back to prayer when you catch it wandering

For further practical advice on how to achieve presence of heart in prayer, please see the following comments from a number of leading scholars: Presence of Heart in Prayer: A Reader

Please see also: How to Strengthen Faith in Allah and Return to Him? A Reader

Shuaib Ally

Is It Impermissible (Haram) to Worry About What Others Think?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Is it haram to worry about what others think of you? I really struggle when trying not to worry about what others will think. I took off my hijab before because I thought that I was not being sincere, because of my fear of what others think.

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. Dear sister, Allah tests those whom He loves. May He lift your worries from your heart, and replace it with tranquility. Please do not be ashamed – you ask a very important question.

What others think

It is part of human nature to be concerned what others think of you. However, it would be problematic if you cared too little, or too much. As always, the key lies in balance. If you are excessively preoccupied with these thoughts, then you could be affected by waswasa, and/or anxiety, and as a result, prone towards despair.

There is wisdom in being concerned about what others think. If fearing what others think prevents you from sin and encourages you to good, then this is still positive. We are social creatures, and Allah commands and rewards the keeping of ties. However, it would be ideal if every single act you did was purely for Allah’s sake, but think of it as a process.

On the flipside, it would be sinful to commit haram acts out of fear of what others think (e.g. participating in gossip because everyone else is too, removing hijab out fear or what others will think etc).

Sincerity

“Place your reliance in the Living God, the Undying” [Qur’an, 25:58]

“Whoever places his reliance on Allah then He is his sufficiency” [Qur’an, 65:3]

Ibn Ata’illah (may Allah be well-pleased with him) said, “One of the signs of relying on one’s deeds is loss of hope when a misstep occurs” [Hikam].

Attaining sincerity with Allah is a journey. Unless Allah wills, attaining absolute sincerity for Allah’s sake alone is a process, and not an overnight event. Be gentle on yourself and accept that you are in a work in progress. Ask Allah to help you purify your intention so that His Pleasure alone is what you seek. Don’t stop acts of worship because you are worried what others will think, or because you fear you are not being sincere. This is a trap Shaytan lays out for believers. He tricks us into despair, so we give up from the very outset. Despair is not the way of the believers, because we place our hope in Allah Most High, and not in the limitations of our own selves. Again, this takes practice, and constant dua.

Solutions

1) Please perform the Prayer of Need and ask Allah to grant you relief and clarity.

2) Wake up in the blessed time before Fajr and ask Allah for ease. Use this solitude to reflect on what you have done well, and what you have done poorly. Make shukr for what you did well, and ask Allah to forgive you for your mistakes. Treat each day as a new beginning.

3) Before you perform an act of worship, make clear intention for Allah, and ask Him to accept your good deed. Ignore any other negative thoughts that come to your mind. This will get easier with practice. Focus more on Allah, and less on your own worries. Anything is possible through Allah.

4) Enrol in Essentials of Spirituality: Ghazali’s Beginning of Guidance to help you organise your day and your time, helping you dispel waswasa, inshaAllah.

5) Make regular istighfar every morning and evening.

6) When you start to feel the beginnings of doubt or despair, immediately seek refuge in Allah from Shaytan. Reassure yourself with the knowledge that Allah knows your innermost hopes and fears.

7) Please see a therapist, counsellor or psychologist to help you manage the worries that are consuming your mind.

8) While you are looking for a therapist, visit www.hypnosisdownload.com and consider downloading a few relevant tracks to help you manage your fears.

9) Exercise daily, get enough sunshine, eat nourishing food, and get enough sleep.

10) Keep the company of righteous and kind Muslims who will encourage you to good, and who help you have a good opinion of Allah.

Please refer to these links:

A Reader On Waswasa

A Reader on Sincerity, Intention, and the Purpose of Spiritual Routines

Should I Remove the Hijab Because I Am a Bad Example for Others?
What Are Some Prophetic Supplications That Can Help Me Deal With Trials in My Life?

Wassalam,
Raidah

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

To What Extent Should I Go in Checking the Nature of a Discharge After Waking Up?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam ‘aleykum,

I am a woman who barely dare to go to bed because I’m so afraid of having a wet dream.

Is there any reason for concern by seeing regular discharge after waking up but in large quantity? To what extent should I go in checking the nature of this discharge?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

Assume it is regular discharge, and don’t pay any attention to the whisperings of the devil.

Certainty isn’t lifted by doubts, nor subsequent doubts. If there is no clear sign of a sexual climax, and there was no erotic dream, you should continue as normal without taking a bath.

Please also see: Rules Regarding Ghusl and Wet Dreams for Men and Women and: A Reader on Waswasa (Baseless Misgivings)

And Allah alone gives success.
wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

What Should I Do When I Am Not Sure About the Number of Prostration I Have Performed During a Cycle of Prayer?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam ‘aleykum,

When praying fajr this morning, I couldn’t remember if I performed one or two prostrations. So after tashahud, I got up again and did another cycle of prayer (rakaat) just in case and finished my prayer despite falling into doubts again regarding the number of prostration.

Was my prayer invalidated? And what should I do next time this occurs?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that this message finds you well, insha’Allah.

The basis is acting according to your reasonable certainty. There are two answers to the question, “did you prostrate?”: yes or no. There is no other option.

Thus, in your scenario, what was required was for you to make a judgement, and if you had decided that you had only prostrated a single time, you should have prostrated again and then completed your prayer.

In general, when a prostration is missed, it does not negate the entire cycle (rak`at) because doing one prostration after the other is necessary and not obligatory.

[Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah]

And consider taking the following free class at SeekersHub: Absolute Essentials of Islam: Basic Hanafi Jurisprudence (STEP)

And Allah alone knows best.

wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

​Are Toilet Seats Considered Impure (Najis)?​

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Assalam’aleykum

Are toilet seats considered impure (najis) ? If it’s wet and my clothes are touched, are my clothes considered impure ?

Answer: ​In the Name of Allah, the Merciful and Compassionate ​

​Walaikum assalam,

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

​Toilet seats are considered ritually pure (tahir), unless you can actually see something you’re sure is filth (najasa)—such as urine or excrement.

This is because:

(1) the ​assumption of all things is purity (tahara), unless clearly established to the contrary;

(2) we have been commanded to act on the basis of this assumption—as Mercy from Allah, and facilitation in this religion which Allah Himself describes in the Qur’an as having no undue hardship nor difficulty; and

(3) we have also been commanded to ignore all doubts and misgivings—and not to investigage, nor make things difficult for ourselves.

And Allah is the giver of success and facilitation.

A Reader on Baseless Misgivings (waswasa): A Reader on Waswasa (Baseless Misgivings)

Faraz Rabbani

Does Allah Hate Me?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: I just started practising one year ago and a few months ago, Allah tested me with a big trial. To this day, I’m still trying to understand why it happened and I’m trying to move on.I did something wrong and regret it. I get thoughts of disbelief, and I’m so scared of being a disbeliever. Does Allah not like or want me anymore?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well.

Trials

“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested?” [Qur’an, 29:2]

Trials and tribulations are part of life in this dunya. Only Allah Most High knows the wisdom behind the tests He places us through. We may never know why certain things unfold in our lives, and that’s OK. Our job is to respond to trials in a way that pleases Allah. When we fall short and make mistakes, then we pick ourselves up, repent, and keep moving forward. Obsessing about past mistakes will not change the past.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “When Allah loves a servant, He tests him,” [Tirmidhi]

Failing a test from Allah can bring you closer to Allah, through the realisation that you are weak without Him. Remember that every human being alive today is tested in some way, and you are not alone in making mistakes. Turn to Allah and seek comfort in constant dhikr, dua, and waking up in the last third of the night.

Thoughts of disbelief

“Verily the religion is ease, and no one shall make the religion hard except that it will destroy him. So be balanced, do your best, and rejoice! And seek help in the morning, the early evening, and something of the night.” [Sahih Bukhari]

Having thoughts of disbelief does not make you a disbeliever. It sounds like you are experiencing baseless misgivings (waswasa). Please click here to read what you can do to combat these baseless misgivings. Remember that shaytan wants you to despair, so do not give into that. Ours is a religion of hope, love, and forgiveness. I pray that Allah soothes your sorrow, and elevates your rank in Jannah, inshaAllah.

Please refer to the following links:

How Do You Distinguish Between a Test From Allah and Punishment?
A Reader On Waswasa (Baseless Misgivings)

Wassalam,
Raidah

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Can You Advise Me on the Proper Way to Avoid Excessive Doubts After Using the Restroom?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam ‘aleykum.

I use a lot of water to clean myself after relieving myself. If not I feel I have not purified myself. I spend a lot of time checking for possible urine drops.

Doing istinja takes me about 30-40 minutes and this causes trouble to my family. Can you advise me on this?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that this message finds you well, insha’Allah.

Seek refuge from the devil, and make a short supplication before you begin.

Do not try to be cautious. Mind talk delights the devil– the one who actually seeds such misgivings.

You need to ignore your “feelings,” and leave investigation and “being convinced.” Your washings should not exceed seven. Pouring and then rubbing is considered one washing.

Most of what you mention is excessiveness and misgivings, and not what the scholars of Islam said to do.

Please also see: A Reader on Ritual Purity, Urine Leakage and Misgivings and: A Reader on Waswasa (Baseless Misgivings)

And Allah alone knows best.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

What Can I Do About Anxiety in Prayer and Waswas Regarding My Pronunciation?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam ‘aleykum.

During prayer I tend to spend a lot of time correcting my words. Sometimes I end up reading it 5/6 times. Also at the start of an obligatory prayer I get anxious and don’t think Allah will accept my prayer. What can i do to get rid of this?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray that this message finds you well, insha’Allah.

Seek refuge from the devil and make a brief supplication before you start the prayer, and then recite everything once, without repeating any words or sentences, and continue to complete your prayer.

Follow this advice, and with time, your misgivings will disappear, insha’Allah.

And consider taking the following free class at SeekersHub: Absolute Essentials of Islam: Basic Hanafi Jurisprudence (STEP)

And Allah alone knows best.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Do I Need to Renew My Wudu at the Slightest Sexual Thought?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: As salam alaykum,

Does sexual discharge for a woman occur at the slightest sexual thought?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that this message finds you well, insha’Allah.

The basis is that pre-sexual fluid (madhi) is released upon sexual excitement. Clear vaginal discharge, however, is not filthy, nor does it invalidate your ablution (wudu) because it is considered to be akin to sweating.

It is unlikely that you are experiencing the former at the mere notion of an intimate experience. Ignore misgivings, and consider taking the following free class at SeekersHub: Absolute Essentials of Islam: Basic Hanafi Jurisprudence (STEP)

See also: A Reader on Waswasa (Baseless Misgivings)

And Allah alone knows best.

wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

How Should I Go About Difficulties in Reciting the Takbir During Prayer?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: As salam alaykum,

I have trouble in the way I recite the takbir. Because many of the times it sounds like Allahwuakbar or allah hu akabar … This has lead to a lot of problem during prayer. What should I do?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray that this message finds you well, insha’Allah.

Forget about what it sounds like, and ignore merely misgivings (waswasa). Say the takbir and begin the prayer, asking Allah for facilitation beforehand.

See also: How To Overcome my Fear To Commit Mistakes of Pronunciation in Prayer? and: A Reader on Waswasa (Baseless Misgivings)

Consider taking the following free class at SeekersHub: Absolute Essentials of Islam: Basic Hanafi Jurisprudence (STEP)

And Allah alone knows best.

wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani