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Waswasa, Apostasy and Pure Faith

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

 

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

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

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

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

Please help.

 

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

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

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

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

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

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

And Allah Most High knows best.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

 

Doubts on My Islam

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

 

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

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

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

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

Answers:

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

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

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

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

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

Salman

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

 


Heavily Afflicted by Waswasa

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat is asked about compulsively saying “I’m sorry” and asking forgiveness.

I became heavily afflicted with waswasa when I was unemployed mainly around najasah, but alhamduliLlah I recovered from that after starting work.

But recently have developed waswasa about actions or words of kufr. Also I’m obsessed with an intense fear of being “rude” and I keep obsessively saying sorry and it’s upsetting my parents.

I used to say bismillah before everything I do but a shaykh said it’s kufr to say bismillah before watching tv, as it contains haram things – and he said saying bismillah before eating something that’s not halal is kufr.

Is this true? Pretty much any media consumption involves some haram things like women without hijab or some music with haram things in it etc. So can we not say bismiLlah before watching tv or using internet, what about saying bismiLlah before leaving the house as you might see a uncovered woman, etc?

I am, insha Allah about to do nikah but in her culture we can’t consummate until walima a few months later. I am constantly worried and thinking about how any thing of kufr can nullify the nikah before consummation a‘udhubiLlah may Allah protect me. I found an opinion saying if we go into khalwa it can count as consummation.

Shaykh, is there an opinion that says any acts of kufr don’t affect the marriage from any madhab so I can take rukhsa?

Sometimes Muslim friends of mine make a joke on some topic that may actually be interpreted as kufr.

I’ve read your guide on how kufr needs to be intentional and you can’t accidentally do it, but I want a personal answer because it tears apart my mind and depresses me. Sometimes and my brain or shaytan finds a way of confusing me.

I also have this obsession that is driving my parents crazy. I have this intense fear that if I’m slightly rude or have an argument–disagree with someone and they get annoyed with me, it means I’ve argued and my dua won’t be answered and I’ll be punished. So then I have to beg forgiveness. Almost every single conversation I have with my parents ends with me saying “I’m sorry for being rude, I’m sorry.”

Someone in the masjid turned on the fan and someone else thought it was me and looked angry at me and I looked back at him and said “It’s a bit warm,” so he got angry with me. I felt like I had had an argument and needed to resolve it and apologize and say sorry.

And I’ll never criticize someone in case I’m being rude. This is driving me crazy and upsetting me. Is there actually any hadith or fiqh about arguing or being rude causing one’s dua to not be answered or severe punishment? The main problem is that my older brother is sometimes very harsh and rude with me even if I’m not saying anything, but even then I will try to say “sorry for being rude” because I’m scared it means I’ll be punished and my dua won’t be accepted.

I can’t leave any single interaction with a human without saying “sorry for being rude.” And it makes me seem very weak and if they know me for a while they will think I’m a bit weird. Like I will tell a joke, then think what I said might be offensive and start saying “Sorry.”

May Allah forgive me for anything haram I’ve said.

Kind regards

OCD

I pray you are well.

It’s clear that you have OCD, and it’s manifesting itself in religious matters. Worrying about falling into disbelief or offending people is a symptom of your OCD. The urges they cause can be very strong, and we know that there are some uncontrollable matters which a person is not taken to task for.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Indeed Allah has overlooked mistakes, forgetfulness, and being forced [to do something] for my umma.” (Ibn Majah). Although the compulsion referred to in the hadith is the type which comes from another party, we can infer that Allah’s mercy would also extend to some behavioral compulsions too.

Based on this, jurists have said that the divorce of someone like this would not apply if he was compelled to say the word over and over (Haskafi, al Durr al Mukhtar).

Relax and Seek a Remedy

Therefore, you should not worry or be consumed by guilt. You have a condition, and Allah has provided us means to getting it fixed. Get some professional help. The therapies EFT, PSTEC, and EMDR work well with this issue. Please bear in mind that it may take time for the issues to go, and that is a test by which you will draw closer to Allah if you show the appropriate response.

Please refer to this answer too.

Ask Allah for help, and seek a solution.

May Allah remove your difficulties very soon.

Abdul-Rahim

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Severe Doubts in Washroom

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat is asked about severe doubts on purity in the washroom.

For the past seven months I have been going through so much doubts and uncertainty in my life. I feel like searching for answers online has made it worst. Please give me direct answers to the following, and advise dua to remove uncertainty and whispers of shaytan. I feel like Allah is mad at me, I don’t know why this is happening to me, and I am so depressed. Even when I get the right advice on these matters I keep thinking in more detail and then questioning if even the littlest thing is impure or is transferring impurity. I’m so overwhelmed, I keep crying, and have so much anxiety. Sometimes I ignore it and go about how I normally did all this, but then start feeling anxious that Allah will get mad at me.

  1. Water splashes on the body during istinja – on any part of the body including hair, face, neck etc. – is it pure or impure?
  2. Water splashes on items or clothes during istinja. Is that pure or impure?
  3. Is the hand that is used to wash during istinja considered clean? I feel like any water that falls from my hands and fingers as I get up to go the sink is impure, and get scared I’ll make things dirty or my body dirty.
  4. Is your hand considered impure from touching the water jug used for istinja? Are any parts of the body considered impure if it comes in contact with the water jug?
  5. Do I have to dig into each nail when washing my hands after doing istinja? I know for peeing you just pour water. But istinja for defecation, when you use your left hand, do you have to dig into each nail when washing with soap?
  6. Do I have to wash the handle or tap of the sink every time I wash my hands? After washing my hands, I close the tap then feel I should wash the tap and then my hands again because tap is dirty now or impure.
  7. Is the water on the sink and countertop in the washroom impure? I always feel while I am wiping the counter and water splashes on my feet I need to wash my feet. Or if I place items on the counter they are dirty now and I should wash them before using, and then wash my hands after touching them.
  8. Is the rag or mop used to wipe and dry the floor dirty. While I wipe the floor and water on the floor if a bit of the rag or mop comes into contact with skin or feet I feel like I should wash that area of skin or my feet.

These are uncertainties I have been facing regarding purity and impurity within the bathroom. I have more questions but those are unrelated. Anyways, I feel like I will never get ease. Please help me. Thank you. May Allah reward you all.

I pray you are well.

The answer to all the scenarios above is: pure; and you don’t have to dig into the nails when washing your hand after istinja.

It seems you have contacted us before with a similar list of questions. Please try to calm down. Your anxiety should not let you think that Allah hates you. You are in a test – that is all.

Having a Good Opinion of Allah

The Messenger of Allah told us that “Whoever Allah wants good for He continually tests him.” Have a good opinion of Allah, and ask for a way out of your predicament. The moments when you are feel overwhelmed are the best moments to ask, because Allah swiftly responds to those who ask in desperation.

Anytime you think that Allah hates you – tell yourself that this statement is a lie. He made you a believer and that “Allah is the ally of the believers” (Sura al-Baqara 2:256). The fact that you have belief is enough to prove He loves you. Ask Him for help, seek support from friends and family, and learn about the virtues of patience and trust in Allah. They will bring you much-needed light in the darkest hours.

I don’t advise you to go searching online for answers, nor is it advisable for you to look up detailed issues without a scholar, as it will only worsen your issues. Find a reliable local scholar and ask him to explain purity to you in a simple manner, and do just that.

Seek Professional Help

You have OCD. Although it seems unbearable, this issue can be fixed. It may take some time, but you will be rewarded for the difficulty you endure. Please find a professional practitioner of effective therapies such as EFT, EMDR, or PSTEC, and get some help. If you have to spend some money doing so, then consider it as charity upon oneself.

Please refer to this answer for more clarity.

May Allah give you a way out very soon.

Abdul-Rahim

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Plagued by Thoughts of Faith in Allah

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil advises on how to deal with troubling and recurring thoughts.

I am troubled with waswasa concerning the rightness of my belief in Allah, and nothing helps to put me at ease. What do I do?

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Troubling thoughts

Dear questioner, it sounds like these thoughts plague you, and cause you deep distress.

I strongly advise you to consult a trustworthy local scholar about the specifics of your situation

Knowing Allah

You need a trustworthy teacher to help ground you to a framework of what is pleasing to Allah. Please don’t leave your thoughts to circulate in your head and create your own counterarguments. This leaves the door wide open to even more waswasa, which will only torment you further.

I encourage you to study both of these courses: Introduction to Islamic Logic: Abhari’s Isaghuji Explained: Mental Inference in the Islamic Sciences  and Introduction to Islamic Theology: Sanusi’s Umm al-Baraheen Explained: Why Islam is True.

Holistic healing

You need to have spiritual medicine to counter your waswasa. I encourage you to speak to Sidi Zuhair Girash of Aafiyah Healing.

I pray this has been helpful.

Please see A Reader on Waswasa (Baseless Misgivings).

Raidah

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Doubts on the Validity of Prayer

Ustadh Salman Younas dispels misgivings on performing certain acts in prayer.

I’m one who frequently questions the validity of the prayer and genuinely questions whether I have committed a mistake. This has recently been magnified by my reading of that delaying a necessary act by the length of three tasbih is itself a wajib. Now I constantly question whether or not I have left too long a gap.

I used to take long pauses to reflect on prayer and now no longer do. This has been particularly problematic because I often make mistakes and/or stutter in my prayer and thereafter repeat the line, whether it be a takbirat or a verse, but now I am unsure if this would mean I am leaving this wajib.

Specifically: When performing Isha today in my third or fourth rak‘a when saying “Rabbana laka al-hamd,” I believe that I trailed off, failing to say the end. So I repeated “Rabbana laka al-hamd.” I then immediately went into sujood but then I questioned whether this would be classed as delaying the necessary act. Do I repeat the prayer?

A second question: I led my younger brother in prayer for maghrib, but I didn’t know then that the imam does not say “Rabbana laka al-hamd,” so I said it. Must this prayer be repeated?

You are suffering from waswasa, or baseless migivings. You must ignore these baseless misgivings otherwise you will find yourself in a situation where they will likely increase and make your life even more difficult.

You should ignore the three tasbih ruling. Even though scholars deemed it as wajib, leaving a wajib does not invalidate the prayer. There is no reason for you to focus on this minor wajib act to the point of constantly questioning whether you have contravened the ruling.

Further, this ruling of delaying a necessary act applies to completely finishing one act and then moving on to another. If you are still reciting, or correcting your recitation, etc., this is not counted as a “delay.”

Here, it should be pointed out that you are also suffering from baseless misgivings when it comes to recitation. Why the constant need to correct yourself? The rulings of recitation in the Hanafi school are extremely relaxed. “Trailing off” does not require repetition of the word, nor does it invalidate your prayer. The imam saying “Rabbana laka al-hamd” is also harmless. Stuttering does not require repetition either. Neither do common errors in tajwid. You should stop repeating your recitation for such mistakes.

It is extremely difficult to invalidate the prayer in the Hanafi school. My advice to you is pray a normal prayer and stop thinking too much and hyper-analyzing your prayer.

Salman

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Excusable Filth in the Four Madhhabs

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat answers a series of questions about the excusable amount of filth according to the four madhhabs.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I have a big problem. I suffer from OCD. It’s driving me crazy. I need to know how much filth (najasa) is excusable. I know what the four Madhhabs say about excusable amounts of filth for prayer, but I don’t know which is the best and correct position.

Sometimes when urinating I feel a tiny drop on my foot or when I’m washing myself I feel used water drop on my feet but when I check my feet, I don’t see anything. The Shafi‘is say that tiny drops we cannot see are excused and they think its true.

Please tell me which madhhab’s position is true and please explain why? And please tell me if the water of istinja is impure? (Water flows while I’m washing myself.) It doesn’t seem so to me, because there is more water than urine, so the color and smell doesn’t change.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I pray you are well.

The Four Schools of Law

All of the four schools of law are correct, because they are based on sound understandings of the the greatest scholars of the Umma. These scholars had the highest levels of knowledge, understanding, and ability. They did not make rulings up; rather they interpreted the Qurʾan and the Sunna to give the the rulings of the Shariʿa.

So if they are all valid, and all their rulings are correct, which one should you choose to follow? The answer is, the easier one for you, and the one which you can easily learn and apply.

I personally feel that the Hanafi school is very easy to learn; and there is a lot of flexibility in the rulings relating to purity. I think the Shafi‘i is slightly harder in this matter. See which school you can easily learn with local scholars or with a course at SeekersGuidance, and apply it.

Purity

As for the water for istinja, you cannot tell if it is actually impure. Also the fact that it is flowing means it is pure as long as the colour, smell or taste of impurity do not show. You can assume the drops are pure. Even small drops of urine in situations like this are excused (Maydani, al-Lubab fi Sharh al-Kitab; Shurubnulali, Maraqi al-Falah).

I advise you to learn a school with a qualified scholar, and have your questions on purity answered. Also, please look at our OCD archives and get some therapy if you need it to get over the issue.

May Allah facilitate every good for you in this world and the next.

Abdul-Rahim

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Validity of My Wudu and Prayer

Ustadh Tabraze Azam is asked about the limits of the face in relation to wudu and if one has doubts about this whether one should repeat prayers.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I have recently noticed that the part to be washed in wudu includes the sideburns also and the skin between the hair on the sides of the head and the ear and also whatever is above it till just below the hairline. I haven’t been washing that part and it might have occurred to me on its importance but I don’t know why I seem to ignore that part and also I’m a frequent sufferer of waswas.

Do I now need to repeat all my prayers I have been praying with this wudu?

Would appreciate a fast response. Thanks.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

The assumption is that you washed your face soundly, unless you are reasonably certain that you didn’t get the entire area.

The face is defined as the lengthwise area between the top of the forehead and the bottom of the chin, and from earlobe to earlobe in width. If you have a beard or sideburns, you need to ensure that you are washing up to your ears. Everything in that imaginary circular shape must be washed.

Practically, all you need to do is to cup water into your hands and then pour it over your face, ensuring to pass your wetted hands over the entire area. Ignore misgivings.

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

And Allah Most High knows best.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Having Seriously Evil Thoughts

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat is asked about intrusive thoughts that are heretical. He explains their origins, what they mean, and how to counter them.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I am a fourteen year old. My problem is that it has been five months that I am having these thoughts. First it started with thoughts suddenly coming about Allah. I resisted it. Then it went to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him. I resisted that too. And now it is the Qur’an and Islam.

I don’t like having these thoughts. I hate having them. When I go to school and go away from the remembrance of Allah they, suddenly, out of nowhere, just come. But when I start to pray and remember and come closer to Allah, they are not there. It makes me very stressed. For example they are like, I seek refuge in Allah, “Is Allah really true?” “Was the Prophet really a prophet?” Or like, “Is the Qur’an Allah’s word or did the Prophet make it up?”

These are thoughts which I hate to have and it was very hard for me to even write them. But I really need help. I am sad and very depressed. They just come out of nowhere. I am just sitting there and pondering on the greatness of Allah or the nobility of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, or pondering upon the Qur’an and suddenly these thoughts just come.

Please if you could answer me soon I would appreciate it very much.

Jazak Allah khayr.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I pray you are well.

Intrusive thoughts are not sinful

The thoughts you are having are not from you, and your dislike of them is a proof of this. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Indeed Allah has overlooked for my umma the thoughts that their minds say to them as long as they do not act on them or speak about them.” (Bukhari; Muslim)

There is no need to focus on them. The more you focus on them the stronger they get. It’s like trying you best not to think of white elephants: pretty soon all you can think about is white elephants.

You should relax, accepting that what is happening is out of your hands, and that you are being rewarded for the test of having them. Please refer to this answer for more information, and consider some of the forms of therapy mentioned in it.

Childhood experiences

Something which is quite noticeable in many, but not all, cases such as yours is that they went through a very difficult situation when learning religion as children. Children are sensitive and traumatic Qurʾan learning experiences leave a long-term effect, which sometimes manifests as an aversion to religion, or brings symptoms like this.

This is simply a defense mechanism due to their subconsciously associating the din to the painful memories or individuals who traumatized them. Many of these people need therapy or some form of help just to be able to focus themselves towards religion later in life.

It is obligatory on us a community to ensure that early learning of Qurʾan and Islamic Studies is engaging, enjoyable, and enveloped in the spirit of the tenderness found in the Sunna. May Allah facilitate these matters for the Muslims worldwide. Amin.

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

Abdul-Rahim.

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Is Missing Prayers Due to Impurity Shirk?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: My friend missed a prayer because while he was urinating he had an erection, which led him to release prostatic fluid. Has my friend committed shirk?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

No, what you have described is not shirk. But the right thing to so would have been to ignore the misgivings (waswasa) and pray before the time exited. In order to compensate for the error, he needs to sincerely repent for his mistake and perform a makeup (qada’) for the missed prayer. If he does another good deed, such as a voluntary prayer (nafila) or gives some charity, this too would be good as good deeds wipe out bad ones.

Please see the following articles for future practice: Ritual Purity Urine Leakage and Misgivings and: A Reader on Waswasa Baseless Misgivings

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.