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I Don’t Feel Love for Allah, but Fear

Questioner

S

Reply Date

Feb 19, 2018

Question

Asalaam wa alaikum. I am a troubled individual with a lot of unanswered questions. I have suffered mental health issues in the past and continue to do so, although I am doing better at present. What is troubling me is over the years I have observed my mindset and behavior and I have come to the conclusion that I only do things out of fear of Allah (swt) i.e. fear of punishment in this life and the next and not out of love of Allah. Why is this? I have tried countless times to get closer to Allah by various means and continue to do so, but there are days where I feel nothing, emptiness. I have faced many health-related issues in recent years which have built up over the course and as a result have suffered depression, anxiety attacks and more recently OCD (not behavioral type, more intrusive thoughts). The trials and tribulations I have faced have left me feeling let down by Allah. The reason I say this is because I look around me and see others who have to lead a lifestyle of grave sin and yet have everything in life. Now I know what you’re going to say. Just because they have it good in this life doesn't mean that is not a test in itself. I feel I am being punished severely for things I have done in the past despite asking for forgiveness. My point is despite trying to lead a lifestyle pleasing to Allah, I feel extremely let down. I suffer on a daily basis, both physically and mentally. I have no peace inside me, even though I do the necessary praying, charity, fasting etc. I have tried attending local mosques to engage in activities but for one reason or another, I haven’t come across anyone accommodating. What am I missing here? Is it my anxiety that leads me to do things only out of fear of Allah? What can you advise to change my thinking to attain love of Allah so I may find some peace and happiness? Jazakullah Khair.

Counselor

Answer


I Don’t Feel Love for Allah, but Fear

In this counseling answer:

“I would suggest dear brother that you seek counseling in your area on a regular basis. Begin to heal from your depression, anxiety, and OCD. Once you begin therapy, in sha’ Allah, you will feel peace, and things will be brought into the proper perspective in your mind. You will in sha’ Allah begin to see the world in a new and wonderful way, and in sha’ Allah, feel Allah’s mercy and love for you.”


AsSalamu ‘Alaykum brother,

Thank you for writing to us with your question. I can imagine how frustrated you must feel, seeking a certain connection, yet it keeps escaping you. If you are doing the Islamically required things brother, such as offering your daily prayers, reading Qur’an, making du’aa’, doing acts of charity, then your actions are not in vain. Allah sees your struggles, knows of your pain and emptiness as well as your intentions. Your intention is to get close to Him, to perform your obligations out of love rather than just fear, right?

While we should both love and fear Allah, we must also keep in mind His great mercy and forgiveness. Allah tells us in a hadith qudsi that He will come running to those who begin moving toward Him. Thus, we have to first turn to Allah and recognize our absolute reliance on Him. It may seem like a subtle movement of our hearts, but it opens the door for the journey ahead.

Allah comes running to us! I mean, how amazing is that! You may not feel that He is, but that is where faith comes in. If you believe the word of Allah is true, then you must accept that He is most merciful, most forgiving, and is indeed blessing you. If you did things in the past for which you sought repentance for, Allah says He forgives us if we truly repent. So, if Allah says He is most forgiving, is it Allah who is not forgiving you and punishing you, or is it, in fact, you who is not forgiving yourself and, indeed, punishing yourself with these thoughts? If you do not love nor forgive yourself, how can you expect to feel the love of Allah?

Additionally brother, as you stated, you have had many illnesses including depression, anxiety, and OCD. Often times, when we are suffering from mental health issues, it affects our ability to connect with others, and it can affect our ability to connect with Allah if it is not treated. Untreated mental health conditions can lead to a feeling of numbness, feeling a sense of paranoia as well as feeling as though one is inadequate. It can inhibit our thinking patterns and distort reality to the point where things become either exaggerated or they become insignificant (hopelessness).

In your case, it is my feeling that your mental health issues are interfering with your ability to feel your true connection to Allah in a way that you cannot feel Allah’s love and mercy. It is there, but you cannot see or feel it. Instead, you focus on the fear factor and omit the love and mercy that is Allah.

Often when we have had tragedies in life, physical illnesses, loss of loved ones, disappointment after disappointment, we may feel Allah has left us or chooses not to bless us. However, this is a matter of perspective. I will ask you to look at the illnesses that you stated you had; you are still alive, yes? When you awaken in the morning, do you hear the birds chirping? You feel the warmth of the sun, the comfort of your bed and the taste of good food in your mouth.

Brother, many do not have the blessings of a warm bed, the ability to hear, the feeling of the warmth from the sun, nor even have food to taste. Millions of refugees, for instance, live displaced in tents. However, you can still see the smiles on their faces, the light in their eyes because their blessings are found in other things as well. The point is when we feel as if we were being punished or we were not being blessed, we need to look around us and see the blessings that we may take for granted. Often, the simplest things, such as seeing the beauty of a flower, are often overlooked. Yet, Allah (SWT) created flowers and we enjoy them in all their beauty.

The word “houbb” also means “instability”, which, in turn, means that those who love Allah are in constant instability as regards their relationship with their Lord. True believers, who really love their Lord, undergo constantly changing feelings as regards their relationship with Him; while hypocrites, whose hearts are dead and, hence, emotionless, remain stable and unchangeable.

Based on your striving to please Allah and your concern that you cannot feel love, and that you feel you are only doing your Islamic obligations out of fear lead me to think that you really do love Allah. Yet, as a true believer, your “constantly changing feelings as regards to your relationship with Him” is a sign that you seek this loving relationship, as you stated, and that you miss it.

The issue, however, is at your end, not Allah’s. Allah loves you and He is “closer to you than your juggler vein”. You may hear non-Muslims frequently spouting that the teachings of Islam are all about fear and punishment, but I must say that people that say these sorts of things, obviously haven’t read the Quran, and if they did, they are overlooking the verses that speak of His love and mercy for mankind.

In fact, in the Qur’an there are so many mentions of His love and mercy and as you know, every chapter begins with His reminder that He is the “Most Gracious” (Ar-Rahman), and “Most Merciful” (Ar-Rahim), except one. While I realize your concern is that you state you do not feel love for Allah, only fear, I ask you to contemplate the above reminder.

I would suggest dear brother that you seek counseling in your area on a regular basis. Begin to heal from your depression, anxiety, and OCD. Once you begin therapy, in sha’ Allah, you will feel peace, and things will be brought into the proper perspective in your mind. You will in sha’ Allah begin to see the world in a new and wonderful way, and in sha’ Allah, feel Allah’s mercy and love for you.

In addition, in sha Allah, you will be able to feel love for yourself, love for others, and love for Allah. Instead of focusing on fear and punishment (which may be in part paranoia), you will in sha’ Allah be able to feel the totality, balance and divine beauty in loving Allah.

Brother, having depression, anxiety and OCD is a heavy load to carry. No wonder you feel so detached. However, it can be resolved, but you need to take the necessary steps to heal. I am confident that you can. Just by you reaching out to us for advice indicates a certain level of self-love, hope, and love for Allah, even if it is hard to connect with right now. If you did not possess that love somewhere deep inside you, you would be like those whose “hearts are dead and, hence, emotionless, remain stable and unchangeable.” This is not you.

Please let us know how you are doing, you are in our prayers.

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Aisha Mohammad-Swan

Aisha Mohammad-Swan received her PhD in psychology in 2000. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York with a focus on PTSD, OCD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, and Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. She is currently studying for her certification in Islamic Chaplaincy, and takes Islamic courses at SHC. Aisha works at a Women's Daytime Drop in Center, and has her own part-time practice in which she integrates counseling and holistic health. Aisha also received an MA in Public Health/Community Development in 2009 and plans to open a community counseling/resource center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah.

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