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Social Anxiety Inhibits my Faith

10 December, 2016
Q Salam dear consultant. I have been Muslim for almost 5 years now, so I don't know if I still count as a "new" Muslim or not. I guess it's all relative. In any event, I still feel like a new Muslim. No, it's worse than that: I feel like I haven't made any progress, and actually I've regressed. I don't do all my prayers on time, and I've missed far too many. I've done many bad things since becoming Muslim that I just can't forgive myself for, even though I try hard not to despair of Allah's mercy. In the past, I have made so many of the same mistakes over and over again. I am at the point where I think I'm past that, but honestly I'm afraid I'm not. I want to repent, but how can I trust that I'm sincere in my repentance when I've tried to change but failed so many times before? I’ve met other women who have converted to Islam, and to be quite honest, I'm jealous of them. They make it seem so easy. If they're struggling, they don't show it. They put on hijab right away and don't have any problems, whereas I am still not even convinced it's the right thing to do. I think about it sometimes, but I'm afraid if I wear hijab it will be just because I want to convince myself I'm a better Muslim than I am and not because I believe in it. I feel like a hypocrite. I think some of my problem comes from the fact that I've found it so hard to try to integrate myself into the Muslim community. I live in a big metropolitan area, and there's no shortage of other Muslims around. But I feel so out of place and… inadequate. Not to mention that I suffer from what has been in the past crippling social anxiety (at one point several years ago I remember I went days without eating because I was literally too afraid to leave my home), though alhamdulillah I have done a lot of work on that and it's a lot better now. You might find it hard to believe after all that, but my faith in Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala and the Qur'an and everything is strong, and it doesn't waver. When I am praying and I say the shahada, I feel so strong in my faith. But there is just such a gap between my faith, which I think is strong, and my expression of it, which is severely lacking. I want to change, I am desperate to change, I don't want to be like this. I just feel lonely. Thanks in advance for any advice you may give.


Asalamu Alaikum Hafiza,

Thank you for trusting About Islam with your problem.

While reading the first few sentences of your message, I started wondering if you suffer from anxiety. So, thank you for including that info, which means you’re aware of the problem and working on addressing it.

I think this is a major factor in your feelings of isolation and inadequacy, please focus on working with a professional therapist. You need to manage your anxiey, as it is preventing you from enjoying the warmth and support that comes from rich social interactions.

Being Muslim is actually part of the solution: If you believe in God, then you already know that it’s He who sends us tests and trials. Consequently, it’s God who has the power to support us and allow us to emerge stronger.

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It’s also God who has the compassion to relieve us of the test anytime He see fit for our path in life. So, start establishing an ongoing, open channel of communication with God. If you feel lonely, then reach out to Allah to be your companion and your protector. Talk to Him from your heart, with the strong faith that is so alive when you pray.

It would help you greatly to work with a counselor, someone who would help you get over your inhibitions (or manage them better) and unleash your maximum potential, one small step at a time. If you cannot afford counseling, then at least try watching videos and reading books on self-coaching and start applying the simple techniques.

When you learn how to managae your social anxiety, you will be able to connect with other Muslims who could support you and help you improve as a Muslim. Friendship is an integral part of practicing Islam, as love and support are fuels for the demanding but gratifying journey of self-discovery and sincere worship.

I hope this helps answer your question. Please keep in touch. 

Walaikum Asalam.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Taking My First Steps in Islam, Where to Go?

Why One’s Faith Decreases?

Adjusting to an Islamic Lifestyle as a New Muslim – 1

Adjusting to Islamic Lifestyle as a New Muslim – 2

Tips For New Muslims For Growing in Faith