My problem is I am afraid of accidentally committing kufr or shirk. For example, if there is a song that has kufr and shirk and I feel if I accidentally utter those I will be a kafir. I have acknowledged that when a person commits kufr they need to renew iman and shahada so I am in constant fear that if I say anything kufr I have to renew my iman and marriage..So what I feel that taking shahada is easy but renewing marriage is not that easy as people will question why I am doing this. Sometimes I feel to take divorce from my husband so that I don't need to worry about it anymore. Though I am happily married, I always feel I have done something that invalidated my marriage and I am committing zina. I am going through a psychological problem because of this.
In this counseling answer:
- This can be a mental illness, namely, religious scrupulosity, which means an “obsessive and compulsive disorder involving religious or moral obsessions.”
- Seek therapy where you will be properly assessed and diagnosed.
- You are not accountable for your thoughts and feelings until you act upon them, either verbally or through your behavior.
Salam alaikom dear sister,
Thank you for writing to us.
As I understand, you are afraid of accidentally committing shirk and kufr, especially in your thoughts and feelings. So, you are constantly trying to renew your faith and also your marriage, to protect yourself from disbelief and zina (by continuing the marriage while you are in “disbelief”).
You are even thinking about a divorce, though you say that you are happily married.
Sister, according to what you describe in your letter, this can be a mental illness, namely, religious scrupulosity. This is a form of OCD, which means an “obsessive and compulsive disorder involving religious or moral obsessions.”
The Arabic term for this condition is “waswâs al-qahri”, “overwhelming whispers.”
It is different from the common “waswasa”-whispers that most Muslims experience to an extent. But while waswasa diminishes with religious and spiritual practices, “waswâs al-qahri” is a mental disorder and needs treatment.
Religious scrupulosity not only affects Muslims, but people of other faiths as well. It can manifest in various forms but usually in relation to the following: faith and blasphemy; specific religious rituals, like prayer; purity, for example, wudu; hell, etc.
Some examples are obsessive thoughts (constant fear of falling in disbelief) and compulsive behavior (constantly repeating prayer or wudu out of fear that it is invalid).
Sister, I cannot set up a diagnosis, but I kindly advise you to seek therapy where you will be properly assessed and diagnosed. If there is a presence of OCD or some other mental health condition, you can follow a treatment plan which would be very useful in your case.
I recommend finding a Muslim mental health professional who provides faith-based therapy.
Sister, in Islam we are not accountable for our cognitions: thoughts and feelings. Why? Because we can hardly control them. Thoughts of any nature may pop up in our minds constantly, and feelings follow them instantly.
But we are not accountable for them until we act upon these thoughts and feelings, either verbally or through our behavior.
So, dear sister, if a thought of kufr or shirk appears in your mind, you are not a disbeliever until you actually act upon this thought or say it.
This means you won’t be able to invalidate your marriage or commit zina solely through your thoughts. If you want to know more about this, please write to our section, Ask the Scholar.
With this being said, I would encourage you to seek professional help to find out whether there is a mental health condition behind.
During therapy, you can practice responding to these thoughts in a “healthier” manner, decreasing your worries and stress related to your fears of falling into disbelief.
If this is treated, you will feel better and you will be able to control your response to these thoughts by not getting overwhelmed by them.
May Allah help you with it,
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