Scared of My Uncontrollable Thoughts!

20 November, 2016
Q As-salam `alaikum, I have been suffering from waswasa or uncontrollable thoughts for many years! It feels like a long time no doubt! I don't know what to do, but I need serious help. Most of the time, these thoughts are about oaths. I am scared of oaths. I can't enjoy anything anymore. My head feels too strained. I feel weak. I am on the verge of losing hope. I really need help. I have prayed to Allah to help but nothing has changed. When I get an unwanted thought I sometimes respond by saying "No, I won’t!" to myself. I am doing all I can to stop this but I just can't. I don't know how to stop it. I don't have the ability to stop it. How can I get help? I have not told my family that I still suffer from this and I don't know who to see. I still can't drive and the nearest masjid is far from here. I can't bear this anymore. I have had more than I can bear! This is the first time I am letting all of this out. Please, I need help! Jazakum Allah khair!



As-Salamu `Alaikum Brother,

Thank you for sending us your question. I am sorry to hear about your silent suffering. I ask Allah to ease your pain and to grant you the strength and courage to overcome all obstacles in your life.

I can tell from your words that you are really suffering from your compulsive thoughts.  You also mentioned that this is the first time you are “letting all of this out.” Keeping things bottled up inside of you is no doubt a heavy burden and can weigh you down. I am happy that you decided to seek help for your problem because you certainly deserve to be happy and healthy in your life. Please keep in mind that you can overcome the compulsive thoughts that you are having, but also remember that you will only do so through patience and determination.

The first thing I would like to suggest to you is to seek professional help for your compulsive thoughts. You mentioned that the closest masjid is far from you, but the masjid is not necessarily the only place where you can seek help. The prophet (sws) said,

“Wisdom is the lost property of the believer; so wherever he finds it, he has the better right to it.” (Al-Tirmidhi)

This hadith indicates that we should seek to gain beneficial knowledge wherever we can find it.

It is evident that you need mental health counseling and the therapist that would be working with you would help you to learn skills to manage your thoughts better. Being in counseling is a better way to keep you involved in a treatment plan that would help you reach your goals of freeing yourself from these thoughts because doing it alone is too difficult.

Many Muslims believe that they should only go to Muslim therapists or counselors, but the truth is, that is not always necessary. If we fall ill, we usually go to a doctor to get treatment. Most of the time, we don’t ask if the doctor is a Muslim or not. The same should be done for our emotional and psychological health. It would be wonderful if we found a Muslim therapist, but if we couldn’t find one, then go to non-Muslim therapist who is respectful towards your religion and your beliefs and work with them until you are better able to control your thoughts. This is absolutely vital for you in order to reach your goal.

In the meantime while you are waiting for your appointment with your therapist, understand that the obsessive thoughts continue to recur because you give them importance. The key is NOT to give these thoughts importance or attention. Try to dissociate yourself from your thoughts and allow yourself to “watch” your thoughts as they come. Doing this will give you a different perspective of yourself and will give you more power over your thoughts instead of allowing your thoughts to overpower and overwhelm you. This will require some training and self-reflection.

It seems like you probably give your obsessive thoughts importance because they are related to religion and punishment since you have mentioned that they are associated with taking oaths. As Muslims, we know that we have to take our oaths seriously.

To begin to combat these obsessive thoughts about oaths (or anything else) understand that Allah knows what you are going through and He will forgive you if you make mistakes. All you have to do is ask for his pardon and guidance. Allah wants us to be strong people, and having obsessive thoughts makes us weak. To overcome them, we have to put our trust in Allah and be diligent in confronting these thoughts and our cognitive processes.

May Allah help us to overcome all our weaknesses and make us strong believers.


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About Aliah F. Azmeh
Aliah F. Azmeh is a licensed clinical social worker who practices in Detroit, Michigan. Aliah graduated with a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan in 2007 and has experience working in the United States and overseas. Aliah currently works as a clinical social worker and provides individual, family, and marital counseling at Muslim Family Services in Detroit, MI.