As-Salamu `Alaikum Sister,
Thank you for sending us your question. I am sorry that you are struggling with this problem. I am also sorry to hear about the sudden loss of your father. I ask Allah to have mercy on your father, grant you and your family patience, and give you the strength and determination to overcome your problem.
Sister, you are right to say “I feel that this is more psychological than anything and that I may need psychiatric help.” You are absolutely correct. The symptoms that you are experiencing are, in fact, psychological, and you need extra help to overcome them.
I understand that you live in Canada and that there aren’t any Muslim mental health professionals in your area, but please do not be discouraged from going to a non-Muslim therapist. They can still help you because these professionals are trained to treat obsessive-compulsive thoughts, which is the main problem that you are facing. Please seek out a therapist as soon as possible! Even if you start to work with a therapist and did not really “click” with that individual, do not hesitate to find someone else. You owe it to yourself to seek out help when you need it, and you definitely need it.
You might be afraid of being misunderstood by a non-Muslim therapist. The truth is, the training that a therapist goes through allows these individuals to practice empathy, to be non-judgmental, and to seek to understand issues that they do not understand. A non-Muslim therapist may not understand how important prayer is to you, so all you would need to do is to explain yourself and the nature of your religion thoroughly.
I can read in your question how much you are suffering from this. It has even got to a point in which you say “I feel very cursed, I wish I died as an infant to have avoided all this. I’m so hopeless.” It is evident that you are having depressive thoughts. But please do not despair, there is hope. One thing we truly need to believe about Allah is that He is the most merciful, but sometimes we are too hard on ourselves and others.
Allah knows exactly what you are going through. When you pray and the image of a person’s face comes into your mind, He knows. He also knows what your intention is, and He knows that you do not want to pray to that image.
We know the story of the sahabi Ammar bin Yasir. When he was being tortured, he was told that he either denied his faith or they continued to torture him. Ammar (May Allah be pleased with him) denied his faith and afterwards went to the Prophet (sws) weeping and full of guilt. Allah sent down the following ayah,
“Whoever disbelieves in Allah after his belief… except for one who is forced [to renounce his religion] while his heart is secure in faith. But those who [willingly] open their breasts to disbelief, upon them is wrath from Allah , and for them is a great punishment.” (16:106)
The prophet (sws) told Ammar that Allah had forgiven him.
In your situation, you are controlling your obsessive thoughts to the best of your ability, but at times, you fail. Allah knows that. Also, know that Allah does not give someone a burden more than they can handle. Face your fears, face your thoughts, and continue to do what you believe is right despite the fact that you will not succeed at times. But again, I cannot stress enough the importance of you seeking professional help to assist you through this.
I ask Allah to grant you the confidence, strength, and patience to carry on through this difficult time.
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