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Stopped Praying & Hoping to Get Rid of Waswasa

23 December, 2016
Q For the past 10 years, I have been suffering from wiswas (obsessive-compulsive thoughts and whispers from Shaytan). It started when I was 13, when I started learning more about our religion. When I used to read that tawheed (belief in the oneness of God) is the most important pillar in Islam, it started to scare me because I wanted to make sure my belief in tawheed was perfect. Then the whispers started, and now they are destroying my faith.I tried everything to make them stop; I keep making du`aa, I try to busy myself. Keeping myself busy seems to help, but as soon as the time comes to pray, the whispers attack me, and I finish my prayer feeling that it wasn't accepted. I feel mentally exhausted from them, and I even resorted to not pray for a couple of months hoping they would go away if I did that. I feel I have more chances of getting into heaven if I don't pray since when I do pray, I get all these bad shirk whispers. I can't ignore them.Every time I pray, vision of a person's face appears in front of me as if I was praying to him/her. Then I pause in my prayer and tell myself (in my head) no, it is not real, and I am not praying to them. Then I continue with my prayer, but the same thing happens with another person. I end up feeling very nervous. These faces are of my family members, my friends, people I don't even know, or characters in TV shows and movies. For example, if I am hanging out with a friend and then we decide to take a break and go pray, I get my friend's face as a vision while I'm praying. This happens also when I’m making du`aa, reading Quran or whenever Allah (swt) is mentioned.I’m in deep deep depression because of this, especially since my father recently passed away, and I can't even make du`aa for him without these whispers attacking me. I can't even make du`aa for my sweet father which is worsening my depression.I stay in bed the whole day feeling depressed. I don't even pray. I swear I have tried everything to make these whispers stop; I made du`aa, gave sadaqah, kept myself busy, read Qur’an, talked to myself into being stronger, but these whispers come even when I’m reading Qur’an for my dad. All I want to do right now is being there for my father and sending him du`aas and Quran, but I can't do that properly. I need to cure myself first.I fear I may be shunned to hell forever on the Day of Judgement and never see my father again who was taken away from us so suddenly. I don't know why this is happening to me. I feel I may need psychiatric help, but I live in a non-Muslim country where there are no qualified Muslims to help me.I have never spoken about this issue to anyone as I am very embarrassed. I feel cursed; I wish I died as an infant to have avoided all this. I'm so hopeless.



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.

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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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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.