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Counseling Q/A on Mental Health Struggles

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Thank you for participating in the session.

Please find the 4 questions to which our counselor provided answers. If you do not find yours here, check out our upcoming session or submit it there again.

Question 1. Waswasa or nafs

I have a problem that is mostly known as waswasa. It started when I took my religion seriously and wanted to start practicing it properly but just like any other human, I am not perfect so I keep questioning myself if I can’t be perfect, I can’t go to Jannah. Well, nobody can guarantee Jannah apart from Allah but I used to give logic like if I have many good qualities and only on or two bad deeds, I have done then all my good deeds will not be able to help me and so many other things. I have so doubt on religion too. It was like I was having a battle in my brain where I was fighting with hope and doubts. At a point I decided to go for a therapist but didn’t go well. Waswasa was such a level where I even thought of suicide. Now Alhamdulliah I am much better but negative thoughts still come in my brain and prayer as well. I don’t give it importance but sometimes I ask myself will Allah actually forgive me about doubt. Are my doubts actually coming from shaytan or I don’t know I am intentionally doing it. I try to pray five times a day and I focus on not committing any major sin. Can you tell me how a person should determine if waswasa is coming from shaytan or from myself. Thanks in advance.

Assalamu alaikum wa rahamatulahi wa barakatuh sister,

Waswasa are whispers from Shaytan and the way you have described what is happening to you very much sounds like this is what you are currently afflicted with. You brave described how it started when you started taking your religion seriously and obviously Shaytan would not like that and do everything to push you back away from the religion again. If you continue to have thoughts that you can’t go to Jannah, then this will naturally cause you to start giving up and notice hopeful in the Mercy of Allah. This could eventually lead you to feeling that there’s no point in practicing Islam anymore, or doing good deeds, because what’s the  point? Audhubillah. But you can see, and have experienced first hand how small thoughts, seemingly innocent a lot of the time can rapidly escalate to something a lot more serious, in the worst case scenario causing someone to abandon their obligations or even leave Islam.

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In your question, you are questioning where these whispers come from. Regardless of where they come from, the way to treat them is exactly the same so you don’t need to spend too much time and energy trying to figure this out. Instead, focus on working on ways to deal with these challenges. Alhmadulillah, you are doing the right thing by maintaining your 5 daily prayers and avoiding major sin. Allahumma Barik, keep this up as this will provide strong and stable foundations for you moving forward and overcoming your distressing situation.

From this basis you can gradually add in additional practices. Do make sure to make it gradually as not to overwhelm yourself. Overwhelming yourself could become counterproductive and push you away again due to a significantly increased burden on yourself which may lead you to feel even more inadequate if for whatever reason you leave something out. Given your situation, inbound suggest the next thing would be to ensure that you do your morning and even adhkar as a protection morning and night.

After having gotten comfortable with this and establishing a solid routine, gradually bring in the various duas as you perform certain actions throughout the day, such as when entering and leaving the bathroom and entering and leaving the house. To make it easier to begin with, you can use sticky notes in the relevant spots as reminders until it starts coming naturally. This exercise in particular is a great way to keep the remembrance of Allah fresh throughout the day as you will need to remember Allah at various points in the day, rather than just 1 or 2. Keeping Allah’s name fresh on the tongue all day will keep you conscious of Him all day. This will aid you in doing good and abstaining from sin.

Beyond these important practices, there are lots of other things you can do that will help to stave off the waswas. However, as I mentioned above, make sure this is a gradual process. Don’t push yourself to hard to quickly. It can be tempting, especially when you are so desperate to rid yourself of such distress. It’s also easy to get yourself in to a false sense of confidence by doing too much at once and feeling the immediate benefits, but then you miss something one day for whatever reason – life happens – we have appointments, get sick, have an unexpected visitor. There are many things that could stand in the way for a short time cause you to easily slip backwards. The key is being aware of what you can realistically achieve.

The remaining practices you can introduce to your daily life are a bit more flexible and rely even more on your knowing yourself and your capabilities. For example, making the Quran a more prominent part of your life is a great way to get closer to Allah. In time, make a daily practice of reading a portion of the Quran according to your ability. Start easy. Even if its just a single ayah after every prayer to begin with. Making it something you routinely do after prayer makes it easier to introduce into your daily routine and to track your progress also. As you get more confident,  increase the amount you read. You might also join a group with other sisters so that you can hold yourselves accountability and check in on each others progress. You might also take the same approach in taking an Islamic studies course. This way, you are learning about Quran and/or Islam with people who will support you in your studies, but also provide valued friendships which can be helpful for keeping you steadfast too.

May Alah continue to guide you on the straight path. May He reward your efforts and be pleased with all you do. May He grant you the best in this life and the Hereafter.

Question 2. Parents insulting my salah

Assalamualaikum. I am 25-year-old social work student. I just completed my studies in September and is searching for a job. I am also looking for higher education. I am unemployed as of now. The only peace I find is from my salah about any problem that I face. But my parents especially my mother insults me by saying that I don’t have a job and praying is the only thing I do correctly. She has told me on multiple occasion that praying won’t solve my problem and I will never get anywhere with just praying. She even used insulting language to say about salah. All of us born Muslims. My parents never pray any salah except during Tamadan. They never taught me anything about Islam and always taught me and my sister that school education and getting a job is important than wasting time on religion. Only this year after having serious mental health issues that I discovered the beauty of Islam. I love my parents and I pray for my parents. But their words always hurt me. How can I deal with my parents without insulting and hurting them?

I don’t want to be someone who disrespects their parents in front of Allah.

Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh sister,

There is nothing like having the support of parents in difficult situations. Unfortunately, if seems that your parents are not totally supporting you in a helpful way at a time when you are having difficulty.

You are clearly aware of our obligation to obey and respect our parents, alhmadulillah. However, there is a clause in this when it comes to religious matters. We are not to obey them when they say we should do something against the principles of Islam. Alhmadulillah, it seems that it is not that they are telling you not to pray, which you would be obliged to ignore if this was the case, but they are instead reducing the value of prayer. As someone who is finding so much peace in prayer during this distressing time, this cannot be easy or comfortable for you to hear, especially from your parents of all people.

Just because they fail to see the high value of prayer, it doesn’t mean you should stop. However, I understand that perhaps it might start taking away the value and peace that you get from your own prayer which would be a big shame. Given that they are not forcing or even telling you to stop, the best you can do is to continue praying without getting into any confrontation with them about it. You get on with your life with prayer fully integrated without the conflict. Let them observe the peace you get from prayer and in sha Allah, maybe this will be motivation for them to join you son that they can also experience that same peace as you, especially during times of trial. Be a role model to them. Let them see that it is not ‘a waste of time’ as they currently feel.

You are not obliged to work and if you feel uncomfortable to do so or can’t find any suitable opportunities, as a woman, that’s OK. These days, the financial situation means that often women do have to work and alhmadulillah, there are a lot more suitable options available now as working from home in many fields has become the norm. You should not feel pressured into this. However, of this is something that you want, not just because you feel your parents are forcing you, then rest assured that salat surely is the best way forward. Continue to find peace in salah and pray for His guidance and for doors of opportunity to open for you. Trust that you may be struggling now, but Allah has the perfect match waiting for you when the time is right. It may not feel like that now, but you can be sure that when that opportunity comes your way, you will thank Allah for the  difficulties you faced getting there and will be ever so grateful.

Praying absolutely will solve your problems, contrary to what your parents say, but at the same time, you do also need to ‘tie your camel’ and do your part in searching for opportunities for work (if you are looking that is). Expand your search, ask around, try something totally different even. Do your part and then take the matter to Allah and He will sure provide a suitable opportunity for you in due course. In the mean time, continue to find peace in prayer,  put your trust in Him and maintain peace with your parents as long as they are not trying to force you against Islam.

May Allah guide you and your parents. May He provide you with opportunities beyond what you expected. May He bring peace and harmony in your household and make you all the coolness of each others eyes in this life and the next.

Question 3. My husband doesn’t want to earn and spend money on us

I am a married woman. I have a daughter and I am pregnant with my second child. After 1 year of marriage, I started to work from home. Since then, my husband hasn’t spent a dime on our family. There have been ups and downs for the last few years. In the beginning, he even didn’t let me have my own money. And he would spend it all as he saw fit. He wouldn’t even give me any money at all though I used to work days and nights for it. But after 8-months of separation, he somewhat changed. And we got back again. it was last year when we decided to live together again. He used to have a job at that time. After 2/3 months he left the job again. and ask for money for house spending. Now I had to bear the rent, the food cost, all the bills, and everything. And he doesn’t want to work. But the fact is, he doesn’t even feel gratitude for my contribution. He behaves like I do nothing for anyone or it’s my responsibility to run the family and earn for them. While the entire family depends on my income. I feel very uncertain about him. he doesn’t earn. It’s not like he can’t. He can, but he won’t. He just throws excuses. He needs time to develop new skills. he doesn’t like the current job. They pay little. There are so many excuses. Even if I buy a property or something, he finds a way to manipulate me to make it in his name. I know he doesn’t trust me either. But I love him and I don’t want to get divorced and separate my child from their father. My parents don’t like him either. Because he was very mean at the beginning and wouldn’t give anyone anything and would behave rudely as well. But he is not that much rude now. I think he changed. But yet he is lazy and greedy. His parents are the same too. I don’t know. Some time I don’t see any future with him. He keeps asking for money for everything. I don’t know how to deal with this situation. Please, help by some suggestion.

Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh sister,

I understand it must be incredibly frustrating for you to be providing everything in your household alongside a husband that doesn’t seem to have any motivation to help out and is seemingly happy to rely on you as the provider. The attitude of his parents clearly doesn’t help here. Islamically, this role is his and the pressure should not be on you. Certainly in todays world however, it is often necessary for the wife to work also in order to provide enough income to support the household and incurring costs of running it. However, this should generally be more of a supplementary role, rather than the sole role of the woman, especially when you have a child to care for too. At the same time, from an Islamic perspective, what you earn is yours to spend as you will, so if you didn’t want to pay the rent, bills…etc., that is not your responsibility. However, there is no problem in you spending your family and baring the weight of the rent if you wish. This is a form of charity even. It is a big responsibility to bear though, on top of other tasks around the house and it must be very difficult to fulfil these roles on top of working too, especially if you don’t have to. There are a few ways that you could approach this situation however.

Given that his excuse is that he needs to skill up, then maybe you could suggest he gets a part time role whilst he skills up and you will be more that happy to support him with this even if it means he is not of the house a lot whilst he is training. If necessary, maybe you could even make the move of looking up courses for him and helping him to apply. If the reason is that he hasn’t made a move because he is not confident in himself (which could likely be the unspoken reason), then lending your support will give him the extra boost he needs to get moving. Don’t push him too hard, be gentle, but be encouraging too so that he sees how much you are believing in his ability to do this. Even though you shouldn’t have to be the one searching for jobs for him too, again, pointing him in the direction will show your support and give him the motivation he is currently lacking.

If this doesn’t work and you are serious about seeing him change but not wanting to walk away then maybe you even need to take a more harsh approach. At the moment, you are working, paying for everything and giving him money. You are indirectly showing him that his actions are okay and you are fine with this arrangement. Tell him that you can no longer continue like this and for the sake of your daughter and your health need to cut your hours to part time or even stop working altogether . Something like this would force him to take action. Even if he is totally selfish and doesn’t care about you or his daughter (which hopefully isn’t the case anyway), we would need to step up and seek work to feed and house himself at the very least. This might be hard, but if nothing else is working then it may need to be the way forward. Maybe just cutting to part time to ensure that you have minimal income to take care of yours and your daughters needs may help at this stage. If he starts work, alhmadulillah, and you want to go back to full time, you could go ahead, but in sha Allah, he will take it seriously such that you could continue part time and step down with that responsibility.

May Allah guide your husband and may He bring peace and blessings upon your household.

Question 4. I do not want to get married having OCD

Assalamu Alaykum wa RahmatoulLahi wa Barakatuh,

I’t might be the first time to open up about my following concern:

It seems, but Allah knows it the best, as if I don’t have a natural feeling to get married, to get children. There are desires for physical intimacy which for sure is only allowed insight marriage. I received invitations to get to know brothers with the purpose of getting married but I do not feel ready for it. Why should I get to know someone when I am unsure about getting married and children? To me getting to know someone is a responsibility and before getting to know someone I would say that I need to know me and my expectations for marriage at least quite well.

Some information about me:

I have never been in a relationship

I think that I have OCD, for example praying can take much time due to repeating the words, Allah knows it the best (maybe it is not OCD)

My parents are divorced (more than 10 years), they do not talk to each other and even before their divorce there were fights and situations which a child normally should not experience. But Allah knows why it happened, Alhamdoulillah and Khayr in sha Allah.

Please tell me what I can do with my described situation?

Assalamu alaikum wa rahamatulahi wa barakatuh sister,

It certainly is more unusual to come across sisters that have no interest in getting married and having children, but it’s not unheard of. I have come across several others sisters who also feel this way so it’s not unheard of.

You gave some very useful information about yourself which I believe does provide some level of insight into why you may feel this way. You witnessed the divorce of your parents at a young age, and have been exposed to the negative consequences of the same. It is only natural now that you have a negative view of what marriage is given that those closest to you didn’t have a positive experience.

You have never been in a relationship before. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, or what you should attribute to your lack of desire for marriage. In fact, whilst this means you have no experience of being in an intimate relationship, it is much more favorable from an Islamic perspective as this means you have not committed haram by committing zina. You can now enter a relationship with no expectations based on experiences with other men. This means you can set you own expectations and convey these to a potential suitor without feeling any need to compare him to any other man.

I’m not sure how OCD may impact on your desire for a relationship, except that it has you looking for perfection beyond what is realistic within a man, or that you may be worried about how a potential suitor may judge you? Either way, this may be a separate matter for you to work on to eliminate the waswas from your life which is distress itself aside from any worry you may be encountering with regards to your relationship status.

As for how to move on, aside from being aware of the matters above, you might consider attending meetings with other brothers and getting to know them in the appropriate way. This doesn’t mean you are committing to marriage to them. It merely hives you some level of exposure. Maybe this will be what will turn your heart towards marriage. It might at least change your feelings towards marriage. If you meet the right person, then you will likely find your opinion changes more readily than you expect. The fact that there’s no commitment at this stage allows you to explore further without committing haram too.

Otherwise, continue to take the matter to Allah that He will guide you to what is best for you and most pleasing to Him.

May Allah make your journey a satisfying one that will bring you success in this life and the next. May He guide you to what is best for you and most pleasing to Him.

Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023 | 09:00 - 10:00 GMT

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