Praise be to Allah
Our advice to you first of all is that you have to consult a psychologist; try to find a Muslim doctor so that he will understand your problem. Secondly, you have to take the easier option always, and do not think about the sin or punishment. If you do not follow this advice, your problem will continue. In a prayer when you are not sure whether you have prayed three or four rak’ahs, you have to assume that it is four, and the part of the body which you are unsure whether you have washed it, you have to assume that you have washed it. This applies to every situation you face: take the easier option. If you do that you will have defeated the Shaytan who has subjected you to this involuntary waswaas.
May Allah heal you and grant you good health.
Praise be to Allaah
Allah says in Soorat al-Naas (interpretation of the meaning):
“Say: I seek refuge with (Allah) the Lord of mankind,
The King of mankind —
The Ilaah (God) of mankind,
From the evil of the whisperer (devil who whispers evil in the hearts of men) who withdraws (from his whispering in one’s heart after one remembers Allah).
Who whispers in the hearts of mankind.
Of jinn and men.”[al-Naas 114:1-6]
Muslim narrated that Abu Hurayrah said: “Some of the companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came to him and said, ‘We find things in our hearts that none of us would dare to utter out loud.’ He said, ‘Do you really find that?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘That is clear faith.’”
Muslim narrated that ‘Uthman ibn Abi’l-‘Aas came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said: “O Messenger of Allah, the Shaytan is coming between me and my prayer and making me confused in my recitation.” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “That is a devil called Khanzab. If you feel his presence, then seek refuge with Allah from him and spit drily to your left three times.” [‘Uthman] said: “I did that and Allah took him away from me.”
Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘The Shaytan comes to some of you and says, “Who created such and such? Who created such and such?” – until he says, “Who created your Lord?” If that happens, then let him seek refuge with Allah and stop thinking about that.’”
Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘When the call for prayer (adhan) is given, the Shaytan runs away, breaking wind loudly so as not to hear the adhan. When the adhan ends, he comes back. When the iqamah (final call to prayer) is made, he runs away, then when the iqamah ends, he comes back to distract a man from his prayer, saying, “Remember such and such,” things that the man did not remember, until he does not know how many rak’ahs (units of prayer) he has prayed. If one of you does not know how many rak’ahs he has prayed, whether it is three or four, then let him do two prostrations whilst he is sitting.”
Muslim narrated that Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘If one of you is uncertain about his prayer and cannot remember how many rak’ahs he has prayed, whether it was three or four, then let him avoid doubt and act upon that of which he is certain, then let him do two prostrations before he says the salam (conclusion of prayer). Then if he prayed five rak’ahs they will make his prayer even, and if he prayed four then that will annoy the Shaytan.”
These ayahs (verses) and ahadeeth (narrations) show just how keen the Shaytan is to lead the sons of Adam astray and stop them from worshipping their Lord, by means of the waswaas (whispers) which he instills in their hearts. But the way to save oneself from these devilish whispers is made clear. For some people the matter may go so far that they have doubts about every act of worship they try to do, whether they have even done it or not. The question here is not whether such a person is to blame, rather the question is whether a person will be rewarded for his striving against the Shaytan and his efforts to resist these whispers, or not.
There is no clear statement from the scholars on this matter, but it may be understood from the words of the two Shaykhs, Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on them), that he will be rewarded for that. This is what is to be understood from the texts quoted above, as we shall see below.
In the first hadeeth, the Sahabah (companions) asked the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) about the waswaas that they felt in their hearts, and he said, “That is clear faith.” Shaykh al-Islam (Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 7/282) said: “In other words, the fact that this waswaas was happening and they disliked it so much and pushed it away from their hearts is clear faith, like the mujahid (warrior) to whom the enemy comes and he resists him until he defeats him, and this is the greatest form of jihad (battle). Clear (sareeh) means pure, like pure milk. It becomes clear and pure because they hated those devilish whispers and warded them off, so their faith became pure and clear.”
He also said (Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 14/108):
“This waswasah is something that enters the heart not by a person’s choice, and if a person hates it and shuns it, this hatred of it is clear faith.”
He also said (Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 22/608):
“Many of the scholars said: hating that, disliking it and shunning it is clear faith. Praise be to Allah that the most the Shaytan can do is whisper, for when the jinn-devil is defeated, it whispers (waswasa) and when the human devil is defeated he lies. Waswaas affects everyone who tries to focus on Allah in his worship and dhikr (remembrance of Allah) etc. So one has to be steadfast and patient and persist in dhikr or prayer; he should not feel distressed because if he persists, that will divert the plot of the Shaytan away from him, for the plot of the Shaytan is weak.”
And he said in Dar’ al-Ta’aarud, 3/318:
“This waswaas may be gotten rid of by seeking refuge with Allah and ignoring it, so that if [the Shaytan] says, ‘you did not wash your face,’ you should say, ‘Yes, I did wash my face;’ if he thinks that he did not form the intention (for prayer) or say Allahu akbar, he should say in his heart, ‘Yes I did form the intention and say Allahu akbar.’ He should cling steadfastly to the truth and ward off the waswaas that goes against it, so that the Shaytan will see how strong and steadfast he is in adhering to the truth, and will leave him alone. Otherwise when he [the Shaytan] sees that he is influenced by doubts and responsive to waswaas, he will send him more waswaas until he will be unable to resist and his heart will become receptive to the seductive whispers of the devils of the jinn and of mankind, and he will move from one thing to another until the Shaytan drives him to his doom.
Based on the above, we may say that a man will be rewarded for resisting this waswaas and for striving against the Shaytan for a number of reasons:
1 – The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) praised the feeling of hatred towards the waswaas that had to do with doubts concerning belief (‘aqeedah), when he said, “That is clear faith.” One of the things implied by the hatred of this waswaas is that one turns away from it and does not get carried away with it.
2 – Obeying the command of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), “Let him stop it.”
3 – The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said concerning the prostration of forgetfulness (sajdat al-sahw): “They will annoy the Shaytan.” This implies encouragement to annoy and humiliate the Shaytan. Annoying him here means turning away from this waswaas and not paying any attention to it. This is in addition to the fact that Allah and His Messenger have taught us to seek refuge with Allah from the Shaytan, etc.
4 – The difficulties and distress that the believer may suffer as a result of this waswaas may be included in the hadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), “No Muslim suffers tiredness, exhaustion, worry, grief, annoyance or distress, not even a thorn that pricks him, but Allah will expiate some of his sins thereby.”
5 – Shaykh al-Islam (Ibn Taymiyah – may Allah have mercy on him) said: “like the mujahid to whom the enemy comes and he resists him until he defeats him, and this is the greatest form of jihad.” The fact that he likens him to a mujahid and describes this as the greatest form of jihad may be understood to mean that he will be rewarded for that.
And Allah knows best. May Allah bless our Prophet Muhammad and all his family and companions.
One of the means that the Shaytaan uses to misguide people is by casting doubts and whispers (waswaas) into their hearts. The Messenger of Allaah peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) has warned us against some of these things. It says in the hadeeth: “The Shaytaan comes to any one of you and says, ‘Who created such and such? Who created such and such?’ until he says, ‘Who created your Lord?’ If that happens to you, seek refuge with Allaah and give up these thoughts.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, no. 3277
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) taught us two important things:
1 – To turn to Allaah and seek His protection, and to beseech Him, for He is the most Generous:
“And if an evil whisper comes to you from Shaytaan (Satan), then seek refuge with Allaah”
[al-A’raaf 7:200 – interpretation of the meaning]
2 – To put a stop to this matter and turn away from it, and to keep ourselves busy with other, useful things.
The companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came to him complaining about the doubts and waswaas that they were suffering. In Saheeh Muslim it is narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “Some of the companions of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came to him and said, ‘We find in our hearts things that none of us dares utter.’ He said, ‘Do you really find that?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘That is clear faith.’” (2/153).
What is meant by his saying ‘That is clear faith’ is that their hatred of that waswasah and their rejecting it was a clear sign of faith.
The Shaytaan only whispers to people of faith; as for the kaafir (non-Muslim), he comes to him, however, he wants and does not limit himself to waswaas, rather he toys with him however he wishes.
The belief concerning which there can be no doubt is that the entire universe, from its heights to its depths, is in a state of submission to Allaah and no one in the universe possesses any power. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Say: (O Muhammad to polytheists, pagans) Call upon those whom you assert (to be associate gods) besides Allaah, they possess not even an atom’s (or a small ant’s) weight either in the heavens or on the earth, nor have they any share in either, nor there is for Him any supporter from among them.
Intercession with Him profits not except for him whom He permits”
This crafty enemy is keen to misguide people and to make them doubt. The more you seek the help of Allaah, learn about your enemy and be prepared to face him, the more you will be victorious over him. If you know your true enemy, the following are the weapons at your disposal.
Adherence to the Qur’aan and Sunnah in word and deed, and keeping away from the paths of misguidance, for on every path there is a devil calling people to it. So you should follow the beliefs, words, acts of worship and laws that have come from Allaah and abstain from that which He has forbidden. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Enter perfectly in Islam (by obeying all the rules and regulations of the Islamic religion)”
Silm (translated here as Islam) refers to Islam. Muqaatil interpreted it as doing all kinds of good and righteous deeds.
Whoever gives up any part of Islam has followed in some of the footsteps of the Shaytaan.
Adhering to the Qur’aan and Sunnah in word and deed expels the Shaytaan and annoys him greatly. Muslim narrated from Abu Hurayrah: “When the son of Adam recites a verse of sajdah (prostration) and prostrates, the Shaytaan withdraws weeping, saying, ‘Woe to me, the son of Adam was commanded to prostrate, and he prostrated, so Paradise will be his; I was commanded to prostrate and I disobeyed, so Hell will be mine.’” Narrated by Muslim, no. 133.
Seeking refuge with Allaah from all kinds of evil and turning to Him. Islam teaches us to seek refuge with Allaah in certain situations, such as the following:
When entering the washroom: “Allaahumma inni a’oodhu bika min al-khubthi wa’l-khabaa’ith (O Allaah, I seek refuge with You from the male and female devils).”
When one is angry: “A’oodhu Billaahi min al-Shaytaan ir-rajeem (I seek refuge with Allaah from the accursed Shaytaan).”
When having intercourse: “Bismillaah Allaahumma jannibna al-shaytaan wa jannib al-shaytaana ma razaqtana (In the name of Allaah, O Allaah, keep the Shaytaan away from us and keep the Shaytaan away from that which You may bless us with).”
When stopping in a place: “A’oodhu bi kalimaat-Allaah il-taammah min sharri ma khalaqa (I seek refuge in the perfect words of Allaah from the evil of that which He has created).”
When hearing the braying of a donkey: “A’oodhu Billaahi min al-Shaytaan ir-rajeem (I seek refuge with Allaah from the accursed Shaytaan).”
When starting to read Qur’aan: “A’oodhu Billaah il-samee’ il-‘aleem min al-Shaytaan ir-rajeem (I seek refuge with Allaah, the All-Hearing, All-Knowing, from the accursed Shaytaan).”
After starting to pray: “A’oodhu Billaah il-samee’ il-‘aleem min al-Shaytaan ir-rajeem wa min hamzihi wa nafakhihi wa nafthihi (I seek refuge with Allaah, the All-Hearing, All-Knowing, from the accursed Shaytaan, from his madness, his arrogance and his poetry).”
The best words with which we may seek refuge with Allaah are al-Mi’wadhatayn i.e., Soorat al-Falaq and Soorat al-Naas. It was narrated from ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Aamir (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Do you not see the verses that were revealed to me tonight, the like of which have never been seen? Qul ‘aoodhu bi Rabb il-falaq and Qul ‘aoodhi bi rabb il-naas.” Narrated by Muslim, 814.
Keeping busy with dhikr (the remembrance of Allah), for this is the greatest thing that may protect a person. In the hadeeth (narration) it says that Allaah commanded Yahya (peace be upon him) to enjoin five things upon the Children of Israel, one of which was: “I command you to remember Allaah, for this is like a man who is being pursued by the enemy, then he comes to a strong fortress and saves himself from them. Similarly a man cannot save himself from his enemy except by means of dhikr.” Narrated by al-Haafiz Abu Moosa al-Madani in al-Targheeb fi’l-Khisaal al-Hameedah wa’l-Tarheeb min al-Khilaal al-Murdiyyah. Ibn al-Qayyim said: Shaykh al-Islam used to regard this hadeeth highly, and I heard that he used to say: “The evidence for its being sound is quite clear.” al-Waabil al-Sayyib, 60.
Adhering to the main body of the Muslims (the jamaa’ah) by living in a Muslim land and choosing righteous friends who will help him to do good. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever among you wants to attain the best part of Paradise, let him adhere to the main body of the Muslims, for the Shaytaan is with the one who is alone but he is farther away from two.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2254. Al-Qaari’ said: its isnaad (chain of narrators) is saheeh (authentic). Al-Mubaarakfoori said: The entire hadeeth is either saheeh or hasan (sound). Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi, 6/320.
Opposing the Shaytaan, for he may come in the form of someone offering sincere advice, so we must go against him. For if he were really good he would be good to himself first, but he has caused himself to be doomed to Hell. So if he comes to you whilst you are praying, and says, “You are showing off (so cut your prayer short),” then make your prayer lengthy. If he says, “You have broken your wudoo’,” say, “You are lying”. If he says to you that the dead can hear you and benefit you or harm you, tell him, “You are lying.” When you eat, be different from him and eat and drink with your right hand, and take food with your right hand. This even applies to taking a siesta, as it says in the hadeeth: “Take a siesta for the devils do not take a siesta.” Narrated by Abu Na’eem with a saheeh isnaad. Saheeh al-Jaami’, 4/147.
Even with regard to a piece of food that falls to the ground, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Pick it up and do not leave it for the Shaytaan…” Narrated by Muslim, 12, al-Adaab.
Repenting and seeking Allaah’s forgiveness. According to the hadeeth the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The Shaytaan said to the Lord of Glory: ‘By Your Glory O Lord, I will keep trying to misguide Your slaves so long as their souls are in their bodies.’ The Lord said, ‘By My Glory and Majesty, I will continue to forgive them so long as they ask My forgiveness.’” Narrated by Ahmad in al-Musnad and classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2/32
So man should always be in a state of repentance and turning to Allaah. They have an example in their father Adam (peace be upon him):
“Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If You forgive us not, and bestow not upon us Your Mercy, we shall certainly be of the losers”
[al-A’raaf 7:23 – interpretation of the meaning]
These are some of the means that will help you to ward off this waswaas. We ask Allaah the Almighty, by His most beautiful names and sublime attributes to grant us refuge from the madness of the devils and from their traps and whispers. Praise be to Allaah the Lord of the Worlds.
Undoubtedly man may be afflicted with psychological problems such as worries about the future and grief over the past. Psychological problems affect the body more than physical problems do. We should know that the worries and distress that affect a person are among the things that expiate his sins and reduce the burden of sin; if he is patient and seeks reward with Allaah, he will be rewarded for that.
Treating these problems in the ways prescribed in Islam is more effective than treating them with physical medicine, as is well known.
One of the treatments prescribed in Islam is to recite the du’aa’s narrated from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to relieve worries and distress, for example, the saheeh hadeeth narrated from Ibn Mas’ood (may Allaah be pleased with him): “There is no-one who is afflicted by distress and grief, and says: ‘Allaahumma inni ‘abduka ibn ‘abdika ibn amatija naasyati bi yadika, maada fiyya hukmuka, ‘adlun fiyya qadaa’uka. As’aluka bi kulli ismin huwa laka sammayta bihi nafsaka aw anzaltahu fi kitaabika aw ‘allamtahu ahadan min khalqika aw ista’tharta bihi fi ‘ilm il-ghayb ‘indaka an taj’al al-Qur’aana al-‘Azeema rabee’ qalbi wa noor sadri wa jalaa’ huzni wa dhihaab hammi (O Allaah, I am Your slave, son of Your slave, son of Your maidservant; my forelock is in Your hand, Your command over me is forever executed and Your decree over me is just. I ask You by every name belonging to You which You have named Yourself with, or revealed in Your Book, or You taught to any of Your creation, or You have preserved in the knowledge of the Unseen with You, that You make the Holy Qur’aan the life of my heart and the light of my breast, and a departure for my sorrow and a release for my anxiety),’ but Allaah will take away his distress and grief.” This is one of the remedies prescribed in sharee’ah. One may also say: “Laa ilaaha illa anta, subhaanaka inni kuntu min al-zaalimeen (There is no god but You, glorified (and exalted) are You, truly I have been of the wrongdoers).” [cf. al-Anbiya’ 21:87]
Another form of treatment is ruqya with which a person may treat himself – which is better. The Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to do ruqyah for himself by reciting al-Mi’wadhatayn (the last two soorahs of the Qur’aan) when he went to sleep, then he would wipe his face and whatever he could of his body. Or a person may go to someone whose religious commitment he trusts to do ruqyah for him.
If he wants to know more, he can refer to what the scholars have written about du’aa’ such as al-Waabil al-Sayyib by Ibn al-Qayyim, al-Kalim al-Tayyib by Shaykh al-Islam, al-Adhkaar by al-Nawawi, and Zaad al-Ma’aad by Ibn al-Qayyim.
From the fatwas of al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, Kitaab
Fataawa Islamiyyah, vol. 4, p. 465-467.
If a person swears many oaths and breaks them, and does not offer expiation, one of two scenarios must apply.
1 – The vows were all to do with one thing, such as saying, “By Allah, I will not smoke,” then he breaks the oath and does not offer expiation for that. Then he swears again that he will not smoke, then he breaks the oath… in this case one expiation is required.
2 – The oaths have to do with several actions, such as saying, “By Allah, I will not drink; by Allah, I will not wear (certain clothes); by Allah, I will not go to such and such a place,” then he breaks all those oaths. Does he have to offer one expiation or as many expiations as the oaths he swore and broke? There is a difference of opinion among the fuqaha’ (jurists) concerning this matter. The majority are of the view that he must offer several expiations, but the Hanbalis say that he only has to offer one expiation.
The more correct view is that of the majority, because these were oaths to do several things, and breaking one of them does not mean that another is broken, they are not interconnected.
Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked: I am a young man and I swore to Allah more than three times that I would repent from a haram (unlawful) action. My question is: do I have to offer one expiation or three? And what is my expiation?
He replied: You have to offer one expiation, which is feeding or clothing ten poor persons, or freeing a slave. Whoever cannot do that must fast for three days, because Allah, may He be glorified, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Allah will not punish you for what is unintentional in your oaths, but He will punish you for your deliberate oaths; for its expiation (a deliberate oath) feed ten Masaakeen (poor persons), on a scale of the average of that with which you feed your own families, or clothe them or manumit a slave. But whosoever cannot afford (that), then he should fast for three days. That is the expiation for the oaths when you have sworn. And protect your oaths (i.e. do not swear much). Thus Allah makes clear to you His Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) that you may be grateful” [5:89]
This applies to every oath that is made to do one thing or to refrain from one thing; if the oath is sworn repeatedly, only one expiation is required, if he did not offer expiation the first time. But if he offered expiation the first time, then he repeated the oath, then he must offer another expiation if he breaks the oath. Similarly, if he repeated it a third time and had offered expiation the second time, he must offer a third expiation.
But if he swore oaths to do several things or to refrain from several things, then he must offer expiation for each one, such as if he said, “By Allah I will not speak to so and so,” and “By Allah I will not eat food,” and “By Allah, I will not travel to such and such a place,” and “By Allah, I will speak to so and so” and “By Allah, I will hit him,” and so on.
What must be done is to give each poor person half a saa’ (dry measure) of the local staple food, which is approximately one and a half kilograms. With regard to clothing, it should be what is sufficient for prayer, such as a thobe (robe) or a rida’ and izaar (upper and lower garment). If he gives them dinner or breakfast, that is sufficient, because of the general meaning of the verse quoted above. And Allah is the source of strength.
End quote from Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn Baaz (23/145)
If the person asked about is suffering from waswaas, and he swore these oaths under the influence of that waswaas, without intending to do so or wanting to swear an oath, then he does not have to do anything.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: If a person is suffering from waswaas, his divorce does not count as such if he utters the words of divorce, if it was not done intentionally, because this utterance of divorce was caused by the waswaas and was not intended, rather he was compelled to do it because of the strength of the waswaas and his lack of willpower to resist it. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “There is no divorce when one is compelled.” So the divorce does not count as such if he did not truly intend it willingly. This is something that he was compelled to do and did not intend or choose to do, so it does not count as a divorce. End quote from Fataawa Islamiyyah (3/277).
If this applies to divorce, then it applies even more so to oaths, because the issue of marriage is more serious than the issue of oaths.
And Allah knows best.
The waswaas which people experience is not all of the same type or degree, either in terms of the type of sickness or in terms of its source and effect.
The kind of waswaas which tempts a person to listen to or look at haraam (unlawful) things or to commit immoral actions, and makes such things appear attractive to him, comes from three sources: the nafs or self which is inclined to evil (cf. Yoosuf 12:53), the devils among the jinn (demons), and the devils among mankind.
Allah says, describing the first source, which is the nafs (interpretation of the meaning):
“And indeed We have created man, and We know what his own self whispers to him. And We are nearer to him than his jugular vein (by Our Knowledge)”
Allah says, describing the second source, which is the devils among the jinn (interpretation of the meaning):
“Then Shaytaan (Satan) whispered to him, saying: ‘O Adam! Shall I lead you to the Tree of Eternity and to a kingdom that will never waste away’”
And Allah says, describing the third source, which is the devils among mankind (interpretation of the meaning):
“Say: I seek refuge with (Allaah) the Lord of mankind,
The King of mankind —
The Ilaah (God) of mankind,
From the evil of the whisperer (devil who whispers evil in the hearts of men) who withdraws (from his whispering in one’s heart after one remembers Allah).
Who whispers in the breasts of mankind.
Of jinn and men”
So these waswaas may come from the jinn or from the sons of Adam (human beings).
See question no. 59931
What happens to a Muslim regarding his wudoo and prayer, where he does not know how many times he washed during wudoo or how many rak’ahs (units of prayer) he did in prayer, comes from the Shaytaan. If he seeks refuge with Allah from the Shaytan, Allah will suffice him against him. But if he gives in to him and responds to the waswaas, the Shaytan will gain power over him, and that waswaas will become a chronic problem. This is what is called al-waswaas al-qahri (overwhelming waswaas). This kind of waswaas – as one of those who are specialized in this field said – “is a sickness which befalls some people like any other kind of sickness. It refers to repeated thoughts, movements, ideas or notions which are of a loathsome nature that a person would ordinarily reject and strive to resist. He also realizes that they are wrong and have no meaning, but there is something that is pushing him towards them and he usually fails to resist them. The strength of these waswaas may vary, so much so that they appear – to non-specialists – to be very strong and it seems that the sick person is doing that willingly. This kind of waswaas may also affect a person in his worship and in his worldly affairs.”
The waswaas of the Shaytan may be dispelled by seeking refuge with Allah.
The waswaas that comes from one’s own self may also be dispelled by seeking refuge with Allah, and by strengthening the connection between a person and his Lord by doing acts of worship and obedience and by giving up evil things.
As for al-waswaas al-qahri (overwhelming waswaas), it is a kind of sickness as stated above.
The difference between the waswaas that comes from the Shaytaan and the waswaas that comes from the nafs is subtle, as was quoted by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) from some of the scholars. He said:
Abu Haazim made a comparison between the waswasah caused by the nafs and that caused by the Shaytaan, and said: Whatever your nafs hates for your nafs is from the Shaytan, so seek refuge with Allah from it. And whatever your nafs likes for your nafs is from your nafs so forbid it to it.
Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 17/529, 530
i.e., the nafs usually whispers concerning things which are connected to its whims and desires, which people usually like.
Some of the scholars pointed out another important difference, which is that the waswaas that comes from the Shaytan makes sin appear attractive until the Muslim falls into it; if the Shaytan is unable to achieve that, he moves on to another sin, and if that does not work he moves on to a third, and so on. He does not care about making the Muslim fall into a particular sin, rather what he cares about is making the Muslim disobey his Lord, and it is all the same to him whether he makes him do something that is forbidden or omit something that is obligatory, for all of it is sin and disobedience. As for the waswaas that comes from the nafs, it is what urges the person to commit a specific sin and repeatedly seeks to make him do it.
The Muslim will not be punished for the waswaas that comes from the Shaytan or from his own nafs, so long as he does not speak of it or act upon it. But he is commanded to resist it, and if he neglects to resist it and goes along with it, then he will be punished for that neglect.
He is commanded not to pay any attention to the waswaas of the Shaytan, and to proceed on the basis of the smaller number (of rak’ahs) in prayer if he is not sure how many he has done. He is commanded to seek refuge from the Shaytan and spit drily to his left three times if the waswaas of the Shaytan comes to him whilst he is praying. He is commanded to keep company with good people and avoid bad people. Whoever is negligent with regard to any of these matters will fall into the traps of his nafs which is inclined to evil, or will respond to the devils among the jinn and mankind, in which case he will be punished.
As for overwhelming waswaas, it is a kind of sickness – as mentioned above – so the Muslim will not be harmed by it and Allah will not punish him for it, because it is beyond his control. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him”
“So keep your duty to Allah and fear Him as much as you can”
And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Allah will forgive my ummah (followers) for whatever crosses their minds so long as they do not speak of it or act upon it.” Narrated by al-Bukhari, 4968; Muslim, 127
The one who is tested with this kind of waswaas must always read Quran and recite the dhikrs (words of remembrance) prescribed in sharee’ah (Islamic law), morning and evening. He must strengthen his faith by doing acts of worship and shunning evil. He must occupy himself in seeking knowledge, for although the Shaytan may gain power over a worshipper, he cannot gain power over one who has knowledge.
The Shaytan may come and whisper evil things to a Muslim about Allah, or His Messenger, or His sharee’ah, things that the Muslim hates and does not approve of. The fact that he resists these waswaas and hates them is a sign of the soundness of his faith. So he should strive to control his nafs (jihad al-nafs) and not respond to the one who calls him to evil.
Ibn Katheer (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
The phrase: “and whether you disclose what is in your own selves or conceal it, Allah will call you to account for it” [al-Baqarah 2:284 – interpretation of the meaning] means that even if He brings you to account and questions you, He will not punish you except for that which a person is able to ward off. As for that which he cannot ward off, such as the waswaas of the nafs, no one is accountable for that, and hating evil waswasah is part of faith.
Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 1/343
Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked:
Waswaas and ideas may cross a person’s mind, especially to do with Tawheed (the Oneness of Allah) and faith; will the Muslim be punished for that?
It is narrated in al-Saheehayn and elsewhere that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Allah will forgive my ummah (followers) for whatever crosses their minds so long as they do not speak of it or act upon it.” Agreed upon. And it is narrated that the Sahaabah (may Allah be pleased with them) asked the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) about the kinds of waswaas and thoughts referred to in the question crossing their minds. He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) replied: “That is a clear sign of faith.” Narrated by Muslim. And he (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The people will keep on wondering until it is said, ‘This was created by Allah, but who created Allah?’ Whoever experiences any of that, let him say, ‘Aamantu Billaahi wa rusulihi (I believe in Allah and His Messengers).’” Agreed upon. According to another report: “Let him seek refuge with Allaah and stop it.” Narrated by Muslim in his Saheeh.
Tuhfatal-Ikhwaan bi Ajwibah Muhimmah tata’allaq bi Arkaan al-Islam (question no. 10).
In the answer to question no. 62839 you will find important information on waswasah and the remedy for it.
In the answer to question no. 25778 we have described the remedy for one who is worried about waswaas and passing thoughts.
See the answer to question no. 12315 for important advice.
And Allaah knows best.
We ask Almighty Allah, by His beautiful names and sublime attributes, to heal you from this problem. It should be noted that this is a kind of psychological disease that is known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which refers to thoughts that dominate a person in some ways and persist with him even though he knows that they are mistaken and are not correct. This may be dealt with in several ways:
1 – Thinking positively of Allah, making a great deal of du’a (supplication), and beseeching Allah to heal you from this waswaas (insinuating whispers from Shaytan).
2 – Getting used to ignoring these waswaas and not paying any attention to them. You can put a suitable amount of water in a vessel, and do not make wudoo directly from the tap anymore; make yourself do wudoo from this vessel only. Tell yourself that there is no other water available except what is in this vessel, and make do with what it contains. Do not wash any part of the body more than three times. Even if the Shaytan tells you that your wudoo is not valid, this is just a whisper from the Shaytan and does not mean anything.
3 – The same applies to brushing your clothes after sitting in a place where someone else has sat. You should ignore this waswaas and force yourself not to brush your clothes. You should train yourself in this manner no matter what the waswaas is.
4 – You should remember the fiqhi (jurispudencial) principle which is that what is certain cannot be altered by something doubtful. If you are certain of something, you should not pay attention to any doubts after that. If you have done something then do not pay attention to any doubts that come along after doing it. If you have washed your hand, then do not pay any attention to doubts that come, even fleeting doubts, suggesting that you have not washed your hand, as Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
Doubts after doing something do not matter, otherwise doubts will increase.
You should not pay any attention to doubts that come after completing an act of worship, and even if a man has a lot of doubts he should not pay any attention to them.
5 – There is nothing wrong with consulting a trustworthy psychiatrist who can prescribe some useful treatment for you.
For more information please read Ighaathat al-Lahfaan by Ibn al-Qayyim and Talbees Iblees by Ibn al-Jawzi, which both discuss how the Shaytan toys with people by means of waswaas, and how one may remedy that.
We ask Allah to set your affairs and those of all the Muslims straight.
Not answering your wife does not count as a talaaq, neither does speaking to her angrily.
No matter how much you may think of divorce, or intend and resolve to do it, talaaq (divorce) does not take place until and unless you utter the words of talaaq. That is because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Allah has forgiven for my ummah (followers) that which is whispered to them and which crosses their minds, so long as they do not act upon it or speak of it.”
(Narrated by al-Bukhari, 6664; Muslim, 127)
Based on this, according to the scholars if a man thinks of talaaq, that does not mean anything unless he speaks of it.
Indeed, according to some scholars, if a person is suffering from waswaas his talaaq does not count even if he utters it, so long as he did not have the intention of talaaq. Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“The talaaq of a person who is suffering from waswaas does not count even if he utters the words, if that was not done deliberately, because this utterance happened because of waswaas, not because of his will or intention. Rather it was forced upon him because of the strength of the waswaas and his lack of self-control. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘There is no divorce under compulsion.’ So this divorce does not count, because he did not really want to do that. This was something that was forced upon him with no intention or choice on his part to do that, so this does not mean that talaaq has occurred.”
(Fataawa Islamiyyah, compiled by Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azeez al-Musnad, 3/277)
We advise you not to pay any attention to these whispers, and to ignore them, and to do the opposite of what they are calling you to do. For these whispers (waswaas) come from the Shaytan to cause grief to those who believe. The best way to deal with them is to remember Allah a great deal (dhikr), to seek refuge with Allah from the accursed Shaytan, to keep away from sins and wrong actions which are the means by which Iblees gains control over the sons of Adam. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, he [the Shaytan] has no power over those who believe and put their trust only in their Lord (Allah)”
It is worth quoting here what Ibn Hajar al-Haythami (may Allah have mercy on him) said about dealing with waswasah in his book al-Fataawa al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kubra, 1/149. This is what he said:
“He was asked about the problem of waswasah (insinuating whispers from the Shaytan), and whether there is a remedy for it.
He replied by saying that there is an effective remedy for it, which is to ignore them completely, no matter how frequently they may come to mind. When these whispers are ignored, they do not become established, rather they go away after a short time, as many people have experienced. But for those who pay attention to them and act upon them, they increase until they make him like one who is insane or even worse, as we see among many of those who have suffered from them and paid attention to them and to the devil whose task it is to insinuate these whispers, whom the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) warned us against when he said, “Beware of the whispers with regard to water (i.e., wudoo/ablution) which is caused by a devil called al-Walhaan” – because that causes a person to go to extremes with regard to doing wudoo, as was explained in Sharh Mishkaat al-Anwaar.
In al-Saheehayn there is a report which supports what has been mentioned above, which is that whoever suffers from waswaas should seek refuge with Allah and turn away from the waswaas. So think about this effective remedy which was taught by the one who does not speak of his own whims and desires to his ummah (followers), and understand that whoever is deprived of this is deprived of all goodness, because waswasah comes from the Shaytan, according to scholarly consensus, and the accursed one (the Shaytan) has no other desire than to make the believers go astray, make them confused, make their life a misery, cause them distress to the extent that they leave Islam without realizing it.
“Surely, Shaytan (Satan) is an enemy to you, so take (treat) him as an enemy”
[Faatir 35:6 – interpretation of the meaning]
According to another hadeeth (prophetic narration), the one who suffers from waswasah should say, “Aamantu Billaahi wa bi rusulihi (I believe in Allah and in His Messengers).” Undoubtedly, whoever thinks of the paths of the Messengers of Allah, especially our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) will find that his path and his law is easy and clear, with no hardship in it.
“… and has not laid upon you in religion any hardship”
[al-Hajj 22:78 – interpretation of the meaning]
Whoever ponders this and believes in it sincerely, the problem of waswasah and listening to the Shaytan will go away. In the book of Ibn al-Sunni it is narrated via ‘A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her), “Whoever suffers from this waswaas, let him say ‘Aamantu Billaahi wa bi rusulihi (I believe in Allah and in His Messengers)’, three times, and it will go away from him.”
Al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abd al-Salam and others mentioned something similar to the above. They said: the treatment for waswasah is to believe that this is an idea from the Shaytan and that Iblees is the one who is bringing these thoughts to his mind, and he should strive to fight him. Then he will have the reward of the mujaahid (warrior), because he is fighting the enemy of Allah. If he does that, then the Shaytan will flee from him. This is what mankind has been tested with from the beginning of time, and Allah has given him (Iblees) some power over man as a test for him, so that Allah may show the truth to be true and falsehood to be false, even though the disbelievers may hate that.
In Muslim, hadeeth no. 2203, it is narrated that ‘Uthman ibn Abi’l-‘Aas said: “The Shaytan was interfering with my prayer and recitation of Quran. He [the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) ] said: ‘That is a devil called Khanzab, so seek refuge with Allah from him and spit drily to your left three times.’ I did that, and Allah took him away from me.”
This hadeeth proves the point we are making, which is that waswasah can only overpower the one who is ignorant and confused and does not know what’s what. But the one who has knowledge and understanding will follow the Sunnah (prophetic teachings) and keep away from bid’ah (innovation). The worst of the innovators are those who follow waswaas, hence Maalik (may Allah have mercy on him) narrated that his shaykh al-Rabee’ – who was the imam of the people of his time – was the fastest of the people in relieving himself and doing wudoo.
Ibn Hurmuz used to be slow in relieving himself and in doing wudoo, and he used to say “I have a problem, do not follow my example.”
Al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said that one of the scholars thought it was mustahabb (liked) for the one who was affected by waswasah with regard to his wudoo or prayer to say Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah, for when the Shaytan hears dhikr (remembrance of Allah) he slinks away, and Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah is the best of dhikr, and the most effective remedy for warding off waswasah is to remember Allah a great deal.
We ask Allah to take away the waswasah that you are suffering and to increase us and you in faith, righteousness and piety.
And Allah knows best.
We ask Allah to heal you and make you well, and to replace your waswaas with peace of mind and certain faith.
You should realize that what has befallen you is a great test, and if you bear it with patience and seek reward with Allah for it, you will attain a great deal of good, by Allah’s leave. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Calamity will continue to befall the believing man and the believing woman with regard to themselves, their children and their wealth, until they meet Allah with no sins on them.” al-Tirmidhi (2399).
Al-Tirmidhi (2396) and Ibn Maajah (4031) narrated from Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The greatest reward comes with the greatest trial. When Allah loves a people He tests them. Whoever accepts that wins His pleasure but whoever is discontent with that earns His wrath.” So receive the glad tidings of a great reward, in sha Allah, and remember that what you feel in yourself will not harm you, so long as you love Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and His religion, and you hate disbelief and its people.
There follows some advice with which we ask Allah to benefit you:
1 – You should be certain that this waswaas comes from the shaytaan and is not real. How can you be a non-Muslim when you pray regularly, read Quran and listen to useful lectures?
2 – You should remember Allah a great deal (dhikr), so that the shaytaan, who is the source of this waswaas, will go away from you. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “… and He (Allah) has commanded you to remember Allah, and the likeness of that is a man who was being pursued swiftly by the enemy, until he reached a strong fortress in which he found protection; similarly a man cannot find protection from the Shaytaan except by remembering Allah.”
3 – You know that the way to treat this waswaas is to ignore it, so continue to do that.
4 – You should fill your spare time with things that will benefit you, so that you will not have time to think about this waswaas.
5 – You should pray to Allah a great deal and turn to Him, and seek refuge with Him. Look for the times when du’as are answered, such as the last third of the night and when prostrating.
We ask Allah to heal you and take away this evil from you.
And Allah knows best.
You have done well to call these thoughts that cross your mind waswaas. It is well known that waswaas comes from the Shaytaan, because the Shaytaan does not want anyone to turn back to his Creator in repentance, regretting (past mistakes) and turning towards what is right and good. Rather he wants to divert people away from religious commitment using all kinds of temptations and specious arguments. If he is unable to do that, he resorts to waswaas and stirring up doubts, to make a person feel anxious and uncertain. Hence you will find that you will not experience this waswaas except after you have given up some sins that he used to make appear attractive to you. When you prevailed over him in this area, he resorted to the weakest of his tricks, which is waswaas. The companions of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) complained to him that they noticed some waswaas that they disliked and did not want to speak of, and he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to them: “Praise be to Allaah Who has reduced his tricks to whispers.” Narrated by Abu Dawood from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Abbaas ; classed as saheeh (authentic) by al-Albaani as stated in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
When he was unable to stop them doing good, he resorted to waswaas.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
Waswaas is something that happens to everyone who turns to Allaah in dhikr (remembrance) etc; it will inevitably happen to him. So he should be steadfast and remain patient, and persist in his dhikr and prayer, and not give up, for by persisting in it he will foil the plot of the shaytaan and “ever feeble indeed is the plot of Shaytaan (Satan)” [4:76].
Every time a person wants to turn to Allaah in his heart, whispers of other matters come to him. The shaytaan is like a bandit; every time a person wants to travel towards Allaah, he wants to intercept him. Hence it was said to one of the salaf (pious predecessors): The Jews and the Christians say, we don’t experience waswaas. He said: They are right! What would the shaytaan do with a ruined house?
Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 22/608
Hence you should not pay any attention to this waswaas, and do not let it form an obstacle on your way towards Allaah.
With regard to what you have mentioned about some of the kuffaar non-Muslims and innovators enjoying a sense of happiness and tranquillity, you did well to say in your question, “but I do not know if it is real.” Many of these pleasures are false, appearing outwardly whilst inwardly the person feels lost and anxious, which can only be dispelled when a person is truly sincere towards Allaah in submitting to Him and pleasing Him.
Here you should pay attention to a number of matters:
1 – The measure of sound ‘aqeedah is not whether one feels at ease or not, rather sound ‘aqeedah is known from what is stated in the Qur’aan and the Sunnah (reports) of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), in accordance with the way of the companions of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). If you are confused about any matter, measure it against the words of Allaah, may He be exalted, the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and the words of his companions. If you find that the companions of the Messenger of Allaah said that, then you will know that it is true, and anything other than that is false. If you are unable to do that, then ask scholars whose knowledge and method are in accordance with the way of the Sahaabah and the righteous salaf. This is the only true standard.
With regard to the happiness and tranquility that are the result of sincerely seeking the pleasure of one's Lord and following the Sunnah of His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Whoever works righteousness — whether male or female — while he (or she) is a true believer (of Islamic Monotheism) verily, to him We will give a good life”
2 – Feelings of anxiety and pressure are something relative; it varies from one person to another. Sometimes a person may live in the most difficult of circumstances and not experience any such feelings, because he is dead at heart. Do you not see how a blind man may live in the most intense darkness but he does not feel that it is dark? That it because he does not have any sight at all. The same applies to one who is dead at heart; he does not have any feeling of life at all, so he cannot feel a sense of loss at its absence.
But Allaah says, and His word is true (interpretation of the meaning):
“But whosoever turns away from My Reminder (i.e. neither believes in this Qur’aan nor acts on its teachings) verily, for him is a life of hardship, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Resurrection”
The word “dank”(hardship) has been interpreted in a number of ways. In the Tafseer of Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) it says:
i.e., hardship in this world, so he will not feel any peace of mind or ease, rather he will feel constricted because of his misguidance, even if he seems outwardly to be enjoying the luxuries of life, wearing what he wants, eating what he wants, living wherever he wants. But his heart has not found certainty and guidance, so he is in a state of anxiety, confusion and doubt, and he will remain in that state. This is the life of hardship.
Al-Dahhaak said: it refers to evil deeds and provision that comes from haraam (unlawful) sources.
It was narrated that Abu Sa’eed said, concerning the phrase “a life of hardship”: His grave will be constricted for him until his ribs interlock.
It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “ ‘for him is a life of hardship’ refers to the torment of the grave.’” Narrated with a jayyid isnaad (good chain). End quote.
If we assume that a kaafir non-Muslim or evildoer lives a happy life in this world, even inwardly, he is still lacking in the happiness and tranquility that the true believers enjoy, and what awaits him of torment in al-Barzakh (life in the grace) and thereafter is terrible hardship. We ask Allaah to protect us and you from the torment of the grave, and to make us steadfast in adhering to the truth until we meet Him.
Finally, you should strive to do acts of worship and good deeds, and shun the whispers that cause anxiety. You should acquire beneficial knowledge, for it will protect you, by Allaah’s leave, from all sorts of confusion and uncertainty.
And Allaah knows best.
We ask Allaah to heal you and grant you relief from this waswaas, because waswaas is a kind of sickness by means of which the shaytaan causes anxiety and depression to the believer. We advise you to be patient and to turn to Allaah and ask Him for healing and recovery, for He is All-Hearing, Ever Close and Ever Responsive, may He be glorified and exalted.
You should note that the best remedy for waswaas is to ignore it and not pay any attention to it.
Your fasting is valid, and you do not have to repeat any of the fasts, even if you intended to repeat them because it is, as you know, waswaas, and there is no reality in it. See the answer to question no. 39684.
The emission of a yellowish or brownish discharge after the white discharge is not hayd (menses), because Umm ‘Atiyyah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: “We used not to count the brownish or yellowish discharge after the end of menses as anything.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim .
And Allaah knows best.
Waswaas is a kind a sickness, may Allaah keep us and you safe from it. It is caused by the shaytaan gaining control over a person and filling him with anxiety, grief, distress and worry.
Waswaas is of various kinds, such as waswasah about divorce, where the person affected thinks that he has divorced his wife, or thinks to himself about divorce and he is uncertain as to whether he has uttered the words of divorce or not, and he remains confused, although he has no intention or desire to divorce his wife.
Some of them think that if they say a certain word to their wives or they do not respond to them, that divorce has taken place thereby, and that this is a metaphor for divorce. All of that is an illusion that has no reality. Perhaps he feels that the words came out of his mouth and he heard them. Even if we assume that such a person did speak audible words, then as long as he is affected by waswaas and did not really intend a divorce, then his divorce does not count. This is the meaning of the words of Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) quoted in the question.
Some people experience waswaas with regard to purification; every time they do wudoo’, (ablution) they repeat it, thinking that they did not wash one part of the body, or that their wudoo’ is lacking, or that if they do not repeat wudoo’ they will remain uncertain for the rest of the day. Thus he is overwhelmed with a strong urge to repeat his wudoo’, and he will not feel at ease until he does so. We have mentioned in a number of answers that the way to treat waswaas is to strengthen one’s faith by doing righteous deeds and reciting beneficial dhikrs (words of remembrance), and also not paying attention to the waswaas or responding to it.
And Allaah knows best.