Case 33: Sister suffering from OCD

‎﷽‎

ولحَمْدُ الله رب العلمين

‎و الصلاة و السلام على محمد و على آله و اصحابه اجمعين وبعد

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

❓*Question* ❓

Today’s question is regarding a sister who has constant doubts regarding her wudu and salah, and she takes anywhere around 25-30 minutes just to perform her wudu, and more so with her salah, because she has this compulsive thought that she might have made mistakes and might have not done it properly. This makes her mentally and physically weak and tired.

Answer.

According to Mayo Clinic, Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead you to do repetitive behaviors (compulsions). It’s also possible to have only obsessions or only compulsions and still have OCD.

OCD in Islam can comprise of taking too much time to make wudu, fear that one might have missed something in their salah, or that their tajweed isn’t proper, feeling impure all the time, or even having thoughts that you can’t even mention in front of anyone, repeatedly so much so that it has become an obsession and compulsion that has disrupted their every waking moment. From an Islamic stand point these are usually considered as waswasaah or whisperings from shaitaan.

Some people are overcome by certain uncontrollable thoughts, which are at times accompanied by self-invented rituals. When these thoughts and rituals take more than 1 hour per day, then a person is said to be suffering from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).

The most common OCD obsessions and compulsions among Muslims are:

– Which Rak’ah of Salah am I performing?

– Doubt whether I performed Salah correctly or not.

– Fear of impurities when doing Wudu’ and while performing Salah.

– Doubts of passing wind, and nullification of Wudu’.

– Doubts regarding Wudu’: whether it was performed correctly or not.

– Blasphemous thoughts.

– Constant feeling that the clothes are unclean.

These obsessions lead to certain compulsions:

– Doing Sajda e Sahu in every Salah

– Re-performing Salah

– Performing Wudu’ several times

– Taking a lot of time in doing Wudu’

– Spending too much time in all purification/washing activities e.g. washing hands after meal

Defining features of these Obsessions are:

* Intrusive quality: The thought, image, or impulse repeatedly enters consciousness in an unintended manner; that is, it occurs against one’s will. An emotional feeling that is compulsive is associated with the thought. These are mostly unwanted thoughts leading to unwanted emotions.

* Unacceptability: The negative effect associated with these unwanted thoughts and emotions may vary from an annoyance to unpleasantness or distress to strong fear or anxiety.

* Subjective Resistance: There is a strong urge to resist, suppress, dismiss, or prevent the obsession from entering consciousness, either through avoidance, thought control approaches, or overly repetetive rituals.

* Uncontrollability: There is an internal sense of decreased control over the obsession.

We all know that we have a Shaitaan (Jinn, Qareen) attached to us, and it constantly whispers to us and instills deceiving thoughts in our minds, making us feel that they are our own thoughts. Sometimes people exaggerate these whispers, or waswasaas to such an extent that they start thinking them to be sacred. If these thoughts were sacred then why do you suffer from them?

There are two types of people who fall victim to these whispers or waswasaas to such an extent that it becomes an abnormality/disorder.

* For some people it becomes very difficult to repel these whispers or negative thoughts as useless, because they tend to remain confused on the source of such thoughts. They jumble up waswasaas with thoughts from one’s self (mind), and from one’s inner self (nafs).

* Others tend to be totally heedless of the severity of these waswasaas, and every thought that comes with a certain level of strength they tend to label it as their own. And there might be some who don’t really ‘believe’ in shaitaan’s whispers.

So, for one reason or the another, when one starts to dwell in these waswasaas, they may develop this disorder and those who overcome Shaitaan will not develop it. Our ardent enemy shaitaan is invisible so there is a specific way of fighting it.

– Firstly one needs to be aware of the tactics of the Shaitaan and his powers and limitations

– One needs to know the elements of waswasaas of Shaitaan

– One needs to be aware of their own powers and limitations.

Cognitive theory in the study of psychology suggests that as long as people interpret intrusive thoughts as ‘catastrophic’, and as long as they continue to believe that such thinking to be true, they will continue to be distressed and will practice avoidance and/or ritualistic behaviors .

Prophet Muhammadﷺ said: “Allahﷻ has forgiven the wasaawis (satanic whispers/intrusions) that arise in the hearts of the people of my nation until one acts upon them or talks about them”

[Sahih Bukhari and Muslim]

It is because when we ignore them, and don’t talk about them or do not act up on them, they do not harm us in any way, ‎إن شاء الله

This hadith is to prevent ourselves from being a victim of waswaas. But, in this sister’s case she has already dwelled into these whispers to an extent that she is obsessed with them, and the self-invented rituals (compulsions) are taking a notable time away from her daily life.

Waswasaa is something that happens with all of us, but some of us dwell in them so much, in heir frequency and the actions that they drive the person into makes them a ‘patient’. And there is a solution for every disease.

Prophet Muhammadﷺ said: “Allah‎ﷻ has not sent down any disease but He has also sent down its cure. Those who know it, know it, and those who do not know it, do not know it.”

[Narrated by Ahmad ; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Ghaayat al-Maraam]

Once one has come to this stage, they need to carefully measure their actions and follow some steps to get rid of them.

* Disregarding any waswasah about breaking wudu’

Repeating Wudu’ again and again due to doubts is the result of waswasah. It is an action driven by a negative thought. Wudu’ does not break on mere doubts and this rule is very clear from the hadith of the Prophetﷺ:

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet Muhammadﷺ said, “If one of you finds a disturbance in his abdomen and is not certain if he has released any gas or not, he should not leave the mosque unless he hears its sound or smells an odour.”

[Sahih Muslim]

On one hand one should not be careless to the extent that even when they know that they don’t have wudu’ they assume the opposite, and on the other hand they should not be extremist and follow the doubts when they are quite sure. So, repeating the wudu’ on doubts (whether severe or slight) is in and of itself a disobedience to the order of Prophet Muhammadﷺ and not an act of piety like Shaitaan makes one feel. Imposing on your-self too-much strictness in a matter of religion which has been kept flexible by Prophet Muhammadﷺ means taking-away importance from some other matter. So, Prophet Muhammadﷺ closed the door of this innovation of repeating wudu’ on doubts and clarified that wudu’ is rendered as nullified only when there is certainty of that.

A desert Arab came to the messenger of Allahﷺ and asked him about wudu’. He demonstrated (washing each part of his body) thrice, and then said: That is (the method of) ablution. And he who does more than this has done wrong, transgressed the limit and has oppressed (himself).

[Sunan ibn Majah- classified as sahih by Al Albani]

* Wasting Water in Wudu’

When one starts following the doubts that Shaitaan creates in one’s mind, they get into a lot of other sins including wasting water by performing Wudu’ again and again, by taking bath time and again with an extended period under the shower owing to extreme care, and by washing one’s clothes on mere doubts of impurity etc.

It has been narrated on the authority of Abdullah bin ‘Umar, that the Prophetﷺ passed by Sa’ad he was performing wudu’. He said: What wastage is this? Sa’ad said: Is there wastage in wudu’ also? The Prophetﷺ said: Yes, even if you are at a flowing river.

[Masnad Ahmed and Sunan Ibn e Majah, The hadith has a weak chain as pointed out by al-Albani but it is used to emphasize an established fact which is mentioned many a time in the Qur’an itself.]

Allahﷻ says in the Qur’an:

“….And eat and drink and be not extravagant; surely He does not love the extravagant.”

[ Surah Al A’araf :31]

“…and do not act extravagantly; surely He does not love the extravagant.”

[Surah Al-An’aam:141]

* Doubts/Uncertainty/Forgetfulness in Salah

Mind wandering away in Salah is very common, and it even happened at the time of Sahaba, and Prophetﷺ told us of a Specific Shaitaan who does that and asked us to seek refuge from it and spit to ward off the Shaitaan. Heﷺ did not mention Sajda e Sahw in this case, so one should not make it a habit to do Sajda e Sahw at the end of every Salah considering that his mind did wander away to some extent.

The Messenger of Allahﷺ said, “A person may be distracted whilst praying so only one-half of it, or one-quarter, or one-tenth or less, is recorded for him”

[Masnad Ahmed bin Hanbal and Sunan Abu Dawud, authenticated by al-Albani]

One important thing for those suffering from waswasaas is to know: You are not suffering from any memory-loss rather it’s a reduced confidence in one’s memory. Shaitaan is attacking your subconscious memory as he can’t really change your conscious memory directly. So, you must remember that when you suffer from forgetfulness in Salah, that might be natural if it happens rarely, considering that it some times also happened in the life of Prophetﷺ as well, and he was the best to walk the earth. But, if that happens very often then you are person who is doubting a lot and is affected by waswaas; then this hadith (below) should help them realise that their main objective is to humiliate the shaitaan by not being bothered by those doubts and retaliating by your actions.

Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri, Allah’s Messengerﷺ said , “If any of you doubts during his prayer and he does not know how many [raka’aat] he has prayed, whether it is three or four, then he should discard and cast away his doubt. He is to continue upon what one is sure of [i.e. the lesser] then perform two prostrations before making tasleem. If he ends up [in reality] praying five [raka’aat], then his prayer will be an intercession for him; and if he ends up completely the [requisite] four [raka’aat] then it is targheeman for Shaitaan.”

[Sahih Al Muslim]

* Transgressing in Purification

Being over conscious about purity and cleanliness is also against Islam. Islam being a balanced religion does not guide us to any extremism. It is true that Islam declares “cleanliness” as half of “faith” but it does not allow anyone to get into cleanliness issues so much that other aspects of deen are forgotten.

`Abdullah ibn Mughffal narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said, “There will be people from my nation who will transgress in making supplications and in purifying themselves”

[Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and An-Nasa’I and it has been authenticated by al-Albani]

* Wasting Time

‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud reported that the Messenger of Allahﷺ said, “The feet of the son of Adam will not move away from his Lord on the Day of Resurrection till he is asked about five things about his life, how he spent it; about his youth, how he passed it; about his wealth, how he earned it; and on what he poured it; and what he did with that which he learnt.”

[Jami’ Tirmidhi]

Half an hour for every Salah (common for OCD patients) and few more times here and there makes it around 3 hours/day in the washroom. When you are asked on the Day of Judgment: “Where did you spend your age? 3 hours/day makes it 1100 hours/year approximately. Meaning a person living 60 years spends almost 8 years in the washroom. Are you ready to reply Allah that I used to spend 1/8th of my day in the washroom and hence I spent 8 or so years of my life in washroom?

* Precaution or Waswasah

What an OCD person labels as precaution is in reality a waswasah.

– Precaution is to follow the Sunnah in the best possible way and to avoid any negligence and exaggeration in following the Sunnah.

– Waswasah is that a person exaggerates beyond the practice of Allah’s Messengerﷺ and his companions, deeming it to be a part of religion or a necessary ‘precaution’ for himself. E.g. Cleaning parts of body more than thrice in wudu’, using excessive water in wudu’ or ghusl etc

Ibn al-Qayyim says, “There are thousands of things which the people afflicted with waswasaah take as a part of religion, cloaked in ‘precaution’, whereas, precaution is to be exercised in following the sunnah”

[Kitab ur Ruh, Ibn al-Qayyim]

Anyone suffering from such doubts and waswasaas should take these points into consideration and ‎إن شاء الله try to understand that in the pursuit of pleasing Allah‎ﷻ, they are in fact falling prey to extremism which is in and of itself a sin.

I ask Allah‎ﷻ to protect us from the Waswasaas of Shaitaan, and our own Nafs. And, I ask Him‎ﷻ to protect us from any form of transgressions against our souls and keep keep us steadfast upon the Sirat Al Mustaqeem and the middle path.

أمين يا رب العلمين

‏[Source: Islamandpsychology.blogspot.ae]

‎سُبحَانَ رَبِّكَ رَبِ العِزَّةِ عَمَّا يَصِفُون وَسَلَامٌ عَلى المُرسَلِين والحَمدُ الله رَبِ العلمين

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