Followers

22 February, 2013

Worried about Blasphemous Thoughts?

Scrupulosity (religious OCD) can take various forms. The two most common forms are waswaas (satanic intrusions) regarding one's belief and/or one's religious duties. Although, the ‘personality’ of these intrusions in both the cases is same, one has to deal with them a bit differently. The first one is commonly referred to as blasphemous thoughts that could include:
  • Fearing that one has actually disbelieved
  • Fearing that one has become a hypocrite
  • Continuous doubts regarding one's beliefs
  • Rational confusions about one's belief

Blasphemous thoughts, often lead to mental rituals, like reciting Shahadah (testimony of one’s belief) again and again, or counting one’s heart beats etc., as opposed to physical rituals in OCD related to religious duties like Salah (prayer) and Wudhu (ablution).

Everyone who is a believer suffers from these thoughts to some extent. Most people learn to ignore these thoughts. These thoughts show one’s fear of losing one’s belief and how dear he holds his/her belief. However, this very feeling is exploited by the Shaitaan (parasitic enemy) and fear is blown out of proportion. It’s rational, that only a person who has the treasure of Imaan (Faith) would fear losing it. For this very reason when Sahaba (Companions of the Messenger) would complain of blasphemous thoughts to Prophet Muhammad he would comfort them by saying that those were the very signs of Imaan (Faith) and on one occasion he also said “Praise be to Allah (God) who reduced the treachery of Shaitaan (satan) to waswaas (intrusions)”. This brief statement contains world of wisdom:
  1. One should acknowledge that these thoughts are not his/her own, and should re-attribute these thoughts to their actual source which is non-reliable. Hence, these thoughts need to be discredited (revalued).
  2. One should realize that this is the maximum what these negative forces could do to you. They cannot enter your heart or brain and take away your beliefs. Rather, they play a cunning trick of trapping you into seemingly positive thoughts, and disable you by blowing them out of proportion. 
  3. One should strive to filter out these thoughts and discard them. However, if he/she starts dwelling them, then they start becoming a part of him. After some while, you are reconditioned to think that way. It’s almost, like Shaitaan (Satan) planted the seed of doubt (blasphemous thoughts) in your mind, and you continually watered them by dwelling in them. Have you discarded those thoughts, they would have died their own death, but as you have over-valued they have reconditioned you, and now you have become habituated to having those thoughts in your life.

So, what is the way out?

1- CALL IT WHATEVER YOU WANT

To begin with, it is not important what you want to call this problem. Some people fear using the word ‘disorder’ and are hence in-comfortable with calling it obsessive compulsive disorder, or some might find the word scrupulosity seemingly terrifying. On the other hand, the word waswaas (intrustions) is too generic to convey the full meaning of what a person is actually suffering from. So, for me whether or not a person is diagnosed with OCD by a professional is not important. If one has reached a point where he/she required mental rituals to dispel blasphemous thoughts, or one is exhausted by the bombardment of the thoughts throughout the day, I would not mind using the word obsessive compulsive disorder or scrupulosity.  Diagnosis isn't that important. There are never any medical tests to confirm what kind of disorder a person is suffering from, and neither are there strict definitions of disorder. The understandings of disorders keep on changing and so do their definitions. It’s worth saying here, that everyone suffers from obsession with a particular thought/activity to some activity, however for some it start causing mental pressure and disability, that is when it becomes an issue. And there are 'trends'. Now, I talk to people with scrupulosity from around the globe, and all of them have similar problems. For instance, those who suffer from OCD related to blasphemous thoughts primarily, always tend to involve themselves in mental rituals rather than physical rituals. And those who suffer from obsession with cleanliness etc tend to involve in physical rituals. It’s important that you understand this. Whether or not you have been diagnosed is not important here. What is important is that you are preoccupied with certain scrupulous thoughts that are disabling you and affecting your everyday performance.

2- THE MAIN TASK: RE-ATTRIBUTE AND RE-VALUE

Your main task will always be to understand that these thoughts are not your own and are from an unreliable source: Shaitaan. That is why you need to re-attribute and revalue these thoughts. You have to understand the ‘personality’ of these attacks and how they become a part of you. Remember this is a fight and main objective is to discredit the Waswaas. Learning to stop them! If you can do that on your own, that would be great. But, at times you might require some therapy like 'Thought stopping' or ‘reconditioning’.

3- AFTER-SHOCKS

You have to consider these waswaas (intrusions) as an enemy and defeat them. It’s a battle that you need to see through to the end. Others might be able to help you in the therapeutic process, but it’s only you who can fully overcome this problem. There will always be certain after-shocks when you try to defeat it, like rebound attacks. But, don't dwell in those after-shocks and defeat them, and after some while those after-shocks will go away as well.

Be prepared for after-shocks, and the more after-shocks you defeat the less severe they will become in their intensity until they complete subside.

4- DEPRESSION SPIKES

And while you are fighting this thing, you will experience depression spikes, and to tackle those you need to have a fully planned daily routine. And always some 'escape' from these depression spikes, like indulging in some hobby, or listening to Qur'an, there's no general formula, whatever helps you.

5- TAKE A TIME OUT AND BE CONSISTENT

Fighting with this disorder would require firm determination. Do not expect the problem to be resolved over-night. In light of above guidelines, formulate a plan to defeat the disorder, and set aside a month in which you will follow the formulated plan. Take that one month, as a battle, and whilst in the battle-ground, there will be no way of re-treat. You will not admit defeat and retreat, rather you will see it through to the end, and by the end of the month, God willing, you will emerge victorious.

For some people, these waswaas occur with greater magnitude at particular locations. If you could avoid those locations it would be better. For people who feel particularly easy to fight these waswaas while they are traveling, they should plan a vacation and this battle together. Although its a battle, to ensure your success you have to make it easy for yourself, but carefully identifying your weak and strong points.

Also, try to make a routine for everyday, during this month of battle. Try to not leave out any free time when you make the routine. Keep yourself fully occupied. Do not present an 'empty mind' to satan because that becomes his workplace.  

6- MONITORING YOUR PERFORMANCE

Keep a log book, of your 'performance'. Monitor how successfully you ignored particular thoughts. For instance a log book entry might look like:
 
Had blasphemous thoughts at 1500 hrs while watching television. Successfully averted them by getting busy in…

Such a log book will have various benefits:
 
  • It will help you vent-out your thoughts
  • When you write down your blasphemous thoughts, you will inspect them rationally, and you will realize how silly your fears are
  • It will help you identify problematic times of the day or problematic activities during which attacks are more severe
  • It will help your psychologist/counselor to understand your problem deeply and provide you with a solution better tailored to your case

7- RATIONAL VS NON-RATIONAL THOUGHTS 

The above mentioned is primarily focused at non-rational blasphemous thoughts. Thoughts that come out of the blue, while you are engaged in a certain activity : ' what if all this is a lie ? ', ' do I really believe' , 'am I not a hypocrite' etc. 

Rational confusions, however, need to be dealt in different way. Rational confusions may include :
  • Problem in understanding certain Ayah (verse) of Qur'an
  • Some religious ruling seems brutal 
  • Philosophical confusions like basis of morality in religion etc.
These confusions need to be brought to the surface and dealt with. They might be caused due to incorrect understanding of a certain rulings, an inappropriate way of dealing with the texts, a misplaced argument etc. Try to write down these confusions and discuss them with whomsoever you feel might be able to give you satisfactory answers. You might as well share your confusion with me and I could pair you up with someone or some book who could help you in understanding the matter at hand deeply. 

There is a positive by-product of these rational confusions. They give you in-depth understanding of religion, and your belief becomes one that you have adopted after thorough inspection. You have more faith in your faith. The doubts in return spring more conviction, and makes you a conspicuous as you have accepted what you believe in both from your heart and your mind. 
 
If you need any help in formulating a self-help plan, feel free to contact me over muhammad.awais.tahir@gmail.com.

I am organising an online seminar on OCD in the muslim world. To register your interest please follow exploringpsyche.com/webinar 



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21 comments:

Muhammad Awais Tahir said...

Thanks alot, Amreen ! Spread it amongst those who might be in need of it.

l g said...

thank you. that is very helpful. masha allah.

adeel said...

i am suffering from Scrupulosity it is i guess the worst form i have bad thoughts so bad that i cannot even talk and write on this forum i am also taking medicine but still fighting help required.......

Muhammad Awais Tahir said...

Dear Ahmad,


Your message made my day. Feel free to get in-touch via mail.

Muhammad Awais Tahir said...

Glad you liked it. Thanks for the compliment.

Muhammad Awais Tahir said...

Brother, would you be able to get in touch via email so we can formulate a solution, God willing.

Anika said...

Just start doing maths in their mind. I had the most terrible ocd, i think i even committed blasphemy, i am not sure about that. But now i do maths in my mind

Like 84+29=??

65+34=??

Seriously it helps a lot.

Thanks to Allah now I am happy. He truly helped me

Muhammad Awais Tahir said...

Dear Anika,

Thanks for the valuable suggestion; A mental activity that involves you in it and distract your from OCD thoughts.

I wonder if anyone else has tried it.

Raheem said...

Brother, am still suffering from OCD. Please help me to come out of this problem.

Muhammad Awais Tahir said...

Dear Raheem,

Contact me over my email : Muhammad.Awais.Tahir@gmail.com. We'll figure out a solution together , in sha' Allah.

Regards,
Muhammad Awais Tahir

sara said...

quite relaxed after reading this post, otherwise i was thinking i am out of the circle of islam.

sara said...

God bless u n help u n ma n all muslims facing this problem.

sara said...

moreover, now a days i cant sleep because im in a continuous fight of denying such thoughts, denying myself i.e i tell myself "no, no i didnt think like that, i didnt say that, it didnt happen, nothing happened" . so this continuous fight keeps my brain active n i just cant sleep. i just sleep for and hour and a half or maybe a little more in 24 hours, and even when im sleeping ,i keep waking up again n again with same thought, even in my sleep im fighting. all this situation is extremly painful. Which is now a tiny bit less because of your post. Because now i have a hope that im still a muslim, and Allah is not angry with me for this.

fathima said...

Assalamu alaikum. Alhamdulillah very nic advic & xplantion... sistr saara i too hv d sam problm wit the hlp of allah aftr readin diz post im btr...sooo read diz continusly & listn 2 quran.... may allah bls us
Jezakallahu khairan

fathima said...

Assalamu alaikum sir, i snt u emails bt unfotuntly din gt d rplis so pls rply me as soon as posibl sir.... jezakallahu khairan

sara said...

May Allah help all of us I feel I have lost my religion. I can't sleep.

Muhammad Awais Tahir said...

To all those who have left questions in comments. Please contact me via muhammad.awais.tahir@gmail.com and I'll try to answer via skype. I'm unable to reply to comments here.Thanks

Bilal said...

Note:

Dear
Mr Awais;

Assalamoalikum;

I have been facing these waswasas(OCD) since I have been around 10 years old.
Now I am 28. With Allah's will, I started reading Quran (Translation) and
became a following Muslim when I was 18, and for round about the next 2 years I
had No Waswasas, to explain it in detail, I didn’t not have a doubt in the
book, not to an amount of an ant in these two years, rather my Iman kept
growing and growing, either it may be through knowledge or by Allah's help
spiritually. You see your dua's heard, you start seeing signs in the heaven and
earth, in your own creation, and your so astounded that, how is it possible
that all this time, i had failed to see myself in the mirror, or how i had failed
to see the beautiful construction/creation of the moon, and the sky and the
trees and so on. I would sit with atheists and argue with them, with no fear at
all, not fearing an ounce of chance of their view to affect me. To be honest it
was as if their thoughts were in capable of affecting me. While all this Iman
and signs that Allah showed me, I sinned again(A sin I hadn't done in 2 yrs).
Few days later I sat with an atheist to argue, and Bam!. Waswasas, and I was so
scared. I got so so so scared. Now whenever i started reading Qur'an these
waswasas would come, it was as if a Tens of voices speaking in my head. All my
knowledge had started to work against me. But when I was away from
Qur'an/prayer, I was okay. I couldn’t even discuss with anyone, as I thought
that would be a testimony of disbelief. Slowly and gradually I swayed away from
Islam. See how Satan dupes you, with having your eyes and ears open. But Allah
still didn’t leave me alone, and helped me come back.

The thing is from here I understood, why it is said to keep yourself paak(with
wudu). If you’re abstaining from sin and are paak, it next to impossible for
Shaytan to plant that seed. But at the moment of your weakness, he doesn't lose
any chance.

Thequestion, why Allah lets the shaytan deceive you, well in my case with my
limited understanding, most probably because I made myself napaak with the sin,
and He wanted make darja go even higher after facing this trial and Allah knows
best. You wouldn’t want to face this azmaish when you’re on your death bed,
would you.?

What we need to understand is, when you’re on Islam, you’re on THE ONLY
STRAIGHT path, and when you have great Iman, Your IBLIS greatest enemy, cause you’re
a walking Daw'a.

“Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from
their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful
ones (i.e. they will not be dutiful to You)." (araf:17) He
will come from everywhere, but we need to be dutiful to Allah.

Saytan wants us to believe he’s not there, so he can make us think/believe we are in
reality evil ourselves by nature and there is no way to fight it.

We need to keep asking Allah for help, for he is the only One who can help.
Firstly we need to realize that yes, He is surely able to help us with fight
within ourselves, and it’s not just us doing it. As Allah help change people’s
heart, will, thinking and personality. He certainly knows our thoughts and he
will help us control if we ask him. There is a lecture on Ruqya (Exorcism) by
Tim Humble which helped me understand how this Shayateen work, how physically
real they are.(watch all nine episodes- http://www.islamictube.com/609/exorcism-ruqya-course-episode-19-introduction-abu-ibraheem-tim-humble/ ) Shaytan is going to be working on us till the day we die, so
it’s a battle we should be ready to not give up in, and knowing that THE
ALMIGHTY is in our side. Secondly Zikr that is prescribed in sunnah will help.
Shayateen attack us in our moment of vulnerability (Sins), we should make them
weak with Zikr and become strong with good deeds and iman.

May Allah Help us all

Jazakallah.

Happy Hippo said...

Yes I have. I suffered from scrupulosity OCD since the age of 10 (now I am nearly 50 and Alhamdulillah, quite free from the shackles of OCD). Alhamdulillah, Allah gave me ideas to fight OCD without having to go through medication or formal counseling. I am a doctor now and realize that what I was doing for many years was essentially thought stopping, thought replacement, etc, which are known strategies to overcome negative automatic thoughts. One of my favourite distractions was mathematics, specifically adding up car plate numbers as i encounter them on the road on the way to and back from school etc., and making up words from those numbers, e.g 8055 is BOSS, just for fun. Life with OCD is a life of pain but when it hurts real bad, always complain and cry to Allah and just tell him how hard it is to bear and you will find peace in your heart again, InshaaAllah.

Sarah said...

Assalamualaikum. Im suffering from ocd since 3 months ago and it is very hard for me to control myself from keep feeling guilty. It is very painful. I tried to distract myself but sometimes i failed. I cant think abt anything bcs the blasphemous thought will appear even i didnt think abt it and this really makes me tired. I stop doing things that i used to do before. I become very sensitive and crying become my new hobby too. Btw, JazakAllahu khairan. May Allah bless you and all of us, insyaAllah. Assalamualaikum.

muhamed f said...

Masha allah.. very nicely explained.. may all reward u brother

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