16 January, 2011

Overcoming Waswaas : The Whispers in Ibaadaat

The article has two parts; this is part 2 dealing with OCD related issues with Islamic rituals ('ibaadat and taharah) and part 1 deals with waswaas and OCD in general. Topics discussed include:

OCD from an Islamic Perspective - Reality of Waswaas (Negative/Satanic Thoughts) - Limitations of Western Psychology's understanding of OCD- Tips to overcome Waswaas (Obsessions + Compulsions) - OCD issues related with Salah (Prayer) - OCD issues related with Wudu (Ablution) - OCD and extremism.
Narrated Abu Huraira رضى الله عنه: The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, "Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by worshipping in the mornings, the nights."

View our latest write up on the issue : Islamic Solution for OCD (Waswaas) - A Comprehensive Guide

We've gone through the generic discussion on waswaas (obsessions plus compulsions) and tips to overcome them. Now we will deal with waswaas or OCD issues connected with Islamic Rituals that are ibaadaat. Sometimes we start following some Islamic teachings so strictly and extremely that we make it a burden for our- self, and the very source of spiritual health starts becoming a problem for us. We can only succeed against our enemy if we know its tricks. Satan is the biggest enemy of ours and one of the greatest trials too. No fitnah (trial) that we encounter but we had been warned of it before. A very old trick of Satan is to put us into doubts regarding our Salah and Wudu. This is something that even the Sahaba faced. As the time progresses we are getting weaker and our enemy is getting more intelligent. The importance the following the way of the Prophet is diminishing at a very fast pace.
If suddenly your mind clicked and reminded of you the times when you over-do your wudu and get confused in Salah and suddenly you shook it off thinking: 'I have a genuine problem'. Beware! This might be in itself a waswasa too. So, the main question that arises is how to be certain whether it's a waswasa or a 'real' problem. The answer is simple: if you can't swear by Allah that you have a medical problem that breaks your wudu often or you have some physiological problem that disturbs you during salah, then you are in doubt. And this doubt is in itself a certainty that you are a victim of waswaas from your cunning enemy. 

Satan tends to be pretty inventive and creative, and Muslims around the globe suffer from different flavors of obsessions related to wudu and salah which lead to a variety to ritualistic actions that are driven by invisible satanic thoughts. Let's discuss some commonly faced wudu and salah related OCD problems.

Repeating Wudu on Slight Doubts

Repeating Wudu again and again due to doubts is the result of falling into satanic whispers. It is action driven by a negative thought. Wudhu does not break on mere doubts and this rule is very clear from the Ahadith of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم:

Abu Hurairah رضى الله عنه narrated that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم 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 its scent." (Sahih Muslim)

'Abbad ibn Tameem related that his uncle queried the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم about a person who feels something in his abdomen while praying. Said the Prophet, "He should not leave (the prayer) until he hears it or smells it." (Sahih Muslim)

Ibn al-Mubarak, "If one is uncertain about his condition of purity, he does not need to perform a new ablution."

Imam al-Nawawi said: 'This Hadith establishes a rule to decide authenticity of matters depending on their bases as well as to state that accidental doubts make no problem'.

In the same way, if one doubts about making Hadath (impurity) while performing Wudu, he should not take such doubts into consideration, especially if one usually undergoes doubts. This is the best way to stop doubts.

Thus, it becomes clear that if one doubts about breaking wind or not after performing Wudu, he should not repeat Wudu unless he is sure he has broken his Wudu by a sound, smell or feeling of passing wind or something like that.

What is Certainty?

The Scholars have written that one should be able to take an oath by Allah to say that one's Wudu is broken, for the Wudu to be regarded as broken. If one is unable to take such an oath, one's Wudu will be deemed to be unbroken and hence, valid.

Clarification: Even when you are sure and can swear by Allah that you did pass wind Istinjaa is not required. Ablution would suffice.


So, repeating your wudu on doubts (whether severe or slight) is in itself a disobedience to the hukm of Prophet Muhammad and not an act of piety like Satan makes you feel. Imposing on your-self too-much strictness in a matter of religion which has been kept flexible by Prophet Muhammad means taking-away importance from some other matter. So, Prophet Muhammad closed the door of this innovation of repeating wudu on doubts by explaining the top-ranked doubt.

Questions to ask your-self

Did Sahaba repeat wudhu the same way?

Are you being more careful in the matters of deen than the Sahaba?

Isn't exceeding the path set by Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم and his Sahaba a path of extremism?

Wasting Water in Wudu

When one starts following the doubts that shaitan creates in one's mind, one gets into a lot of other sins including wasting water by performing Wudhu 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 Hadhrat Abdullah bin 'Umar رضى الله عنه, that the Holy Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم passed by Sa'ad رضى الله عنه he was performing wudu. He said: What wastage is this? Hadhrat Sa'ad said: Is there wastage in wudu also? The Holy Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: Yes, even if you are at a flowing river. (Masnad Ahmed and Sunan Ibn e Majah)

Note: The above mentioned hadith has a weak chain as pointed out by al-Albani and Sh'uaib Arnaoot but it is used to emphasize an established fact which is mention many a times in the Qur'an itself. 

"….And eat and drink and be not extravagant; surely He does not love the extravagant." (Surah Al A'araf 7:31) 

"…and do not act extravagantly; surely He does not love the extravagant." (Surah Al-An'aam 6:141)

Anas رضى الله عنه said, "The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to perform ghusl (ritual bathing) with a sa` (around 4 mudds) of water, and he used to make wudu' with one mudd of water" (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

`Ubaydullah ibn Abu Yazid narrated that a man asked Ibn `Abbas رضى الله عنه, "How much water is sufficient for wudu'?" He answered, "One mudd." The man asked, "And how much is sufficient for ghusl?" Ibn `Abbas said, "One sa`." The man said, "That is not sufficient for me." Ibn `Abbas said, "No! It was sufficient for someone better than you, the Messenger of Allah, صلى الله عليه وسلم " (Ahmad, Al-Bazzar, and At-Tabarani and it has been authenticated by Sh'uaib Arnaoot).

What is Mudd: Some schoalrs also define "Mudd" as being as much water one can carry in their two hands joined together. Others define it to be 600 grams.

What is Sa': One Sa' is approximatly 4 Mudd (about 2.5 kg).

Al-Bukhari said, "Scholars do not approve of using water beyond what the Prophet would use for wudu'."


Someone who is careful about resources of Allah will never commit excess in its usage. Prophet Muhammad used water very carefully, yet he was the most pure. If we use more water than him, and repeat the actions of wudu more than him than we are going against his sunnah. So, one has to be careful about using the least possible amount of water for wudu. Otherwise we might be over-doing when it comes to physical purity and in actual making our inner (baatin) impure by listening to waswaas of shaitaan.

Transgressing in Purification

Being over conscious about purity and cleanliness is also against Islam. Islam being the "mid-way" does not guide us to any extreme. 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 رضى الله عنه narrated that he heard the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم saying, "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 and Shu'aib Arnaoot).

Narrated Abu Huraira رضى الله عنه: The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, "Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by worshipping in the mornings, the nights." (Sahih Bukhari)

Wasting Time

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: "To put a barrier that will prevent the jinn from seeing the `awrah of the sons of Adam, let any one of you say 'Bismillah' when entering the toilet." (Jami' Tirmidhi)

Sayyidina Ibn Mas'ud رضى الله عنه reported that Allah's Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم said, "The feet of the son of Adam will not move away from his Lord on the Day of Resurretion 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?

Skipping Obligatory and over-doing another task

Leaving Salaht-ul Jama'ah

If one remakes Wudhu so many times, takes a lot of time and resources in "purification", it is certain that one will miss Salaht-ul Jama'ah. The following Ahadith indicate how serious the issue of skiping salaht-ul-jama'ah is:

In al-Saheehayn (the following version was narrated by al-Bukhaari) it is narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: "By the One in Whose hand is my soul, I had thought of ordering that wood be gathered, then I would command the call to prayer to be given, and I would appoint a man to lead the people in prayer, then I would go to men [who do not attend the congregational prayer] and burn their houses down around them. By the One in Whose hand is my soul, if anyone of you had known that he would receive a bone covered with meat or two (small) pieces of meat in a sheep's foot, he would come for 'Isha' prayer." (Saheehain)

It is narrated that Ibn Mas'ood رضى الله عنه said: "At the time of the Messenger of صلى الله عليه وسلم we used to think that no one failed to attend the prayer in congregation but a hypocrite or one who was sick." (Sahih Muslim)

Abu Darda رضى الله عنه said: They Holy Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, "If they are three persons in a habitation or in a jungle and they do not say their prescribed prayers jointly, it would mean that the devil has gained ascendency over them. Therefore, make a rule for yourselves to say congregational prayers, for a goat which leaves the flock is devoured by the wolf." (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, an-Nasai)

Narrated 'Imran bin Husain رضى الله عنه: I had piles, so I asked the صلى الله عليه وسلم about the prayer. He said, "Pray while standing and if you can't, pray while sitting and if you cannot do even that, then pray lying on your side." (Sahih Bukhari)

Salah has to be offered along with Jam'ah on the appointed time. Even if we have to crawl for it, we have to go to the Masjid. Prophet Muhammad didn't allow even the blind Sahabi RA to pray at his home, although his home was far away. So, how can we leave Jam'ah just because we are confused regarding our wudu? How can we leave Salah, just because we were perfecting wudu?

Marked Absent for Jum'uah Prayers

The Prophet said, "When it is a Friday, the angels stand at the gate of the mosque and keep on writing the names of the persons coming to the mosque in succession according to their arrivals. The example of the one who enters the mosque in the earliest hour is that of one offering a camel (in sacrifice). The one coming next is like one offering a cow and then a ram and then a chicken and then an egg respectively. When the Imam comes out (for prayer) they (i.e. angels) fold their papers and listen to the Khutba." (Sahih Bukhari)

Delaying Salah

"Verily, al-Salaat (the prayer) is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours." (Surah An Nisa 4:103)

"So woe unto those performers of salaat (prayers) (hypocrites), who delay their salaat from their stated, fixed times." (Surah Al Ma'oon 107:4-5)

"If the people knew the Reward for the Zuhr prayer in its early time, they would race for it (Sahih Bukhari)

Prophet Muhammad was asked: "Which of the actions is best?" He replied: "Observing prayer early in its period." (Sunan Abu Dawud)

Abu Amr ash-Shaybaanee said: The owner of this house - and he pointed to the house of Abdullaah (ibn Mas'ood) - said: I asked the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم 'Which action is most loved by Allaah?' He صلى الله عليه وسلم said: "Prayer at its proper time." Then he said: What next? He صلى الله عليه وسلم said: "Righteous conduct towards the parents." Then he said: What next? He صلى الله عليه وسلم said: "Jihaad in the path of Allaah." He (Abdullaah) said: He informed me with them, if I asked him for more he would have told me more. (Sahih Bukhari)

So, performing Salah at its time takes precedence even over Jihaad.


Such dangerous are the tricks of Shaitaan. Praying Salah when you feel the need of releasing yourself might be 'makruh' but leaving Salaht-ul Jam'ah is a clear cut sin. Scholars have disagreed on the 'permissibility' of second Jam'ah in a masjid which has a fixed imam and where five time Salah is prayed regularly. Hanafi Fuqaha don't give its permission for the reason that it becomes a habit and people start undermining the importance of First Jam'ah, which is actually the Jam'ah. So, missing the Jam'ah regularly, even if you say the second Jam'ah, that doesn't eliminate the sin from your part. Second Jam'ah is something that happened rarely, just two, three times, in the era of Prophet Muhammad SAW. Making it habitual is misusing the blessing of Allah that was reserved for unavoidable circumstances.

Depriving one's self of matters of great Reward (Jaza)

Wasting too-much time in Wudu and in Fard Salah (repeating it again and again on demands of Shaitaan) is something which deprives one from striving for many other matters which earn a lot of Sawaab. People with extra-care in matters of purification will be busy in their own rituals and will hardly make it to the Masjid in time to earn the great rewards for the first Row, and the first Takbeer etc.

"If they knew the reward for the 'Isha' and the Fajr prayers in congregation, they would join them even if they had to crawl. If they knew the reward for the first row, they would draw lots for it." (Sahih Bukhari)

Weird Dreams

If one falls into this trap of satan, one may start seeing impure, weird and disgusting dreams. The reason for such weird dreams is because one is listening to Satan the whole day and not only listening but also following satan, this thing is experienced by a lot of people. One must realize the importance of dreams as they are 46th part of Prophet-hood, the only part of prophet-hood that has remained between us and the instrument of being in direct guidance of Allah in times of greatest trials. If we only knew how important the dreams of a believer are, only then we would be striving to protect ourselves from satanic dreams.


We are misrepresenting Islam by our extremist acts. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: "The (whole) earth has been made a mosque (or a place of prayer) and a means of purification for me, so wherever a man of my ummah may be when the time for prayer comes, let him pray." (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

So, this hadith clarifies that matters of Salah and purification were made easy for this Ummah, and he who inflicts himself with troubles and extremes that are not from Allah, will be judged with added strictness too. So, what Allah has made easy, let it be easy. Allah knows we cannot be perfect in wudu. Allah knows we cannot be perfect in Salah. "Allah wants ease for you, and does not want difficulty". Why do we recite استغقرالله thrice immediately after Salah? This is a confession, an admission that we were not able to pray the way we were supposed to. Why do we ask Allah to make us amongst the توابين after wudu? This is a clear-cut confession that we have grave errors in performing the orders of Allah. The solution is to follow the guidelines set by the Prophet Muhammad and to follow his illuminated path. He had already warned us of the tricks of Shaitaan. He already warned us that these tricks would get severe in future: "There will be people from my nation who will transgress in making supplications and in purifying themselves". So, are you still going to prefer the waswaas of Shaitaan over the commands and guidelines of Prophet Muhammad? Are you going to make the religion difficult for yourself to follow?

Narrated Abu Huraira رضى الله عنه: The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, "Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by worshipping in the mornings, the nights."
(Sahih Bukhari)

Allah is not in need of our Salah or our wudu. He has ordered to us perform tayamum in case we don't find water. We have changed the way we perceive cleanliness. We try to leave behind the Prophet Muhammad and Sahaba in the matters of purification. Can we ever do that? So, where are we heading? We are over-emphasizing one thing. We are making things difficult for ourselves. They never lived in homes which were dust-free. They had cats in their homes. There was soil on the ground in their homes and in their mosques even. Remember the hadith where Prophet was prostrating in 'muddy water'. We have complicated religion for ourselves and we do it out of a sense of over-carefulness thinking this is something which Allah likes. We need to mend our thinking, even our concept of 'taharah' and 'cleanliness'.

The way out of waswasa is to oppose what the satan is telling. If satan is telling to leave your Salah and say it again, oppose it. If he's asking you to spend more time in wudu, do the opposite. Let us not inflict trouble on the 'angels' (kiraman katibeen) with us by spending too much time in the impure washroom, in the name of 'purity'. Let us not deprive ourselves of fazail of various matters by our self-imposed compulsions. Let us not enrage Allah by making His easy deen, difficult for our own selves. Let us defeat the Shaitaan and see things exactly the way Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم did, and realize that his way is the best, and we cannot leave him behind.

Note: this problem of becoming victim of satanic whispers is not with 1 or 2 persons, rather it is universal, and almost all of us face such whispers. And there are trained satan for this activity and they are very active for it through-out the whole world. There are thousands of muslims around the globe suffering from this problem. Do not be a part of the whispers of Satan. Defeat it.

اللهم فقهنا في الدين
"People cannot be developed; they can only develop themselves. For while it is possible for an outsider to build a man's home, an outsider cannot give the man pride and self-confidence in himself as a human being. Those things a man has to create in himself by his own actions. He develops himself by what he does; he develops himself by making his own decisions by increasing his understanding of what he is doing; and why; by increasing his own knowledge and ability, and by his own full participation - as an equal - in the life of the community he lives in. " (Nyerere, 1973:60)

Author: Muhammad Awais Tahir
Send your comments and suggestions at Muhammad.Awais.Tahir@gmail.com

View our latest write up on the issue : Islamic Solution for OCD (Waswaas) - A Comprehensive Guide


  1. assalaamoualikoum. your articles appear to be very interesting but unfortunately I am not being able to read them properly since there is that sliding column on the left which prevents one from enjoying a continuous reading flow.It would be greatly appreciated if you could shift it to the left.
    May Allaah reward u loads for your efforts and increase your insight!ameen

  2. AMendments have been made,that's so nice.May Allaah bless u always and increase your knowledge and wisdom!!ameen

  3. Jazak Allah! Great! Appreciate it and May Allah give you reward and health so you can help more. It helped me so much and on the RIGHT moment!!!! Jazak Allah Khayran

  4. JazakhAllah khair! Much needed article .

  5. I needed this. Alhamdulillah!

  6. Allahuakbar...jazakallahu khair for this article iam one of those who spent lot of time in washroom doing wudu....Allahuakbar..jazakallahu khair iam so happy reading this article iam going to fight against whispers now in sha Allah...may Allah give u success and aafiyat in both the worlds