Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat is asked about intrusive thoughts that are heretical. He explains their origins, what they mean, and how to counter them.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I am a fourteen year old. My problem is that it has been five months that I am having these thoughts. First it started with thoughts suddenly coming about Allah. I resisted it. Then it went to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him. I resisted that too. And now it is the Qur’an and Islam.

I don’t like having these thoughts. I hate having them. When I go to school and go away from the remembrance of Allah they, suddenly, out of nowhere, just come. But when I start to pray and remember and come closer to Allah, they are not there. It makes me very stressed. For example they are like, I seek refuge in Allah, “Is Allah really true?” “Was the Prophet really a prophet?” Or like, “Is the Qur’an Allah’s word or did the Prophet make it up?”

These are thoughts which I hate to have and it was very hard for me to even write them. But I really need help. I am sad and very depressed. They just come out of nowhere. I am just sitting there and pondering on the greatness of Allah or the nobility of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, or pondering upon the Qur’an and suddenly these thoughts just come.

Please if you could answer me soon I would appreciate it very much.

Jazak Allah khayr.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I pray you are well.

Intrusive thoughts are not sinful

The thoughts you are having are not from you, and your dislike of them is a proof of this. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Indeed Allah has overlooked for my umma the thoughts that their minds say to them as long as they do not act on them or speak about them.” (Bukhari; Muslim)

There is no need to focus on them. The more you focus on them the stronger they get. It’s like trying you best not to think of white elephants: pretty soon all you can think about is white elephants.

You should relax, accepting that what is happening is out of your hands, and that you are being rewarded for the test of having them. Please refer to this answer for more information, and consider some of the forms of therapy mentioned in it.

Childhood experiences

Something which is quite noticeable in many, but not all, cases such as yours is that they went through a very difficult situation when learning religion as children. Children are sensitive and traumatic Qurʾan learning experiences leave a long-term effect, which sometimes manifests as an aversion to religion, or brings symptoms like this.

This is simply a defense mechanism due to their subconsciously associating the din to the painful memories or individuals who traumatized them. Many of these people need therapy or some form of help just to be able to focus themselves towards religion later in life.

It is obligatory on us a community to ensure that early learning of Qurʾan and Islamic Studies is engaging, enjoyable, and enveloped in the spirit of the tenderness found in the Sunna. May Allah facilitate these matters for the Muslims worldwide. Amin.

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

Abdul-Rahim.

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


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