Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: I have depression and I struggle to pray on time. I get very nervous about making wudu and praying at work. I want to be seen as normal at work. Confronting anyone about why I do such and such thing gives me a lot of anxiety.
Also, I feel very depressed with Islam. I can’t follow all the rules especially when it comes to parents because I argue with them when I get depressed. I feel suffocated. I don’t want to be Muslim anymore.
What can I do?
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. Dear sister, please do not give up on your Islam. Allah loves you, and has blessed you with sincere concern for your deen. Your asking this question is a good sign that you care deeply about pleasing Allah.
It sounds like you have a serious case of waswasa (baseless misgivings), and this driving you to despair. Shaytan is the trickster who wants you to lose complete hope. He would rejoice if you gave up on being Muslim.
It takes time to recover from waswasa. Please be gentle with yourself. Start by reading up more on waswasa and its effects here and here, and slowly practice ignoring these baseless misgivings. When you start getting waswasa, try different strategies until you find one or a combination that works:
1) Seek refuge in Allah from Shaytan.
2) Imagine a big red stop sign.
3) Distract yourself by doing something good e.g. make remembrance of Allah, make dua, recite Qur’an.
4) Go for a walk.
5) Listen to Qur’anic recitation.
Social anxiety and Depression
Are you seeking professional help to help you overcome your struggles with social anxiety and depression? Social anxiety can be so debilitating, and it only makes your waswasa and depression worse. These are three separate issues, but they feed into each other and can leave you in a state of deep agitation and despair. I pray that Allah grants you complete shifa.
Please consult a trained and compassionate therapist who can help you cope with your social anxiety. If you are finding it difficult to find a suitable therapist, then please check out these self-hypnosis downloads on overcoming social anxiety as well as depression.
Pressured about Islam
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said: When Allah decreed the Creation He pledged Himself by writing in His book which is laid down with Him: “My Mercy prevails over My Wrath.” [Hadith Qudsi]
Right now, focus on getting well and performing your personal obligatory actions as best as you can. Please do not consume yourself with worry about what others think, or fears that you are a poor ambassador of Islam. Take things one step at at time. Allah is Merciful, and He knows how much you are struggling right now. Have a good opinion of Him, and trust that He knows how much pain you are in.
Prayer at work
Rather than torment yourself with guilt about not praying at work, take small steps to rectify it. Please speak to your employers about needing some time to pray at work. You are already in hijab, alhamdulilah, and your request is a common one. If you find it too difficult to speak to them about it, start the conversation via email, and follow it up with a face-to-face meeting. Most employers are considerate and allow such things, so long as you hold up your end of the deal by being a diligent worker. Use your discretion and be considerate – when making wudu in the office bathrooms, don’t make a big watery mess. Take only as much as time as you need to perform your prayers.
There are countless Muslim employees who live in the West, pray during working hours, work hard for their money, and have the respect of their non-Muslim colleagues.
Chronic annulment of wudu
If you struggle to keep wudu, then there are dispensations you can take. I am not sure which madhab you follow, but please enrol in either the Shafi’i or Hanafi fiqh courses and ask your instructors what you can do to still make your prayers sound and valid.
It is a challenge for many of us to give our parents are due, especially before we become parents ourselves. Please complete The Rights of Parents course so you have a clearer idea of what Allah expects from us in regards to our parents. Please ask the instructor as many questions as you need to. In the meantime, try to follow these general guidelines with your parents:
1) Treat them with kindness and respect.
2) If you disagree on something, do so respectfully. Unless it’s out of necessity, try to avoid speaking about topics that upset them.
3) When you fear losing your temper, excuse yourself and leave the room to calm down.
4) When you do lose your temper, apologise as soon as you can.
5) Give them gifts to soften their hearts.
6) Offer to do errands for them such as grocery shopping, visiting them with their friends etc.
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “If you were to commit sin until your sins reach the heaven, then you were to repent, your repentance would be accepted.” [Ibn Majah]
Rather than focus on your continual state of sin, focus on Allah’s Mercy. Please read about the conditions for a valid repentance, and take small steps every day. Unless Allah wills, nobody transforms overnight. Our lives are a journey of missteps, mistakes, and continual returning to Allah.
I pray that Allah eases your distress, and grants you healing and tranquility.
Please refer to the following links:
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani