Dealing With OCD and Intrusive Thoughts – Ask Shaykh YQ #115

Yasir Qadhi


Channel: Yasir Qadhi


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The speakers discuss the importance of the Islamic law in reducing the risk of experiencing an OCD, emphasizing the need for certainty and avoiding negative emotions when actions cause harm. They advise individuals to avoid activities that cause their emotions to become activated and to focus on their mental health instead. The speakers also suggest seeking professional help for people suffering from an unusual behavior and educating oneself and finding help for mental health issues. They advise against verbalizing negative thoughts and offer advice on how to overcome the condition.

Transcript ©

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Let us begin. Our first question is from brother Achmed. he emailed emails from London. And he says that he suffers from OCD. And he constantly gets bad thoughts that causes him to feel that he might have left Islam because of these thoughts that he's getting. So he constantly renews his Islam by saying the Shahada. And so he's asking for advice about that he's frustrated, he's tired, and he's reaching out for help. I'll add another question from sister Pfizer, also from England, that she's also saying the exact same thing in terms of that she's suffering from OCD. So I'm going to take both of these questions together. But her OCD deals with cleanliness, and she's always doubting her

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will do her purification. Even for example, she says she enters the restroom, and then she feels that the floor is unclean. So every time she does will do then when she walks outside, she thinks she might have touched something on the floor when she's walking out. And so how can she pray in this regard? And she's worried about the validity of her solder. So I'm going to combine both of these questions because of the similar nature of the the, the concept of OCD, and inshallah tried to give an Islamic answer.

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107 me, Kobe, Nika. Illa. De Jalan, no, he lay him first.

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recovery in.

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Now, of course, the main features of these questions are about the obsessive compulsive disorder, OCD. And for those of you that are unaware, for To summarize, OCD is intrusive thoughts are usually relentless, there is sometimes for most of us, we would we would view them as being not normal or not, you know, they're not something that we would consider to be rational, or they seem to be just to, you know, irrational from our perspective, again, from the perspective of those who are getting these thoughts. They're, they're particularly they think it is completely normal. So these are

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thoughts that keep on coming into one's mind that drive the people who get them to have be very anxious, and very specific thoughts. Usually, they're repetitive thoughts. So for example, in both of these scenarios, if you looked at it, the one question the one the first brother, he is saying that he's getting thoughts about ideas that make him think that he's not a Muslim anymore, and he's constantly renewing his Shahada over and over again throughout the day. And then in the second part, the sister is worried about the taharah issues, then adjust the issues, which uses the restroom. And then for example, you know, when she does will do, she puts her floor, she puts her foot on the

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floor, and then she is worried that the floor might have an edges on it. So she's, again, acting in a manner that again, this would be termed OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder. And this leads the people that are having these thoughts to do types of scenarios, repetitive actions in an effort to neutralize or in an effort to reduce, or in an effort to combat to those anxious thoughts, or those feelings are those sensations. And unfortunately, sometimes OCD even leads to a type of depression, sometimes even serious depression, and sometimes worse than this. So this is in a nutshell, and again, this isn't a medical analysis. I'm simply saying, from our lay perspective, how would those

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of us who don't have OCD view OCD. And to respond to this, there's two angles, two ways to respond. The first of them is from an Islamic, legal and theological standpoint, and that's what I'm going to talk a little bit about. The second is not my area of expertise, but I'll just you know, talk generically and that is from a psychological or from a therapy perspective, I am not a psychiatrist, I am not trained in psychology. So it's not my area to advise you specifics but I will simply give you generic advice that is found on you know, mainstream textbooks and whatnot of this nature and also advise you to find a therapist. So these are two areas to respond to this OCD firstly from the

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50 and the theological side and then secondly, some generic psychological advice or psychiatric advice that can help ensure a low tide in this regard as for the Islamic perspective as for the religious perspective, realize dear brother and dear sister realize anyone who is having these types of thoughts that Allah subhana wa tada has not made the religion that difficult, that a lot has not made the religion difficult. Allah says you read a lot who become a loser a lot once ease for you a lot once ease, and Allah says one magic Allah, Allah a comfy demon heritage, there is no difficulty in this religion. And one of the main principles of Islamic law. There is a

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A section of Islamic law called the Maxim's of fish, I will call our 50 year the Maxim's of filk. And there are five primary Maxim's and one of them, one of them is a year, a new law Yazoo be shocky that which is certain is not going to be gotten rid of by that which is doubtful that which is certain is not going to be eliminated by something that is doubtful. And I need you to memorize this rule and then to apply it to all of these scenarios to the best of your capability. So, for example, that which is certain you have wiped your hand that is now certain, okay, then you lift your hand up, then a doubt comes, did I miss a small area over there, that is a doubt the certainty you have

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wiped your entire hand up until the elbow that is certain you have seen this, you have felt it, okay? The certainty is that the floor is clean, that is certain, right? The default is that the floor in a Muslim household is going to be clean, right? You're talking about your own house, we're not talking about a public restroom, which, again, we're gonna get to in a while even data, but in your own house, the certainty The default is that everything should be clean, you should not be assuming that anything, you know, you touch or whatnot is not just on the contrary, the default or the certainty is cleanliness, then the doubt is what is there or not. So what is the principle of

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that which is certain is not going to be eliminated, because of something that is doubtful. So that certainty is what we will base our verdict on. And of course, this is based on many a hadith some of them, it appears that, for example, even some of the Sahaba because, you see, OCD is not a rare phenomenon. OCD exists in every society, it has existed since the beginning of time. And it is very likely that the companion who asked the prophets of Allah, why do you sell them? The following few questions we're going to mention, it's very likely that they also suffered from this type of very normal issue. And that is this OCD. So for example, a person is saying that almost drove a lock, you

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know, I'm basically always thinking that I'm breaking my womb, and I'm passing gas, right? I'm always breaking my will do, and I'm not sure it's just a thought in my mind. I'm not sure, you know, I feel a sense or I think I feel, I think I feel but I'm not sure what did our Prophet salallahu it who was said him say, do not break your sila, based upon those assumptions, again, going back to this principle, earlier, clean, the certainty is not eliminated, because of the doubt, what is certain you are praying and you've done will do what is doubtful? Did something come out? Did something cannot come out? Did I break? When did did you know was air released or not? This is

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doubtful. So whether the process Some say until you are certain? And how did he in that particular howdy raise the bar of certainty, he said until you hear or until you know, the smell comes to you that you are now certain and are our scholars mentioned, the purpose of these two is not that only these two, the purpose is to achieve the level of certainty, right. So if a person is certain that he has broken his will do if a person is certain that the arm has not been fully washed, so you go to the middle of the hand, and then you stop and we'll do okay. Or if a person is certain that you know for a fact that there's not just on your hand or on your foot, in this case, then Okay, that's

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a separate story. Otherwise, the default is that you ignore that which is doubtful. And in fact, in another Heidi's we also get a companion that seems to be having an OCD that is about what's worse, or thoughts, just like our first brother, the same question that he asked that a man came to the Prophet sallallahu sallam, and he said, Well, messenger of Allah, I get thoughts in my head, that are so evil, that I would rather be, you know, in one version, like, you know, torn apart before I uttered those things in might from my tongue, I'm getting these bad thoughts all the time. And again, perhaps perhaps even back then they weren't psychiatrists to analyze into, you know, a psycho

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diagnose, we don't know. But perhaps this was a companion that was also suffering from a type of OCD. So he is saying or messenger of Allah, I'm constantly getting these doubts that are very, very evil thoughts, very evil thoughts, and I would rather be torn to shreds then to verbalize them. Did the Prophet system tell him you have committed Cofer every single time the thought comes? Did the Prophet system tell him you have to do the Shahada multiple times a day? On the contrary, the Prophet says no calmed him down and said that God saw the holy man, what you are, your reaction basically, is the essence of faith. Your reaction is the essence of it. What does this mean? Our

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scholars say? The fact that the man felt a type of anger or disgust that those thoughts he didn't want to act upon them. He wants to get rid of them. The fact that the man is saying that I would rather be basically torn apart before I verbalize these thoughts.

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The fact that he says this, our Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said that emotion of hating those bad thoughts is the essence of Eve Subhan Allah, therefore, dear brother in Islam, you do not have to verbalize the Shahada over and over again, sure you want to do vigorous a dialogue, go for it, no problem. You want to do this Al Hamdulillah Subhana Allah, no problem, do it 100 times a day. Excellent. But to think that you have become a cafe because of a thought that comes into your head, not at all, you do not become a with a villa with a villa a cafe, simply because of a Westwater a doubt that is most likely coming from chiffon most likely, it's not even coming from you. It's not

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even from you. It's from a belief. It's from Shelton, they're just whispering things into your ear. And therefore do not act upon these things feel a sense of, you know, I wish it wasn't happening. And then that's it, you do not have to repeat the column as if you have left Islam. As I said, we are separating between doing the Kalima as a statement of Vicar, which is fine, you may do it at any time, or versus thinking that you have left the fold of Islam, and then constantly returning back quote, unquote, because your questioner says, I'm constantly re accepting Islam, no, you have never left Islam such that you need to re accept it, you are Alhamdulillah a Muslim throughout all of

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these thoughts that are happening. So we do not open the door to these whisperings to these Westwater, and we do not act upon them. So my advice to all of our brothers and sisters that are suffering from this phenomenon known as OCD that we should try our best to minimize and we should realize that hamdulillah The shediac does not make the religion difficult that we are not required to every single time we wipe our hands and we think oh, is every single molecule is every single spot don't know the default you wipe it and you go to your elbow and then that is it if even you do it once it is the minimum and three times is of course the sooner to do once you have done it even

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once that is it. The pain is there, the certainty is there, you have done it, the same goes for your bathroom floor or any place that is in your house that the default is that it is not just now in a public bathroom. By the way, if somebody were to say, Okay, how about the public bathroom? I'm not sure what is in there. Guess what our Prophet system explicitly said that if you are going to the restroom, then anything that is on the floor there, once you walk a few steps, it is forgiven, okay? It is forgiven, that the Hadith says that if a person steps in legis, okay, if a person steps in nudges, because in those days, there was no you know, flushing toilet there was you know, excrement

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and waste everywhere. And it was common for a person to step in something like this. So the Prophet system said the steps after it purify that which was that which was on it. So in other words, if you're wearing shoes, and you walk into the public restroom, you just simply continue walking outward. And you know, as you walk outward, that is going to be forgiven what is at the bottom of your the soles of your shoes, this is forgiven anyway, therefore do not make this such a big deal to shed Yeah, is an easy *tier. The shady shady is not requiring you to go to this level. Therefore, from an Islamic perspective, dear brother, and dear sister and all of you who are listening that

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have symptoms that are OCD, that understand that this is the simple principle, once you have done something that you should do, which is LDL clean, then you ignore all of the scheck that comes after it, you do not have to act upon it. And it does not affect the you're clean. Now, as for the psychological side of things, obviously, I'm not an expert. So I strongly urge you to seek professional help in this regard. And there's some generic advice that is mentioned in the standard books of that discuss this issue of them is that some psychiatrists say that your goal should not be that you need to eliminate the thought because that is perhaps an unrealistic goal. Rather, the goal

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is to conquer it such that you are not acting upon it. So the goal is not that you're not thinking the thoughts No, rather, the goal is to conquer so that even if the thoughts come that you are not going to be acting, your goal is to control the action. And it is not to control the thought. Okay, so that's one of the things are psychological tactics. Also, some psychiatrists have advice that go ahead and agree even with the thought, but then realize you don't have to act upon it. Therefore, in this example, for example, suppose that you know shaytaan comes with the OCD was was a comes and you think to yourself, oh, my hand did go all the way. But perhaps there's a molecule somewhere on my

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arm that the water didn't touch, in your mind, say, you know what, maybe there is that molecule, okay? But Allah does not require me to wash at the molecular level, so then I can ignore it. So then even embrace the thought, if it is going to allow you to not act on the action, right? Because the goal is that you don't make your

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Life's difficult. The goal is that Allah subhanho wa Taala is not going to call you to task for something that is so trivial, you wipe your hand. And if some portion is left, even after you wiped, you are forgiven at the molecular level of less not asking you to do that. And the same goes for all of the other aspects as well. Also, some of the psychiatrists have also mentioned that try your best to take care of your physical and mental health outside of the OCD issues, because anything that is going to affect your health will also trigger the OCD, anything that's going to affect your mental state as well might make the OCD worse. So take care of your body, eat healthy foods, you know,

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monitor your caffeine, how does caffeine affect you have good sleep habits, and make sure that you know you can try to minimize stress in other areas because we don't want other stress to come. Because if that happens, it's gonna cause your OCD to go into. If you like extra drive more than we don't need to make it worse. Also, try to find friends that are going to help you and stick around family members that are loving rather than rather than making things difficult and here, let me just pause here and address family members that are not suffering from OCD that please parents and siblings, please cousins and relatives, educate yourself, educate yourself. OCD is something that is

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beyond the control of those who are having it. Please have some mercy and sympathy. Have some love and compassion. Don't make things worse. Don't mock your brother or sister, don't put your son or daughter in more trouble or with a banana. Educate yourself. If you don't know, ask if you don't know, find out help from psychiatry from a therapist, because a lot of times and I'm sorry to be blunt here, but your attitude is making that OCD 100 times worse than it needs to be your callousness or your your hard heartedness or your lack of understanding because maybe it's not callous in some cases, but it's a lack of understanding they don't understand. And they're like why

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are you spending so much time in the bathroom? Why are you washing your hands 50 times Why are you doing will do and they get irritated. And they don't understand that this OCD is something that needs to be treated in a different manner. It needs to be treated with love and compassion. And also, by the way, sometimes it needs a type of medication as well. And again, you need to go to psychiatry, this is not my area to tell you, you know the specifics of this, but definitely go to a trained therapist, for some people, for some people, certain types of medications keeps the OCD in check. So you need to ask find out what is possible. Also, another advice that is given is that set

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achievable goals very small, incremental, achievable goals. For a simple example, suppose that on average, you're spending half an hour in the bathroom during will do over and over and over again, okay? Make it your goal that okay, and you're washing yourself, let's say you know, 10 times every limb, okay? Make it your goal that I'm never going to wash 10 times I'm going to bring it down to let's say five times, if it ever happens again, five times, don't think you're going to go from 10 to one overnight, it might not happen or maybe from 10 to eight even set your goal that I'm never going to go more than this, okay, then when you get to that goal, thank Allah subhanho wa Taala and

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then try to minimize even more. So work in increments. work in a goal that is reasonable for you, that's possible for you to do once you get it at hamdulillah it's an achievement, you've unlocked an achievement right from there, you reward yourself you do something that is permissible that you make yourself happy, you thank Allah subhanho wa Taala. And then you set the next goal and then the next goal and then the next goal until finally you are at least in that one act. And again, you start maybe one act at a time. Suppose you have this OCD complex and multiple areas, maybe it's not possible to simultaneously do all of them. So concentrate on one for example will do okay, so

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concentrate on the whoodle and say that insha Allah my goal is that day by day week by week I'm going to minimize the OCD when I'm doing will do so that is shall load data by a set number whatever you put the number in your head, you calculate it out, you know best what's what's going to work for you. And then you have a you know, a coach, if you like in your house, somebody that's supportive, and you then report to them, they're going to work with you and you set these realistic goals and inshallah Tada, it will also help in this regard. Also, many therapists advise keeping a journal as well a private journal, a personal journal, where you share your thoughts so that later on when you

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read them, you realize, Okay, you know what, next time I don't need to do that. So take a personal journal, and you express how you feel. And these days of course, there's so many ways even you can write it up and you know, lock the file, put a password on it, so only you can read your personal thoughts, because that also helps to bounce your ideas off of yourself so that inshallah tada you can minimize this complex of continually, you know, doing the same act over and over again. So that's another thing that can be done. Also, may I also advise one other thing, and that is to listen to lots of Quran to listen to her on. I have also dealt with cases of this nature where

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reading the Koran and listening to the Koran actually helped the OCD. Therefore try your best to have the Quran playing in the background and maybe even put on, you know earphones, when you are even doing will do, for example, you know, in this case inshallah is permissible, because it's going to be in the earphones, you put your earphones on, and you listen to some recitation of the Quran. I've had cases where, when they listen to the Koran, the OCD goes down a lot, which actually indicates that in that particular case, the OCD was coming not even from them, it was coming from chiffon. So they're completely you know, they have nothing to do with that. So all of this is some

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of the techniques that you can use. And most importantly, don't lose hope. Don't feel anything negative or bad, you are not a bad person for having OCD will build up your normal in your own way. And I'm normal in my own way, you know, what is normal for you might not be normal for me, what is normal for me might not be normal for you. Allah created all of us in different ways. And you have certain things you're struggling with, I have certain things I'm struggling with, and you know, perhaps in conquering your struggles, you have the opportunity to rise much higher than me and anybody else. So Allah has given you a task that he hasn't given me. And perhaps in conquering that

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task, perhaps you are going to rise to higher heights that I can possibly go to. So don't view it as an impediment, view it as a challenge that Allah has also given you the tools to conquer Why? Because Allah says in the Quran, now you can live Allahu nevsun. In Lusaka, Allah does not bear a soul more than a burden than it can't possibly carry. So any burden you have and OCD is a type of burden, any burden that you have, Allah is telling us in the Quran, that he knows you have the strength to conquer it, he knows you're able to overcome it. If he did not know this, if it was not true, you would not be in the situation. In other words, the fact that you are in this situation

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indicates Allah knows you can conquer the situation. Allah knows you have it in you to be able to rise up to the challenge and to be able to overcome this OCD. So again, remember, dear brother and sister that you don't feel bad or guilty, you are not leaving the faith and coming back in you are not constantly having to do will do No, this is all from shaytaan and it's not from you do what needs to be done the proper way. And then try your best to eliminate all other thoughts. Definitely You do not have to act upon those thoughts even if they come. Like I said, the goal is not necessarily elimination, if you're able to that's great, but try your best to eliminate but if

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you're not able to eliminate go ahead and accept the thought but then conquer the action, conquer the action and say I'm not going to act upon this. And realize as I said that earlier cleaner liars will be shocked what is certain is not going to be gotten rid of by that which is doubtful turn to Allah make dua to Allah subhana wa Taala and insha Allah to Allah insha Allah to Allah bit by bit slowly but surely you will be able to overcome your OCD to the point of your life becoming as normal as possible that hamdulillah and that is really the goal. metallisation make it easy for you