Answered by Ustadh Abdullah Anik Misra
Question: As’Salamu Alaykum,
I have a problem with myself in that I keep having these images of harming myself somehow or committing suicide and I don’t know what to do. I’m at a difficult stage in my life right now. I have very bad family issues, financial problems and problems with myself in terms of my heart. I just feel like ending my life so I can escape all of my problems. The last few years have been very hard for me in that I’ve been unemployed for a while and I have mounting debts that I can’t pay off and other issues. Counselling hasn’t helped. I’ve turned to Allah and prayed long and hard but then suddenly I’ll become lax in my prayers etc. I feel like I’m being pushed away from worshipping Allah. I have started doing some SG courses and they help but I still find myself weak and vulnerable. And lately the suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming myself have started terrifying me. It’s like I don’t have the guts to hurt myself but at the same time I dont know what I’m capable of doing.
Please help me before I end up hurting myself.
Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate,
Wa alaikum as salam,
Dear brother in Islam: you possess the most valuable thing that any person could wish for: iman, or true faith in Allah Most High.
Remember that mankind’s sworn enemy, Shaytan, is insanely jealous of how much mercy Allah Most High envelopes you in at each moment, and how much Allah loves you. Even in your lowest, most sinful, most problem-ridden, most heedless, depressed state, you mean so much to Allah.
This is why Shaytan will do everything in his power to drive you out of true faith: so that you end up damned like him. Shaytan is an evil whisperer; his way of misleading you is to whisper doubts into your heart: doubts about the things around you, about your faith and your sanity, and ultimately, about Islam and Allah Himself.
Horrible Thoughts Are Whispers from the Shaytan into the Heart of the Believer
The thoughts and images you are seeing start from satanic whisperings (waswasa). You have become tricked into adopting them and believing that they are your own thoughts. You might feel disgusted, shocked and scared. But the thoughts are not really yours; you don’t really want to hurt yourself. They are devilish illusions, that while painful, cannot truly hurt you, or cause you to hurt yourself, unless you allow them to become a part of you.
Passing bad thoughts are normal for a Muslim, but they must be disregarded quickly and shunned. Once, the Companions confessed to the Prophet [peace and blessings be upon him]: “Indeed, we are finding thoughts within ourselves that any of us would find abominable to mention!” So the Prophet asked, “Do you really find that within yourselves?” They replied, “Yes.” So the Prophet said: “That is a clear sign of faith.” [Muslim]
Ridding Oneself of Bad Thoughts
The thoughts may be difficult to erase once the mind has adopted the whisperings. Firstly, at the onset of any of these images or doubts, I would advise that you immediately declare in your heart – with authority and certainty- that these are not your thoughts, and tell the Shaytan you are not about to fall for his tricks. Tell him your Lord is Allah, and that you are so grateful for that, and that you are not scared of him and his whisperings, as you have the greatest Protector watching over you.
Then, flee to Allah Ta’ala in your heart, and seek refuge in Him from the Shaytan with full sincerity, consciousness, and in utter neediness. Recite the final surah of the Qur’an with presence of heart, while knowing the meaning of its verses [Surah 114: al-Nas].
Admit to Allah Ta’ala that He is your only Lord; your only hope; your rock and your only refuge. Tell Allah that no matter what the thoughts say or provoke, you only want to stand by Him and worship Him. Confess your sins to Him, and repent for them. Then, ask Him to protect you and rid you of those thoughts forever. Completely consign the problem and solution to Him.
Shun Bad Influences, Live a Pure Life, And Trust in Allah
Once you’ve done that, do your best to rejoice and feel thankful for your faith- Shaytan hates to see that and is driven away by a believer rejoicing in his Lord. Shun and avoid negative, sinful influences in your life that enter your heart through your eyes and ears: violence, sexuality and pornography, or other vices.
Cut the mental noise out of your life: stop reading useless blogs and articles, watching TV or ads, or surfing the net. Seek out the company of good people, in good places like the mosque or a study circle.
Repent from your sins regularly, maintain a state of ritual purity as much as possible, eat lawful food only, be consistent in your daily prayers, recite some Quran each morning and evening, and try to keep in the remembrance of Allah through dhikr. Don’t go into hyper-mode praying, as that won’t solve your problem; this is Shaytan’s trick to exhaust you till you quit. Rather, stay balanced and moderate, but keep your heart focused on loving Allah as much as possible. Love of Allah is everything.
The Importance of Seeking Both Professional and Spiritual Help
Lastly, I would advise you to continue to seek counseling for this issue, as we are commanded to use the best means at our disposal, while turning to Allah in prayer and supplication, knowing that the results are in Allah’s hands. Only He creates happiness in the heart. Do not see the challenges in your life as insurmountable; you still have many blessings, so take things a day at a time, seeking Allah’s help.
Everything I’ve advised you is what I have gleaned from my spiritual guide; may Allah forgive my shortcomings and mistakes. It is best for you to consult a qualified spiritual guide and master of Islamic spirituality yourself when you can. May Allah Most High bless you, relieve you of your troubles, protect us all, and make us all into His righteous and beloved servants, Ameen.
Abdullah Anik Misra
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani