Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari
Question: As-Salaam Alaikum
I am an 18 year old Muslim girl and for the past two years I became more serious about Islam. I now make all my prayers and they are a priority. I do my best to be a good person and do good deeds. However my problem are the doubts that creep into my mind and I’ve noticed how they started and became more persistent as I become more knowledgeable about Islam. With everything I read, despite initially thinking yes this makes sense, some thought suddenly creeps in that gives me doubts. I hate to read things that demonize Islam, and have continuously defended and promoted Islam at school, but I still have these doubts later. Do you have any advice?
Answer: In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Wa alaikum as-salaam wa rahmatullah.
Thank you for your question.
It is very possible the key to your dilemma might be in your statement that your doubts have become more persistent as you have become more knowledgeable. It’s important to realize that we don’t seek knowledge for knowledge’s sake. We seek knowledge as a means to better worship God Most High and realize our purpose of slavehood to the divine. As we recently discussed during the SeekersGuidance Appalachian Retreat, knowledge without guidance is like a rudderless ship. In other words, it’s critical that our seeking of knowledge be accompanied by clear vision, sincere intention, and a firm goal. One of our teachers, Ustadh Muhammad Mendes, mentioned the importance of assessing one’s intention many times: before one acts, while one is acting, and after one acts. I would suggest that when seeking knowledge, step back and perform an assessment of what you need to know to worship God Most High right now and fulfill your social obligations. Although this might not seem like a lot–trust me, one could spend a lifetime learning what is personally obligatory. Then, at every step of the way, make sure you have a regular program of dhikr, supplication, and salawat upon the Prophet, God bless him and give him peace. Having this practice helps to still the heart.
We know shaytan will constantly tries to assail the believer with doubts. It is our responsibility to stop listening to these whispers and start trusting in Allah Most High. And stop filling your heart and mind with dross, which characterizes much of what is written about Islam these days. The other day I was with a group of people who were complaining about Islamophobic, ignorant radio hosts. My question to them was: Why do you listen to these people? By listening to them, you are keeping company with them. With Ramadan coming, we should be aware of the advice of Imam al-Ghazali who taught that the beginning of guidance lies in taqwa (awe, reverence, and fear) of Allah and keeping good company. Taqwa is defined as hastening to obedience and shunning disobedience. Part of leaving disobedience is that we protect our limbs and faculties from being subjected to filth. So guard your heart and beware of being submerged in media, which has become our constant companion.
Finally, you might want to read this excellent spiritual advice from Shaykh Faraz A. Khan on the role of the intellect in seeking God.
May Allah Ta’ala give you ease,