Answered and approved by Madina Faculty members
How do I know if I am sound in mind in order to be considered a mukallaf?
I’m a newly practising Muslim who was raised in a Muslim home but left Islam and was never really connected to the practices though I may have had some belief. I have mental health issues I am sure and other health conditions and often get confused but was never told I am morally accountable. How do I know if my mind is sound. At times I feel that I may not be considered morally accountable. Is this something someone must see a Muslim psychologist for? I often makes decisions using my heart rather than intellect which are not wise. How do I know my mental health issues are not just the whisperings of shaytan. I suffered alot of trauma and abuse and am living in an abusive situation. I struggle with completing fard ayn knowledge though I like seeking knowledge, do good deeds and enjoy worship and dhikr. However, I have left Islam since I began to practice due to the whisperings of shaytan and confusion about the concept of God. Thank you for your assistance. If you could provide a list of medical conditions that make someone not accountable that would also be helpful. I hope I am not just trying to make excuses for my behaviour (trick of the nafs)? But really would like to know how to gauge sanity. I have been told by a trauma counselor that I am normal but still at times have doubted myself.
Note: The answer provided answers the question in general for someone suffering from doubts and confusions which are coming from the whispers of shaytan.
بِسْم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحمد لله الَّذِي خلق السمواتِ و الارضٓ و جعل الظلماتِ و النورٓ
أحمدُهُ حمداً كما ينبغي لِكَرَمِ وجهه وعِزِّ جلالِهِ
و الصلاة و السلام على سيّدنا محمد النور وعلى أهل بيته الطاهرين
The topic of waswasa is a very common one, and many people are suffering because of it, whether lightly or intensively. To understand it properly, one should know what it is, why does it happen, and what its purpose is.
The Qur’an has made is evidently clear that shaytan, the cursed, is a clear enemy, as in the verse [which may mean]: “Did I not enjoin upon you, O children of Adam, that you not worship Satan – [for] indeed, he is to you a clear enemy” (36:60).
The source: It is this enemy (i.e. satan the cursed), along with his minions from amongst the jinn and human-beings, that whisper thoughts into the breasts of men, as made clear in the last surah of the Qur’an (i.e. Surah al-Nas). It is important to realize, however, that these whispers, whether they be paranoia, shirk, perverted, or any other satanic thoughts, have no control over you in reality. Also, please understand that these thoughts are not outside the knowledge of Allah. Allah knows what you are going through and is merciful toward you.
These thoughts are merely delusional, confusing, evil arrows that are thrown at you with a particular goal: to cause you to despair, distract you from Allah’s remembrance, and cause you to lose who you are, leading to loss of self.
One should always remember that these are – generally – outside one’s control, and that Allah does not punish you for them, as long as you do not act on them through actions or words. One should also keep in mind that satan the cursed is targeting you because you have the potential to blossom into a beautiful, righteous, amazing person. Typically, shaytan does not target those who are in cruise control to a bad place. Therefore, one can even look at these whispers as not only a test, but also as a validation of the seed of righteousness in you. While this is the case, one should never hope for wasaawis.
The solution: the most effective, yet the hardest solution is the hit the ‘ignore button’ and know that these thoughts are not your intention and you are not to blame yourself for them. The first 20 times you ignore these thoughts, it may be very painful to just let go and ignore them, but it will become easier, and you will realize that these were never your thoughts in the first place.
Identifying what is coming from shaytan or from one’s nafs is a very nuanced and tricky processes, but one way to find out, according to some of the scholars, is to see if the whispers keep changing and attacking you from different angles. If so, then it is waswasa from shaytan the cursed. This is because he does not really care how you fail, as long as you fail. He will isolate your weakness and then attack it from all sides. If, however, it is the same identical thought pursuing the same identical goal, then this is typically from the ego.
In addition to ignoring, it may be advisable to repeat Surah al-Ikhlas for the bringing of good thoughts, and recite Surah al-Kaafiroon in order to dispel evil thoughts. But, the best advice is always the Qur’anic advice [which may mean]: “And if there comes to you from Satan an evil suggestion, then seek refuge in Allah . Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Knowing” (41:36).
What makes ones an accountable person in Islam are four things:
- Sound intellect
- Reaching of puberty
- Hearing the message of Islam in a sufficient and undistorted way
- Having at least one of: hearing and sight.
For one to be excused from the first criteria (i.e. a sound intellect), this would require the sound opinion of a medical professional. If the deem one to be sane, then he is to be deemed as sane, and if the medical professional were to deem one as no longer having a sane mind (i.e.insane – and therefore excused), then such would be his ruling.
We urge you to never lose hope, to know that Allah knows what you’re suffering from and is merciful unto you, to not lose who you are amidst the storm of thoughts, and to ignore them with a smile. We recommend reading ta’awwuz daily to obtain protection, to stay in wudhu all the time, to increase in the dhikr of Allah ta’la, and to avoid impure gatherings and places.
And Allah ta’la knows best.