Question: I am in my mid 30’s and since the past 3 years, I have been in a stage of challenging many aspects of Islamic questions that are being continuously challenged the status-quo! And I have reached to such a stage that if the answer doesn’t satisfy my intellect, I never get fulfilled. I don’t know how to come out of this stage? Most important of all is: How a common man should differentiate between thoughts (good or wise thoughts) and shaytan’s waswasa (whisper)? There are so many grey areas in human life and how does one know which path to take without knowing how to differentiate and filter out thoughts that arise within oneself!
Answer: In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
I appreciate the fact that you are looking for answers for the big questions that you are facing in life. An important step to a solution is to seek an answer. I would like start by saying that in reality there are questions within creed which people have always groped with in order to find an intellectually satisfying explanation. However, what needs to be recognized is that the intellect is but of a finite existence and the finite cannot encompass all things. For this reason, some understand things which others don’t whilst somethings are not understood by anyone yet suggested by all divinely sourced religions. This, again, is because of the finite nature of the human intellect.
The word Islam in and of itself implies the idea of submission. Though enough substantial intelligible information is available to recognize the existence of divinely sourced religion, not every reality in religion is intelligible. This is precisely why Imam al-Tahawi had once said words which are empowering for the wavering faith, “No feet become firmly established within Islam except upon the back of surrender and submission.” This doesn’t negate the multitude of verses and traditions which encourage us to think but it does clarify our position as to those
passages and matters which are seemingly unintelligible.
Forgetting this concept of submission at points where the intellect is unable to comprehend is the very reason why many famous Muslim philosophers of old found themselves puzzled and cornered. Though I feel tempted to get into a history lesson about this, I would rather finish with some practical advice in terms of your issue. Firstly, you should turn to Allah sincerely and plead that he rids you of the feelings you are finding. There is no one that can correct your heart accept Allah. And as the Messenger Muhammad -SAWS- explained, “The hearts are between two of the fingers of Allah and He turns them as he pleases.” [Tirmidhi] He alone can correct your feelings!
Secondly, I encourage that you exercise the practice of reading morning and evening supplications which are a means to protect yourself against the evil whispers and traps of Satan. It is also a means to attain strength within ones faith. Last but truly not least, find yourself teachers in whose knowledge you are confident and have easy access to them. Consult them at every level in your religious progression. The significance of this is too often undermined when facing an essential problem within ones faith. Often a problem in a person’s faith could actually be sprouting from another issue which may not at all be noticed by the average person. Do not give yourself Fatwās and turn to those who trust and can access when needed. A Fatwā is meant to be a medicine, both and overdose or a wrong prescription can prove detrimental for spiritual health.
I ask Allah to rid you of the feelings you are finding! I ask Allah to grant you ease in this life and the next!
Wallahu A`lam Wa Ahkam!
And Allah knows best.
Abdul Wahab Saleem
Shah Alam, Malaysia