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Obsessive Compulsive disorder (OCD)? Mine has to do with my faith and in medical terms, known as Scrupulous (involving religious or moral obsessions) which I do not mention to mental health charities and universities I offer my services too; I don’t feel they would understand my concern from an Islamic point.

I’ve even had an imam (religious leader) telling me not to talk about it or responding with “you’re just weak” which has really put me down. I feel that I am doomed in both worlds by suffering from this, because I will have failed from performing my duties as a Muslim, and also in this life because I’ve not achieved anything but burdening my loved ones, specially my parents. So, I will do my best to explain my OCD.

It all started in 2008, as usual, it started off small and then slowly become out of control.

Every place I may have visited when I didn’t take much care (being in need of ghusl or minor impurity) be it my house, friends, relatives, takeaways, Asda, Tesco etc. I feel if I go back there I will be re contaminated (impure again) which then stops me from touching anything else or even going to the mosque as I fear I will make it impure. My major fear is the transferring of impurity, e.g. if my clothes have impurity of any kind on it and somebody touches my clothes it will keep transferring to others through touch. Now if I got something out of a freezer I feel my impurity is in there frozen and if someone were to take something out to, I picture them eating my impurity.

Sometimes I feel if I have quick ghusl it is not completed properly and I will still be in state of impurity and if I take as long as I do I’m still unsatisfied and think of the water and time wasted which I’m still sinful for and this is the same with wudu (ablution). I could not even fulfil my wife’s right as I was too worried about bed sheets getting impure and then how would I put on clothes to open the door, to go to the bathroom and lock the door and where would I put my clothes that are not clean or how would I pick up the vessel to clean myself or turn the shower on.

I cannot explain the extreme levels of chronic depression, anxiety, paranoia I have suffered and am still suffering from, eventhough I know the issue of transferring impurity started in my mind. I constantly remember “purity is half your faith” and another hadith where someone was being punished in their grave for not taking care while urinating, had made me shaky after experiencing minor drips. Therefore I would hold my urine in as I was scared of going to the toilet as I knew I would be in there for hours which eventually led me to develop an overactive bladder. I would have to wear pads as I would wet myself, and as a grown man, the fear of contamination caused me to have the most miserable years of my life. Miserable is actually an understatement (it stopped my life).

My life is consumed around going to the toilet as I can’t use public toilets, and my mind just thinks about body fluids and getting re contaminated by them, especially the places I feel I have made impure in the past or present due to lack of care. Even if someone has brushed past my clothes or touched my bottoms after going to the toilet it would break me. It would put me in a state of anger where I feel like attacking them but I tell myself it’s the OCD, not their fault, in reality, they are completely oblivious.

It’s like living with someone in my head, controlling me 24/7, I can’t help it or stop the demon. I have become so weak, powerless and can’t ever see my life being normal again. I’m a liability to everyone close to me as I’m known as mental. My relations have broken down between me and my loved ones, and even ended my marriage.

A thought comes to my mind “is there peace for my family & friends in my death”?

There are times when I’ve just not been able to leave my bed feeling overpowered and my insides feel like they are being eaten alive, I’ve cried so much that I have no tears left within me, I’ve screamed and pleaded for help in my dark room holding my head just wanting to be dead or to be saved.

As awful as this sounds, my friend developed stage 2 cancer and the only thing that went through my head was wishing if I could swap my mental issue for their cancer, I would, as physical pain and facing death had sounded like an easier option.

I know Islam is made easy for us and Allah does not place a burden more than we can bare as well as taking our own lives is forbidden but it doesn’t stop me from wanting the suffering to end and feel I am to blame, especially as I’ve been told all sorts by others to “cure” myself.

I went down the medical route, my brother forced me to go to the GP once it was winter time and I turned up in a T-shirt and slippers (I can’t explain why when I am asked). I told the doctor that I’m a burden and don’t want to live, maybe I won’t commit suicide but I certainly don’t want to be alive. I told the Doctor that I could go 4 days with very minimal amount of food to keep me alive due to the thought of food being contaminated or the fear of having to go to the toilet. When I breathed, I could feel my lungs practically collapsing, and my body was so weak due to dehydration/malnourishment.

I was literally a walking corpse.

I was given antidepressants and recommended CBT, but I was seen until a year and a half later due to some file mix up  by which time my OCD had grown massively. However, CBT helped a little but I needed more help. I was told I would have to have another assessment after my sessions and go back onto the waiting list. Can you believe that I had my pre assessment in 2014 and I am yet to be seen? I’ve given up on the mental health services the NHS provides, I’ve been failed beyond imagination.

Another aspect of my OCD is the scary, recurring thoughts. I won’t do it, ever, but I get violent thoughts of hurting my loved ones or innocent people. My mind tells me I’m a pervert so I don’t look up because if I do and see a female, my mind would make me feel guilty and it would be true, that I am an extreme pervert. There was a time I could not look at newspapers, or talk to a female receptionist at my GP as I was overwhelmed with guilt.

I was at my lowest point, a dark lonely place all alone (especially after my marriage) fear, negativity, failure had consumed me, and I had given up. “Why me?!” I thought, I’ve missed marriages, funerals of loved ones, and so many opportunities. I just want to be normal i.e. wake up and go to the toilet, brush my teeth, have a shower  and put on a fresh pair of clothes eat breakfast and go to work, all within a minimum time frame, and not be consumed by my demon thoughts.  I want to be able to get married and finally have a family, enjoy my hobbies and be like every other Muslim man. However, I feel I will go into my grave in the state in which I am living. A misery upon myself and everyone around me suffering constantly, with the voices and thoughts never leaving me, what a waste of life and existence I tell myself.

It is difficult to discuss accurately what I have suffered in the past 9 years but I’m sharing this because I hope it helps others who are suffering or have suffered from similar issues. To let them know that they are not alone, and despite having little successful help from other services, I have managed to hold on, and that’s the most important thing. I may not know how I have held on, but I have and Allah is the one to thank.

I hope that me telling my story will let others know that they are not alone, and will inspire others to embrace their stories and find the strength to tell the world too.

11 Comments

  • Sarah Gulamhusein says:

    As-Salaamun Alaykum Brother,

    I have just read your story and it has literally blown me away! Not only is it inspiring, but eye-opening too. As somebody who suffers from mild OCD, I can definitely say that I somewhat understand your experiences. The simple truth is that life is not black and white, inspite of people’s thinking and approach to it – and this is especially true when it comes to mental health.

    So, thank you for sharing.

    JazakAllah Khayr,
    Sarah Gulamhusein

    Public Relations Officer & Collaborations Lead
    Inspirited Minds

  • Jodie says:

    As salaam alaykum brother. I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for being brave enough to share. Thank you for letting those who are suffering with their mental health that they’re not alone. You’ll be in my prayers. I hope you get the help you need insha’Allah, its awful that NHS cannot meet your needs. I work with children with OCD using CBT, it can be such a debilitating condition and I really do empathise. May Allah grant you ease after such hardship. Ameen.

  • B says:

    Salam brother you are an inspiration, keep going and may Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala bless your life. I can relate to your story and understand that life can feel like one massive uphill marathon, keep pushing the storms will make you stronger, CBT can help alot by stopping your thoughts by realising they are only a waste of time so try to swipe them from your mind when they pop up and maybe you will one day in’shallah look back with a smile for Allah Subhanahu wa’ta ala realising the true beauty in your struggles, trials and tribulations without these you could not of become the caring, considerate and compassionate person you are today brother! Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala please bless all of the believing brothers and sisters and ease their test.

  • Anwaar says:

    As-Salam Alaikum Brother,

    I’m dealing with scrupulosity as well but, not near as much as you are. We wonder how we’ve gotten as far as we are and we look at ourselves and just know it’s not us but it’s Allah (SWT). Please continue to pray and move forward, Allah (SWT) will remove your burden and bring you ease InshaAllah. With hardship comes ease. If not in this world, the next. Don’t lose your faith! I’m only 20 right now and this struggle has been tough for me but I’ve only been like this a few months. You must keep moving forward, I’ll keep you in my prayers. Stay strong, may Allah continue to protect and bless you. May He guide you.

  • El says:

    Hi there,
    I came across this blog whilst researching scrupulosity, as I’ve recently realised I also have it. My faith is Christian, and my OCD tells me I will never do enough good works, and will surely go to hell. Our faiths might be different, but I found really helpful to hear how it is for you. It seems OCD doesn’t care which faith you are, it can twist it into oppression. I’m not sure if you would feel comfortable to have me praying for you, but I will certainly be thinking of you and hoping you find a path to recovery.

  • Anonymous says:

    Assalamualaikum,

    I hope you have overcome your difficulties, but if not, I want to give you some advice, via my own experiences. May God grant you healing as well as those who are suffering from this.

    The first point is that medication to reduce anxiety, not just antidepressants, is probably a good start. While it does not cure anxiety, it is a tool that helps you manage it, when it starts to get burdensome.

    The reality OCD develops into this disorder when you don’t check it early in life. Whether it is checking the door constantly if it’s locked or thinking you didn’t perform ablution ‘enough’, repeating Shahadah because of some “blasphemous” thoughts, these are all manifestations of OCD that become a major problem and can lead to full blown scrupulosity. It’s stunning that religious leaders and Imams never discuss, what is obviously a huge problem, and are ill-equipped to deal with it and further, burden those like you with more rituals. The Quran tells us in Surah Taha that the Prophet (S) was anxious for the whole Quran to be revealed at once, but God Almighty ordered him not to be hasty and to pray “My Lord Increase me in knowledge.” In other verses, the Almighty states one of the reasons for the piecemeal revelation is to “strengthen the heart of the Prophet”. Man changes GRADUALLY and he cannot he over-burdened and God and his Prophet have taken this into account and our religious teachers are guilty of preaching a distorted version of Islam that has completely ignored the Quran. Never lose hope even if your progress is slow.

    The reality is, this deep-rooted anxiety has complicated your life and what you and those like you need is simplicity. Islam is the religion of human nature and what you have fallen into, and what Satan tries to exploit is this anxiety and is trying to make you fall into extremism in religion and ultimately cause you to despair and is totally unnatural. These thoughts you are having that force you to perform certain acts over and over again are from Shayan and, though it is difficult, you must completely try and ignore them. You are NOT answerable for these thoughts and know that God will not hold you to account for them provided you do not give into the urge and you need to realize that these are just thoughts. Even if you fall every once in awhile, it is OK. Try not to despair and then move on. The fact you are trying to resist is clear demonstration of how the faith is dear to you and these thoughts are not who you are and they do not define you.

    When you do ablution, you need to set a time limit, perform it quickly and move on and NEVER repeat it or answer the doubts. Ibn Umar used to walk barefoot on the blood of sacrificial animals on his way to prayer in Mina, the dirt that followed was enough to clean his feet. Repeating prayer or ablution was never taught in the religion and to do this, you need to consider an act of Satan and an innovation. Spending too much time in the bathroom, worrying excessively about cleanliness is from Satan.

    Those that possess knowledge of fiqh say things like if you cannot swear you God Almighty an oath that you broke your wudhu, than you most consider yourself as having not broken it. DO NOT give in to your anxiety no matter what and when the pressure starts mounting move on, say your prayer and then go find another activity of THIS WORLD and as the Quran says, “do not forget your share of this world.” Religion is meant to guide your life, it isn’t life in and of itself.

    Ignoring these thoughts is going to be difficult, but it requires WILL and while “tears” may be good once in awhile, what you need is courage to IGNORE the thoughts and of let the anxiety force you to repeat actions. You need to build your self-esteem as well, which may include working on your body, such as going to the gym or enjoying a sport. You need support from your family And friends to encourage you to be strong when the anxiety leads up to sweating and these deep urges to repeat these actions. God is Merciful, but the life of this world requires courage. It is God that grants the contentment of the heart and you cannot force it and giving into OCD through the years impacted the brain via neuroplasticity and it is going to take some time and effort to rewire the brain, but it can be done.

    You need to act according to the minimum in Islam and I highly suggest that you learn
    the meaning of a couple short surah, their meanings and recite them in prayer and in your Rukhu and Sujood, set a certain amount of times you say a particular phrase and do it and then move on. Focus on the counting if you have to and do not let yourself to dwell on the doubts in your mind, and go a finish your prayer and then leave it to perform some other activity and have the hope God will accept it. Also in Surah Fatiha, when you pray not to be among those “who have gone astray”, this refers to the innovations and this
    extremist attitude primarily done by the Christians in the ‘name of piety’, so we always ask God Almighty to protect us from this extreme, just like we ask God to protect us from disobeying His laws.

    As for those that have mild OCD and realize it, they need to be check it immediately and parents especially need to understand the fiqh and spirit of Islam, so they can guide their kids properly to be aware of how they can fall into this trap of extremism and ultimately despair and depression.

    Here is a good link so that one can really understand the fiqh and shows how Satan can play off this ‘cleanliness’.

    May God cure all our illnesses and bestow His Mercy upon is.

    https://islamandpsychology.blogspot.com/2011/08/islamic-solution-for-ocd-waswaas.html?m=1

  • Anonymous says:

    I also want to mention that “trying to fight the thoughts” is not the way. What you need to do is try and ignore them, fighting them w will gives them more significance. Try not to give them any weight, though they are rooted in your anxiety, and over time, this will cause their strength to dissipate and lessen your anxiety. I know it is hard because of the anxiety, must you must try. Some days will be bad, some not bad. Anti-anxiety medicating helps in this regard and makes you more aware of many of your habits that are OCD related so you can correct it by not doing those habits. Even if the thoughts are given a religious color, do not give into them.

    Your duty is to do ablution quickly, say your prayer and MOVE ON and don’t look back. Also hold your clothes as completely clean.

    The Quran is clear, “Our Lord, forgive us if we err unintentionally or forget..” Always bear in mind that you fulfill your duty and any mistakes or weaknesses, God will forgive. Memorize the last verses of Surah Baqarah to always keep this frame of mind, that you try and never lose hope that God will not accept. It does not have to come with tears. Be courageous.. One day the realization may dawn on you suddenly when your doing an ordinary task.

    May God forgive and have Mercy on all of us.

  • Tijjani says:

    Masha Allah! Thank you brother for sharing your experience. i have OCD/Scrupulosity issues but certainly not in the magnitude of yours. I advise you follow what the Anonymous poster suggested, honestly it will help you tremendously in sha Allah. My OCD has reduced a lot and insha Allah i am optimistic i will get rid of it completely soon. So am deeply touched by your story and i feel you, but please just follow the advice and don’t let satan make you despair. The truth is you must just have that courage to ignore the whisperings and develop a strong will, just do it and that’s how life is. May Allah guide us and have mercy on us, amin. All the best and thank you so much Mr Anonymous, may Allah reward you.

  • Mohammed Safwan Sadik says:

    Assalamu Alaikum brother,

    I see that there are other people out there that are suffering the same as me. What you have written is VERY SIMILAR to what I am going through.

    May Allah (SWT) help myself, you and everyone else that suffers from similar/unsimilar illnesses, Ameen

  • Sanda says:

    Salaam. You are a true inspiration. I am suffering the same myself and it’s just been so difficult.
    The anxiety, paranoia and constant ghusl and wudhu taking a long time always feeling impure has taken over my life.
    Please let me know if you would be willing to chat as I’m stuck and unsure what I can do.
    Western medicine has helped a bit but no where near where I need to be. Have had several rounds of cbt but doesn’t work for me.
    Please message me as I would be interested to know how you have overcome certain troubles.
    JazakAllah

  • Isam Moghal says:

    Assalamu Alaykym Brother,

    Myself I have been suffering for many years. It’s been 8 years of pain, I still go through it. My problem is once I had completed my ghusl I keep thinking that I have missed a part which then takes hours in my day or sometimes I’ll repeat all of my prayers.
    Therapy does not work for me

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