Skip to main content

A few years ago, I decided that I needed to improve my understanding of religion and become a better person. I decided to learn about Islam through online Q&A sites, which turned out to be a big mistake. While these sites may be helpful for many, they weren’t vetted for people with OCD, which led me down a dark spiral of anxiety and panic attacks, eventually causing me to drop out of medical school and become bedridden.

Initially, it seemed harmless, with minor quirks like using excessive water during wudu. Yet, the OCD soon gripped me with an ironclad hold. I found myself incessantly worrying about impurities, unable to touch various objects in my own home out of fear that they were contaminated. My actions became increasingly erratic and irrational. I would spend an inordinate amount of time washing my hands, taking showers every time I used the toilet, and even sticking my foot in the sink for 40 minutes just to cleanse it after stepping near the toilet seat.

My fear of lying also tormented me. I felt compelled to correct even the tiniest discrepancies in time when I was asked what time it was, leading to unnecessary stress and anxiety. This fear extended to my business aspirations, leading me to obsess over the minutest details of my business operations. From product descriptions to contracts, I scrutinised every aspect, fearing that any misstep would lead to a haram income. It was a perpetual state of mental turmoil, where I couldn’t use words like ‘all’ or ‘perfect’ because of the fear that something might be excluded from my claims. I also experienced some blasphemous thoughts as well as doubting the validity of my prayers and fasts, which added to my mental burden.

I had an obsession with halal and haram, valid or invalid and pure or impure. Whilst we should all be careful that what we consume is halal, I began excessively worrying about food – I even thought our bananas and bread were haram!

Throughout my OCD, I was in contact with many different imams which I found through the internet and local masjids. While their intentions were genuine, many failed to recognise the severity of my condition. Instead of guiding me towards recovery, they inadvertently exacerbated my OCD with reassurances and fatwas. There was one incident, however, that finally pushed me to seek help. I faced a mini panic attack breaking into tears in the shower after losing control of my bladder due to my OCD-driven fears. I confided in my family, and while they supported me, they didn’t fully reveal the religious aspect of my OCD. Ashamed and afraid of pushing them away from religion, I kept the details to myself. I went to the GP and broke into tears again and the doctor put me on the NHS’s waiting list and some medication.

Soon after my official diagnosis, my symptoms got way worse which wasn’t helped by the fact that my family loved me too much and now supported me in my compulsions. Eventually, having to wake up in the early hours of the morning to get ready to go to university was becoming unsustainable. My attendance for placement was becoming poor and I did the absolute minimum. Eventually, I was going to get a 4-week holiday from uni and I thought of this ‘plan’ which would involve me remaining impure but staying on the bed with the downside being I wouldn’t be able to touch any objects in my home. We moved my mattress into the living room and that’s where I lived my life from. Just me, my phone and my bed. The only time I’d leave the home was for Jummah prayers after an absolute ordeal of showering and getting ready in the morning and then straight back into bed.

During the period when I was bedridden, there were distressing moments when impurities would accidentally spread, triggering panic attacks. These episodes were overwhelming, with palpitations, rapid breathing, and at times, difficulty breathing as well as losing control over my body. In those terrifying moments, I found myself moving erratically and even screaming in desperation. It’s difficult to explain but I felt that I wasn’t myself, not in my own body. As time went on, I grew accustomed to the bed-bound lifestyle, and the thought of leaving to take a shower for hours seemed daunting and impossible. The comfort of staying in bed outweighed the discomfort of not being clean. This unfortunate situation contributed to my decision of dropping out of university, as my OCD had become an obstacle.

However, deep down, I knew that I couldn’t continue living my life confined to my bed. I wanted to regain control and pursue my dreams. With a desire to start a business, I faced the challenge of ensuring a state of purity while utilising my room. In an attempt to create a purified space, which I would use after a shower, I resorted to an admittedly impractical solution. I ordered cling film, PVC sheets, dishwashing gloves, and even a separate steamer and clothes airer to construct a “pure zone.” I covered everything with cling film and PVC, assuming that it would keep impurities away. I had to order the items twice, because the first time they got contaminated before I got around to using them.

At a similar time, I got into contact with [a] Shaykh through Instagram who specialises in religious OCD. Through direct messages, his insights and advice began to resonate with me, leading to some initial improvements in my behaviours. Eventually, one day something which he said resonated with me and after a few days of building up courage I went and ripped off all of the clingfilm and spread those impurities everywhere and gave my family members long hugs, and broke down in tears.

I just felt so free, I can’t put it in words. I prayed with a clear state of my mind for the first time in a long time. This would only last so long though, and I soon fell back into my normal fears and compulsions but I never returned to being bed-bound. I decided to get therapy with him despite my family being sceptical because they said my OCD wasn’t religion-based but I knew it was. However, the improvements which I’d shown were enough for them to agree to me getting therapy with him. My family wanted me to visit a more ‘reputable’ non-muslim therapist but I knew that it would likely have little impact in my case.

Therapy proved to be a game-changer for me. A complete shift in focus and my therapist also recognised that there was an issue with the Islam Q&A sites and had seen many similar Muslims experience similar to me through these sites. Through therapy, I learnt to love Allah more than I fear him and I got to the point where I knew I was impure and it was okay. I was doing business after Jummah and I eventually returned close to normality with everything. I had to avoid fiqh, and this is something I still struggle to accept and deal with, but I know I have to do it to avoid going back. My recovery was very quick, with a lot of differences in my behaviours visible in just a few weeks. I was astonished, I thought I’d have to live my whole life in bed but now I’m indistinguishable from a normal person.

After recovering, I decided I wanted to help raise awareness about OCD in the Muslim community and help individuals like me. One way I did this was by reaching out through social media platforms like Reddit and Muslim group chats. I have also made an effort to return to medical school to be able to provide care on a wider scale and have been in contact with my university. It’s still in the process of being sorted out but inshAllah it all works out well.

Even after recovering, my OCD mind is still here. It’s a part of me but I am far better at managing and living with it. Recently, it has started to resurface but it’s all about remaining on the offensive with newly learnt skills and preventing myself from falling back. I look back on this experience now, and I am completely honest when I say that I can’t be more grateful for this experience. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to go up and Allah is the greatest of planners and there is no doubt in that.


  • Naj says:


    Thank you for sharing your story. I felt really sad to read what you’ve been through, but I thank Allah for helping you through it. May Allah cure you completely, and everyone suffering as well, Ameen.

    It always helps me when I remember that Allah is indeed the most merciful and the most kind, and He understands what each of us are going through.

    Can you pls share the advice you received from the Shaikh when you mentioned “Eventually, one day something which he said resonated with me”. It would be so good for others to hear such positive messages on the matter of religious ocd :)

    Thank you.

  • Arbaz Alam says:

    Assalamualaikum Brother
    I have been suffering from religious OCD for more than 10 years. U mentioned about reddit group and other online support groups for Islamic OCD, Can you provide me the link?? Also how can I contact you? Please do reply as I desperately need help to get rid of this disease.

Leave a Reply