Is It Impermissible (Haram) to Worry About What Others Think?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

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Question: Is it haram to worry about what others think of you? I really struggle when trying not to worry about what others will think. I took off my hijab before because I thought that I was not being sincere, because of my fear of what others think.

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. Dear sister, Allah tests those whom He loves. May He lift your worries from your heart, and replace it with tranquility. Please do not be ashamed – you ask a very important question.

What others think

It is part of human nature to be concerned what others think of you. However, it would be problematic if you cared too little, or too much. As always, the key lies in balance. If you are excessively preoccupied with these thoughts, then you could be affected by waswasa, and/or anxiety, and as a result, prone towards despair.

There is wisdom in being concerned about what others think. If fearing what others think prevents you from sin and encourages you to good, then this is still positive. We are social creatures, and Allah commands and rewards the keeping of ties. However, it would be ideal if every single act you did was purely for Allah’s sake, but think of it as a process.

On the flipside, it would be sinful to commit haram acts out of fear of what others think (e.g. participating in gossip because everyone else is too, removing hijab out fear or what others will think etc).

Sincerity

“Place your reliance in the Living God, the Undying” [Qur’an, 25:58]

“Whoever places his reliance on Allah then He is his sufficiency” [Qur’an, 65:3]

Ibn Ata’illah (may Allah be well-pleased with him) said, “One of the signs of relying on one’s deeds is loss of hope when a misstep occurs” [Hikam].

Attaining sincerity with Allah is a journey. Unless Allah wills, attaining absolute sincerity for Allah’s sake alone is a process, and not an overnight event. Be gentle on yourself and accept that you are in a work in progress. Ask Allah to help you purify your intention so that His Pleasure alone is what you seek. Don’t stop acts of worship because you are worried what others will think, or because you fear you are not being sincere. This is a trap Shaytan lays out for believers. He tricks us into despair, so we give up from the very outset. Despair is not the way of the believers, because we place our hope in Allah Most High, and not in the limitations of our own selves. Again, this takes practice, and constant dua.

Solutions

1) Please perform the Prayer of Need and ask Allah to grant you relief and clarity.

2) Wake up in the blessed time before Fajr and ask Allah for ease. Use this solitude to reflect on what you have done well, and what you have done poorly. Make shukr for what you did well, and ask Allah to forgive you for your mistakes. Treat each day as a new beginning.

3) Before you perform an act of worship, make clear intention for Allah, and ask Him to accept your good deed. Ignore any other negative thoughts that come to your mind. This will get easier with practice. Focus more on Allah, and less on your own worries. Anything is possible through Allah.

4) Enrol in Essentials of Spirituality: Ghazali’s Beginning of Guidance to help you organise your day and your time, helping you dispel waswasa, inshaAllah.

5) Make regular istighfar every morning and evening.

6) When you start to feel the beginnings of doubt or despair, immediately seek refuge in Allah from Shaytan. Reassure yourself with the knowledge that Allah knows your innermost hopes and fears.

7) Please see a therapist, counsellor or psychologist to help you manage the worries that are consuming your mind.

8) While you are looking for a therapist, visit www.hypnosisdownload.com and consider downloading a few relevant tracks to help you manage your fears.

9) Exercise daily, get enough sunshine, eat nourishing food, and get enough sleep.

10) Keep the company of righteous and kind Muslims who will encourage you to good, and who help you have a good opinion of Allah.

Please refer to these links:

A Reader On Waswasa

A Reader on Sincerity, Intention, and the Purpose of Spiritual Routines

Should I Remove the Hijab Because I Am a Bad Example for Others?
What Are Some Prophetic Supplications That Can Help Me Deal With Trials in My Life?

Wassalam,
Raidah

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani