How Do I Deal with Obsessive Thoughts about Purity and Filth?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Religion has become really difficult for me. I fear becoming impure, which means I can’t offer my prayers.

If my husband touches the phone after intimacy I feel that impurity is transferred. I feel like impurity has travelled everywhere and I keep cleaning.

I feel Allah will not forgive me for this. If an impure hand touches a place do I have to wipe the place 3 times or just once is enough?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well.

May Allah grant you ease in your tribulation.

Purity and filth

Fiqh-wise, washing with water just once is sufficient to clean medium filth. Three times is recommended.

In the Shafi’i school of thought, examples of filth include:

-blood
-pus
-vomit
-anything which exits the front or rear private parts other than sperm or female sexual fluid
-any animate life which dies without being Islamically slaughtered, other than aquatic life, locusts or human beings
-dogs, swine of their offspring (major filth)

from Al-Maqasid, Nawawi’s Manual of Islam

Certainty vs Doubt

There is a legal maxim in which certainty is not lifted by doubt. Suspecting that something has filth on it does not make it so. You must be absolutely certain that there is filth on your hand (you must be able to see it, smell it, etc), instead of suspecting that it is there.

Obsessive thoughts

Are you able to consult a skilled and compassionate therapist? It sounds like you are struggling with obsessive thoughts, and it is very difficult to overcome this on your own. Therapists are trained to help you manage these symptoms, and a good therapist can help you uncover and heal the root cause of your pain. In the meantime, please consider listening to this OCD treatment track on Hypnosis Downloads.

The rules of purity and filth in Islam are clear and simple, and are not meant to burden you in any way. To give you some peace of mind, please enrol in a fiqh class, either Hanafi or Shafi’i, and revise the rulings on purity and filth.

I pray that Allah helps you take the means to heal.

Please refer to the following links:

Key principles relating to certainty, doubt and baseless misgivings (waswasa)

Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani