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What’s the Difference Between OCD and Waswasa?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by DarulIftaBirmingham

Answered by: Maulana Syed Johir Miah


What’s the difference between OCD and waswasa? Is a person who suffers from OCD considered to suffer from waswasa?

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common mental health condition where a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.

OCD can affect men, women and children. Some people start having symptoms early, often around puberty, but it usually starts during early adulthood.

OCD can be distressing and significantly interfere with your life, but treatment can help you keep it under control. [1]

OCD may be viewed as a sickness like another sickness.

As Muslims, it is our belief that ill health is from Allah (عز و جل) and it is compulsory upon us to be happy with the decree of Allah (عز و جل)and show gratitude to Him.

As for Wasawasa, it refers to unfounded and baseless doubts whispers from Shaitan.

Waswas or whispering is; if an ugly thought appears in the heart, then what appears in the heart of reprehensible worldly thoughts is called waswas, and whatever there is of good, pleasing thoughts are called inspiration. [2]

Sayyiduna Abu Hurairah ( رضى الله عنه ) narrates that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم)

of Allah said,

إنَّ اللَّهَ تَجاوَزَ لِي عَنْ أُمَّتِي ما وسْوَسَتْ بِهِ صُدُورُها، ما لَمْ تَعْمَلْ أوْ تَكَلَّمْ

‘Allah (عز و جل)has forgiven my ummah regarding those waswasas that creep into their hearts so long as they do not act upon them or bring them into their tongues’.[3]

Shaitan will try to create waswasa in particular things in the hearts of Muslims, especially in Salah by creating worldly thoughts and doubts in it.

If a person finds something in himself, or he weaves something in himself that he finds that speaking is difficult, then evidence  of this has come in Hadith that it is good and that the person who finds this thing then does not mention or speak of it, it is presented from him, and indeed this indicates towards the belief of its owner, and it was mentioned in the Sunnah on the authority of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم)of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), that if whispers of Shaitan comes to a person regarding monotheism and belief, then he must seek refuge in Allah (عز و جل) from Shaitan, and he says: I believe in Allah (عز و جل), and it has been mentioned:

Shaitan is still With a person, he says to him: Who created this, and who created this? Until he says: Who created Allah? So whoever finds something of that, let him abstain from it, and say: We believe in Allah.[4]

And they ( the Scholars) differed in the evil of Shaitan’s obsession, how he whispers?

1 – They said: They whisper, and it may be that Allah Almighty made the atmosphere a tool for them, or made for them a tool other than the atmosphere, and that is connected to the heart, so Shaitan moves that instrument from the side of some of the human’s transgressions, so he reaches the whispering to his heart with that instrument, for example, that you take the spear and between you and a man is ten cubits, therefore he spoke in it, and hence, a person will hear if the spear is hollow and is connected to his hearing.

2 – They said: Shaitan’s body is thinner than our bodies, and his words are more hidden than our words, so it is possible for him to reach a person’s hearing (ears) and speak to him his hidden words, therefore, that is his whispering.

3 – They say: Rather, the Shaitan enters a person’s heart by himself until he whispers into it.[5]

Only Allah knows best.

Written by Maulana Syed Johir Miah

Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham

[1] https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/overview/

[2]وسوس يوسوس وسوسة: إذا خطر وظهر في القلب خاطر قبيح، فما يظهر بالقلب من الخواطر الدنيَّة المذمومة يسمّى وسوسة، وما كان من الخواطر المَرْضِية الحسنة يسمى إلهامًا.

Al-Mafatih Fee Sharhil Masabih, Mazharud Deen Az-Zaydanee, 152/1, Darun Nawadir, Kuwait, 1433 H.

[3] Sahih Bukhari, Hadith number 2528, 145/3, Dar Tuqin Najah, First edition 2001. 1422 H.

[4]لا أدري كيف تكون هذه الوسوسة، فإذا كان المقصود منها: أنه يجد في نفسه شيئًا، أو يحوك في نفسه شيء يجد أن التكلم به صعب فهذا قد جاء في الحديث ما يدل على حسنه، وأن الإنسان الذي يجد هذا الشيء ثم لا يتحدث ولا يتكلم به، وإنما يعرض عنه، أن هذا يدل على إيمان صاحبه، وقد جاء في السنة عن رسول الله ﷺ أنه إذا جاءت الإنسان وساوس الشيطان فيما يتعلق بالتوحيد والعقيدة فإن عليه أن يتعوذ بالله من الشيطان، ويقول: آمنت بالله، وقد جاء: (لا يزال الشيطان بالإنسان يقول له: من خلق كذا، ومن خلق كذا؟ حتى يقول: من خلق الله؟ فمن وجد شيئًا من ذلك فلينته، وليقل: آمنا بالله).

Sharh Sunan Abu Dawud Lil Ibaad, Abdul Muhsin Al-Abbad, 23/523.

[5]واختلفوا في شر وسواس الشيطان كيف يوسوس؟

١ – فقال قائلون: أنهم يوسوسون وقد يجوز أن يكون الله تعالى جعل الجو أداة لهم أو جعل لهم أداة ما غير الجو وذلك متصل بالقلب فيحرك الشيطان تلك الآلة من جهة بعض خروق الإنسان فيوصل الوسوسة إلى قلبه بتلك الآلة مثال ذلك أنك تأخذ الرمح وبينك وبين الإنسان عشرة أذرع فتكلم فيه فيسمع الإنسان إذا كان الرمح مجوفًا وكان متصلًا بسمعه.

٢ – وقال قائلون: جسم الشيطان أرق من أجسامنا وكلامه أخفى من كلامنا فيجوز أن يصل إلى سمع الإنسان فيتكلم بكلامه الخفي فيكون ذلك هو وسوسته.

٣ – وقال قائلون: بل يدخل إلى قلب الإنسان بنفسه حتى يوسوس فيه.

Maqalatul Islamiyyah WaIkhtilaful Musalleen, Abul Hasan Al-Asharee, 323/2, Al-MaktabatulAsriyyah, 1426 H.

This answer was collected from DarulIftaBirmingham.co.uk, which is run under the supervision of Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah from the United Kingdom.

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