Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: Assalam aleykum,
I feel very sad because of my past sins.
I find it hard to forget my past because I have been struggling with this for a long time. I’m only at the age of 16 so I’m about to pass halfway through my teenage years. I feel like I have wasted the past three years of my life.
I struggle a lot when it comes to pure intentions, especially when it comes to doing deeds in public.
Another issue which I have is when I see other people excelling me in good deeds, especially the righteous predecessors. I look at them, and then I look at myself, feeling hopeless and demotivated. I lack self-discipline. I suffer very serious waswasa with regards to my purity of wudhu and salah.
I want to have this love for Islam but I do not have it. Sometimes I actually wish I did not want to live. What can I do?
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.
Dear questioner, you sound like you are in a tremendous amount of pain. Please know that you are beloved to Allah, and that He wants eternal good for you. No matter how terrible you are feeling right now, please know that what you are going through is part of your journey towards Him.
The role of emotion
All emotions are a signal for us to take some kind of action. Feel them, and then let them go. You always have a choice in how you respond. Right now, your choices are not helping you.
You sound very caught up in the past. I urge you to practice staying in the present. Please begin a daily dhikr practice to help ground yourself in this present moment. For example, you can select some duas from here: Selected Prophetic Prayers for Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Wellbeing by Chaplain Ibrahim Long
Please also consider starting a short, daily meditation practice. You can find many examples online or use Dr Kristen Neff’s or Tara Brach’s.
“So will they not repent to Allah and seek His forgiveness? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” [Qur’an, 5:74]
Allah created us weak, so we can return to Him in repentance, over and over again. He did not create us like angels – incapable of sin.
Rather than believe that your sins are enough to send you to Hellfire, believe that Allah has the Mercy to forgive you, and turn your bad deeds into good deeds. Choose to have a good opinion of Allah, instead of giving up on Him already.
There is an app called Worry Box, which I recommend that you download. Use this app as a way to limit your worry to a specific time a day, for example, for 10 minutes after you eat lunch. Try to avoid using this app before bedtime.
I hope that this strategy will prevent you from allowing worry to consume your entire day.
Feelings of inadequacy
I encourage you to read the Seerah and reflect on the lessons within it. So many of the Companions struggled with physical, emotional and spiritual pain. They leaned on the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and drew strength from him, and Allah.
Not feeling good enough is a common struggle. I encourage you to read up on the work of shame researcher, Dr Brené Brown. Her TED Talk, The Power of Vulnerability, could be helpful for you.
“Surely I am the Most-Forgiving for him who repents and believes and acts righteously, then follows the right path.” [Qur’an, 20:82]
Every day, and in every moment, you have the opportunity to repent, and make good on your Islam. No matter what you have done in the past, when you repent, then your slate is clean again.
Please trust in the Mercy and Forgiveness of Allah. Make your repentance, and then move on. Practice moving on. The more you practice taking action, then inshaAllah it easier it will be.
Love for Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him)
To love Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), then you need to get to know them, through learning from trustworthy sources.
I recommend that you read the beautiful text, Shama’il, as a way to attain closeness to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Please consider listening to podcasts such as Content of Character.
Write down a checklist of daily self-care activities, and ensure that you tick them off, daily. Consider the different aspects of your well-being: physical, emotional, spiritual, and so on.
If you still feel stuck, then perhaps you need professional help, especially in regards to your struggles with waswasa. Do you have a school counsellor you can speak to? I recommend that you contact Sidi Zuhair Girash of Aafiyah Healing.
I pray this has been helpful.
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.