What advice do you have for a sister who suffers from obsessions regarding her sisters and companions, may Allāh bless you?
Shaykh Muḥammad Bāzmūl:
There are a number of types of obsessions. There are compulsive obsessions, and these are a result of a well known mental disorder that has a clinical cure; that is, there are cures that can be administered to the one suffering from this illness. This is done by seeing a psychiatrist who can administer the cure.
This is in relation to the compulsive type of obsessions, and it may manifest itself in many ways. If the afflicted one does nothing about it, it may develop into that person experiencing hallucinations, to the extent that the person may even imagine that another person is right in front of him addressing him, having a conversation with him or doing something he finds upsetting. This person therefore needs to see a psychiatrist as soon as possible.
The second type of obsessions is evil suggestions inspired by the Shayṭān in the mind of a Muslim. This type disperses by seeking refuge from the accursed Shayṭān.
“Those who are pious, whenever they are provoked by the Shayṭān, remember, and then suddenly they see clearly.” [al-A`rāf 7:201]
This type of person should seek refuge with Allāh from the accursed Shayṭān. And indeed We are Able to show you (O Muhammad ﷺ) that with which We have threatened them. Repel evil with that which is better. We are Best-Acquainted with the things they utter. [al-Mu’minūn 23:95-96]
Thus, this person seek should refuge with Allāh from the accursed Shayṭān. Every time the Shayṭān injects suspicion into his mind about his brothers he should seek refuge with Allāh from the accursed Shayṭān and say to himself, ‘this is from the Shayṭān. He wants to stir up feelings of enmity between me and brothers.’ The Messenger ﷺ has informed us of the enmity that Shayṭān feels towards us and that he can take control of people. So in the tradition recorded by Ibn Mājah and others – and it is Saḥīḥ – he said, ‘In the heart of man there is an angelic cue and a satanic cue. The angelic cue on one hand is a promise of good and an invitation to it, whilst the satanic cue is a threat of evil and an invitation to it.’ For this reason, when a person feels threatened by evil in any form he should know that it is a suggestion of the accursed Shayṭān and should seek refuge with Allāh from it, not indulge it or follow it through.
In fact, it was customary amongst the virtuous that whenever they would feel a threat of evil about someone or some action they would hurry to do the opposite of that feeling as means of frustrating the Shayṭān until he would end up fleeing from them, and they would seek refuge with Allāh from the Shayṭān.
Therefore, if he feels a threat that urges him to do wrong to another or think ill of another person, he should not just think well of that person but also pray for him, seek forgiveness for him and grant him a gift to enrage the Shayṭān and make him burn [with anger]. Every time the Shayṭān comes to him with an invitation to evil, evil speech or an evil whisper about one of his brothers or one of her sisters, it is not enough to simply seek refuge from the accursed Shayṭān but he must also pray for that brother or she must also pray for that sister. If it continues, she should do her a favour like giving her a gift, and he gives him a gift, is good to him, helps him and even says good things about him, and thus frustrates Shayṭān, so to speak, in his evil whispers about his brother or her Muslim sister. These are some of the things that the virtuous did to cure themselves of these types of obsessions.
The third type of obsessions is intrusive thoughts that occur to a person and are blasphemous with respect to Allāh and the religion. As far as these are concerned, one must seek refuge with Allāh from the accursed Shayṭān, stop thinking these thoughts completely and never go back to them nor pay them any attention, and Allāh will help him. There is a tradition that occurs from Ibn `Abbās regarding this third type of obsession that the person should say, ‘Say, Allāh I beseech You! Owner of all dominion, You give authority to whomever You will and take it away from whomever You will, You ennoble whomever You will and abase whomever You will. In Your hand alone is all good, You are, without doubt, able to do all things.’
There are also some other invocations that occur in this regard. Once he seeks refuge with Allāh from the Shayṭān, puts these thoughts out of his mind and busies himself with something else, they will become harmless, in shā Allāh. And all praise and thanks are due to Allāh who reduced his plot to nothing but obsessive thoughts.