Having doubts in Allah Almighty is natural and one should avoid being too concerned about them. In fact, doubts and evil thoughts are a sign of one’s faith.
Sayyiduna Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that once a group of people came to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) and asked: “We experience such evil thoughts that it is impossible to bring them on our lips.” The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Do you really experience these thoughts? Yes, they replied. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “They are clear signs of faith.” (Sahih Muslim)
Sayyiduna Abd Allah ibn Abbas (Allah have mercy on him) narrates that a Companion came to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) and asked: “Sometimes I experience such thoughts that I would rather be reduced to charcoal than get them on my lips” (meaning that to speak of these thoughts was worse than burning in fire, m). The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “All praise is to Allah who restricted the devil’s designs to mere evil promptings.” (Sunan Abu Dawud)
The above two narrations cleary show that it is not unusual to have these evil thoughts neither is one more sinful or evil due to them. Even some Companions of the blessed Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) received these thoughts, as we have seen in the above narrations.
Therefore, one should not be worried on their account or feel sad and deterred, for these thoughts are signs of faith.
Some scholars have explained this by saying that a robber or thief only strikes at a place where he knows that there is wealth or money. He would not break into a place where there is no wealth. Similarly, when the devil (shaytan) whispers and puts these evil thoughts into anyone’s heart, then this shows that this person has the wealth of faith (iman) in his heart. If there was no wealth in that heart, Shaytan would have never entered it, thus one should not worry about these evil thoughts.
No sin on mere thoughts
It should also be remembered that one is not accountable for the evil thoughts that occur in the mind and heart as long as they remain thoughts.
Sayyiduna Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Verily Allah forgives my Ummah for the evil thoughts that occur in their hearts until they don’t say it verbally or act upon it.” (Sahih al-Bukhari & Sahih Muslim).
Therefore, one does not come out of the fold of Islam due to experiencing these evil thoughts, neither is there any sin., as long as one remains a believer with his heart, mouth and action.
What to do?
When experiencing evil thoughts one should do the following:
1) Do not be worried about them, rather one should be happy, for the occurring of evil thoughts is a sign of faith. A saint said: “Shaytan can not tolerate a believer being happy, thus when he sees him being happy for receiving these thoughts, he stops from whispering them.”
2) When these thoughts come, one should occupy one’s self with something else. These thoughts will not disappear by simply desiring them to go, rather, one should get busy in some work or task.
3) One should seek Allah’s protection and refuge from the devil. Sayyiduna Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “The devil (shaytan) comes to one of you and says: “Who created this? Who created that? Until he says: “Who created your Lord?” When one experiences this, one should seek Allah’s refuge and stop the matter there”. (Sahih al-Bukhari & Sahih Muslim).
4) Recitation of the following verse from Surah al-mu’minun may be beneficial:
“Rabbi inni a’uzu bika min hamazat ashayatin wa a’uzu bika rabbi an yahdurun”
Trans: O my Lord! I seek your protection from the instigations of devils and I also seek your protection from that they (ever) come to me.
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK