Do you have any recommendations for someone who constantly feels that they are performing their worship incorrectly?

Worship
Do you have any recommendations for someone who constantly feels that they are performing their worship incorrectly?

Salam alaykum,

Do you have any recommendations for someone who constantly feels that they are performing their worship incorrectly?

For example, in wudhu or ghusl, in trying to ensure all parts of the face or arms have been washed, they spend a long time washing each part just be absolutely sure that they haven’t missed a spot. Eventually, it takes them much longer to perform their obligatory actions than most people would take, even though they felt like every part of the wash was necessary. 

During prayer, such a person might feel they are pronouncing some letters in the surahs or dhikr incorrectly, which might lead to them repeating words many times until they feel confident that the pronunciation is correct. This level of care also leads to unusually lengthy prayers.

Does it qualify as a doubt if you’re pretty sure you haven’t performed the act correctly (which can happen quite frequently)? 

Are there reasons for this problem and do you have any suggestions on how such a person should overcome it? Please in your answer include ways of handling both wudhu/ghusl and prayers, in case there are different approaches.

Thank you!

Zoheir Ali Esmail, Shaykh Zoheir Ali Esmail has a Bsc in Accounting and Finance from the LSE in London, and an MA in Islamic Studies from Middlesex University. He studied Arabic at Damascus University and holds a PhD... Answer updated 1 year ago

Bismillah

Alaykum salaam

Thank you for your question. From what you have described the path that they are on is a slippery slope and they need to start ignoring the urges to keep repeating the actions. When it comes to wudu, a person should make wudu like everyone else. Yes, if they think there is a spot they have missed they can go over it, but nothing out of the ordinary. Water travels differently to oil or something viscous, and so you do not need to keep going over the same areas. As for pronunciation, the same is the case, that if you know you generally pronounce the letters correctly you should ignore the urge to repeat, unless you are absolutely sure you have mispronounced.

This is very difficult in the beginning, but the doubts will only get worse and more debilitating with time. The reason for them is a misunderstanding of what is required from a person performing these actions and the impression that they have to be done with the utmost level of precision, whereas what is really required is that the acts are done normally. It is a trick of satan to push a person into excessive doubts causing the enjoyment of worship to slowly dissipate. The solution is to ignore them.

May you always be successful.