Najwa Awad, LCSW-C
Clinicians, Imams, and the Whisperings of Satan
Waswâs al-qahri, which means ‘overwhelming whisperings’ in Arabic, is a complex mental health disorder found in Muslim populations. Waswâs al-qahri is a presentation of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that is not included in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) or International Classification of Diseases (ICD) for several reasons including lack of research, diagnosis overlap and insufficient recognition of spiritually-based diseases by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Muslims who suffer from waswâs al-qahri unwillingly take everyday acts of worship, like washing for prayer (wudu), or prayer itself, to extreme lengths. Obsessions are rooted in fear that their acts of worship are inadequate and that the acts must be repeated until perfect. Perpetuated by irrational fears and catastrophic thinking, these acts of worship become a source of anguish instead of spiritual nourishment.
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