I am a practicing Muslim, but I am not as such in my thinking. Every time, I imagine myself to be doing things that Islam has not permitted-like smoking marijuana, having sex, drinking etc. Alas, sometimes I have these thoughts while I am inside a mosque and, worst, praying. Am I a normal Muslim? By having bad thoughts, can it be taken that I have done them all? What is the way out of this?
Dear friend, your question is ubiquitous in today’s public space which is saturated with consumer products churned out by big industries and with consumerist ads and propaganda spread via mass media and subliminally making us hooked. Sex and wine are sold hot and they are promoted in the hottest way possible. It’s a greater form of struggle-jihad I mean-to keep ourselves away from whatever is promoted as the best to buy and the best to consume.
Second, by having bad thoughts one person can’t be considered as doing them. There is a much quoted hadith of the Prophet to this effect: ‘If a person thinks of doing good, God will write a reward for it and when the person does it He will reward again. When a person thinks of doing the evil, God will not write it down. He will, when the person actually performs the same.’ This hadith bears out the fact that a person will be held accountable for an action, especially the evil one, when he performs the same.
The hadith, however, is not a license for entertaining bad thoughts. It is rather meant for helping us deal with our guilty conscience. Some resort to inadvisable methods to repress bad thoughts which will be eventually bounced back. Repression is not at all an automatic psychic procedure. We should observe ourselves, try to understand ourselves and our roles in the society and if our actions are compatible with these roles. This will lead us to the larger questions of the meaning of life which the holy books we have read will help us understand. This will make our five time prayer not merely a ritual; but five chances for mediation with divine words on the meaning of life and existence. Then you will understand how far superior your existence is to those consumer products like marijuana and wine which will eventually destroy the essence-the real You-in you. Sex is a natural drive and according to Islam it is sacred: something god has provided to promote love, care and understanding among ourselves besides the propagation of races. But sex industry has de-sanctified it using various methods including prostitution and pornography. The industry sees to it that we are not sexually satisfied, but sexually driven. Sex happens, only when love happens. Mutual love and affection can only be reaped from our understanding of the meaning of life.
Lack of awareness and self-consciousness is an occasion for us to have bad thoughts.