The Voices In Our Heads By Dr. Nabi Raza Abidi


Voices in Our Heads: Our greatest enemy is not the physical voices we hear from without, but the dark foreign ones within.

We all know about those pesky voices in our heads. I don’t mean the good voices, but those really bad and depressing ones. They are anxiety ridden, angry, jealous, envious, sarcastic, and judgmental. Sometimes we get a break from them, but most of often we are simply drowning in them.

This disturbing voice is not the product of our aql (intellect). It’s not the kind of logical thinking where we make a rational conclusion that “every thing is wrong with my life, nothing will ever get better!” These bad thoughts come in our heads suddenly, without warning and without much thought. Sometimes they come in the form of a judgment about another person.

Psychologists have called this bad voice “self-talk” or more precisely, “negative self-talk.” This self-talk is not our thoughts according to Gerald Loren Fishkin (see his book here) but chatter that stems from our unconscious.

Self-talk isn’t always bad. Sometimes it is positive. In Islam, the closest term to self-talk is called “suggestions” (khawātir or khātir in Arabic.) These suggestions are voices in our minds that may better be thought of as “mental suggestions.” They are categorized into four categories:

1) Godly suggestions (khātir ilāhī/rabbānī)
2) Angelic suggestions (khātir malakānī)
3) Ego-based suggestions (khātir nafsānī)
4) Demonic suggestions (khātir shaytānī)

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