The first strategy in dealing with destructive doubts is to be aware that they exist and that they are dangerous. This strategy (along with strategy #2 and #3) should be implemented before the destructive doubt has entered the heart and as such, falls under the famous idiom, “prevention is better than cure.” Knowing that something presents a danger and that it exists allows you to not be a victim to its evil. It behooves us to understand that shubuhāt attack the heart and are like parasites that suck imān out of the heart. Having an awareness of this fact should lead a person to be vigilant in guarding their heart.
It is well known that many of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ would be greatly concerned about certain diseases of the heart. For example, when it came to the disease of nifāq (hypocrisy), the companion ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, who was the second khalifa after the death of the Prophet ﷺ, was worried about this particular disease in his heart. Umm Salamah, the wife of the Prophet ﷺ was privy to the identity of hypocrites known to the Prophet and when ‘Umar found out, he asked her, “by Allah, am I among them?”. She replied in the negative.1
This worry for one’s heart and being on guard against anything affecting it is also reflected in many suplications of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. For example,
“Oh Turner of hearts, make firm our hearts upon your dīn”2
The Qur’an mentions that the Prophet Ibrahīm supplicated to God to protect him and his progeny from the worship of idols:
And [mention, O Muhammad], when Abraham said, “My Lord, make this city [Makkah] secure and keep me and my sons away from worshipping idols.3
This is indicative of the Prophet Ibrahim’s concern for the state of the heart and that which can affect it i.e. the inclination to worship other than God.
In summary, be aware and do not take shubuhāt lightly!
1 See Musnad Imam Ahmad, #26549
2 Sahih Muslim, vol. 4, pg. 1397, #6418
3 القرآن الكريم. “Surat ’Ibrahim [14:35] – The Noble Qur’an.” Accessed March 22, 2022. https://legacy.quran.com/14/35.