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What to Make of Mother Teresa’s Crisis of Faith?


As I read the latest article in Time about Mother Teresa’s crisis of faith my head swirled with questions. Some about Mother Teresa herself, and others related to the general nature of faith. It was definitely interesting to gain insight into one of this century’s foremost humanitarians and see the spritual struggle and torment inside that was veiled on the outside. This also gives some insight into a few of the creedal differences Muslims and Christians have that we often overlook.

To quote from the article: “It raises questions about God and faith, the engine behind great achievement, and the persistence of love, divine and human.”

The article centers around Mother Teresa’s letters to her spiritual advisors have been made public in a book (against her wishes).

The letters, many of them preserved against her wishes (she had requested that they be destroyed but was overruled by her church), reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever — or, as the book’s compiler and editor, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, writes, “neither in her heart or in the eucharist.”

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Ironically, these letters have been gathered as part of the process to formally give her the status of a Saint.

After reading through it the impression I get of Mother Teresa is someone who was motivated to work in the path of God, however, she was struggling to find the true means of approach to Him. It is a bit disheartening to see someone dedicate their life in such a way but not find Islam. Allah(swt) guides whom He wills. Reading this though, gives some insight into the underlying attitudes and intentions that some have.

What follows is a ‘cliffs note’ version of the Time’s article. I have pulled out some of the interesting and relevant excerpts and added some comments (going chronologically in order of the article).

Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.
— Mother Teresa to the Rev. Michael Van Der Peet, September 1979

This is the opening quote in the article and perhaps the most striking. It reminded me immediately of the following ayaat:

And We have put a barrier before them, and a barrier behind them, and We have covered them up, so that they cannot see” (36:9).

Allah has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearings, (i.e. they are closed from accepting Allah’s Guidance), and on their eyes there is a covering. Theirs will be a great torment” (2:7).

…in a letter to a spiritual confidant, the Rev. Michael van der Peet, that is only now being made public, she wrote with weary familiarity of a different Christ, an absent one. “Jesus has a very special love for you,” she assured Van der Peet. “[But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, — Listen and do not hear — the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak … I want you to pray for me — that I let Him have [a] free hand.”

Subhanallah I honestly cannot think of anything other than to say that this is precisely the description given to the Christians in Surah al-Fatihah. They are indeed worshipping without knowledge.

That absence seems to have started at almost precisely the time she began tending the poor and dying in Calcutta, and — except for a five-week break in 1959 — never abated. Although perpetually cheery in public, the Teresa of the letters lived in a state of deep and abiding spiritual pain. In more than 40 communications, many of which have never before been published, she bemoans the “dryness,” “darkness,” “loneliness” and “torture” she is undergoing. She compares the experience to hell and at one point says it has driven her to doubt the existence of heaven and even of God.

This is the unfortunate reality of a heart that is not blessed with true emaan no matter how sweet things may appear on the exterior. It also reminds me of many Muslims who have sadly adopted the mantra of “Allah just wants us to be good to people,” and use it to justify their lack of actual religious practice. No matter what levels of worldly righteousness a person achieves, the heart will remain unfulfilled and unrewarded without true faith.

The article continues by detailing some conversations that Mother Teresa says she had with Christ,

Mother Teresa had visions, including one of herself conversing with Christ on the Cross. Her confessor, Father Celeste Van Exem, was convinced that her mystical experiences were genuine. “[Her] union with Our Lord has been continual and so deep and violent that rapture does not seem very far,” he commented. Teresa later wrote simply, “Jesus gave Himself to me.”

Contrast this with,

Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The Child of your Love — and now become as the most hated one — the one — You have thrown away as unwanted — unloved. I call, I cling, I want — and there is no One to answer — no One on Whom I can cling — no, No One. — Alone … Where is my Faith — even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness — My God — how painful is this unknown pain — I have no Faith — I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart — & make me suffer untold agony.

So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them — because of the blasphemy — If there be God — please forgive me — When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven — there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives & hurt my very soul. — I am told God loves me — and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart?
— addressed to Jesus, at the suggestion of a confessor, undated

How can it be possible for someone to be at such a high state of ‘union’ with her Lord, about to experience rapture, but then on the flip side doubt the very existence of that Lord?

Some explanations given to reconcile her conflicting emotions are proffered,

…identification with Christ’s extended suffering on the Cross, undertaken to redeem humanity, is a key aspect of Catholic spirituality. Teresa told her nuns that physical poverty ensured empathy in “giving themselves” to the suffering poor and established a stronger bond with Christ’s redemptive agony. She wrote in 1951 that the Passion was the only aspect of Jesus’ life that she was interested in sharing: “I want to … drink ONLY [her emphasis] from His chalice of pain.”

…”And a strong personality needs stronger purification” as an antidote to pride….

…”Let’s say you’re married and you fall in love and you believe with all your heart that marriage is a sacrament. And your wife, God forbid, gets a stroke and she’s comatose. And you will never experience her love again. It’s like loving and caring for a person for 50 years and once in a while you complain to your spiritual director, but you know on the deepest level that she loves you even though she’s silent and that what you’re doing makes sense. Mother Teresa knew that what she was doing made sense.”…

While these are noble excuses, it seems they miss the more obvious explanation relating to her internal spiritual struggle. Islamically, we know that when we face difficulty inshallah it purifies us of our sins. However, we also believe in that having full emaan in our Rabb. We don’t put ourselves through pain on purpose, but know that if we face difficulty in the course of our lives then it is from Allah. This is a sharp contrast to someone seeking the ‘pain’ Jesus experienced hoping to reach the Lord, and then doubting your own faith as a result.

We can see from the Sahabah’s example as well that they doubted the sincerity of their own actions to Allah, but their actual faith in Allah never wavered. The story of Umar (ra) asking Hudhayfah if he was counted amongst the hypocrites comes to mind. Umar is someone that dedicated his life to Allah (swt) and working for the ummah, but we never find this kind of spiritual crisis taking place.

Part of the reason for this divide, I feel, comes from a fundamental creedal difference: How we believe in the Names and Attributes of Allah (swt). When a person feels that God came to earth in a human form, and experienced the same emotions and pain (and thus deficiency) that a human experiences, then it destroys any hope of having a real relationship with this Lord. By attributing to God that He felt pain, is to diminish His status and Majesty. This is why they make the excuse that she is like the ‘dedicated spouse’ caring for her husband. By taking away the very essence of the Oneness of Allah, how can they then learn the means of approach to Him? If they look upon God as a human, or someone with human qualities, then by the very nature of this attitude, they will never have the spiritual relationship they crave, only emptiness.

If they truly believed Allah(swt) was Al-Wadood (Loving), Al-Hakeem (Wise), that whatever He decreed was best for us and we submit to it, that only He harms or benefits, and that He will reward us or punish us, then their relationship with Allah would be stronger. But they do not. If they truly believed Allah was Al-Rahmaan (The Merciful) then they would not go to a priest to confess their sins to him! This is taking the rights due to Allah and giving them to the creation. This is the fundamental mistake they made, and you can see the effects that it has on the purity of one’s soul, and the relationship one has to Allah, As-Samad (The One everyone is need of, but He needs no one).

To counsel these emotions, Mother Teresa was advised,

The Rev. Joseph Neuner, whom she met in the late 1950s and confided in somewhat later, was already a well-known theologian, and when she turned to him with her “darkness,” he seems to have told her the three things she needed to hear: that there was no human remedy for it (that is, she should not feel responsible for affecting it); that feeling Jesus is not the only proof of his being there, and her very craving for God was a “sure sign” of his “hidden presence” in her life; and that the absence was in fact part of the “spiritual side” of her work for Jesus.

This reinforces the point from above. When one does not truly understand Allah to begin with, then they cannot establish a relationship with Him. We believe, for example, that Allah is above the Throne, above the heavens, and His Knowledge and His Mercy encompass the creation. We know that He is not in us with a ‘hidden presence’ that we chase after to uncover. Without this basic understanding of theology though, the pitfalls of this creed are manifest. When one thinks that God should have this type of presence in one’s life, and it is not found, the spiritual ramifications can be destructive.

This is not to say that God does not manage our affairs – but rather that we must learn the proper means of drawing near to Him, and praying to Him. “And your Lord says, ‘Call upon Me; I will respond to you’” (40:60).

“I just have the joy of having nothing — not even the reality of the Presence of God [in the Eucharist].” She described her soul as like an “ice block.” Yet she recognized Neuner’s key distinction, writing, “I accept not in my feelings — but with my will, the Will of God — I accept His will.” Although she still occasionally worried that she might “turn a Judas to Jesus in this painful darkness,” with the passage of years the absence morphed from a potential wrecking ball into a kind of ragged cornerstone.

The worship without knowledge comes into play more here. Because a person’s yearning for God is so strong, in the absence of something better, they are forced to reconcile this issues often in strange ways:

He contends that the letters reveal her as holier than anyone knew. However formidable her efforts on Christ’s behalf, it is even more astounding to realize that she achieved them when he was not available to her — a bit like a person who believes she can’t walk winning the Olympic 100 meters.

The article concludes with the following,

Please destroy any letters or anything I have written.
— to Picachy, April 1959

…Teresa’s rationale for suppressing her personal correspondence was “I want the work to remain only His.” If the letters became public, she explained to Picachy, “people will think more of me — less of Jesus.”

…Teresa considered the perceived absence of God in her life as her most shameful secret but eventually learned that it could be seen as a gift abetting her calling….

The part that bothers me most about this is that her lack of faith is being construed to be a part of her piety. To doubt the acceptance of your actions is one thing, but to actually doubt your very Lord whom you are working for is another.

There seems to also be an underlying attitude of blind acceptance of anything that is done by a ‘pious’ or holy person, and unfortunately we see this behavior amongst Muslims as well. How else could this be considered a ‘gift’ aiding her call?

This is why I feel Islam strikes the proper balance. We give respect to our scholars, our humanitarians, and our community members, but the ultimate judgment of someone’s righteousness (no matter how pious a scholar they may be) is reserved for Allah (swt) and we say simply that we hope Allah (swt) grants them Jannah.

I hope that from this we can draw a few important lessons. Firstly, regardless of what is said about Mother Teresa, she will still always be known as one of the foremost humanitarians of our times who helped an innumerable amount of people. Secondly, we should see that no matter what we are doing, the most fundamental aspect of our very existence is our relationship with Allah, and establishing that relationship through our worship of Him with the proper understanding and methodolgy.

Lastly, I cannot help but quote the following passage from Tafsir Ibn Kathir. I know that it is a tough message to be delivered, but given its pertinence to the issue at hand it is important to read (modified from

“Those who disbelieved – their deeds are like a mirage on a plain, in which a thirsty person thinks there is water; when he approaches it he finds nothing but he finds Allah before him and He repays him his account in full, as Allah is swift in taking account.” [al-Noor: 39] What comes of their hard labor is explained in the following passage from Tafsir Ibn Kathir (of Soorah al-Ghashiyah):

(Some faces that Day will be Khashi`ah) meaning, humiliated. This was said by Qatadah. Ibn `Abbas said, “They will be humble but this action will be of no benefit to them.” Then Allah says,

(Laboring, weary) meaning, they did many deeds and became weary in their performance, yet they will be cast into a blazing Fire on the Day of Judgement. Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Al-Burqani narrated from Abu `Imran Al-Jawni that he said, ” `Umar bin Al-Khattab passed by the monastery of a monk and he said: `O monk!’ Then the monk came out, and `Umar looked at him and began to weep. Then it was said to him: `O Commander of the faithful! Why are you weeping’ He replied: `I remembered the statement of Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, in His Book,

(Laboring, weary. They will enter into Fire, Hamiyah.) So that is what has made me cry. ”’ Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn `Abbas said,

(Laboring, weary) “The Christians.” It is narrated that `Ikrimah and As-Suddi both said, “Laboring in the worldly life with disobedience, and weariness in the Fire from torment and perdition.” Ibn `Abbas, Al-Hasan, and Qatadah all said,

(They will enter into Fire, Hamiyah) meaning, hot with intense heat.

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Omar Usman is a founding member of MuslimMatters and Qalam Institute. He teaches Islamic seminars across the US including Khateeb Workshop and Fiqh of Social Media. He has served in varying administrative capacities for multiple national and local Islamic organizations. You can follow his work at



  1. Hassan

    August 29, 2007 at 10:04 AM

    Salaam. Very good post. I read the article when it came out, and I showed it to my wife, and I immediately told her, this is due to lack of sweetness of tawheed. She is trying to find purpose of life, she was keep herself busy in good charitable actions but did not have imaan and she could not find purpose of life.

  2. ...

    August 29, 2007 at 10:20 AM

    Subhan’Allah, I read the article when it came out and as i was reading it, i was hoping that somebody did Dawah to her about Islam and Tawheed =)

  3. BintMuhammed

    August 29, 2007 at 11:05 AM

    SubhanaAllah, great post. I guess she wasn’t as holy as people thought.
    I totally agree with your point that to truely find solice in Allah we must understand His Names and attributes.

  4. aarij

    August 29, 2007 at 11:29 AM

    That last passage from ibn Kathir made me think how blessed we are that Allah chose us to be Muslims. Subhan Allah, so many people spend their lives toiling…and their work will be fruitless.

    Allahumma inne audhobika minal kufri wal faqr, wa audhobika min adhaabil qabr. La ilaha illa Ant.

    • lutfi

      September 7, 2009 at 12:53 AM

      Mother Teresa work fruitless ?? Are u people humans ?

      • Islam Hussen Pakhtoon

        May 8, 2010 at 9:06 PM

        Yes we are, All good that is done will be rewarded as Allah is All merciful and Compassionate. However for the disbelievers they are rewarded in this world and have no share in the hereafter. Mother Teresa clearly would have recieved the message of Islam like any other individual but for what so ever reason only Allah knows she clearly didn’t want to except the truth.

        • Sakura flows ~

          August 19, 2012 at 9:29 AM

          You keep saying clearly clearly… Sign of arrogance, Allah doens’ t love arrogance, we should all take care of it, me too!

  5. Asim

    August 29, 2007 at 2:22 PM

    Bismillah ArRahman ArRaheem

    It seems to me that a big part of her problem was that she had this desire to “directly experience” God (something like seeing visions of Jesus alayhis salaam and having conversations with Jesus alayhis salaam, etc). When that wasn’t there, she felt that God had “deserted” her.

    Note the sick (yes: sick) dialogue quoted in the original Times article wherein Teresa described having a conversation with Jesus, an Ilhaam if you will, in which Jesus called her his bride or wife (Aaoothubillah!).

    When this kind of Ilham stopped recurring in her life, only then did her period of misery begin.Were it not for this (unmet) desire for “Tajalli” and “Ilhaam”, she would have carried on as a happy Trinitarian, regardless of how false the Trinitarian creed is.

    In other words, the falseness of the creed is not what’s solely responsible for this emptiness, even though ultimately even her false expectations arise from her false creed.

    But the point of “Ibrah” I drew from her pathetic story (pathetic in the sense of inspiring pity) is that even if a Muwahhid Muslim began to demand of Allah that He, Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, reveal Himself to the servant by way of ilham and dreams (or, more brazenly still, through direct tajalli), and made this the litmus test of God’s love or lack thereof for the servant, the Muslim would be committing a folly and setting up himself for the same torture that Teresa went through.

    The signs of Allah’s love and innumerable bounties are all too numerous for us to require this kind of “direct revelation”. Woe to us if we don’t recognize Him through His signs!

    In the first few verses of Al-Baqarah, the Qur’an is described by Allah as guidance to those who believe “bil Ghaib”, and demanding “Shuhood” of the sort that Teresa demanded seems to be overstepping the bounds of servanthood. This is not to deny that Allah grants a special nearness and sakeenah to the heart of the sincere believer, but the problem arises when one makes such “feelings” the basis of one’s relationship with Allah.

    Also, if she had been a Muslim and had felt this same distance from her Rabb, she would have hastened to repent, because in Islam we are taught “wa yatoob Allahu ilaa man taab” (Allah turns back to the one who turns back to Him): What a reassuring promise! And from what a truthful source.

    So the second point of “Ibrah” is that whenever a Muwahhid Muslim feels distant from Allah, let him blame no one but himself and let him hasten to repent from actual concrete evil deeds of the heart and limbs, which he must discover through self-examination and introspection, and which are causing this distancing of the heart from the Rabb.

    Wallahu A’lam Bis Sawaab.

  6. Anon.

    August 29, 2007 at 2:36 PM

    The tergiversations of her faith reminded me of my own, I guess. Although I’m outwardly religious, I’ve never had the intimate relationship with Allah that I see others possess- I envy those brothers. So many times I’ve wished I was more like them, and so many times I’ve wished for death. Sometimes I hope that my execution might redeem me- maybe Allah would forgive me if I suffered a painful and ignominious death. I remember praying fajr many, many times and hitting my head against the wall, and praying to Allah desperately for faith. I’ve never prayed more sincerely in my life.

    So I understand where she’s coming from. A mind wracked by doubt- to the point that it’s painful. I’m pleased with Allah as my Lord, Islam as my religion etc- but I’m weak.

  7. SaqibSaab

    August 29, 2007 at 3:33 PM

    Is it really that surprising? Maybe it is because it’s Mother Teresa.

    But it just reminds me of how the director of our masjid says that preists from other neighboring churches have privately admitted to him that they don’t believe Jesus Chris as the son of God.

    Only they’ll never come out and openly say it for fear of losing their status in this world.

  8. SrAnonymous

    August 29, 2007 at 5:35 PM

    I would be interested in how a Muslim convert from Christianity would regard this. I recall that the Christians believe Jesus said on the cross “Eloi Eloi lemach sabachtani” “God why did you forsake me?” Were her days of doubt simply emulating the Christian view of how a saviour suffers for the sins of man and thus redeems mankind? In contrast we are told in Suratul baqarah ayah 141 that we will only be held to account for our own deeds. “Ya muqallibal quloob thabbit qalbi ala deenika”

  9. inexplicabletimelessness

    August 29, 2007 at 7:10 PM

    As salaamu alaikum

    This is one of the major differences between Islam and other religions: Islam is based on proof/daleel and not just mere ‘feeling’. As we get more proof and evidence, it increases our faith (eeman). If anyone just said: “I’m a Hindu because it “feels” right or I’m a Taoist because it makes me “feel good”, how can anyone quantify or validate that?

    In Islam, we are told to use our intellect to come to the conclusion that there is only One Creator, One God, worthy of worship. Allah says many times in the Qur’an that we should look to the heavens and earth and the Signs He has made. He tells us to ponder and even asks : “Don’t they think?” referring to those who disobey Allah. Once we come to the conclusion that there is only One God to be worshipped and we understand Tawheed properly, we then realize how prophets and messengers were sent to all times and we learn that the final book of Allah is the Qur’an–it’s a proof and miracle in itself. Even the non-muslim Arabic experts in the time of Rasul Allah (salAllahu alayhi wassalam) said the Qur’an couldn’t have been written by a man. Top that off with so many miracles of the Qur’an and the lack of ANY inconsistencies, and you will have a solid amount of proof that Islam is the truth.

    Once you believe in Allah and you believe that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad (salAllahu alayhi wassalam) is His Messenger, this is like a scientific theorem: once you have proven it, you accept it as true and don’t question its validity. Whatever Allah and His Messenger (salAllahu alayhi wassalam) say to do, you do it, because your foundation is strong.

    Many Muslims these days, let alone non-muslims, are having these crises of faith because their foundation is not strong in the first place. They have inherited Islam from their parents and their parents may not have a foundation either!

    One problem I see in parents today is that if their son or daughter asks : ” Why can’t I do this?” the parents say: Just listen to me. Or : ‘because I said so.’ Although there may be wisdom in this at times, in many situations it creates a mentality in the child that they are blind followers and not capable of understanding why. Or sometimes parents don’t help create that foundation for the kids, and kids grow up to only know about the tertiary issues of Islam (no pork, no alcohol, no dating, period). When the logic of these tertiary issues doesn’t seem apparent or clear to the kids, the kids have no foundation so their Islam breaks. If a foundation was there, their faith would never have failed, inshaAllah.

    In an age where reason and proof are (seemingly, at least) on the rise, may Allah help Islam, the religion of truth, the clear way, to rise and be dominant on Earth, ameen.

  10. Shama

    August 29, 2007 at 7:35 PM

    awesome read

  11. Shahzad

    August 30, 2007 at 10:43 AM

    Assalamu ‘alaikum,

    I read the Time article and was quite moved by Mother Teresa’s struggle with her faith. But I couldn’t help but feel that Catholicism has made their spirituality so complicated. In Islam, Allah ta’aala through His Mercy, has given us so many resources to keep our hearts alive: the Quran, knowledge, dhikr, salat, good deeds, the Prophet’s example, etc. Secondly, our relationship with the Creator is on His terms. He, ta’aala has given us the means of coming close to Him. Unfortunately, Christian spirituality seems almost metaphysical: Mother Teresa was trying to bring God or Jesus into her life on her terms. I always had a problem with that. By making God die on the cross, they have made the Creator submit to Man’s needs rather than us submit to Him. Finally, Mother Teresa sought fulfullment by metaphorically reliving Jesus’ death on the cross. This requirement by the Church to have priests and nuns live extreme lives of abstinence and poverty is not natural.

    In Islam, our spiritual path is based on real divine wisdom and a practical example of the Prophet and his companions. For other religions, the path is man-made and is thus subject to extremes.

    Allah knows best.

  12. Faiez

    August 30, 2007 at 4:11 PM

    It hurts to read about people who were lost like that. You can almost feel their pain in their statements.

    All those works in vain. It’s a shame, because some of us might do less work even though we have the Eman to get these deeds accepted.


    Asalaamu alaikum

    • lutfi

      September 7, 2009 at 1:04 AM

      Are you people think only of yourselfs ??

  13. Umm Layth

    August 30, 2007 at 6:18 PM

    man qala la ilaha illa allah mukhlisan dakhalal jannah

  14. 'mm.umar

    August 31, 2007 at 10:44 PM

    May Allah reward you for your clear, well reasoned response. I hope you don’t mind if I share your article (with attribution, of course) with all of my friends and associates.

  15. ibnabeeomar

    August 31, 2007 at 11:26 PM

    ‘mm.umar please feel free – jazakallahu khayr

  16. muhsinmuttaqi

    September 1, 2007 at 3:17 PM

    Assalamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullahee wa Barakatu

    We do not enter through the gates of Jannah due to our deeds, but by the Mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala; therefore, we have to do the deeds with ikhlaas, with the sincere intention to gain complete Satisfaction of Allahs and His Mercy.

    Iman is an action. Loving Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is just a claim and we have to prove our love by following the Messenger of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

    One who learns Qur’an strengthens his spiritual status
    One who obtains knowledge in fiqh becomes noble
    One who writes hadeeth obtains powerful logic
    One who obtains knowledge in language becomes well-mannered
    One who learns mathematics obtains unerring judgment
    One who does not protect him/herself will not benefit from his knowledge.
    (Imam Al-Shafe’i, raheematullah)

    A Lesson From the Life of Imam Al-Shafe’i:

    His Manners and Worship:

    1. He had a great deal of worship. He used to divide the night into three parts: One for learning. One for Sleep. One for Worship. Organization of religion and worship is part of worship. To organize the day and night for worship and worldly affairs is part of worship. I experience sometimes that when I don’t organize my day and night, my Iman goes down out of disorientation.

    2. He used to stand and pray and read Qur’an while tears overflowed from his eyes in fear of his shortcomings.

    3. He used to see himself, due to his great modesty, among the people of sin, although he was described as “never having done wrong”.

    4. Al-Shafe’i was given a deep penetrating voice, a bright heart that had been conferred with continuous worship and great love, light, influence and charm.

    5. He was fond of Qur’an and its company and he used to read the whole Qur’an every day. In Ramadan he used to recite whole Qur’an every night and every day.

    6. When he recited Al-Qur’an he used to weep and make those listening to him weep as well. One of his contemporaries narrated: “When we wanted to weep we used to say to each other: ‘Let us go to that man from Muttalib to read Qur’an’ ”

    7. When he was in the final stages of illness, his student Al-Muzni, entered upon him and asked: “How are you today?” He said: “I woke up moving away from this world, leaving my brothers, drinking of the cup of death, coming to Allah, and I do not know whether my soul will be going to Paradise so that I might congratulate it or to hellfire so that I might console it, and then he wept.”

    May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala bestow upon us Iman, Ilm, and Yakeen.

  17. Umm Zaid

    September 3, 2007 at 8:40 AM

    I view her story as a warning for those of us Muslims who read it. Here we have so many comments extolling the superiority of Islamic tawhid, and one lonely Muslim voice speaking of the same feeling of loss and isolation and, as of yet, no one has anything to say to him (her?). Pray, lest we all be knocked down a few pegs like that.

    We Muslims, despite our tawhid and our Qur’an and our Seal of the Messengers (may Allah bless him and give him peace) are not immune from dark nights of the soul — be they short or long. You may wake up one day a believer and die a kafir. Do not think that calling yourself Muslim protects you from the sort of trial and tribulation that Agnes Bojaxhiu went through. Only by His Mercy. Stay sincere.

  18. Umm Zaid

    September 7, 2007 at 8:09 PM

    Anonymous Brother:

    Are you still out there? Did anyone contact you (if you left contact info)? Your comment has bothered me a great deal these past few days. I can’t shake the image of a brother banging his head on the wall, wishing for death. Is there anyone you can talk to?

    Start with: Amantu billahi wa rusulih. I have believed in Allah and His Messengers. Take refuge in Him from doubt and kufr. Even if you feel like you’re saying words into thin air, just do it. You have nothing to lose, I promise.

  19. Pingback: Letters on Faith « AbdulRahman “Abs” Arif

  20. Sara

    November 8, 2008 at 11:54 PM

    Assallamu Allaukum,
    This is really interesting story. From the point of a view of ex Christian and newly converted muslim, I think that this story is good proof to us muslims that we are on the right path. However, bothers ans sisters, please don’t judge as the full knowledge, wisdom, and mercy belongs to our Allah All Ramanirrahim.

  21. Amad

    November 9, 2008 at 12:48 AM

    waalikum asalam Sr. Sara, and congratulations on the best decision of your life, the return to your fitrah and the purity of Islam.

  22. Sara

    November 9, 2008 at 1:47 AM

    Sallam Allaykum,
    Last night I was thinking of some great people from the history such as Gandhi, and I tought to myself, such great figure must known the truth about Islam. I was searching online and found some interesting information. Some claim that he was assasinated by a Hindu extrimist after performing ummra to Saudi Arabia ie. Mecca. I read this on It might be an idea for a new article founded on good research. Secondly I tought to find more about mother Theresa as she was the great contributor to the poor in India, the country of many religions. Just a reminder , we are just reminders.
    Thank you for a kind welcome Br Amad
    Sallam Allaykum

  23. lutfi

    September 7, 2009 at 1:10 AM

    God is not in praying and believing only. It’s not enough.

  24. lutfi

    September 7, 2009 at 1:22 AM

    People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
    Forgive them anyway.

    If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
    Be kind anyway.

    If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
    Succeed anyway.

    If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
    Be honest and frank anyway.

    What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
    Build anyway.

    If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
    Be happy anyway.

    The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
    Do good anyway.

    Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
    Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

    You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
    It was never between you and them anyway.

    Mother Teresa

  25. Marcus

    August 29, 2010 at 5:39 AM

    Mother Teresa has come back into focus since it is her centenary year. I have read your assessment of her experience of the dark night of the soul with interest, and even some of triumphant comments all with the exception Sara smacking of self-righteousness. Islamic prayer perhaps is designed by rules to be a one way communication and submission to Allah. I quote from your article “This is the fundamental mistake they made, and you can see the effects that it has on the purity of one’s soul, and the relationship one has to Allah, As-Samad (The One everyone is need of, but He needs no one).” Contrast this with the Christian understanding of prayer which is an out pouring of the heart to God, Our Father, who has carved each one of us (all humans and His creation) on the palm of His hand and will never forget us, because He loves us with an unconditional love. As the relationship of love grows between a father and child… the outpouring and sharing of what lies deep within as part of prayer is a deepening of a personal relationship with a personal God. The Muslim understanding is that God has no need for us, except within our submission, but the submission seems to suggest a relationship of a slave to a mighty master, not of father and child. Also Islam seems to be guided by a ‘convenient truth’ that in saying what it does blinds Muslims eyes to any other faith… the ayaat: “And We have put a barrier before them, and a barrier behind them, and We have covered them up, so that they cannot see” (36:9). “Allah has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearings, (i.e. they are closed from accepting Allah’s Guidance), and on their eyes there is a covering. Theirs will be a great torment” (2:7)”, works in the reverse. It is this barrier put before Islam that has created the biggest mass movement of intolerance in human history and has led many a radical Muslim (also prayerful in the slave to master submission sense) to murder without conscience their way to Darul Islam. Contrast this with the work of the missionaries of charity and other Christian charities as a result of their prayers.
    The dark night of the soul is a mystical prayerful experience that even the Lord Jesus Christ went through in the garden of Gethsemane. St John of the cross first highlighted it. Many of the greatest Christian saints have experienced it. Obviously it is a spiritual experience that lesser mortals cannot comment on and hence I can only imagine it. Note….it is not that God has never been with them…He was and is the source of their work initially calling them and leading them to amazing acts of pure goodness….but appearing to have temporarily abandoned them. None of these saints had fallen…it is a reflection of the book of Job. Some of them like St. Francis of Assisi were rewarded with the stigmata. Muslims are familiar with God testing Abraham….Why is it you think mother Teresa is not worthy of a test? During this holy month of Ramadan, maybe it would do good to reflect on Mother Teresa’s acts of kindness and charity…before condemning her to fire. Remember… most of the prophets and all Islam’s earlier prophets were either Jew or Christian were rewarded in heaven after spiritual struggles on earth. Peace be with you.

  26. Confused

    January 17, 2011 at 5:54 PM

    I have read some of these comments and have felt compelled to write, I never usually do. I was born a muslim and have been brought up a muslim but over the last decade I have had a crisis of faith to. I can relate to Anon I have wished for death on many occasions so the pain I feel inside would stop. It is hard to talk to people about these thngs as people automatically judge you if you say what you feel. I find it hard to believe that some of you atleast are seeming to enjoy the fact that mother Theresa had this crisis of faith so you can say haha I knew we were right and i find it hard to accept that she will not go to jannah (Heaven) Just because she wasnt a muslim. Is it fair that a bad muslim should go to jannah when a good non believer will go to hell? I find this difficult to accept.

    • Adil

      January 17, 2011 at 11:55 PM

      A person that joins others in worship with God or rejects His guidance is not a good person in the absolute sense. God has a greater right to our good behavior than creation. The crime of shirk or kufr is not out-weighed by good behavior to people. A mushrik or kafir is a greater criminal in the court of God than someone who is bad to creation.

      • Adil

        January 18, 2011 at 12:59 AM

        P.S. As for Mother Theresa in particular, we can not say what her end will be since we do not know whether she knew enough about Islam to be held accountable for not accepting it, nor do we know what her beliefs were at the time of her death.

        • Sakura flows ~

          August 19, 2012 at 9:23 AM

          I agree with this comment, but we need to understand (I was a christian) that christians are thought to worship God through Jesus (as) and saints etc… So if she did this it’ s because they told her this was right. At the end of her life she realized that something was wrong but maybe she didn’ t have enough time to accept islam or to know islam. We don’ t know and we shouldn’ t judge her because if we think that we are already better than her then that’ s already a problem for us.

    • Mantiki

      January 18, 2011 at 5:50 AM

      It is not unusual for spiritual experiences to be followed by absence or emptiness. I had a vivid perception of God’s love 30 years ago when I broke down in tears at my sins and prayed for redemption calling to God in the name of Jesus. It blew away forever all doubts I had. God not only exists but is Personal. I’ve had spiritual and psychic experiences since then but in relation to God – nothing approaching the first experience. Yet I’m happy and somehow feel His approval and that my attitude and work is pleasing to Him.

      Similarly, in reading books on meditation and Buddhism I’ve read about similar, one-off “peak” experiences of feeling “oneness” with God. One novice bemoaned the fact that after experiencing this feeling once, he could not attain it later. His instructor slapped him on the head for his arrogance that he thought he could summon God at will through his own efforts. “You are lucky to have achieved it at all!” We all should think likewise.

      I have a belief that we experience this spiritual vacuum for 2 reasons. The first is that it arises from a unique brain state that is impossible to reproduce for most people and is attainable only rarely by others. Not to worry though because the barriers fall when we are near death and the immanent release of our souls makes it unavoidable. The second is that if it were easy to perceive God, we would aspire to nothing else and neglect the various reasons and tasks we came to Earth to perform – we might as well have stayed in “Heaven”!!!

      So don’t despair – and find / keep to the Faith that you have chosen for yourself.

  27. Istila

    July 7, 2011 at 9:59 PM


    Allah swt in the holy Quran in chapter 4:94 says clearly: O ye who believe! When ye ””go abroad”” in the cause of Allah, investigate carefully, and say not to any one who offers you a salutation: “Thou art none of a believer!” Therefore carefully investigate.

    If someone believes in God, then how can they be disbelievers?

    If someone was not born a Muslim and so did not understand the concept of shirk in Islam, then how can they be punished in Hell?

    If someone is going through trauma, loneliness, severe trials and even suffers from mental & emotional exhaustion, how can you judge & blame them to be disbelievers, hypocrites or inferior?

    If someone humble & truthful is confused from constantly working to relieve the suffering of people from a crisis and has not found any Muslim community to give them hope, then whose fault is it? Is charity & aid only given to Muslims?

    Who is the final judge of any person’s faith, you, or Allah?

    Narrated Anas: The Prophet said, “Whoever said ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah’ and has in his heart good (faith) equal to the weight of a barley grain will be TAKEN OUT of Hell. And whoever said: ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah’ and has in his heart good (faith) equal to the weight of a wheat grain will be taken out of Hell. And whoever said, ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah’ and has in his heart good (faith) equal to the weight of an atom will be taken out of Hell.”

    Sahih Bukhari (Book #2, Hadith #42) –

    If thise of you Muslims who are too proud to accept that you too may be involved in hidden shirk & think of yourselves too special, good or humble, then why don’t you pray for the mercy of his people, like Prophet Isa did here in the Quran:

    “….I watched over while living in their midst, and ever since You took me to You, You Yourself have been watching over them. You are the witness of all things. If You punish them, they surely are Your servants; and if You forgive them, surely You are Mighty Wise.” Quran 5: 116

    And again here:

    “If Thou dost punish them, they are Thy servant: If Thou dost forgive them, Thou art the Exalted in power, the Wise.” Quran 5: 118

    Allah will say: “This is a day on which the TRUTHFUL will profit from their truth: theirs are gardens, with rivers flowing beneath,- their eternal Home: Allah well-pleased with them, and they with Allah: That is the great salvation, (the fulfilment of all desires). Quran 5:119

    Verily, those who have attained to faith [in this divine writ], as well as those who follow the Jewish faith, and the CHRISTIANS, and the Sabeans – ALL who believe in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds – shall have their REWARD with their Sustainer; and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve.

    I hope this makes it clear to those with a “holier than thou” attitude that there is no place in Islam for selfish pride & arrogance:

    ..Verily, Allâh does not like such as are proud and boastful; Those who are miserly and enjoin miserliness on other men and hide what Allâh has bestowed upon them of His Bounties…. Qur’an 4:36-37

    • Gibran

      November 9, 2012 at 12:33 AM

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      Jews do not believe in the akhirah and Christians do not believe in Allah except with shirk.

      Whoever hears of Rasulullah sallalahualayhiwasalam from among them and does not surrender in Islam will definitely enter Jahhannam. Kufr is kufr.

      I think you are mislead by the misquoting verses some modernists use to say that Jews and Christians can go to Jannah. SubhanAllah it is an absolute lie and they are taking verses out of context.

  28. Sakura flows ~

    August 19, 2012 at 9:18 AM

    Only God knows and only He can grant her Jannah. Maybe the very fact that she realized that what was around her wasn’ t “true” will be good for God to forgive her. He knows best.
    I honestly always had a doubt she was muslim because of a thing she said that I later found in the Quran. She said: God doesn’ t put you in front of anything that you can’t face”
    The Quran says: Allah does not impose upon any soul a duty but to the extent of his ability” 2.286

    May God have mercy on her and grant her Jannah, Ameen.

    • Gibran

      November 9, 2012 at 12:31 AM

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      This excessive wishful thinking is enough.

      Abu Talib was a kaffir, and did more then she. He helped the Prophet salallahualayhiwasalam. And he will never exit Jahannam. Why? Because he died a disbeliever.

      No we don’t know if she died as a Muslim. Maybe she had a last second conversion.

      But we as Muslims are NOT ALLOWED to pray for disbelivers once they are dead.. Forget hoping she can go to Jannah, you are NOT ALLOWED to pray for them.

      So no, “God have mercy on her”. No, just keep silent or send salawat on Nabi. You want to be punished for wishful thinking?

      Allah is not unjust in the slightest. Whoever disbelieves, and dies in that state, they will never get out of Jahannam-ever.

  29. Caramel2

    July 31, 2014 at 10:53 PM

    It’s weird that you talk about “what bothers you the most” is that is that she had doubt about the Lord. Before you judge her actions let me remind you about your prophet. He thought he had met with the djinns in the cave and he wanted to go commit suicide after that experience (through himself off a cliff/mountain). It is his wife who told him that what he experienced was from “angels”. So I think If I were you, I would be more disturb about your prophet! At least, Mother Teresa was not the prophet of Christianity so it is not surprising that she may doubt!

  30. Nadia

    June 30, 2016 at 8:44 PM

    First of all
    You have zero proof that mother Teresa wrote any of this letters and you never will because she has died.

    Secondly, to Muslim shareef macca who wrote this article and to MOST of the Muslims who commented on this article..

    It really sad to see how stupid and evil Muslim people really are

    It clear as daylight by the content of th majority of the comments from the Muslims how black and sealed their hearts are and how prideful and arrogant they are and that is be use the are slaves of Shaytan (SATAN)

    How dare you monsters have the nerve to say mother Teresa will go to hell because she wasn’t Muslim ??

    Do you monsters think if she was a Muslim she would have done all things she did ?

    Do yo think of she was a Muslim she would have given her entire life to service of others?
    HELL NO!

    Show me one Muslim person who has dedicated their entire life to helping others (not just Muslim!) in the name of Islam there is NO ONE ! Because Islam is from Satan and for satan! But I assure you there are soooooooooo many people like mother Teresa who spend their life helping others in the name of JESUS! And they help all people not only Christians! Such is the fruit of the followers of Jesus but the followers of Muhammad they are the ones who kill and murder and boast that all non Muslims will enter jahanam

    How happy they get when they say non Muslims no matter how good they are will enter jahanam and all Muslims no matter how bad will go to jannah because tawheed is more important to allah than good deeds from non Muslims well of course that is what you believe in because you are followers and slaves of satan!!

    Don’t be so happy confident in your selves oh Muslims because you have no proof of any of these letters so don’t believe blindly what you read and even if she had doubts all people have doubts we are humans not gods !

    She did all her good deeds in the name of God through the name of JESUS UNTIL SHE TOOK HER LAST BREATH ON THIS EARTH!

    Who are you dirty Devils to come here and judge her with your satanic beliefs !

    Please show me the fruits of Islam give me names of Muslims who help mankind just one name like mother Teresa

    Islam does not produce good fruit only rotten bitter deadly fruits!

    Now go and make urselves useful to your allah and bend over for him in salah so u can feel good about yourselves .

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