Istikharah – A Special Prayer


At certain stages of life we often find ourselves at crossroads, impelled to make important decisions that would have huge impacts on our future. These decisions could be about choosing a career, getting married to someone, buying a car or a house, relocating or moving to a foreign land and the like. Despite considering all the positives and negatives and consulting family, friends or other qualified people, this task of reaching a sound decision leaves us doubtful and nervous. Praise and thanks to our Creator who doesn’t leave us fretting and worried during these crucial times. He has taught us, a special prayer for guidance in making decisions called Salat Al-Istikharah. When performing this prayer one asks Allah to guide him to the right choice concerning a certain essential matter.
 
The prayer of Istikharah was described in a hadeeth narrated by Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allah al-Salami, who said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) used to teach his companions to make Istikharah in all things, just as he used to teach them surahs from the Qur’an. He (peace be upon him) said: ‘If any one of you is concerned about a decision he has to make, then let him pray two rak’ahs of non-obligatory prayer, then say:
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Allaahumma ‘innee ‘astakheeruka bi’ilmika, wa ‘astaqdiruka biqudratika, wa ‘as’aluka min fadhlikal-‘Adheemi, fa’innaka taqdiru wa laa ‘aqdiru, wa ta’lamu, wa laa ‘a’lamu, wa ‘Anta ‘Allaamul-Ghuyoobi, Allaahumma ‘in kunta ta’lamu ‘anna haathal-‘amra-[then mention the thing to be decided] Khayrun lee fee deenee wa ma’aashee wa ‘aaqibati ‘amree – [or say] ‘Aajilihi wa ‘aajilihi – Faqdurhu lee wa yassirhu lee thumma baarik lee feehi, wa ‘in kunta ta’lamu ‘anna haathal-‘amra sharrun lee fee deenee wa ma’aashee wa ‘aaqibati ‘amree – [or say] ‘Aajilihi wa ‘aajilihi – Fasrifhu ‘annee wasrifnee ‘anhu waqdur liyal-khayra haythu kaana thumma ‘ardhinee bihi’
 
O Allah, I ask for Your decision by Your knowledge and Your decree by Your ability, and I ask of You from Your great favor. For You are able and I am not able, and You know and I do not know, and You are the Knower of things concealed. O Allah, if You have known that this matter [naming it here] is good for me in my religion, my livelihood and the outcome of my affair, then decree it for me, make it easy for me and then bless it for me. And if You have known that this matter is bad for me in my religion, my livelihood and the outcome of my affair, then turn it away from me and turn me away from it, and decree for me what is good wherever it may be. And then make me content with it.’ (Al-Bukhaari, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nisaa’i, Abu Dawood, Ibn Maajah and Ahmad).
 
The result of Istikharah is known by being inclined to do something and continuing to feel positive about it. In addition, if the decision one is about to take is good for him (in both worlds), the paths to it will open up and if it’s not, then the paths will become obstructed and Allah will direct him somewhere else.
The beauty of the Istikharah is that the person who sought the guidance of Allah will be content with Allah’s decision for him even if it diverts him from what he thought was good as he will know that this is the result of his Istikharah. This is because, Allah, the Creator knows what is best and will definitely guide His servants to what is best for them within His vast knowledge and infinite wisdom. rely
  We need to understand that Istikharah does not guarantee the absence of tests and trials in life. Since Istikharah is a du’aa, Allah’s response to it may come in any of the three ways as stated in the hadeeth: “There is no Muslim who offers a du’aa in which there is no sin or severing of family ties but Allah will give him one of three things in return: either He will answer his du’aa soon, or he will store it up for him in the Hereafter, or He will divert an equivalent evil away from him because of it.” (Ahmad)
 
So if one goes through a bad marriage even after performing Istikharah or suffers loss in his business, etc., it might be that Allah wants him/her to draw closer to Him by way of patience and du’aa and send His blessings through some other way. Allah says: “But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah knows, while you know not.” (Qur’an 2:216)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “It is from the happiness of the son of Adam to practice Istikharah and be pleased with what Allah had ordained for him. And it is from the misery of the son of Adam to drop the Istikharah of Allah and be displeased at Allah’s decrees.” (Tirmidhi and Ahmad)
 
Unfortunately, many people nowadays ignore this beautiful Sunnah and resort to baseless or forbidden ways to make important decisions. Seeking omens (faal) is one of these ways and it has been strictly forbidden in Islam, because it comes under the same heading as divination with arrows (mentioned in the Qur’an 5:3).
There are some other people who do follow the Sunnah of praying Istikharah but have added weird myths and unreasonable expectations to it. They ask some stranger or religious personality to do it for them and expect the results of Istikharah to be shown to them in dreams, visions, some special sign or color while all of this is nothing but acts of ignorance.
 
Firstly, it is a form of innovation to ask someone else to do istikharah for you or do it for others and secondly, it doesn’t give one instant results like giving a green signal to proceed in a certain affair.
 
Istikharah is a du’aa which one needs to make himself, at any time of the day and then execute the matter (for which he prayed). And if it is good then Allah will make it easy for him and bless him in that, and if it is not good for him, then Allah will turn it away from him and will make easy for him that in which there is good by His permission. For without doubt, the person who makes Istikharah, seeking guidance from his Creator and advice from His creation never regrets, as Allah said to His Messenger (peace be upon him) in the Qur’an (3:159): “Consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him].”
 
-Mariam Anwer
Originally published at Arab News
AN Istikharah
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The Help of Allah is near!


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God says in the Qur’an:

أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُم مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْا مِن قَبْلِكُم ۖ مَّسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَاءُ وَالضَّرَّاءُ وَزُلْزِلُوا حَتَّىٰ يَقُولَ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ مَتَىٰ نَصْرُ اللَّهِ ۗ أَلَا إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللَّهِ قَرِيبٌ

“Do you really think that you will enter Paradise without going through what those who came before you endured? They were afflicted with such adversity and hardship and shaken to the core to the point that the Messenger and those with him cried, ‘Where is the Help of God?!’ Ah! But the help of God was ever near.”
[The Qur’an 2:214]

Sometimes things get so bad and you wonder, “Why, God? Why?!” You see people who care far less about their commitment to God than you, and they’re flourishing. But you have played by all the rules and never compromised your morals, yet you suffer. You may express this to family and friends and they’ll trivialize your sadness and beat down your grief saying, “Be content with what God has given you! Don’t question it!”

But in the aforementioned verse of the Qur’an, it says clearly that even the Prophet Muhammad himself (ﷺ) and His Companions questioned where the help of God was. That’s the entire reason this verse was revealed when the Prophet (ﷺ) and his Companions faced the hardships of oppression, exile and, ultimately, battle. How can anyone question you feeling the same exasperation as they did when they were the best of humankind?

Can you imagine how the Prophet (ﷺ) and his Companions felt? The Prophet (ﷺ) may have thought, “I’m the Messenger of God and all I’ve done is convey His Message. Why am I suffering so much?” His Companions may have thought, “We gave up EVERYTHING to follow God and His Messenger, and all that is happening to us is ruin!” They must have felt this with such great sorrow as they watched their loved ones die of hunger and thirst while stranded in the desert after being expelled from Mecca. They must have felt this with such fear when they were on the tempestuous seas when fleeing Mecca for the safety of Ethiopia’s fair and just Christian king. They were whipped, tortured, and their mothers and fathers stabbed to death in front of them. How must they have felt?

They cracked but never broke. Asking where the help of God is may be to crack, but you have not broken until you no longer expect the help of God to come! The fact that you expect it, is a great manifestation of you faith!

There are some of God’s worshippers whom He takes to the brink before which most people would have crumbled and fallen. Their entire lives are one test and trial after another. If that’s you, then know that you are among the ones whom God has deemed strong. You think you can’t take it. You think what you’re going through is more than you can bear. But HE knows you better than you know yourself. He created you! It may seem strange, but can you be optimistic in God’s Love and Mercy enough to understand that in hardship He is showing you that you are stronger than you even know?

And those whom God has deemed to be the most strong will have their moments when their hearts falter in pain and wonder where the help of God is. But always remember that wondering where it’s at is, in itself, a statement confirming its existence.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you it’s weakness of faith. It is a declaration of faith! You believe it’s coming, you just wonder in agony why it hasn’t come yet. But be at peace, for even the greatest of all humankind, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad (ﷺ), all wondered at one point or another if their mission was for naught, and yet their legacies collectively became embraced by the near entirety of our planet.

So let history show you that the greatest of all are given their trials in equally great measure.

-Written by Shibli Zaman

He Knows what is best for you


Al Aleem

The story of Musa (alayhissalam) and Khidr holds so many profound lessons. Even Musa (alahissalam), a prophet of Allah, the one who spoke to Allah, struggled to stop himself questioning the actions of someone who was more knowledgeable than him. Just like us, he was human.

Yet, how many of us do this with Allah? The one who has the greatest knowledge of everything, both seen and unseen. The one who knows what thoughts we are harboring in our minds right now. Just like Musa (alayhissalam) lost patience with Khidr, we sometimes lose patience with Allah and begin to question His plan and decree, forgetting that He knows exactly what He is doing, as He is Al-‘Aleem, the Knower everything, the Knower of every creature, even of the little ant that scurries under a rock in the darkness of the night.

Instead of questioning the plan of Allah, have patience and watch his decree for you unfold, for He knows what is best for you.

And to Allah belongs the greatest of examples.

-Shaikh Sajid Umar

Turn to Al Muqallib Al Quloob


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Rasoolullah (sallAllahu alyhi wasallam) said,

“The heart (qalb) takes its name from its constant changes (taqallub – alteration, variation, ups and downs). The likeness of the heart is that of a feather at the root of a tree, being turned over and over by the wind.”

(Reported by Ahmad, 4/408; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2364)

 

Faith that Split the Sea


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At certain instances in his life, a believer might feel like an individual walking in the blinding darkness of an endless tunnel – scared, tired, thirsty, with hardly any hope left in him to find light or a way out. But there’s something in him that always cures and heals his aching soul. It is his faith and trust in His Master that He – the One who has been taking care of Him all this while, is with Him and will never desert him. Whenever a crisis comes his way, he utilizes his faith and good expectations of Allah in order to hold on and be strong in repelling the whispers of shaytan to give up. The Prophet (peace be upon him) related to us in a hadith narrated by Muslim that Allah says: “I am as My servant thinks of Me.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (6856) and Sahîh Muslim (4832)]

These good expectations of Allah bring him closer to relief. No matter what worries, concerns, anxiety, distress, apprehension, or calamities touch him he will find extreme peace, contentment, joy, and solutions through the belief that Allah is with him and that He will guide him to everything that is good for him even if it is by making him suffer all that he dislikes.

This is exactly what made the red sea part into two with the command of its Creator, thousands of years ago…to make way for an honorable believer, the servant and prophet of Allah; Musa (peace be upon him) and his followers as they crossed it and made their way to the other end. Prophet Musa’s strong faith in Allah, despite the atrocities that he and his followers faced under the oppressive rule of Pharoah was unshakable. He inspired his people to hold on to belief in Allah, His promises and be patient in tough times. On the command of Allah when he set off to move from the enemy’s land with his followers, he got stuck between pharoah and his army pursuing them and the huge sea before him, it was this relentless belief and trust in the Almighty that He will never forsake his side, which made him proclaim, inspite of all the impossibilities around him:

“Indeed, with me is my Lord; He will guide me.” (Al Quran 26:62)

What he possessed was the kind of faith which did not move mountains rather made the vast sea split in two by the order and might of the Most High, Lord of everything that exists. Allah says: Then We inspired to Musa, “Strike with your staff the sea,” and it parted, and each portion was like a great towering mountain. And We advanced thereto the pursuers. And We saved Musa and those with him, all together. Then We drowned the others. Indeed in that is a sign, but most of them were not to be believers. And indeed, your Lord – He is the Exalted in Might, the Merciful. [Al Qur’an 26:62-68]

Indeed Allah is Great. He keeps testing His servants until the sincere believers are clearly differentiated from the weak ones. He gives His servant what is most beneficial to him with wisdom, kindness and in a loving way, even if they are through ways which he might hate. The servant’s duty is to hold on to his faith in Allah, strive in drawing closer to Him through the blessings or the tests He sends and avoid being of those whom Allah Almighty describes: “And of the people is he who worships Allah on an edge. If he is touched by good, he is reassured by it; but if he is struck by trial, he turns on his face [to the other direction]. He has lost [this] world and the Hereafter. That is what is the manifest loss.” (Al Qur’an, 22:11) Being a servant of Ar Rahman, one must strive not to be of the ones who are happy in worshiping Allah as long as He showers them with blessings and bounties and turn depressed, doubtful and frustrated as soon as Allah tests them with trials and problems.

As a believer one ought to know and understand that Allah calls Himself Al Wahhab and He may gift him with things he did not expect, without asking for anything in return. He is also Al Lateef so He takes care of his worries in a very subtle, loving and gentle manner by putting trials as stepping stones in his way so that his servant’s footsteps reach a destination where he is taken by surprise by His Mercy. These trials may seem as difficult challenges in a believer’s limited vision but they may be His Form of Mercy to His servant to gain more understanding and awareness of Him and ultimately improve his relationship with his Creator. Notice how, Prophet Musa and his followers were oppressed but waited patiently for years for the help and mercy of Allah and when Allah’s help eventually arrived, it was beyond anything they ever imagined – in the form of a miracle, a supernatural phenomenon. Shaikh Abdul Aziz At Tarefe once said: “If Allah intends to grant relief, He opens its door; if it doesn’t have a door, He breaks its wall. For the command of Allah is irreversible.”

It’s clear from this, that whenever Allah deprives someone of something, it is only so that he can come closer to Him by ways of du’a and worship, persistently asking Allah to fulfill that need. And then Allah gives and fulfills that need according to his own timing, his own way it is only so that the servant can rise in faith and gratefulness. Sufyan ath Thawri (May Allah have mercy on him) rightly said: ‘Verily, when Allah withholds, He actually gives, because He did not withhold on account of miserliness or stinginess, but rather He looked at the benefit of the servant. So the fact that He withheld is actually His choice for the servant and His excellent decision.”

-Mariam Anwer

Designed for a Specific Reason


The fire didn’t burn Ibraheem, the knife didn’t slaughter Isma’eel, the sea didn’t drown Moosa, the whale didn’t eat Yunus and Zakariyya didn’t die childless (Peace be upon them all).
BELIEVE when your Lord says in the Qur’an:

Tawbah 51

“Say: “Nothing shall ever happen to us except what Allah has decreed for us. He is our Maulâ (Lord, Helper and Protector).” And in Allâh let the believers put their trust.” [At Tawbah 9:51]

Just as Allah has meticulously designed everything in the universe at a perfect standard whether it is as big as a galaxy or as tiny as a quark or a string in an atom, He has also designed everything that happens in your life for a specific reason. It is a perfect universe; nothing takes place randomly! Trust in Allah! (Quote by Moutasem Al Hameedy)

May Allah make us pleased with His Decree and guide our hearts to eeman, tawakkal, sabr and shukr. Aameen.