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Abdul Nasir Jangda | Istikharah: How to and Why?

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Lecture by Abdul Nasir Jangda | Transcribed by Sameera

[The following is the video and transcript of Shaykh Abdul Nasir’s lecture “Istikharah: How to and Why?.” The transcript includes slight modifications for the sake of readability and clarity.]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEcovFTsQ4E[/youtube]

The word istikhārah comes from the root word of khayrKhayr in the Arabic language in its origins is representative of all that which is good. Khayr is an umbrella word that represents all that which is good. Istikhārah means to seek the good and seek that which is good.  This is the meaning of the word istikhārah itself.

Just like the meaning, the prayer ṣalāt’-l-istikhārah, which is from the Sunnah of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), is an authentically narrated Sunnah of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and an extremely emphasized practice of the Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).  Just like the meaning of the word istikhārah, the purpose of the ṣalāh is similarly to seek that which is good from Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).  I want to inshā’Allāh have this session to explain the procedure and the purpose of istikhārah.

I am going to split today’s presentation into two parts.  The first part will focus on the ritual itself, meaning the technicalities, procedure, concept and outcome of istikhārah.  The second part of the lecture will focus on the purpose of the istikhārah, which is explaining the meaning and beauty of the supplication of istikhārah itself because that unlocks the purpose and the reason why we even do istikhārah.

Basic Points

To begin with the technicalities, I would like to begin with a few basic points.  The first is the concept of istikhārah to understand istikhārah conceptually and what it is.  I can explain best to you what istikhārah is by explaining to you what istikhārah is not.  As they say in Arabic, sometimes the best way to get to know something is to know the opposite of it.  The best way I can help you understand what istikhārah is conceptually and the role and purpose of istikhārah is by explaining to you what it most definitely is not.

Istikhārah is not a Magic 8 ball.  Did you ever buy that?  You get it at the mall as a gag gift.  You ask the Magic 8 ball, “Should I go to the mall today?” [Shake it]. “Maybe.”  This is the Magic 8 ball.  What I am trying to say by giving you this silly example is what people play around with when playing with the Magic 8 ball is throw out a random question, shake the Magic 8 ball and get a magical answer and go with it.  It is kind of like rolling the dice. Istikhārah is not that.

Decision Making Process:  3 Steps

Istikhārah is the third of a three-step decision making process.  The first step of a decision making process is to use the God-given intellect, ability, and critical thinking that Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has blessed each and every single human being with in different capacities.  Allāh has granted every human being the ability to take factors into consideration and weigh different options and think about, ponder, contemplate, and process.  That is the first step of the decision making process in the life of the believer.  He first uses his ‘aql, intelligence and ability to think that Allāh has given him.

There is a reason that Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) emphasizes the ‘aql, uli’l-albāb, and these types of things in the Qur’an because these are from the greatest of Allāh’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) blessings.  That is the first step of the decision making process: Take your circumstances into consideration, look at the options available to you, and then sit down and think and try to figure out and do some research and try to come to somewhat of a conclusion.  At least try to narrow your options and come to somewhat of a conclusion.  This is number one.

The second step of a decision making process is istishārah.  It is the Arabic word for seeking counsel and seeking advice.  The next step of the process is to then seek some counsel and advice, and it really depends on what type of a decision you are trying to make.  If you want to buy a car, you first do some research online and do some car shopping and test drove and narrow down to about three or four different cars that you are thinking about.  Then what you could do, for instance, is go to a brother from the masjid who is a car mechanic.  Sit down with that brother and say, “Brother, I want to take advice from you because you are experienced and knowledgeable about cars.  What do you recommend?  These are the three or four cars I am looking at.”  He says, “I wouldn’t buy that because it has transmission problems.  This car wears out really quickly, etc.”

Now you are seeking counsel and advice.  If it is a more personal issue, something that is a life type decision, then you seek the counsel and advice from somebody who sincerely and honestly cares about you, somebody who is experienced and mature and maybe even spiritually focused so that they have a well-rounded perspective they can provide to you.

That is istishārah and seeking counsel.  This is the second step of the decision-making process.

The third and final step of the decision making process is now istikhārah.  What has occurred up to this point is that you started with no idea of what to do.  You narrowed it down to maybe half a dozen different options and sought some counsel and got some advice from someone and are down to your last couple of options.  At this point in time, you are struggling with this or that and are starting to lean a little more towards one direction.  You are thinking about two cars and are leaning towards buying a convertible, for instance – random example.  You are thinking about buying the Camaro over the mini-van.  No brainer, but nevertheless for some strange reason you are conflicted.  Maybe you have two kids, but it doesn’t matter, they can sit in the backseat.

You are starting to lean in one direction, but you are little conflicted and just need a little bit of a push and convincing.  You are looking for that confidence to make your decision that you have come to by critical thinking – apply your intellect and do some research – and you sought some counseling.  You are leaning in a direction but need some confidence and some clarity of heart.  This is where istikhārah comes in.

What I have just explained to you removes many of the issues and questions that people have about istikhārah itself.  A lot of people are confused about istikhārah because they try to use it like the Magic 8 ball.  “I have got to buy a house.  Let me do istikhārah.”  What do you think is going to happen?  Are you magically going to see a house in your dreams and going to go searching for it and find it and buy it?  It doesn’t work that way.  You don’t decide that you need to buy a car and then pray istikhārah and a Honda Civic is going to fall on you.  It doesn’t work that way.

When people try to utilize istikhārah in that way, then they walk away confused and say, “Shaykh, I made istikhārah and I can’t figure anything out.  It’s not working.”  You don’t change the batteries in your istikhārah, right?  What is basically going on is that you are not utilizing it properly.  Anything that is not utilized properly is not going to work right.  You have to utilize it properly and appropriately.  Make sure you turn it into the third of a three-step decision making process.  This is the concept and role of istikhārah.

Prerequisites of Istikhārah

The next thing I would like to explain are the prerequisites of istikhārah.  What is required to do istikhārah?

I am going to give you the actual narration, but for now we are just going to roll with it and speak a little more generally.  What is required for the istikhārah is what is required for any other prayer, which is you need to make sure that you are pure and clean, clothed appropriately, have wuḍū’.  You do not require a bath of purification.  You face towards the qiblah.  That is what is required for istikhārah.

Basically whatever is required to normally pray is what is required for istikhārah.  There are no other extra prerequisites or requirements for istikhārah.  You don’t have to pray it immediately before you go to sleep.  You don’t have to take a shower and then immediately pray istikhārah.  You need wuḍū’ for prayer; you need wuḍū’ for istikhārahIstikhārah is a prayer just like dhuhr is a prayer and nafl would be a prayer.  You don’t need to stop talking to people when you decide to do istikhārah.  You don’t need to wake up in the middle of the night and do istikhārah.  You don’t have to go stand on top of a mountain on one leg and do istikhārah.  You get my drift at this point – anything extra that you may heard, come across, or assumed that is needed for istikhārah aside from what is needed for prayer. Wuḍū’, dressing appropriately, facing the qiblah, Allāhu akbar – that is istikhārah.

The only thing I will add in here is that according to the opinion of the majority of scholars, there are small difference of opinion – I’m going to tell you what the majority of scholars say.  In ṣalāt’l-istikhārah, there are not major differences of opinion.  There are a few minor opinions here and there that differ from the vast majority.  I’m just going to go ahead and share the majority opinion because it is an overwhelming majority opinion.

The overwhelming majority opinion is that the only thing you have to watch out for is what you watch out for in other prayers.  Make sure you don’t pray istikhārah at the times when prayer is forbidden.  Those are three basic times of the day:  while the sun is rising, when the sun is at its peak (which lasts for a minute or so), and the setting of the sun.  Those three times of the day are when we are told not to pray.  It is the same requirements of ṣalāh and for istikhārah.

These are the prerequisites of istikhārah.

Procedure

What is the procedure of istikhārah?  There is a sequence of events or procedure.  Once you fulfill the prerequisites, you will stand up and pray two rakʿahs, two units, of nafl (voluntary, supererogatory) prayer.  Why am I emphasizing and specifying it to be two rakʿahs of a voluntary prayer?  When we read the text of the ḥadīth together inshā’Allāh, at that time you will see it.  It is mentioned explicitly within the text of the ḥadīth by the Messenger of Allāh ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).  No debate and no question here.

What that means is that you can’t pray ṣalāt’l-‘ishā’ and make the supplication of istikhārah – two for one, all done.  You can’t do that.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) explicitly said that you have to invest two more extra rakʿahs of prayer that are voluntary and optional.  You pray those two rakʿahs of prayer.  There is nothing different about those two units of prayer.  You pray them as you should pray any other ṣalāh.  There’s obviously room for improvement in my prayer, and I’m pretty sure everybody feels there is room for improvement within their prayers, so aside from that entire discussion, basically you pray istikhārah like you would pray any other prayer, which is two rakʿahs, qiyām, rukū, sujūd.  You sit at the end, tashahhud, ṣalawāt on the Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), supplication, salām, and that’s it.  That is the procedure of the istikhārah.

There is no extra special sūrah that should be recited here.  There’s nothing that is authentically narrated from the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) about reciting this in the first rakʿah and that in the second rakʿah.  There is nothing of that sort.  Just pray two rakʿahs of prayer.

Once you finish these two rakʿahs of prayer, which means the taslīm, you then at that time recite the exact supplication taught to us by the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in the Arabic language.  You read it in Arabic.  Again, here, the vast overwhelming majority of scholars are of the opinion that the supplication of istikhārah is to be done after the prayer.  There are a couple of opinions here and there to do it before the taslīm; however, the vast majority overwhelming majority, and again, if you analyze the text of the ḥadīth, which I’m going to point out to you when we do read the ḥadīth of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), you will see that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) mentions a word which makes it very clear that the supplication is meant to be said after the prayer is done.

Now at this point we recite the supplication.  Read the supplication in Arabic.  Why am I explicitly saying that?  Again, the ḥadīth very clearly mentions that fact.  A question comes up here:  what if I don’t have it memorized?  Read it off of a piece of paper. Fuqahā’ have stated that very clearly if somebody needs to read it off of a piece of paper, that is ok.  Read it out of a book, read it off of a piece of paper, photocopy it, do what you have to do.  Nevertheless, read the actual Arabic of the supplication.  Don’t read the summarized English translation.  When we read the text of the ḥadīth, we see the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) explicitly said, “Read it as I have taught you.”

The other thing I want to state is – just in case anyone is watching the video or listening to the lecture – what if somebody can’t read Arabic?  Use a transliteration or something of that nature to the best of your ability.  Of course if somebody recently took shahādah or somebody recently came into connection with their dīn, there is always an exception to the rule.

We do not give enough consideration to people who have had a major turning point in their life, whether we are talking about people who may have been born in Muslim families but just not raised with the dīn and come to practice the dīn later on in their lives, or if we are talking about reverts and converts, people who took shahādah later in life.  Consideration should always be given to them, and it should be understood that they are doing the best that they can, and they should definitely make an effort to try to learn Arabic as much as possible and as quickly as possible, but until and unless they are able to get to that point, they are completely capable of practicing their dīn to the best of their ability, and it is ok for somebody like that to read it in English or to read the translation of it.  That is a very, very specific situation and consideration should be given to those types of cases.

Nevertheless, going back to the procedure.  We talked about praying two rakʿahs, completing the prayer, reading the supplication in Arabic to the best of your ability.  That is the procedure of istikhārah.  Read the supplication in Arabic, and it is done.  You don’t have to make any extra du‘ā’ after that.  The supplication that you read in Arabic is the supplication and du‘ā’ itself.  There is no other extra procedure after.  Once you are done reading the supplication, you are done.

Outcome of Istikhārah

The next issue I would like to address is what is the outcome of the istikhārah?  Again, I can start by telling you what is not the outcome of the istikhārah.  You will not wake up in the middle of the night and have a 3D vision of what you should.  I can tell you that is not going to happen.  It is istikhārah and not Avatar.  That is one thing we need to be clear on.  While it might seem like a joke or silly to some people, sometimes people just don’t know.  The outcome of the istikhārah is nothing out of this world.

The primary outcome of the istikhārah is the clarity of mind and confidence to make the decision that you need to make that I alluded to earlier.  You feel confident and good about making your decision.  You were already leaning towards one option – option A – and there is another option on the table, but you are a lot more confident about option A or maybe you have come to a decision about option A but you just need that extra little confidence.

You do your istikhārah and naturally start to feel more confident and feel clearer and feel ready to make that decision.  That is the outcome of your istikhārah.  The outcome of the istikhārah is to reflect internally and be a bit introspective and look inside and see if you feel good and confident about making your decision.

How do you know that the outcome of the istikhārah is maybe this isn’t the best decision for you?  You will naturally feel down.  You will feel conflicted, doubtful, very scared or anxious or hesitant about making your decision.  Then at that point, this is your response of istikhārah that maybe this isn’t the best decision for you.  That is how simple and easy istikhārah is.

The reason why istikhārah has become complicated for us a lot of times is because we are looking for something out of this world and something supernatural and really far out.  We look for something crazy like that, and when we don’t find it, we feel unfulfilled.

If we learn to just think of it internally and learn to be a little more reflective and introspective, naturally you will find the response to your istikhārah to be a lot more facilitated for you.  You are thinking internally and feel naturally confident in your decision.  That is the outcome and result of the istikhārah.

What about Dreams?

The question always comes up:  what about dreams?  The issue of dreams is one thing that needs to be understood.  We don’t completely dismiss dreams altogether.  Authentic narrations of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) tell us that dreams are something that a believer derives inspiration from.  Even the greatest of scholars like Ibn Sirīn of the tabi‘ūn and great scholars of interpretation of dreams, one of the first things they would say or one of the first things they taught their students was that dreams are not a basis of making decisions.  Decisions should not be based on dreams.  These were the first and foremost to tell their students that even though these were the scholars of the interpretation of dreams.  They said at the most it is inspiration, motivation, encouragement.  That is all it is.  It is not something you base a decision on.

I would like to clarify that right here.  If you have a dream and it kind of inspires you or motivates you, alḥamdulillāh.  Don’t read too much into it because you are not supposed to.

Two Miscellaneous Issues

That is the outcome of the istikhārah.  There are two miscellaneous issues I would like to explain.  The first issue is related to the outcome.

What if I make istikhārah and I just still don’t feel comfortable or confident in my decision?  I still don’t feel confident or clear and am still not comfortable making a decision, and I made istikhārah and followed the procedure properly.  What do I do at that time? The course of action at that time is:  do it again.  If it doesn’t work again, then do it again.  If you are still not comfortable, then do it again.  Keep doing it until you feel confident and comfortable in making your decision.

There is even a narration from ‘Abdullāh b. Zubayr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), one of the companions of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and probably ‘Ā’ishah’s best and brightest student.  He says, “I made istikhārah with Allāh three times.  Then I was comfortable and confident in making my decision.”  He explicitly mentions while explaining to his students that if you have to make istikhārah multiple times, then you have to make istikhārah multiple times and that’s ok.  He said, “I had to pray istikhārah three times one time to make a decision.”  Don’t be afraid of repeating the istikhārah multiple times.

A lot of times, it is just a matter of – and this is a tragedy of our times – becoming spiritually numb and we are not very introspective and not very reflective.  Sometimes the superficial nature of the culture we live in or activities make us a little spiritually dull or numb.  We might have to do istikhārah a few times to break through the surface or crack the shell, and that’s ok.

The last issue I want to mention here that is associated with istikhārah is that there is one very commonly asked question and issue that comes up quite often.  That is:  can I have somebody else do istikhārah for me?  There is no precedent.  There is no religious verification for having someone else do istikhārah for you.  There is nothing mentioned in the aḥadīth of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).  There is no precedent from the generation of the ṣaḥābah.  The classical fuqahā’ have explicitly stated that istikhārah is meant to be done by the individual himself or herself.  That is a rule.  That’s it.  A person has to do the istikhārah himself or herself.

There is a very honest and sincere question and concern that is in the mind’s of people who ask this question.  The question or that concern is often:  I am not a very good person, I don’t pray five times a day, I have a lot of sins and issues in my life, I feel distant from Allāh, I don’t know if I make istikhārah if it will be clear or won’t be clear, so I want to ask someone to make istikhārah who is a lot more righteous and pious, and someone who is a lot better person than I am.  That is a concern a lot of people have.

I would like to answer that concern by first saying that maybe part of the reason that you feel that way about your relationship with Allāh is because of the mentality and approach that you have where you don’t feel like you are good enough to talk to Allāh.  You feel like you don’t have access to Allāh.

The first thing that you have to get over is the simple fact that Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is just as available and just as accessible to the sinful person as He is to the most righteous and pious person.  Allāh is available and accessible to everyone.  We can all pray to Allāh.  We can all ask Allāh for whatever we need.  We can all do istikhārah with Allāh.

The second answer to that concern is if you are feeling a bit guilty and self-conscious about the fact that you are distant from Allāh and not praying and maybe that is why you should not be doing istikhārah, then why not fix the problem?  Why not say, “I have a situation.  I need to do istikhārah.  I don’t pray five times a day and that’s why I don’t feel comfortable doing istikhārah.  Well, it’s time for ṣalāt’l-maghrib right now or time for ṣalāt’l-‘ishā’ right now, why don’t I go ahead and take that first step?  Why don’t I go make wuḍū’, stand up and pray ṣalāt’l-‘ishā’ and then pray two rakaʿāt to do my istikhārah.”  Get it out of the way and get it done.  That is the answer to the question.

There is no validity to having somebody halfway across the world in some village do istikhārah on your behalf and that person doesn’t even know who you are and what’s going on with you.  By the way, as a side note and a word of advice, if that person is charging you, it’s probably a scam.  Just a little note of caution.  If a person is charging you, you need to stay away from that entire situation.

Nevertheless, I did want to address that in a serious issue and serious manner.  There is no validity, there is no precedent, and there is absolutely no authenticity to having somebody do istikhārah on your behalf.  The person him or herself needs to be doing their own istikhārah whatever situation they are dealing with.

Their might be situations where a decision affects multiple people.  Then everybody involved in the situation makes their own istikhārah.  If I will be implicated by this decision, then we all make our own istikhārah.  Nevertheless, it is not like doing a business deal.  If I’m getting into a business deal with a couple of people and we need to come to the decision whether it is good or not, we decide we’ve looked at the facts, crunched the numbers, and spoken to a couple of people and gotten some consultation, we need to do istikhārah.  Let everybody go and do their own istikhārah.  Even when it is a joint decision, everybody should be doing istikhārah.  Definitely when it is your own personal decision, make your own istikhārah.  Don’t put it off on somebody else.  Nobody can do your istikhārah – you do your own.

The concern that is there that “I’m not good enough, I’m not pious enough, I’m not righteous enough,” it doesn’t make any sense.  Allāh is Allāh.  He is accessible to you.  All you have to do is go get clean, make wuḍū’, face the qiblah, Allāhu akbar, and you are talking to Allāh.  Done deal.

Secondly, if you do feel that you are distant from Allāh, then fix the problem.  Don’t create another problem.  Repair the relationship and fix the issue.

It obviously goes without saying that we don’t make istikhārah for anything that is impermissible.  There is no istikhārah for: “Should I drink alcohol (na‘ūdhu billāh)” – of course that is very bad.  “Should I gamble, what should I put my money on.”  It goes without saying and it is common sense that you don’t make istikhārah about the things that are impermissible.

Also, we do not make istikhārah about things that are obligatory.  There is no making istikhārah about “should I pray ṣalāt’l-‘ishā’ or not.”  That goes without saying that things that are obligatory and things that are a part of the dīn and things that we are supposed to do like fasting Ramaḍān, there is no making istikhārah “should I fast in Ramaḍān or not.”  Similarly, we do not make istikhārah for things that are impermissible.  Of course that is common sense, but I just wanted to mention that.

Supplication of Istikhārah

Now, let’s go ahead and discuss the supplication of istikhārah itself.  I’ll go ahead and read the ḥadīth to you.  This is a ḥadīth from Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhāri.

Jābir (may Allāh be pleased with him), a very knowledgeable companion of the Prophet of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him), says, “The Messenger of Allāh ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) would regularly teach us to do istikhārah in all of our affairs and issues just like he would teach us a sūrah from the Qur’an.”  What does that mean?  He is drawing a parallel.  This is the same type of verbage used to talk about the tashahhud in the prayer.  “He would teach us the tashahhud like he would teach us a sūrah from the Quran.”  It is also said about the istikhārah supplication.

That means two things and has two implications.  Implication #1:  he emphasized the importance of memorizing it.  Just like we memorize a sūrah of the Qur’an, similarly he emphasized the importance of memorizing the supplication of istikhārah.  Implication #2:  read it in the Arabic language like we read a sūrah in the Arabic language.  When we read a sūrah from the Qur’an in our prayers, we read it in Arabic.  Again, there is that rare exception that I talked about, nevertheless the general rule is that we read the supplication in Arabic.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) taught us to read the supplication of istikhārah in Arabic like we read a sūrah in Arabic.

“He would say, ‘When any one of you is concerned with an issue or a matter, then he should pray two rakʿahs of optional, voluntary prayer aside from the farḍ obligatory prayer.’”  This is where I was explicitly saying it has to be voluntary optional prayer because the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) explicitly in the ḥadīth in the narration says it must be voluntary optional prayer.

Then the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) says, “Thumma…” Thumma in the Arabic language in classical Arabic, the Quranic and prophetic language, is to say “afterwards, after that, then afterwards.”  It states that this occurs after the previous thing has been completed or concluded.  Based on this, the vast overwhelming majority of scholars are of the opinion the supplication of istikhārah is to be read after the prayer has been completed, after the taslīm.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) reads the supplication for us and teaches us the supplication.  I’m going to explain the meaning of the supplication.

‘O Allāh, I seek most definitely that which is good from You by means of Your Knowledge’ because O Allāh, You know what is good for me, and I don’t know what is good.  The āyah of the Qur’an says, “You may like something initially and it turns out to be bad for you.  You might dislike something initially and it turns out to be something good for you.”  Based on that, Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is the only One who knows what is good for me, so that is why I am saying, “O Allāh, I seek that which is good from You by means of Your Knowledge.”

‘And I seek the ability to do what I have to do by means of Your Power and Your Ability.’  Meaning:  I am weak and I am incapable, but I seek the ability to make my decision and to do what I need to do by means of Your Ability and Power.

‘And I ask You, to grant me from Your great, majestic benevolence and great blessing to bless me.’  I ask You to bless me from Your Blessings and to grant me some from Your Blessings.

This is personally my favorite part of the supplication.  This states the mentality behind istikhārah.

‘…because most definitely You are fully capable, and I am completely incapable.’

‘And You know everything and I don’t know anything.’

‘And O Allāh, You are ‘Alām. ‘Alām is the exaggerated, hyperbolized noun which basically means the Complete Knower of al-ghuyūbGhuyūb is the plural of the word ghayb – all those things that are unseen, all those things that are hidden, all those things that are unknown.  You are the Complete Knower, inside out, of all those things that are unseen, unknown, and hidden.

Now here comes the crux of the supplication:

‘O Allāh, You know that this issue, decision, matter – if this is good for me in my religious affairs and my worldly affairs and in the end of my affairs…’  What do you think ‘the end of my affairs’ is referring to?  The ākhirah.  ‘If You know, O Allāh, that this decision that I’d like to make and have been struggling with is good for me in my dīn and my religion, in my worldly matters and issues, and if this is good for me in the ākhirah …’

Another narration of this same supplication, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said,

‘In my short term and in the long term…’
What do you think short term refers to? Dunya, this life. ‘Ājilihi, the long term, makes reference to ākhirah, the life of the hereafter.

‘O Allāh, You know if this is good for me in the short term and the long term, dunya and ākhirah.’

‘Make it possible for me.  Make it happen for me.’

But that’s not it.  Now we get to see the real beauty and magnificence of the supplication.

‘Don’t just make it possible and available to me, make it easy and facilitate it for me.  Make it simple, easy, and accessible for me.’

Thumma means after the fact.  After what fact?  After I have achieved it.  Put blessing in it for me.  We are going for the premium package.  I want the works, all the options.  I want it to be possible for me, O Allāh.  I want it to be easy, simple, accessible, and facilitated for me, O Allāh.  Then after I have it, I want barakah and blessing in it, O Allāh.

What a comprehensive supplication.  What a beautifully comprehensive supplication.  It then goes on:

‘O Allāh, You know if this issue, decision, matter is bad for me in my dīn, in my worldly matters and in the end of my affairs in the ākhirah.

Another narration again says:

‘in my short term and in the long term’ meaning my dunya and my ākhirah.

Here we get to again see the beauty and eloquence of the supplication, the prophetic eloquence on full display.  Let me explain the words to you here.  The word ṣar means to turn something.  There are two entities here:  you and what you are making istikhārah for.  The supplication says, “If this is bad for me in my dunya and ākhirah, then turn it away from me and turn me away from it.”  Do you see the eloquence in the supplication and the visual that it provides?  Imagine you and what you are making istikhārah for.

O Allāh, if this is bad for me in my dunya and my ākhirah, then I want nothing to do with it.  Don’t just turn it away from me but turn me away from it.  I want nothing to do  with it.  I got no business with it.  If there is no khayr, then what would I want with it?  This is what the supplication teaches us to say.

That doesn’t solve the problem.  There is still an issue left. What is the problem?  Whatever it is you are making istikhārah for – your need, your necessity, your situation, your decision is still not complete.  You made istikhārah and realize that this is not good for you and felt uncomfortable, hesitant, or apprehensive about the decision and backed away, but your need still remains.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) doesn’t leave us hanging.  He completes the supplication.

‘And then make possible for me that which is good.’  This particular situation wasn’t good for me, so I asked Allāh, “Turn it away from me and turn me away from it.  I want nothing to do with it.  O Allāh, make that which is good possible for me.”  The problem is I don’t know where, how, when, or anything about it.  Where do I start? aythuka – wherever and however that good may be.  Make that which is good possible for me whenever, wherever, and however it may be.  I leave it to you, O Allāh.  I will still do my due diligence and stay at work trying to find the right option, but O Allāh, lead me to that khayr.  I was saved from sharr, but make something good for me down the road.

This is consolation at the end of the supplication.  This situation didn’t work out, which is actually good because it wasn’t khayr.  You are asking Allāh for khayr, and Allāh will make khayr possible for you.

 

The yaqīn, the conviction, needs to be there when you make supplication.  Allāh will make that which is good possible, you just have to keep sticking to what you are doing and keep your hopes high in Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

‘So make that which is good possible for me wherever and however it may be.  Then make me pleased and satisfied with it.

In another narration, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) says the words, “Then make me satisfied with it.”  Make me content, satisfied, fulfilled with it.  Make me pleased with it.

Again, it sounds like the same thing.  Even somebody who doesn’t have any background in formal Arabic studies can hear the difference.  Thumma arḍini bihi and thumma raḍḍini bihiArḍini and raḍḍini sound a lot alike, but are they completely the same word?  There is a little bit of a difference, which is a difference in verb pattern.  The thing about these verb groups and verb patterns is that they all have their own special implication.  In the classical form of the language, they have their own special implications.

When you have the same root word coming in two verb patterns, the subtle difference between the two is that arḍini means ‘make something happen all at once.’  Make me all at once completely satisfied and fulfilled with it. Raḍḍini has the implication for something to happen continuously, little by little, step by step.

SubḥānAllāh, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said it with the two different verb forms, and this shows us not only the eloquence of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) but how well he understood people.  There are two types of people when it comes to making a decision.  Some people might take their time and do their due diligence and research and take time to come to a decision.  When they finally come to a conclusion, they are done.  The decision is made, and khalās they are confident and going forward now.

Some people are a little different.  They come to a conclusion and decision and feel good and everything is ok and they are going for it.  Then later at midnight you get a text message from that friend saying, “I’m freaking out.  I don’t know what to do.  I’m nervous.”  You say, “Don’t worry about it.  It’s all ok.  It’s midnight, go to sleep.  Everything will be alright inshā’Allāh.”  Then they say, “Ok, I’m good.”  You wake up to pray ṣalāt’l-fajr, and he calls you.  You answer the phone and he says, “Bro, I need to talk to you right now.  I’m not sure about this.”  That’s ok – some people are like that and need that constant reassurance.

SubḥānAllāh look at the Messenger of Allāh ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and how well he knows his people and understands people.  He accommodated both types of people.  “Thumma arḍini bihi” for the type of guy who might take his time to make a decision but once he makes it, he is done.  “Thumma raḍḍini bihi” for the person who “O Allāh don’t just make me pleased with it, but keep me pleased with it.”  Constantly reassure me about my decision, O Allāh.

At the end of the supplication in the narration of Bukhāri, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) says, “And then he mentions his need.”  When you go back into the supplication, remember the part that I said was the crux of the supplication?

“O Allāh, You know that this decision, if this is good for me…” that is the moment where the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) says the person should mention his or her need.  The scholars explain that there are two options.  Somebody could just simply think of whatever it is that they are making istikhārah about, and that would suffice.  If somebody just visualizes or conceptualizes or thinks of what they are making istikhārah about, that is sufficient.  Otherwise, a person can feel free and should feel free to go ahead and verbalize it.  They don’t need to verbalize it in Arabic if that is not their language.  They can say it in their own language. Allāhumma in kunta ta‘lamu anna hatha’l-amra… and then at that time the person says, “Buying this particular car, purchasing this house, marrying so-and-so” that this is good for me.  Then the supplication goes on and continues.

Similarly, there is a second moment when you mention it as well when you mention the other part of it.  “O Allāh, you know that if this decision and issue is bad for me,” then again you can think about it, conceptualize it, or verbalize it.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) taught us to do that.  It becomes very practical and real.  It is a real experience and you are literally stating your need, and this is something the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) taught us to do.

That concludes the discussion on the meaning of the supplication of istikhārah and it gives you an insight as to why we do istikhārah and what the purpose is and the spirit of istikhārah.

One thing I would like to explain here about the supplication of istikhārah is that it is the perfect example of prophetic eloquence of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and how beautiful the supplications are that he taught us.  There is a lot of good and khayr in learning the prophetic supplications, and we should invest some time and energy in learning these beautiful supplications.

Quotes from Scholars

The last little note I wanted to mention here is a few little basic quotes from some scholars about the blessing of istikhārah and why we do istikhārah.

Ibn Abi Jamra (raḥimahullāh), a great scholar, said, “The wisdom behind putting the ṣalāh before the istikhārah is the istikhārah combines both the good of this world and the next.  Just like in this dunya a person needs to go the one he needs something from and win their favor and then put their need before them, the ṣalāh precedes the supplication is like knocking at the door of the King and presenting yourself before Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and making sujūd and humbling yourself and putting your face on the ground before Allāh and then spreading your hands and presenting your need before Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).”  This is the beauty of the sequence of events.

Ibn Taymiyyah says, “He who seeks guidance from the Creator and then consults with the creation (people) and then once he comes to a decision that he is confident in and goes forward with, such a person will never regret and have no remorse about the decision that he makes.”

Imam Al-Nawawi says, “After performing the istikhārah, when a person is wholeheartedly inclined and feels good about a decision, then the person should say bismillāh and go ahead with the course of action and the conclusion and decision.”

Istikhārah is like a training in adab with Allāh.  “O Allāh, I will not make a decision without praying to You.  Even though I’m fully confident, I will still do istikhārah.”  It shows adab with Allāh, and part of the adab with Allāh is that when you do come to a conclusion and decision and did make istikhārah and feel confident about your decision, then you go with it.  You remove doubt at that time and don’t second guess and don’t doubt because that would show disrespect to Allāh and this practice of istikhārah.

Final Note

The last and final note I want to mention here is one other requirement for istikhārah.  I didn’t mention this in the prerequisites because I was talking about more in terms of fiqh.  The primary ingredient of the istikhārah is conviction.  Know who you are praying to.  You are praying to Allāh, rabb’l-‘alamīn.  You are praying to the One who created each and every single thing.  He watches and controls every single thing.  He sustains and maintains each and every single thing.  He is capable of doing whatever He wills.

Have that level of confidence when you do istikhārah.  I am not just consulting with anyone.  I am talking to Allāh, and Allāh will help me in my situation.  Allāh will give me clarity of mind, and Allāh will bless me with confidence.  When you do make istikhārah and you do feel hesitant, remember what the end of the supplication said.  Don’t feel disheartened at that time because at the end of the supplication, you do ask Allāh for khayr, and if you have the level of conviction in Allāh, you will have the conviction that Allāh will provide to you that which is best for you.

Have that conviction.  Have that level of īmān and yaqīn in Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and His Ability to take care of you and Allāh will inshā’Allāh take care of us.  As it says in the ḥadīth qudsi, “I deal with My slave according to how he perceives Me.  If he perceives that I can take care of him, I take care of him.”  When he is doubtful, maybe he won’t be taken care of.  The onus is on us.  How do we perceive our relationship with Allāh?

May Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) give us the ability to practice everything that we said and heard.

I will end with this one last ḥadīth mentioned in the Musnad of Imam Aḥmed and narrated by Sa‘d b. Abi Waqqās raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) who said that the Messenger of Allāh ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “From the blessing of the son of Ādam is the ability to seek good from Allāh, doing istikhārah with Allāh.  Also from the blessing of the son of Ādam is that they are pleased with whatever Allāh has decreed for them.  From the wretchedness of the children of Ādam is when he leaves doing istikhārah with Allāh.  Also from the wretchedness of the human being is that the human being is displeased with what Allāh has decreed for him.”

May Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) bless us all to do istikhārah and to be pleased with Allāh’s Decree and decision in our affairs and issues. Jazākum Allāh khayranAl-salāmu ‘alaykum wa raḥmatullāh.

Abdul Nasir Jangda is the founder and director of Qalam Institute. He is a hafiz and specialist in Sīrah & Hanafi Fiqh with a Bachelor's from Jamia Binoria, a Master’s in Arabic from Karachi University, and a Master’s in Islamic Studies from the University of Sindh.

52 Comments

52 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Umm Salama

    January 13, 2012 at 5:39 AM

    Asssalamu alaikum wr wb

    What if you have already made the decision? I have accepted a marriage proposal but did not do istikhara and I would not like to disappoint my family by refusing the proposal now certainly would not like to disappoint my mother and I feel it is the right decision. Is it allowed to take istikhara after a decision has already been made? Or is it better, at this point, to have tawwakul in Allah s. w. t to make the decision you have made (good or bad) to become a source of goodness for you?

    JazakaAllah Khayr

    • Avatar

      Umm Salama

      January 13, 2012 at 5:59 AM

      I believe having trust in Allah s. w. t is the most important thing but I feel conducting an istikhara now, after I have already taken this big decision (and will be marrying after a few months and am preparing for the marriage) would not be suitable? Does anyone have any advice on this? I’m not willing to walk away now (due to both the families of my partner and I and because I have given my word and so has my partner) so I’m putting 100% of my trust into Allah s. w. t that the marriage works out insha’Allah

      Perhaps someone could advise?

      • Avatar

        R.A.

        January 13, 2012 at 4:46 PM

        Salam Alaikum,

        In this case, it is never wrong to make istikhara. You can still make it and I suggest you do. It can be made for the smallest things, and I do suggest you make istikhara actually. There is no limit on the number of times you can make it and usually one should continue to do so for 7 days. The best time to do it is at night when there is usually silence and peace, and no one to disturb you. The “answer” can be demonstrated in life changing circumstances, and feelings in the heart.

        Insha’Allah may Allah (swt) give you what is best for you. Ameen ya rabbil alameen.

        • Avatar

          Umm Salama

          January 15, 2012 at 5:00 PM

          The man in question is a relative not a first cousin, but relative nonetheless and I love my parents very much. I know their hearts would break if this marriage were not to occur. I also like him but regardless, I mainly dont want my parents to be disappointed in a sense that communities talk etc etc and because we are relatives and it would disrupt some major relations between my relatives which I really don’t want. So I’m just going on trust really. I guess I’m trusting Allah s. w. t that He will put blessings into our marriage. I normally just make dua that He does whatever is best for both my relative/future partner, and I.

          To be truthful, doing an istikhara even scares me somewhat. I know it shouldn’t, but the idea of this thing breaking up now scares me because of familial relationships also breaking, people talking etc. I’m not sure I could bear it. So I’m in a difficult position. I’m just not sure what to do. What do you think? I know you think istikhara is a good idea, I did too, but I already said yes to the proposal a few months ago, marriage preparations are underway. The man I will insha’Allah be marrying also seems like a good man, and many obstacles could have come in the way of there even being a proposal, which they didn’t, which indicates that this is Allah’s will. As far as my partner goes, I really think he’s the right man for me, he’s god fearing etc

          • Avatar

            Umm Salama

            January 15, 2012 at 5:22 PM

            I read through the article again…and will be going ahead with istikhara, the last paragraph resonated with me.

          • Avatar

            R.A.

            January 15, 2012 at 5:36 PM

            Salam Alaikum Umm Salama,

            I understand and hear your concern, and am able to comprehend your situation. I am actually a Muslim counselor and I do happen to assist in premarital counseling.
            Free counseling services limited time.

          • Avatar

            umm

            January 17, 2012 at 2:06 AM

            you can do salaatul istikhaara just for blessing from Allaah SWT and dont assume it will be in the negative as an answer, perhaps it might be in the positive and the salaatul istikhaara is a form of blessing of this proposal and just dua’aa to Allaah SWT. dont worry, it is just an ibaadah you will be doing that will put more blessing in your proposal if you have already accepted it and are content with it(which what it seems like from your post).

    • Avatar

      Hassan

      January 13, 2012 at 5:13 PM

      I am quoting from what I heard and understood from Sh Waleed, you can keep making istikhara, this is dua as well, and even though if you have made decision and accepted proposal, but the actual marriage has not occurred. So if it is good for you, then there would be barakah in it, and matters would become easy, and things would occur in swift manner, . And if it is not good for you, due to your dua, things would occur in a manner that you would be kept safe and away from marriage.

  2. Pingback: Abdul Nasir Jangda | Istikharah: How to and Why? | Sadif Raza Ditta

  3. Avatar

    Ramadan

    January 13, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    jazakallahu khayr

  4. Avatar

    Fezz

    January 13, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    m’A very comprehensive. May we all benefit!

  5. Avatar

    Maryam

    January 14, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    I made a decision based on the positive feelings after an istikhara. As things went along I figured the chosen path to be unsuitable and logically a very very wrong decision. The istikhara was made with wrong assumptions in mind.

    Is it advisable for me to abandon the path that I chose using istikhara?

  6. Avatar

    amatullah

    January 14, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    JazakAllaah Khayr!!! May Allaah Swt bless and grant jannatul firdous for Sheikh Abdul Nasir and his family, sister Sameera and her family!

    JazakAllaah Khayr MM for posting this!!

  7. Avatar

    Arif Kabir

    January 14, 2012 at 10:58 PM

    JazākumAllāhu Khayran for sharing and transcribing this beneficial lecture.

    Do we know from the Prophet (salAllāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam)’s Sunnah how regularly he used to pray Salāt Al-Istikhārā? Do we have to pray it for every single decision, or are there criteria in this regard?

    Also, can the intention of Salāt Al-Istikhārā be combined with the Sunnah of a Fard Salāh?

    • Avatar

      Khan

      January 18, 2012 at 10:40 AM

      Regarding your 2nd question, the lecture explains it fully if you watch the whole lecture.
      jzakAllaahu khairan

  8. Avatar

    ms confused

    January 15, 2012 at 2:05 AM

    assalam alekum. i have a question in my mind for so long. there is a guy who likes me and wants to marry me. he is my first cousin. i haven’t told my parents yet. because i am not sure about him. so is it possible to make istikharah for it. i mean i want to be sure if he is right for me. only then i can step forward.

  9. Avatar

    Ayesha A

    January 15, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    love the way you explained and illustrated the true picture of istikhara through aa different perspective.May Allah bless you for your efforts and bless barakah in your time .

  10. Avatar

    R.A.

    January 15, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    Salam Alaikum Sister ms confused

    I suggest that you do make istakhara but also keep in mind just because he likes you, that should not limit yourself to only want to marry those men who are interested in you. You need to be able to respect your own feelings also and keep your options open. It is a very cultural thing to do something like this, to marry a first cousin. However it is your own preference, but I want to put emphasis on the point that you should keep your options open and not only limit yourself to men who are interested in you, and that you should be able to have an interest in a someone who you find interesting yourself first.

    Hope this helps.

  11. Avatar

    R.A.

    January 15, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    @ Umm Salama

    I understand your concern of breaking family hearts and their relations. This is a very natural thing to feel you have a very difficult decision to make. Isthakara can only give what Allah (swt) believes is best for you. So if Allah (swt) guides you to what is best for you, leave the rest to Him and He will take care of everything.

    Umm Salama:

    I actually am able to give you more information, you can check out my counseling services if you click on my initials on this post, where it will lead you to my website and you can find an email address there for further assistance. I am a Muslim counselor and I assist in per-Martial counseling. You can also email me directly: raheel4151@gmail.com and I provide free services.

  12. Avatar

    Fezz

    January 15, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    Actually what if a decision has to be made between multiple options which must be selected at the same point and the individual does not have a particular leaning towards any of them intially? (Say 1 of 5 choices) . Then would a person have to made 5 different istikhara’s and keep repeating these? Can any of the scholars on the team help me with this?

    JZK

  13. Avatar

    UmmIbraheem

    January 16, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    Shaikh Abdul Nasir,

    Jazakumullah for clarifying this topic, there are so many Muslims who are so confused about istikharah.

    Shaikh, I have two further questions:

    1. If I’m making a decision and I reach istisharah or even the 1st stage, and decide a No, should I still go ahead and do istikharah (i.e istikharah on not going forward with X)?

    2. How do I do istikharah when I am menstruating?

    Jazakumullah for your time Shaikh.

  14. Avatar

    Umm Salamah

    January 16, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    I prayed istikhara yesterday, at the moment, I don’t feel I have received any signs, so will continue with istikhara and strengthen my convictions that the decision I take as a result will be the right one insha’Allah

    • Avatar

      R.A.

      January 16, 2012 at 2:51 PM

      I also prayed isthakara recently. If you don’t get any dreams, and no signs right away, just wait and keep praying it for at least 7 nights and you will see some changes in your life circumstances, and you will feel changes in your heart. At least that is what happened to me, alhumdulilah. Sorry for my tone of voice if it sounds as if I am telling you what to do, I just feel that if you continue, Insha’Allah, Allah (swt) will guide you, mentally if not in a dream and within your heart.

      • Avatar

        Umm Salamah

        January 16, 2012 at 3:46 PM

        Assalamu Alaikum,

        I’m going to continue with salatul istikhara insha’Allah, the only problem I see is if the decision Allah s. w. t, or the guidance He gives is a no to the proposal, I won’t be able to do anything about it :S due to family pressures etc and because the marriage is not far away. Will Allah s. w. t find a way to remove me from the situation? I really would not want to go against the wishes of Allah s. w. t but I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it even if I received signs

        Thank you for your replies so far, I appreciate it, I’ve never prayed salatul istikhara before

        • Avatar

          R.A.

          January 16, 2012 at 3:52 PM

          Wa alaikum issilam Sister Umm Salama,

          If Allah (swt)’s response is a no then He would have better plans for you. So worrying about family pressures would no longer even be in the picture. The family can be told that you prayed istakhara and you can tell them if the response is no. If they are persistent and try to make an issue about it, Allah (swt) will protect you because you are doing what is right. Also, please keep in mind that you need to respect your own feelings, although it is good that you are respecting the family wishes as well

          But you are ultimately the one who is getting married, and their advantage of your marriage should not be a priority concern to you or make you upset. My own mother had married within respecting her family choices, and she was at the end of the day the one to suffer, along with her children (which includes myself). So I am a very big proponent of choosing what is right for your own heart. I don’t want you to suffer, or your children Insha’Allah to suffer. Allah (swt) has made our situation better with his grace, Subhan’Allah.

  15. Avatar

    AbduRahman

    January 16, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    You added to my know knowledge more important aspects of salaatal Istikhara.
    Especially, the comparison made by the prophet (saaws) between du’aa al Istikhara and an ayah
    from the Qur’aan,
    I use to read it from a piece of paper, but now it is time I commit it to memory.

    Shaykh Abdul Nasir, Jazaka’Allah khair wa baaraka’Allah.

  16. Avatar

    Nisar Ahmed

    January 17, 2012 at 2:04 AM

    Assalaamu Alaykum Shaikh…
    Jazaakallaahu Khairan for the most comprehensive explanation of Istikhaara.. May Allaah bless you with providing more such opportunities to benefit the Ummah. May Allaah bless all the people associated with putting this piece together with the best in this world and the Hereafter. aameen.

  17. Avatar

    umm

    January 17, 2012 at 2:10 AM

    jazaa kullaahu khair for the wonderful article and lecture, much needed in our community.

  18. Avatar

    Abdullah

    January 17, 2012 at 7:04 AM

    Jazakumullah for the wonderful speech Shaykh Nasir and also to Sister Sameera for transcribing the lecture.

    I think there is a small typo in the transcription. Shaykh Nasir said it correctly in the lecture, but a little tweak is needed in the transcription I think….Under the heading “Decision Making Process: 3 Steps”, it is mentioned there the word “uli’l-bāb”. I think that should be “ulil-albaab” which means people of intellect or brainy people whereas “ulil-bab” means people or men of the door. : ) The Arabic word Albaab is the plural of Lubbun which has various meanings and some of them are: mind, or intellect, or understanding.

    Once again, Jazakumuallh to both the lecturer as well as the transcriber.

  19. Avatar

    ms confused

    January 17, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    sorry but i think i didnt make my point clear. its not that he likes me so i am interested in him. he loves and respects me . and assured that i should wait for him till he keeps his marriage proposal infront of me. and told me not tell them anything till he proves himself best for me to my parents. now the problem is my parents are looking a sutor for me. i dont want to hurt them. so is it best to make istikhara?

    • Avatar

      R.A.

      January 17, 2012 at 1:16 PM

      Salam Alaikum Miss Confused,

      It would be better if this is not hidden from anyone, only because of this reason: If he is saying that he wants to prove himself to you, and that you are interested in him, you need to make sure that your parents know so that they don’t go looking for a different suitor for you. I know he may not be ready yet, but Insha’Allah you both want this to happen, you can make isthkara to see if you SHOULD pursue him. But also you need to tell your parents you are interested in him, because you don’t want anyone else to be proposing to you at the moment, and it actually becoming real. That is the very first thing you should do, to let your parents know you are interested in him because he is ready to work for you and prove himself, so it is very potential that you can be with him.

      If you don’t let your parents know, then at the same time while HE is working so hard to prove himself, someone else could still physically come in the picture and prevent this. Let your parents know that there is someone, I am VERY interested in, and I want this to work so please I need some time. I am actually a counselor so if you need services of me, or if you need assistance from a FEMALE Family Marriage & Counselor, I can make arrangements for that also. You can visit my website or email me directly so that I can get you connected to the right person: raheel4151@gmail.com

  20. Avatar

    Noor Ali

    January 17, 2012 at 7:54 PM

    I know I am suppose to pray the Istikharah in Arabic, but when I want to say my two options in the middle of it, can I switch to English (because I am a non-Arab speaker) and continue onto the dua in Arabic?

    • Avatar

      Khan

      January 18, 2012 at 10:37 AM

      Yes, you can mention your needs in your own language. If you watch the whole lecture it tells you everything.

  21. Avatar

    AbdulNasir Jangda

    January 19, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    Salam,

    1. I would still recommend doing Istikharah. The Hadith emphasizes doing Istikharah regardless of whether it’s about pursuing or declining an opportunity. It will provide peace of mind and confidence inshaAllah.

    2. A woman in her menses can’t offer the prayer but should still read the supplication of Istikharah and this should suffice for her inshaAllah.

    Allah knows best.

    • Avatar

      Umm Salamah

      January 19, 2012 at 2:02 PM

      Salam Alaikum Sheikh Would istikhara be recommended for someone who has already accepted a proposal?

      I need to know for future reference

      Jazakallah

    • Avatar

      UmmH

      January 19, 2012 at 2:58 PM

      JazakAllahu Khairan Shaikh for taking the time out to reply, it is much appreciated. May Allah increase you in your knowledge, grant you abundant blessings and his mercy, and may He bestow upon me and my family the opportunity to learn from you. Aameen.

  22. Avatar

    R.A.

    January 21, 2012 at 8:39 PM

    Oh just a correction, I don’t have the right credentials yet, but Insha’Allah I am working on it lol .. but I can advise one, because i have exposure to situations like yours. Up to you if you want to ask for my advice.

    It is true that when and if marriage is taking place, not only are you coming together with your spouse, but families are coming together also. But you need to understand that making others happy doesn’t necessarily mean that at the end, it will also be what is best for you.

  23. Avatar

    College2011

    January 24, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    I was told by Shaikh Zoubir Bouchiki that we are supposed to read Surah Kafiroon in the first rakaa’ and Surah Ikhlaas in the 2nd rakaa’. What is correct? Also, he said that we should read the duaa’ in sujood as well.
    I am a little confused. Please clarify.

    Thanks.

  24. Pingback: Istikharah | Sipping Chai

  25. Avatar

    Nashu

    February 15, 2012 at 3:14 AM

    Salaamu Alaikum! Jazaakallah Khair for such a clear and comprehensive explanation.

  26. Avatar

    sameen

    July 31, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    ASalaam O Alaikum. I loved your article and clear and concise information on how to perform istikhara. Can you please answer one question for me: if a boy and girl do istikhara for marriage.. what do you do if girls istikhara comes out really good and the boys istikhara comes out negative (he sees a dream of night time (darkness) ).. while girl sees dream of a green valley and a white lamb, with a big green grassy mountain in front of her and she is walking towards that mountain.

  27. Avatar

    Ibrar

    October 11, 2012 at 8:16 AM

    Hi, I had some medical tests conducted by the hospital and all of them came out good and drs suggested me not to worry about anything and I do not need any further testing. But in my heart I had this feeling that might be these results were wrong so I was in a dilemma, sometimes i used to think that the reports are correct and sometimes I used to think they are not. I did istikhara for 7 or 8 times in a row. Was it right at first to do istikhara for this matter? second thing is that I was seeing mixed dreams. Some times I was preparing for tahajud and other times I was preparing for my Fajar prayer. saw white kurtas twice and saw one of my friend wearing white clothes once. I also saw night times during some dreams and last night I also saw myself reciting Surah Ikhlas and I felt like reciting it in real.
    Please advice me on this as I am still worried.

  28. Avatar

    NIC

    December 8, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    what if one side of the family saw a good dream and the other side saw a bad dream? The girls side constantly performed istikhara and always saw good dreams and had a good feeling, what should the girl and the guy do? should they still get married?

  29. Avatar

    nyc

    December 19, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    does anybody knows what to do if u do istikhara up to 6 days and u don’t see anything and you don’t feel anything about the guy , i mean he’s good for me or not i don’t know can u please let me know what should i have to do ? should i do more istikhara until i got disition?

  30. Avatar

    Confused

    July 4, 2013 at 9:37 PM

    Not sure if I missed this in the article…but what is the “rule” of doing istikharah? By this I mean…what if I do an istikharah and find that I am unable to follow through with the decision that God made? i.e. I learn that the man I want to marry is not the right one and not the one God wants me to marry but I still marry him anyway?

  31. Pingback: What's the Matter? Attracted to the Same Sex | MuslimMatters.org

  32. Avatar

    Ummer Farooq (@faro0485)

    February 4, 2014 at 7:01 AM

    The peace of God and paradise be for you all from above,

    far too many words of the desert, and I protest that a person should mix two languages into one, especially when we are of a foreign citizen. If you can write as an عربي, then do so. Then translate that entire speech for the English.

  33. Pingback: Islam | Pearltrees

  34. Avatar

    Aicha

    April 26, 2015 at 3:30 PM

    Thank you very much for this lecture. Was confused before. Is there an audio version of this istikhara dua? I see different versions on the internet Thank you!

  35. Avatar

    Xara

    October 5, 2015 at 11:28 PM

    I want to ask that as you mentioned that it has to be done by the girl or guy himself who is to get married only that means one cannot rely on the istikhara done even by ones mother or brother ? The girls mother did the istikhara after fajar prayer not right after but one or two hour later but saw a bike in dark and no light and the second day saw nothing and third something similar but after some days her heart start to go for the boy and told the boy to send the rishta for her daughter and had very good feelings and even when questioned in Quran they were good words for him ,alongside when there was another rishta on the line the mother made another dua by reciting one it was in Arabic given by a Mulvi and prayed that Allah whichever one is good for my daughter make his proposal be accepted by us and baat ban jae and that wahi baat ban Gaye also when the boys brother did the istikhara it was a yes three time but not something too good or too bad just a plain yes as per him so I want to know since both the girl and boy didn’t do it so they cannot rely on the mother or brothers istikhara ? Also to add the mother did istikhara before the rishta came about two months or more and recited that Arabic dua and prayed to Allah after the rishta came and there baat paki is already done ,even the girl did simply made dua that if this boy is best for me that let baat paaki happen and it did in two days immediately ..please guide me and solve my confusion – because everything was so mixed up if he was the right guy and signs were good too like even the girl heart was satisfied wit the boy and mothers too that what about the dream ? But if one cannot rely on the istikhara be done by the mother then basically there was no istikhara and nothing to worry about ?

  36. Avatar

    Anon

    December 31, 2015 at 9:58 AM

    Aoa …i have been doing istikhara for quite some time. ..but my heart still is bent towards that decision. ..my heart keeps asking for it and this i know however the situation maybe no matter how worse Allah can make anything possible….i was fearful of istikhara but then i did it knowing its just wrong to be scared of it….my heart still is stuck on what i want. ..even after doing istikhara for so many times…could it be just possible that i keep continuing and keep praying for Allah to bless it and some how make it possible even the situations at times dont seem so….how things change is always in Allah’s hands….i just i think i have to work towrds trusting Allah from my side. …and strengthen my relationship. ..more like i wish i could keep getting a shoulder press that dont worry youre praying to Allah and youre asking to make it not bettwr for yourself but whoever else will be involved with it.. better for this world and the hereafter. ..not just for myself but the people involved as well…

  37. Avatar

    shanu

    October 17, 2016 at 9:44 AM

    Salam,
    I had done isthikara for takeing a important decision in my life….I had got possitive result…but now the realitive oppose it..I am totaly confused don’t no wht to do

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Dawah and Interfaith

10 Lessons I Learned While Serving Those in Need

Abu Ryan Dardir

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charity
Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

I have spent about a decade serving the impoverished domestically and recently, abroad. I don’t work for a major charity organization, I work for my community, through grassroots efforts. It was something embedded in me while learning Islam. Before starting a charity organization, I started studying Islam with Dr. Hatem Alhaj (my mentor) and various other scholars. The more I studied, the more I wanted to implement what I was learning. What my community needed at the time was intensive charity work, as it was neglected entirely by our community. From that, I collected 10 lessons from servicing those in need. 

My bubble burst

One of the first things I experienced was the bursting of my bubble, a sense of realization. I, like many others, was unaware of the hardship in my own community. Yes, we know the hadith and see the events unfold on the news and social media, but when a father of three cried before me because a bag of groceries was made available for him to take home, that moment changed me. We tend to forget how little it takes, to make a huge difference in someone’s life. This experience, made me understand the following hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “Every Muslim has to give in charity.” The people then asked: “(But what) if someone has nothing to give, what should he do?” The Prophet replied: “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked: “If he cannot find even that?” He replied: “He should help the needy, who appeal for help.” Then the people asked: “If he cannot do (even) that?” The Prophet said finally: “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds, and that will be regarded as charitable deeds.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 524. I

t is simply an obligation, due to the amount of good it generates after you do this one action. I then realized even more how beautiful Islam is for commanding this deed. 

Friendships were developed on good deeds

Serving the poor is a great reward in itself. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date-fruit in charity.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 498. But it is better done with a team, I began building a team of people with similar objectives in serving the needy. These people later became some of my closest friends, who better to keep close to you than one that serves Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) by helping the neediest in the same community you reside in. Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.” [reported by Abu Dawood & Tirmidhee] This is turn kept me on the right path of pleasing Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Working with a team removes a lot of the burden as well and the depression that might occur seeing the saddest stories on a daily basis. Allah says in the Qur’ān, “Indeed the believers are brothers.” (49:10). Sometimes there is a misconception that you have to have a huge office or a large masjid in order to get work done. But honestly, all you need is a dedicated group of people with the right intention and things take off from there. 

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 'If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.' - Al-Tirmidhi,Click To Tweet

Made me thankful

This made me thankful for whatever I had, serving the less fortunate reminded me daily to turn to Allah and ask for forgiveness and so be thankful. This kind of service also puts things into perspective. What is truly important in life? I stepped further and further away from a materialistic lifestyle and allowed me to value things that can’t be valued by money. I learned this from the poorest of people in my community, who strived daily for their family regardless of their situation — parents who did what they can to shield their children from their harsh reality. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1376. They had a quality about them, despite their poverty status. They were always some of the kindest people I have known. 

People want to do Good

I learned that people want to do good; they want to improve their community and society. I began to see the impact on a communal level, people were being more engaged. We were the only Muslim group helping indiscriminately in our county. Even the people we helped, gave back by volunteering at our food pantry. We have schools where small kids (under adult supervision) partake in preparing meals for the needy, local masajids, churches, and temples, high school kids from public schools, and college organizations (Muslim and nonMuslim) visit frequently from several cities in neighboring counties, cities, and states. The good spreads a lot easier and faster than evil. People want to do good, we just need more opportunities for them to join in. United we can rock this world.

“We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity.” Malcolm X. Click To Tweet

Smiles

Smiles, I have seen the wealthiest smiles on the poorest people. Despite being on the brink of homelessness, when I saw them they had the best smile on their faces. This wasn’t all of them, but then I would smile back and that changed the environment we were in. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.” He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet answered: “The doors of goodness are many…enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms–all of these are charity prescribed for you.” He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.” – Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98. Smiles are truly universal.

It’s ok to cry

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah said: “A man who weeps for fear of Allah will not enter Hell until the milk goes back into the udder, and dust produced (when fighting) for the sake of Allah and the smoke of Hell will never coexist.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasaa’i. There are situations you see that hit you hard; they fill your heart with emotions, but that never swayed my concrete belief in Allah’s wisdom. Crying before Allah, not just out of fear, but to be thankful for His Mercy upon you is a relief.

Learning to say no

It was one of the hardest things I had to do, a lot (if not all) of the requests I received for help were extremely reasonable. I do not think anyone asked for anything outrageous. Our organization started becoming the go-to organization in our area for help, but we are one organization, with limited resources, and a few times we were restricted on when or how we could help. This is where learning to say no became a learned skill. Wedid do our best to follow up with a plan or an alternative resource.

It is part of raising a family and finding yourself

How so? Being involved in your community doesn’t take away from raising your family, it is part of it. I can’t watch and do nothing and expect my children to be heroes. I have to lead by example. Helping others is good for my family’s health. Many people living in our country are consumed with their busy lives. Running out the door, getting to work, driving the kids to their after school activities, spending weekends taking care of their families, etc. So people have a fear of investing hours in doing this type of work. But in reality, this work puts more blessings in your time.

One may feel they are taking time away from their family, but in reality, when one comes back home, they find more peace in their home then they left it with. By helping others, I improve the health and culture of my community, this in turn positively impacts my family.

I enjoy being a softie with my family and friends. I am a tall bearded man, and that image suited me better. I am not sure what made me softer, having kids or serving the poor. Either way, it was rewarding and defined my role and purpose in my community.

I learned that you make your own situation. You can be a spectator, or you can get in there and do the best you can to help. It gave me an opportunity to be a role model for my own children, to show them the benefit of doing good and helping when you can.

It came with a lot of humility. Soon after starting I realized that all I am is a facilitator, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is giving an opportunity of a lifetime to do this work, a line of work very little people get to engage in regularly. My advice to my readers, if you can serve the poor do so immediately before you get occupied or busy with life.

Helping others is good for my family’s health.Click To Tweet

Dawah through action

As I mentioned before I did spend time studying, and at one point developed one of the top dawah initiatives in the country (according to IERA). But the reality is, helping the less fortunate is my type of dawah, people started to associate our food pantry and helping others with Islam. As an organization with one of the most diverse groups of volunteers, people from various religious backgrounds found the environment comfortable and hospitable. I began working with people I never would have worked before if I had stuck to traditional dawah, studying, or masjid involvement, all of which are critical. This became a symbol of Islam in our community, and while serving, we became those that embodied the Quran and Sunnah. For a lot of those we served, we were the first Muslims they encountered, and Alhamdulilah for the team we have. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) also says in the Quran: “So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you” (3:159). It is our actions that can turn people away or towards Islam.

Once you serve the needy, you do this for life

I wasn’t volunteering on occasion,— this was an unpaid job that was done regularly. I got requests and calls for emergencies daily at times. It took up hours upon hours every week. As a charity worker, I developed experience and insight in this field. I learned that this was one of the best ways I could serve Allah [swt. “They ask you (O Muhammad) what they should spend in charity. Say: ‘Whatever you spend with a good heart, give it to parents, relatives, orphans, the helpless, and travelers in need. Whatever good you do, God is aware of it.'” – The Holy Quran, 2:215

I believe the work I do with the countless people that do the same is the best work that can be done in our current political climate and globalization. My views and thoughts have evolved over the years seeing situations develop to what they are today. This gave me a comprehensive outlook on our needs as a society and allowed me to venture off and meet people top in their fields like in social activism, environmentalism, labor, etc.

I want to end with three sectors in society that Muslims prosper in and three that Muslims can improve on. We strive on individual education (noncommunal), distributing and organizing charity, and more recently being politically engaged. What we need to improve on is our environmental awareness, working with and understanding unions and labor rights, and organizing anti-war movements. 

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Eid Lameness Syndrome: Diagnosis, Treatment, Cure

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Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

How many of you have gone to work on Eid because you felt there was no point in taking off? No Eid fun. Have you ever found Eid boring, no different from any other day?

If so, you may suffer from ELS (Eid Lameness Syndrome). Growing up, I did too.

My family would wake up, go to salah, go out to breakfast, come home, take a 4+ hour nap and then go out to dinner. I didn’t have friends to celebrate with and even if I did, I wouldn’t see them because we stuck to our own immediate family just as they did.

On the occasion that we went to a park or convention center, we would sort of have fun. Being with other people was certainly better than breakfast-nap-dinner in isolation, but calling that a memorable, satisfying, or genuinely fun Eid would be a stretch.

I don’t blame my parents for the ELS though. They came from a country where Eid celebration was the norm; everyone was celebrating with everyone and you didn’t have to exert any effort. When they moved to the US, where Muslims were a minority, it was uncharted territory. They did the best they could with the limited resources they had.

When I grew up, I did about the same too. When I hear friends or acquaintances tell me that they’re working, doing laundry or whatever other mundane things on Eid, I understand.  Eid has been lame for so long that some people have given up trying to see it any other way. Why take personal time off to sit at home and do nothing?

I stuck to whatever my parents did for Eid because “Eid was a time for family.” In doing so, I was honoring their cultural ideas of honoring family, but not Eid. It wasn’t until I moved away that I decided to rebel and spend Eid with convert friends (versus family) who didn’t have Muslim families to celebrate with on Eid, rather than drive for hours to get home for another lame salah-breakfast-nap-dinner.

That was a game-changing Eid for me. It was the first non-lame Eid I ever had, not because we did anything extraordinary or amazing, but because we made the day special by doing things that we wouldn’t normally do on a weekday together. It was then that I made a determination to never have a lame Eid ever again InshaAllah.

I’m not the only one fighting ELS. Mosques and organizations are creating events for people to attend and enjoy together, and families are opting to spend Eid with other families. There is still much more than can be done, as converts, students, single people, couples without children and couples with very small children, are hard-hit by the isolation and sadness that ELS brings. Here are a few suggestions for helping treat ELS in your community:

Host an open house

Opening up your home to a large group of people is a monumental task that takes a lot of planning and strength. But it comes with a lot of baraka and reward. Imagine the smiling faces of people who would have had nowhere to go on Eid, but suddenly find themselves in your home being hosted. If you have a big home, hosting an open house is an opportunity to express your gratitude to Allah for blessing you with it.

Expand your circle

Eid is about commUNITY. Many people spend Eid alone when potential hosts stick to their own race/class/social status. Invite and welcome others to spend Eid with you in whatever capacity you can.

Delegate

You can enlist the help of close friends and family to help so it’s not all on you. Delegate food, setup, and clean-up across your family and social network so that no one person will be burdened by the effort InshaAllah.

Squeeze in

Don’t worry if you don’t have a big house, you’ll find out how much barakah your home has by how many people are able to fit in it. I’ve been to iftars in teeny tiny apartments where there’s little space but lots of love. If you manage to squeeze in even two or three extra guests, you’ve saved two or three people from ELS for that year.

Outsource Eid Fun

If you have the financial means or know enough friends who can pool together, rent a house. Some housing share sites have homes that can be rented specifically for events, giving you the space to consolidate many, smaller efforts into one larger, more streamlined party.

Flock together

It can be a challenge to find Eid buddies to spend the day with. Try looking for people in similar circumstances as you. I’m a single woman and have hosted a ladies game night for the last few Eids where both married and single women attend.  If you are a couple with young kids, find a few families with children of similar age groups. If you’re a student, start collecting classmates. Don’t wait for other people to invite you, make a list in advance and get working to fend off ELS together.

Give gifts

The Prophet ﷺ said: تَهَادُوا تَحَابُّوا‏ “Give gifts to increase love for each other”. One of my siblings started a tradition of getting a gift for each person in the family. If that’s too much, pick one friend or family member and give them a gift. If you can’t afford gifts, give something that doesn’t require much money like a card or just your time. You never know how much a card with kind, caring words can brighten a person’s Eid.

Get out of your comfort zone

If you have ELS, chances are there is someone else out there who has it too. The only way to find out if someone is sad and alone on Eid is by admitting that we are first, and asking if they are too.

Try, try, try again…

Maybe you’ve taken off work only to find that going would have been less of a waste of time. Maybe you tried giving gifts and it didn’t go well. Maybe you threw an open house and are still cleaning up/dealing with the aftermath until now. It’s understandable to want to quit and say never again, to relent and accept that you have ELS and always will but please, keep trying. The Ummah needs to believe that Eid can and should be fun and special for everyone.

While it is hard to be vulnerable and we may be afraid of rejection or judgment, the risk is worth it. As a survivor and recoverer of ELS, I know how hard it can be and also how rewarding it is to be free of it. May Allah bless us all with the best Eids and to make the most of the blessed days before and after, Ameen.

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The Etiquettes of Sacrifice for Eid al Adha

Imam Mikaeel Smith

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As Eid al-Adha approaches, the staff at MuslimMatters thought it would be beneficial to include some reminders about this blessed Sunnah. For your convenience, we have links to pdfs of the following articles by Imam Mikaeel Smith and Sr Julie Mair if you would like to print them for yourself or to distribute in your community. -Hena Zuberi, Editor in Chief

A Simple Request for Eid al-Adha | Sr Julie Mair

Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Eid al-Adha will soon be upon us, alhamdulillah. It is a blessed time, a time for celebration, a time to share with family and loved ones—but it can also be a time of immense cruelty if the slaughter is not done properly and mercifully. 

Allah Ta’ala tells us in the Qur’an that the Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alaihi was sallam, was sent as a rahmatan lil ‘alameena – a mercy to the worlds (Surah al-Anbiya, 21:107). Much has been reported on the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) kind treatment of animals, and some hadith specifically mention animals to be slaughtered:

Anyone who shows mercy, even to an animal meant for slaughtering, will be shown mercy by Allah on the Day of Rising. (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad)

Verily Allah has enjoined goodness to everything; so when you kill, kill in a good way and when you slaughter, slaughter in a good way. So every one of you should sharpen his knife, and let the slaughtered animal die comfortably. (Sahih Muslim) 

Etiquettes of the slaughter are often unknown or overlooked, such as: hiding the knife from the animal; slaughtering out of the sight of other animals waiting to be slaughtered; killing in a comfortable way; and avoiding unnecessary suffering. 

Tying an animal’s legs together and leaving it to moan in the hot sun clearly results in unnecessary suffering, but this happens. Hanging animals together from hooks by their feet and killing them one-by-one results in unnecessary suffering, but this happens. Even less egregious actions such as dragging an animal or otherwise handling it roughly results in unnecessary suffering. It is incumbent on anyone who is going to slaughter an animal to learn the Islamic requirements and etiquettes of slaughtering so that it is done properly and mercifully.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) warned us, “Someone who does not show mercy will not be shown mercy.” (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad)

So please, before this Eid al-Adha, educate yourself on the proper and merciful way to slaughter. If you are going to a farm or other facility, make sure that it will be done correctly. Educate those who do not know. Enjoin the good and forbid the wrong.*

Whoever guides someone to goodness will have a reward like the one who did it. 

(Sahih Muslim)

Eid al-Adha will soon be upon us, alhamdulillah. 

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Perfection in all things | Sh Mikaeel Smith

Imam Mikaeel Smith

There are certain narrations of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) that are a source of great inspiration and which force one to discover a higher purpose and the deepest of meanings and lessons in the most trivial actions. These narrations, when continually contemplated upon and kept at the forefront of one’s mind, can create a very profound sense of mindfulness and presence throughout one’s day to day affairs. Throughout our day to day life we have to do a number of seemingly mundane actions for our personal well-being and the well-being of those around us. But there is a single narration that teaches us that there is no such thing as a trivial action or a mundane affair for the believer. Everything has a purpose. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) once said, 

عن أبي يعلى شداد بن أوسٍ رضي الله عنه، عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: ((إن الله كتب الإحسان على كل شيءٍ، فإذا قتلتم فأحسنوا القِتْلة، وإذا ذبحتم فأحسنوا الذِّبْحة، ولْيُحِدَّ أحدُكم شفرته، ولْيُرِحْ ذبيحته))؛ رواه مسلم.

“Indeed Allah has ordained perfection and excellence in every matter. When you fight, do so with excellence. When you slaughter an animal do so with excellence. Sharpen your knife because this will make it easier for the animal.” (Muslims #1955)

Everything in life is a chance to strive for perfection and thereby fulfill one’s duty to his or her creator and sustainer. While this narration inspires people of all fields to be the best at what they do, the Prophet ‎ﷺ‎‬‎ mentions two specific examples where excellence should be sought. One is in war and situations of conflict and the other is the ritual sacrifice which takes place at the time of the pilgrimage. It should be noted that perfection just like beauty is highly subjective. Therefore as Muslims, we look to the sunnah or way of Muhammad to define perfection for every affair. 

The sacred month of the pilgrimage is getting close and so we are approaching the time to remember and imitate the sacrifice of Ibrāhīm (AS). We imitate him because he is the quintessential example of submission. By imitating his unparalleled level of submission we become pupils to this great teacher. Imitation is the first step for every student. Secondly, we must understand that imitation is the highest form of flattery. 

It is not the meat or blood of this sacrifice which Allah desires from us — rather obedience. That being said we should learn how to do this sacrifice is the best way. 

My personal opinion as an American Muslim who desires to see Islam as an intrinsic aspect of American religious life, I strongly encourage Muslims in America to personal do their sacrifice themselves instead of sending money for their sacrifice to be done overseas. I am completely aware that there are brothers and sisters who need meat more than ourselves. But this train of thought completely misses the objective of this great act of imitation. If a person wants to help poor Muslims around the world one should do so. But not at the expense of teaching their own family the significance of this day. By outsourcing your ibadah we lose the spiritual impact and meaning. We essentially deprive our children and family of participating in the primary act of worship on this great day. Now let us look at some of the religiously recommended actions that one should observe when doing the sacrifice. Striving for excellence in all things, as Muslims, means first and foremost setting one’s moral compass to the “Prophetic North” by reviewing the Prophetic teachings surrounding this great worship.

Below I have listed a few of the etiquette of this sacrifice:

Internal Aspect

  1. One should internally remember the significance of this sacrifice and what it represents. Study the life of Abraham 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and internalize how he was able to overcome his own moral judgments when he was commanded to sacrifice his own son. 

Pre-Sacrifice Aspects

  1. One must use a very sharp knife. This is done so that there are no complications and delays in the process of slaughter. 
  2. The sharpening of the knife should be done away from the field of vision of the animals.
  3. The animal should be given water before the sacrifice. 
  4. The animal should be gently brought to the place where it will be slaughtered.
  5. The animal should be slaughtered out of the field of vision of the other animals. 
  6. The animal should be gently placed on its left side.
  7. The one doing the slaughter should face the Qiblah.

During the Sacrifice

  1. The slaughter must be as quick as possible.
  1. Before the slaughter one should say, “Allah is the Greatest” thrice followed by the statement, “In the name of Allah”. 
  2. The two major arteries should be cut along with the windpipe. 

Post Sacrifice

  1. It is recommended that the first thing that one eats after the Eid prayer is meat from the sacrifice. 

It is important to keep in mind that the things mentioned above are not mandatory aspects. This means that is someone was to leave out one of these things the sacrifice would still be legally valid, while at the same time lacking the level of perfection that we as Muslims should strive for. 

Through this sacrifice, we are reminded of our pursuit of excellence for the sake of our Creator in all that we do. We perfect our skills, trades, and academic pursuits and all that we do for our love of our creator. Whether one is studying for an exam, or striving to be an athlete, excellence for the sake of Allah is our goal. 

To download this article and share in your community, click Perfection in all things

*More Resources:

http://halalcertification.ie/islamic-method-of-slaughtering/

https://kalamullah.com/Books/The%20Islamic%20Laws%20of%20Animal%20Slaughter.pdf

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