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|Signs of Salaat Al-Istikhaarah for Marrying Someone
My potential husband had performed Salaat al-Istikhaarah once and received a positive response, performed it again and received a negative response. I performed Salaat al-Istikhaarah and had a positive feeling towards the marriage. He has now ended the communication between us but I still feel we should proceed with the marriage. Is there a dua that I can recite to help me overcome the feeling of it being positive for me?
Praise be to Allaah.
The description of Salaat al-Istikhaarah was reported by Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allaah al-Salami (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said:
“The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to teach his companions to make istikhaarah in all things, just as he used to teach them soorahs from the Qur’aan. He said: ‘If any one of you is concerned about a decision he has to make, then let him pray two rak’ahs of non-obligatory prayer, then say: Allaahumma inni astakheeruka bi ‘ilmika wa astaqdiruka bi qudratika wa as’aluka min fadlika, fa innaka taqdiru wa laa aqdir, wa ta’lamu wa laa a’lam, wa anta ‘allaam al-ghuyoob. Allaahumma fa in kunta ta’lamu haadha’l-amra (then the matter should be mentioned by name) khayran li fi ‘aajil amri wa aajilihi (or: fi deeni wa ma’aashi wa ‘aaqibati amri) faqdurhu li wa yassirhu li thumma baarik li fihi. Allaahumma wa in kunta ta’lamu annahu sharrun li fi deeni wa ma’aashi wa ‘aaqibati amri (or: fi ‘aajili amri wa aajilihi) fasrifni ‘anhu [wasrafhu ‘anni] waqdur li al-khayr haythu kaana thumma radini bihi (O Allaah, I seek Your guidance [in making a choice] by virtue of Your knowledge, and I seek ability by virtue of Your power, and I ask You of Your great bounty. You have power, I have none. And You know, I know not.
You are the Knower of hidden things. O Allaah, if in Your knowledge, this matter (then it should be mentioned by name) is good for me both in this world and in the Hereafter (or: in my religion, my livelihood and my affairs), then ordain it for me, make it easy for me, and bless it for me. And if in Your knowledge it is bad for me and for my religion, my livelihood and my affairs (or: for me both in this world and the next), then turn me away from it, [and turn it away from me], and ordain for me the good wherever it may be and make me pleased with it.”
(Reported by al-Bukhaari, 6841; similar reports are also recorded by al-Tirmidhi, al-Nisaa’i, Abu Dawood, Ibn Maajah and Ahmad).
Ibn Hijr (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, commenting on this hadeeth:
“Istikhaarah is a word which means asking Allaah to help one make a choice, meaning choosing the best of two things where one needs to choose one of them.
Concerning the phrase ‘The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to teach us to make istikhaarah in all things,’ Ibn Abi Jamrah said: ‘It is a general phrase which refers to something specific. With regard to matters that are waajib (obligatory) or mustahabb (liked or encouraged), there is no need for istikhaarah to decide whether to do them, and with regard to matters that are haraam (forbidden) or makrooh (disliked), there is no need for istikhaarah to decide whether to avoid them. The issue of istikhaarah is confined to matters that are mubaah (allowed), or in mustahabb matters when there is a decision to be made as to which one should be given priority.’ I say: it refers to both great and small matters, and probably an insignificant issue could form the groundwork for a big issue.
The phrase ‘If any one of you is concerned…’ appears in the version narrated by Ibn Mas’ood as: ‘if any one of you wants to do something…’
‘Let him pray two rak’ahs of non-obligatory prayer.’ This is mentioned to make it clear that it does not mean fajr prayer, for example. Al-Nawawi said in al-Adhkaar: He can pray istikaarah after two rak’ahs of regular sunnah prayer done at zuhr for example, or after two rak’ahs of any naafil prayers whether they are regularly performed or not… It seems to be the case that if he made the intention to pray istikhaarah at the same time as intending to pray that particular prayer, this is fine, but not if he did not have this intention.
Ibn Abi Jamrah said: The wisdom behind putting the salaat before the du’aa’ is that istikhaarah is intended to combine the goodness of this world with the goodness of the next. A person needs to knock at the door of the King (Allaah), and there is nothing more effective for this than prayer, because it contains glorification and praise of Allaah, and expresses one's need for Him at all times.
The phrase ‘then let him say’ would seem to imply that the du’aa’ should be said after finishing the prayer, and the word thumma (then) probably means after reciting all the words of the salaat and before saying salaam.
The phrase ‘O Allaah, I seek Your guidance by virtue of Your knowledge’ is explaining ‘because You know best.’ Similarly, ‘by virtue of Your power’ most likely means ‘seeking Your help.’ ‘I seek ability’ (astaqdiruka) means ‘I ask You to give me the power or ability (qudrah) to do’ whatever is being asked for, or it probably means ‘I ask You to decree (tuqaddir) this for me.’ So it may mean making it easy.
‘I ask You of Your great bounty’ refers to the fact that Allaah gives out of His great generosity, but no one has the right to His blessings. This is the opinion of Ahl al-Sunnah.
‘You have power, I have none. And You know, I know not’ refers to the fact that power and knowledge belong to Allaah alone, and the slave has no share of them except what Allaah decrees for him.
‘O Allaah, if in Your knowledge this matter…’ According to one report, he should mention it by name. It is apparent from the context that he should state it, but it is probably sufficient to be thinking of the matter whilst making this du’aa’.
‘Then ordain it for me’ means ‘make it happen for me’ or it may mean ‘make it easy for me.’
‘Then turn it away from me, and turn me away from it’ means ‘so that my heart will no longer feel attached to it after it has been turned away.’
‘Make me pleased with it’ means ‘make me content with it, so that I will never regret asking for it or be sorry that it happened, because I do not know how it will turn out, even if at the time of asking I am pleased with it.’
The secret is that one’s heart should not be attached to the matter in question, because that will result in a person becoming restless. Being pleased with something means that one’s heart is content with the decree of Allaah.
(Summarized from the commentary of al-Haafiz Ibn Hijr (may Allaah have mercy on him) on the hadeeth in Saheeh al-Bukhaari, Kitaab al-Da’waat and Kitaab al-Tawheed.).
The daleel (evidence) for Salaat al-Istikhaarah and the du’aa’ to be recited is the report narrated by al-Bukhaari (1109) and others from Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allaah (may Allaah be pleased with them both).
With regard to what some people say, “then he should go ahead with whatever he feels happy with”, a hadeeth to this effect was narrated from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) – narrated by Ibn al-Sunni – according to which he said, “If you are concerned about a matter, then make istikhaarah seven times, praying to your Lord, then see what you feel most drawn towards, and the good will be in that.”
Al-Nawawi said: its isnaad is ghareeb, and it includes narrators whom I do not know. (al-Adhkaar, p. 132).
Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar said: if this were proven, it could be taken as evidence, but its isnaad is very weak (waahin jiddan). (al-Fath, 11/223)
The correct view is that when Allaah makes something easy for you – after having decreed it and accepted your du’aa’ – this is a sign that it is good to go ahead and do it. The existence of obstacles and difficulties is an indication that Allaah is pushing His slave away from doing it. This meaning will be very clear when one ponders the meaning of the hadeeth of Jaabir concerning al-istikhaarah, where the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“… O Allaah, if You know this affair – [and here he should mention it] – is good for me in relation to my religion, my life, and end, then decree and facilitate it for me, and bless me with it, and if You know this affair to be ill for me towards my religion, my life, and end, then remove it from me and remove me from it, and decree for me what is good wherever it be and make me satisfied with such.”
Ibn ‘Allaan – after transmitting the scholarly view that the hadeeth of Anas is da’eef (weak) – said: Therefore it was said: that after (doing istikhaarah) he should do what he wants (i.e., even if he does not feel that sense of being happy), because whatever happens after doing istikhaarah is good…
Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar said: Al-Haafiz Zayn al-Deen al-‘Iraaqi said (concerning doing something after praying istikhaarah): Whatever he does, there will be good in it. This is supported by what is said at the end of the hadeeth of Ibn Mas’ood according to some of its isnaads: ‘Then let him make his decision.’ I (Ibn Hajar) say: I have already discussed above and explained that its narrators (i.e., the narrators who added the phrase ‘Then let him make his decision) are da’eef (weak). But this is still stronger than the narrator of that hadeeth (i.e., the hadeeth which says, ‘then see what you feel most drawn towards’). (al-Futoohaat al-Rabaaniyyah, 3/355-357)
Another of the myths that are widespread among people is that after praying istikhaarah you should sleep, and whatever good you see in your dream that makes you happy means that what you want to do is good and will be made easy for you, otherwise it is not good. There is no saheeh daleel (evidence) for this as far as we know.
The above does not mean that if you feel happy it is not a sign, but this should not be regarded as the only sign about whether or not the matter is good. People often make istikhaarah about something they like or want to do, so they feel happy about it from the outset.
Shaykh al-Islam [Ibn Taymiyah] (may Allaah have mercy on him) said concerning the matter of feeling happy about something: if he makes istakhaarah, then whatever Allaah makes him feel happy about and makes easy for him, this is what Allaah has chosen for him. (Majmoo’ al-Fataawaa, 10/539).
There is a difference between making feeling happy the only sign and making it one of several signs. There is no set time period for salaat al-istikhaarah; it is permissible to repeat it more than once, but there is no limit to how many times. The person may offer the du’aa’ before or after saying the salaam.
And Allaah knows best.
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid
Question Date: 2011-09-20
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