A GREAT BENEFIT OF ISTIKHÂRAH
Hadrat Shâh Waliyyullâh رحمه الله writes: “From amongst the greatest benefits of Istikhârah is that man becomes detached from his carnal desires, his animalistic characteristics become subject to his angelic nature and he hands himself over to Allâh Ta'ala. When he does this, he reaches the stages of the angels whose quality is that they await the command of Allâh Ta'ala. When Allâh’s Ta'ala command is received, they exert themselves through divine motivation and not carnal motivation. I believe that excessive Istikhârah is a proven tonic for the inculcation of angelic qualities.”
But alas, today, Istikhârah has become equally as difficult as making a decision. People hesitate so much to perform this great act of worship, that only at the last alternative, when no other way can be perceived, they would turn to some innovated act that has no basis in the Hadîth, such as the taking of a good omen by opening the Qur`ân and counting lines and letters, etc.; or asking someone else to perform Istikhârah on their behalf. Shaikh Nuruddîn `Itr says: As far as the common practice today which people aspire to uphold, that Istikhârah will only be correct if it is carried out by certain persons, and that a dream is necessary, this is extremism and obstanance, and is not the command of Allâh nor His Rasûl. This all stems from such constraint among the Muslims that does not behove of them. This led them to abandoning one great Sunnah of Rasûlullâh Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam, thus they deprived themselves of the merits of this great Sunnah and it’s blessings, and from blemishing it’s purity. Similarly Hadrat Moulânâ Shâh Hakîm Muhammad Akhtarدامت بركاته states in his book “Sunnats” on page 49, that “asking another person to make Istikhârah on one’s behalf is not substantiated from any Hadîth. To make ‘mashwarah’ (consult) with someone else is Sunnah.”
Sometimes Istikhârah becomes a means of greater confusion. A person who does not generally see dreams, nor perceives an inclination towards or away from the object of his Istikhârah, now finds himself in a greater predicament. As for the person who does see a dream, he is put through the inconvenience of finding someone to interpret it for him. And if he saw a clear dream, or received an interpretation indicating to one particular option, and thereafter was not able to overcome the obstacles obstructing his path to achieving his aim, this person is left in sheer perplexity.
THE REALITY OF ISTIKHÂRAH
Moulânâ Badr-e-`âlam Mîrt-hî رحمه الله, the former Shaikhul Hadîth of the famous Dârul `Ulûm of Dabhel, India, writes in his footnotes of the popular commentary of Bukhâri - Faidul Bârî, by `Allâmah Anwar Shâh Kashmîrî رحمه الله , regarding the reality of Istikhârah. He states: “… in other words, it is sometimes misunderstood from the statements of `Ulamâ that it is promised in the Hadîth of Istikhârah that the heart of a person who performs Istikhârah will incline towards one option, whereas many a time the person who performs Istikhârah does not perceive such an inclination. In that case, what, then, will be the meaning of the Hadîth. This was an ambiguity for which I could find no explanation.” Moulânâ continues: "Until one day, whilst sitting in the presence of the great ‘Mufassir’, ‘Muhaddith’ and ‘`Allâmah’ of his era, Moulânâ Shabbîr Ahmed Uthmânî رحمه الله , I noticed oceans of knowledge gushing forth from him to the `Ulamâ who were sitting in his noble company. This was his practice after every Jumu`ah. On that day, he was discussing this very mas'alah (matter) and elaborated on it in much detail. It was here that I quenched my thirst, and found a remedy for my malady, and a healing for my heart… He explained that the Hadîth of Istikhârah does not contain anything pertaining to the inclination or satisfaction of the heart. Had it been such, Rasûlullâh Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam would have taught us, in the du`â, to ask Allâh to incline the heart towards the most appropriate decision, whereas the Hadîth does not say that. The du`â only contains this much, that Allâh Ta'ala should protect him from harm, and He should determine a good fate for him, whatever it may be. And the words (of the du’â): " وَاصْرِفْنِيْ عَنْهُ " “and turn me away from it” refers to the situation when the heart desires and inclines towards it. (This means that when the heart is desirous to go ahead with the matter regarding which Istikhârah is being made, then Allâh Ta'ala should turn the heart away from it by removing this desire and inclination from the heart). And the words: "فاصْرِفْهُ عَنِّيْ " “And turn it away from me” is when that inclination is not found, (then Allâh Ta'ala should save him from being forced into it.)
Therefore 'protection’ and 'predestination’, both are the doings of the Almighty, as He alone does as He wills. As far as the slave of Allâh Ta'ala is concerned, his responsibility is to make du`â, and then proceed in the direction of his choice, as that will be best for him. This means that he will be granted the 'towfîq' (ability) for the best only, and only the best will be made easy for him. Thus Istikhârah is an ‘`amal’ (act) that helps to determine the best for a person.
Excerpt from Mufti Ayub Jeena's book, Istikharah in the light of the Sunnah