Salat-ul-Istikhara – A Refuge from Stress

Istikhara                                                   Image Courtesy


At first, the realization that fortune telling is forbidden in Islam saddened me a bit. But I knew there must be an alternative that Allah (swt) must have provided for us Muslims. When Allah (swt) provides us with a dozen doors, and we have to turn the knob of only one then how can this laborious task become easier without a peek at the future? 

The Holy Prophet (sa) bestowed his Ummah with an ideal treasure that is enormously better than future prediction known as Salat-ul-Istikhara.


“Istikhara” means to seek goodness from Allah (swt). When a person does Istikhara, then it is as if he is entrusting Allah (swt) with his decision of a complex situation. He seeks His forgiveness, knows that He is All Merciful and Trustworthy, and will help him in making the best decision which no other person is capable of doing.


It was narrated by Jabir bin ‘Abdullah (rta) that: The Prophet (sa) used to teach the way of doing Istikhara in all matters as he taught us the Surahs of the Quran. He said: “If anyone of you thinks of doing any job, he should offer two Rakat prayer, other than the compulsory ones; and after praising Allah (swt) and asking for His forgiveness and mercy, he should recite:

Istikhara duaa


“O Allah (swt)! I seek goodness from Your Knowledge and with Your Power (and Might); I seek strength, and I ask from You Your Great Blessings, because You have the Power and I do not have the power. You know everything and I do not know, and You have knowledge of the unseen. Oh Allah! If in Your Knowledge this action ———————————————— (which I intend to do) is better for my religion and faith, for my life and end (death), for here (in this world) and the hereafter then make it destined for me and make it easy for me and then add blessings (Barakah) in it, for me. O Allah! In Your Knowledge if this action is bad for me, bad for my religion and faith, for my life and end (death), for here [in this world] and the hereafter then turn it away from me and turn me away from it and whatever is better for me, ordain (destine) that for me and then make me satisfied with it.”


Once the person is done with Istikhara, then Allah (swt) will bless him with some form of indication- either through a dream, or through his inclination towards a particular direction. It is not necessary that a person will get a proper indication in his dream. Some Ulemah are of the opinion that a dream about some fruit, soothing thing is an indication that Allah (swt) is pleased with the decision. And, if he dreams about something burning, or any dangerous animal, or red color- then it means that the particular decision is not good for him. But, this answer of Allah (swt) in a person’s dream has become a misconception.

It is not necessary that a dream will show Allah’s (swt) will. Instead, Allah (swt) will mold the person’s intention to what that is good for him, and will turn him away from that which is bad.


Istikhara can be repeated for seven days- in case a person does not feel satisfied with the particular decision. However, the misconception of Istikhara to be done only when a person is taking a life changing decision like marriage, switching jobs etc. should be removed. Istikhara can be performed for even little decisions of life like taking up courses, deciding a methodology for a project, doing a particular task or not etc. Imagine how an advice from Allah (swt) in small decisions of your life can make them the biggest and blessed ones. And, as a consequence, you will only find satisfaction, salvation and a determination to build a stronger relationship with the One responsible for writing your fate.



Errors in Connection

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“Listening is an art that requires attention over talent, spirit over ego and over self.”


The importance of listening extends far beyond academic and professional settings; it helps us develop an understanding and caring relationship with others, whether it is with our family or friends. In order to develop good listening skills, we have the life of the Prophet (sa) to guide us. He is an example for others to follow as a husband, a father and a leader – roles, which he fulfilled in the best possible manner. His concern for the poor, the orphans and the weak has no parallel. For achieving all of this, he had one key personality trait – excellent listening skills.


Relationships are all about communication. When you aren’t communicating properly, it’s easy to feel frustrated, anxious and alone. Most of us focus more on speaking than listening.

Not only poor listeners are perceived as being rude, but they also miss out on important knowledge and an enjoyable bond with their family and friends.


We all carry with us preconceived notions that hinder us from being good listeners We are so preoccupied with our own thoughts and feelings that when someone talks to us, we get easily distracted and caught up in un related thoughts. Instead of hearing what the other person is saying, we focus on what we ourselves want to say next. In short, we listen for answering others, not really for making them feel heard. Let’s take a look at the qualities, which prevent us from being effective listeners.


  1. Mistrust. A major reason, why people don’t listen to anyone’s advice, is because they fear being deceived or manipulated by others; as a result, they stop listening. There are stages to being distrustful: doubt, suspicion, anxiety and fear. For example, when a colleague tries to give a genuine piece of advice, fear overshadows this act of generosity, leaving in its wake doubt, anxiety and fear. On the other hand, if we trust Allah (swt) to guide us and base our decisions on the Quran and the Sunnah, we will never have an issue of whom to trust. No fear, anxiety or self-doubt.


  1. Defensiveness. It is difficult to react positively to criticism or being proven wrong. It makes us defensive; we try and rationalize to compensate for being human – not perfect. This defensiveness hinders us from overcoming our faults, so we can seek ways to create deeper and more meaningful relationships with our family, friends and colleagues. Keep in mind: what doesn’t destroy you, only makes you stronger – thus, learning from our mistakes is wise.

    The Prophet (sa) was always open to learning and taking the advice of Sahabas, when it came to worldly matters.

    During the Battle of Khandaq, it was Salman al Farsi’s recommendation to dig the trench – the Prophet (sa) did not feel threatened by a friend offering a better strategy, even thought he was the commander in chief.


  1. Racism and Pride. The Prophet (sa) clearly taught us in his last sermon that no one is superior to one another on the basis of race and colour, but we fail to apply this basic principle in our lives. We shun away those in need. We find it hard to give them our attention, because we feel that they are beneath us and not deserving of our time. Let us remind ourselves that it was this feeling of superiority and pride that made Shaitan disobey Allah (swt), when he refused to bow down to Adam and was removed from Allah’s (swt) mercy.


We can achieve better listening skills by adopting what we learn from the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (sa). Let us take a look at what can help us become better listeners.


  1. Be a good listener. When we talk to someone, we wish to see them give us their complete and undivided attention. We wish to have our opinions and feelings understood. Likewise, when others speak to us, we should also listen to them attentively, without judgment and bias. Yes, they may be wrong, but how can we clear any misunderstandings between us, if we don’t hear them out first? ]“None of you [truly] believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” (Bukhari, Muslim)


  1. Use appropriate body language. We learn from the life of the Prophet (sa) that he was a good listener.

    It is described in the Seerah that when someone spoke to the Prophet (sa), he used to turn his whole body toward them, so that he was completely facing that person.


We often fail to adopt the proper etiquettes of listening, when interacting with people. We are distracted by our gadgets, barely nodding our heads to give a false impression that we are listening. Listening is an act, which requires not only our ears, but our entire body:

  1. Face the person, who is talking to you.
  2. Put away any distractions, such as your mobile.
  3. Be attentive and maintain eye contact, when appropriate.
  4. Give facial feedback by smiling or looking concerned.
  5. Nod your head and lean forward to make the person feel welcome.
  6. Put your arms by your sides or on your lap, do not ‘block’ the other person by crossing them in front of you.


You will be surprised by how these small changes in your body language can impact your relationships.


  1. Give the benefit of doubt. Many times negative experiences impact the way we listen to others. We tend to develop negative feelings and preconceived notions about others. Every time they speak to us, we become judgmental and refuse to listen to what they have to say. Our prejudices creep into our daily interactions, till they create rifts between us. Try to think well of the person you are talking to, regardless of the arguments you may have before.


  1. Keep calm. When someone misbehaves with us or says things that make us upset, it is test of our endurance and patience to remain good listeners. In such situations, we must remember to keep our calm. We find that the Prophet (sa) didn’t get upset very often. His patience is exemplified in the incident, where he helped the old woman carry her heavy load out of the city, while she kept calling him names.


Every single day we get plenty of opportunities to develop our listening skills. Let us keep in mind the above advice and work toward becoming better listeners.


By Ayesha Salam and Zahra Nayyer


Why is Ramadan a Special Month to Seek Repentance?


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And our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “When the first night of Ramadan comes, the devils, the demons are chained, and the gates of hell are closed- not even a single gate is opened; and the gates of heaven are opened- not even a single gate is closed, and the caller calls to the people that “O those who want to do good please come, and those who are doing evil please desist.” And, Allah (swt) ransoms His slaves, and He does that every night of Ramadan.” (Tirmidhi)

Our beloved Prophet (sa) once ascended to the pulpit for Khutba, and he said: “Ameen thrice, and the people asked ‘O messenger (sa) why? Then he (sa) said: ‘Gabriel has come to me, and said that anyone who does not have sins forgiven after Ramadan has approached, and enters hell-fire Ask Allah (swt) to keep a distance from him. And then, Gabriel says to Muhammad (sa) say Ameen’ (Tirmidhi) So he said so.

It’s unfortunate that anyone witnesses the month of Ramadan, and does not have his sins forgiven because this is the month of forgiveness.

And our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: ‘ if anyone fasts in the complete month of Ramadan with belief, and seeking the reward of Allah (swt), all his past sins will be forgiven.’ (Bukhari)

That is the reason that Ramadan is called as, the month of forgiveness.

Transcribed for Hiba Magazine by Hira Naqi



Dunya Versus Akhirah – Who’s the Winner?

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In the story of the blind men and the elephant, each of them was touching different features of the animal and had a different description for what an elephant looked like. Similarly, we humans may have various perceptions about life, based on our knowledge and experiences. However, our knowledge is too limited to grasp the entire concept of life. Our only source for knowing the ultimate truth is the revelation sent by our All-Knowing Creator (swt).

In the Quran, Allah (swt) has repeatedly reminded us about the true nature of this world and the next, so that we may live and act accordingly. Allah (swt) describes the life of this world as ‘deceiving enjoyment’, ‘fleeting pleasure’, ‘play and amusement’, and ‘temporary abode’. Whereas the hereafter is ‘better, eternal, and lasting’.

Allah (swt) mentions in the Quran: “Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children, as the likeness of vegetation after rain, thereof the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw. But in the hereafter (there is) a severe torment (for the disbelievers, evil-doers), and (there is) Forgiveness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers, good-doers), whereas the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment.” (Al-Hadeed 57:20)

He says in another Ayah: “…Are you pleased with the life of this world rather than the hereafter? But little is the enjoyment of the life of this world as compared with the hereafter.” (At-Tawbah 9:38)

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Ways to Perform Acts of Ibadah at Work

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By Saima Faisal – Freelance writer and a devoted mother of two

1. Recite the Kalimah or any Dua on your way to work. We spend at least half an hour or more commuting to our workplace. To fully utilize this particular time, make a habit of reciting the Dua as you step out of your doorway, and continue with the recitation of the Kalimah or any Quranic verse silently. Those who travel in trains or busses can open up their favourite Quran apps on their gadgets and listen to or read the recitation along with its translation. Allah (swt) will reward you for each and every effort that you do to please Him, no matter how little it may be.

2. Greet your colleagues with Salam. Maintaining cordial relations with the people around you is a major part of following the Sunnah. Upon meeting any fellow Muslim, saying “Assalamu Alaikum” is a very simple Sunnah to follow. Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Greet those whom you know and those whom you do not know.” (Bukhari)

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Inculcating the Akhirah Attitude in Children


We are living in times of Fitnah. According to Ibn al-Arabi: “Fitnah means testing, Fitnah means trial, Fitnah means wealth, Fitnah means children, Fitnah means Kufr, Fitnah means differences of opinion among people, and Fitnah means burning with fire.” (Lisan al-Arab by Ibn Manzoor)

It is the responsibility of parents to make their children focused on the Akhirah. When children are referred to as Fitnah in the Quran, it means that the parents are being tested as to how much they can keep their children Akhirah-focused and how far can they keep the Dunya from their hearts.

Before enumerating the techniques that can be helpful in teaching kids about the Hereafter, we have to look into the Marshmallow Experiment conducted on children aged four and five, which they remembered into their young adulthood. The experiment was based on delayed gratification, which is recognized by researchers as a critical skill for prosperity. Basically, the children were offered a small reward in the form of a marshmallow or a cookie and simultaneously offered two rewards if they could wait for a short period. The results indicated that those who could delay gratification due to greater self-control were found to be healthier in adulthood and had better life outcomes.


On and off, whenever children have their assessments or tests at schools, parents should find an opportunity to talk about Akhirah and the temporary nature of this life. Physical bonding with the child is extremely important; hence, a mother can embrace the child and explain the parable of this life as a test and this world as an examination hall, pointing out that that the Quran and the Sunnah are just like the syllabus to prepare. The attitude of the parent has to be so loving and kind that the children actually believe and trust the parents. If they delay gratification, or do not watch those cartoons or give up on any bad habits, they can be sure that delaying will be worth in the next life.

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Where is Usama (rtam)?


At the age of seventeen years, young Usama bin Zaid (rtam) heads an army under the newly-formed caliphate of Abu Bakr Siddiq (rtam). He was appointed by none other than the beloved Prophet (sa) while he was alive. Usama (rtam) rises to the occasion, leading much more experienced (and perhaps more pious) stalwarts in his army and successfully combats the enemy. How long has it been since we have heard of feats of leadership like that? Given today’s wondrous technology, opportunities, exposure to the world, and efforts in education, why don’t we see any Usama bin Zaid (rtam) amongst us?

My humble experience tells me that our Usamas are being raised with a different vision, and I am deeply concerned. I see their roles being reduced to that of insecure followers. They are not Iqbal’s Shaheens anymore. They are just one of the flock, and they are not trained to soar the skies. And the tragedy of it all is that they consider this to be their freedom: traversing territory already charted out for them, at times by their parents, at times by their desires, and many times by the society at large. Chances are that the higher your education level is, the more cowardly you will turn out to be because that is what the present educational system demands. It does not want free-thinking souls, liberated by their subservience to Allah (swt) alone.

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Our Kids, Our Sadaqah-e-Jariah

islami parenting- 1We always think about what will happen to us when we die? But have we ever thought about what will happen to our kids when they die? Are you confronting troubles in raising them into a productive Muslim and a Sadaqah-e-Jariah for yourself?

Here are some easy parenting tips to follow.

Inculcate Islamic routine and habits
Ever wondered how much emphasis do we put on Islamic routine? What should be our primary focus?

Make an Islamic routine for your children which may include:
a.      Teach them to stay awake after Fajr prayer (depending on the Salah times during the year).
b.      Make them read/memorize a portion of Quran daily.
c.      Make them reflect on a verse of Quran or some Hadeeth every day.
d.      Teach them to be charitable- even by smiling.
e.      Prioritize that they perform their Salah on time.
f.      Inculcate the habit of reading the Duas that Prophet (sa) used to read before going to bed, after waking up from sleep, eating etc.

Cheers for chores

We know, as Muslims, that cleanliness is half of our faith. If being clean is a large part of us being a Muslim, why not cultivate this into our children at an early age and teach them how to maintain their home and own space?  In their development, we all must play an effective role to keep both our external and internal environment clean. Someone taught a girl not to litter the ground. When she was asked why, she replied , “Why litter the ground we will be sleeping in one day?” I found her words extremely beautiful.

Make them follow Sunnah

Try to make Prophet (sa) their role model and the one whose footsteps they need to follow even while doing little tasks. Bring out positivity in them by reading to them the stories about Sahaba, and making their image everlasting in their minds. In this way, they will be able to understand our Islamic history more profoundly; they will respect our heroes and will try to act like them in their own lives as well.

Walk the talk

You cannot expect your kid to sit and learn Quran while the dad’s watching T.V and mummy’s browsing on her I pad. With the love of Quran exemplified in the parents, a young child will be attracted to sit and learn. So, first act upon what you teach them, and make them your Sadaqah-e-Jariah- the only way to earn rewards even after death.