all praise and thanks be to almighty allah and peace and blessings be upon the prophet muhammad, his family and his companions.
as the old saying go, “who do istikhara () never fail, who consult never regret.” on the other hand, they say, “who admires his opinion, goes astray”. they also say, “who clings to his opinion, is far from righteousness.”
counsel between people is a great quality promoted by islam. we will tackle this trait in detail insha’allah.
the meaning of counsel:
counsel is to consult and ask the opinion of the wise and insightful people, it is to seek their advice so that to reach the right decision by knowing righteousness and avoiding faultiness.
to seek counsel in islam is only in matters that are not ordered by allah, meaning that there is no divine command from almighty allah concerning them, and also by prophet muhammad (peace be upon him). so, there should be no counsel in a matter that is settled according to a religious text, whether the qur’an or the sunnah (prophetic teachings).
the status of counsel:
* almighty allah makes counseling a trait of the muslims and also it is of the same status as praying and giving charity. allah says in the qur’an: “and the ones who have responded to their lord, and kept up the prayer, and their command is counsel between them, and they expend of what we have provided them.” (ashura: 38)
* counsel is a quality in the character of the prophet muhammad (peace be upon him). despite the fact that he was the wisest and most insightful human and he was also supported by the divine revelation, he consulted his companions in every matter. narrated abu hurira (ra): “i have never seen anyone more consulting with his companions than allah’s apostle, peace be upon him.”
* ruling in islam is based on three basic foundations: justice, equality and counsel. this reflects the great rank of counsel in islam.
what are the qualities of the counselor?
the decisive character has to consult an insightful, wise and smart person to help him take the best decision. scholars put five conditions that qualify the counselor as follows:
1- to have a clever mind and previous experience. some said: “consult those who tried things before, they give you priceless experience for free.”
2- to have knowledge, piety and belief. abn abbas (ra) said: “who wants to decide about a certain matter and consults a muslim, allah will guide him to the wisest decision.”
3- to be friendly and willing to advise. the people who are amiable, friendly and willing to advise are honest and loyal in their advice. al qurtubi said: “the counselor description is to be wise, experienced, warm-hearted and welcoming towards the person who seeks his consultation.”
4- to have a sound free thinking without any heavy concerns or worries. whoever has a busy concerned mind of many matters, will not give the wisest opinion.
5- to be impartial without having any interest or inclination about the matter. passions and wants drive the counselor away from giving an honest advice.
the fruits of counsel:
1- the person seeks the consultation of people by asking their opinions will never regret it. almighty allah will lead him to goodness and righteousness.
2- counsel benefits the one who seeks advice, as this way he learns from the experiences of others by profiting from their minds. this helps him avoid errors and damages and stay on the right track.
3- counsel brings hearts together and strengthens bonds.
4- counsel helps to coordinate efforts, benefit from potentials and avoid wasting them.
5- counsel bans oppression and dictatorship as matters will not be settled based on one person’s mind, rather on a group of the finest minds in the society.
6- counsel promotes for freedom of expression.
the muslim consults the wise and smart people to advise him about his matters and decisions, but before anyone else, he seeks the help of his creator, almighty allah. we seek him in each and every matter, when we feel confused or lost. we ask his guidance and help. the prophet muhammad (peace be upon him) taught us the istikhara prayer. when a person intends to do something, e.g. marry someone, buy some property or undertake a journey, etc. he should perform two rakaats of salah and thereafter, recite the following dua:
“allâhumma inni astakhiruka bi ilmika wa astaqdiruka biqudratika wa as’aluka min fadlikal-azimi, fa innaka taqdiru walâ aqdiru wa ta'lamu walâ a'lamu wa anta allamul ghuyâbi. allâhumma in kunta ta'lamu anna hâdhal amra khayrun li fi dini wa ma-ashi wa aqibati amri faqdir-hu li wa yassir-hu li thumma barik li fihi wa in kunta ta'lamu anna hâdhal amra shari-un li fi dini wa maâshi wa aqibati amri fasrifhu anni wasrifni anhu waqdir liyal-khayra haythu kâna thumma ardini bihi.”
“0 allah, i ask of you the good through your knowledge and i ask you to grant me ability through your power and beg your favor of infinite bounty, for surely, you have power and i have none, you know all and i know nothing and you are the knower of all that is hidden. 0 allah if in your knowledge, this matter be good for my faith (din), my livelihood and the consequences of my affairs in the world and the hereafter, then ordain it for me and facilitate it from me and grant me blessing in it. but, f in your knowledge this matter is bad for my faith, my livelihood and the consequences of my affairs in the world and the hereafter, then turn it away from me and turn me away from it and ordain for me the good wherever it be, and cause me to be pleased with it.”
the muslim should always perform istikhara prayer, to ask allah’s guidance in all his matters to lead him to the best decision.
may allah guide us all to the goodness and help us be of those who follow the best of what they listen to.
() istikhara: to seek goodness from allah (exalted is he), meaning when one intends to do an important task they do istikhara before the task. the one who does the istikhara prays to almighty allah, the knower of unseen (exalted is he), to guide him to the best decision, i.e. to do the task or not.