Life is a journey of decisions. But what is a decision? The Oxford dictionary states that it is the conclusion or resolution after consideration. Since pre-teens we start taking responsibility for our decisions because we understand the consequences. Innocent children of tender age are not responsible for their decisions because they do not yet have that understanding.
In our lives we must have taken millions of decisions from “which socks to wear” to “which multi-million-dollar expenditure option do I approve from my staff.” “Do I agree to marry this girl?”; “Do I study engineering at university or not?; “Do I join company A or B?” ; “Do I buy this house or that?” Many mundane or complex issues require decisions… but how to consider before deciding? Do I go left or right?
Throughout our lives we have taken decisions which have material or worldly gain. But when we look back do we regret some of them? Did we decide to do things which caused heartache or pain to ourselves or others? Did we end up losing as a result of the decision? As Muslims we are told to seek help from Allah in all our affairs.
Decision-making is a critical aspect that requires Allah’s guidance as He knows what we do not. Moreover, we may have made decisions where our intentions were not pure or where we had hidden agendas or were being selfish. Reflecting back we feel regret and know that Islam is about ethics-based decisions bound by the lawful and unlawful. We seek forgiveness for the bad decisions we took.
In this fast-paced world sometimes we do not consider enough. What I am about to do – is it acceptable in front of Allah? Am I compromising my deen by doing something? Am I trying to justify the decision by saying that it’s not all bad? When we seek to reflect in the quietness of our own thoughts often as we grow older and wiser…we seek Allah’s mercy and guidance to help us take the right decisions.
We pray Istikhaara now whereas in the past we didn’t. We consult (Shura’aa) now when didn’t used to. We beseech the Almighty to give us what He knows is best (Khair). Yes, we know we have not taken some decisions in the right way in our lives but we also know that Allah can open our hearts with His light and mercy. We are weak and helpless without Him.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) came to teach the Book of Allah – the Quran – and Wisdom. This is mentioned in several places in the Quran (Al-Baqarah 2:129, 151, and 231; Al Imran 3:164; An-Nisaa’ 4:113; Al-Ahzab 33:34; Al-Jumu’ah 62:2). The Quran does not contain the rules only, but also the wisdom. It gives us practical rules and guidelines for making ethical decisions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a master decision-maker. However, for all his decisions he turned to Allah… If the greatest of Allah’s creations could not take decisions without turning to Allah then what about the rest of mankind? We definitely need to! This Ramadan is a month of supplication and the month of seeking forgiveness for all the wrong decisions which led to wrong actions and sometimes sins.
Dua for istikhara (decision making)
O Allah, 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 Allah, 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).” (In Bukhaari, Saheeh 1166).
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By Ali Abubacker