Answered by Ustadha Sulma Badrudduja
Question: I was working with a Catholic man and he has expressed an interest in becoming a Muslim, and wanting to marry me. He used to go to the mosque and was very close to becoming Muslim but his strict Catholic family didnt allow him to. Even when he said he accepted all the Islamic tenets, he couldnt deny Jesus dying on the cross. The last few months he again expressed an interest in becoming a Muslim and marrying me. I made a lot of supplication and prayed istikhara many times as I feel he would make an excellent Muslim and husband. He is very pious, chaste, and charitable, and unfortunately I have allowed myself to form an attachment to this man. He has now moved abroad for a new job. To me this seems like a clear sign from Allah in answer to my istikhara that this man wasn’t for me. But how does one really know for sure if there istikhara has been answered?
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I hope this message reaches you in the best of states inshaAllah. May Allah reward you for being concerned and seeking understanding in these matters of your life and may He guide you to that which is best for you in your religion, life, and hereafter.
It is not clear from your question whether the man has actually become Muslim or not. In either case, it is important to know that while you can make du`a that Allah guides him to Islam and brings you both together in marriage, you should not form an emotional attachment to him. Since this has unfortunately already happened, you need to realize that Allah does not want this of you and He only dislikes for His servants that which is harmful for them. Having conviction in this will help you to ease the pain in your heart and release your attachment to this man inshaAllah.
You should discontinue contact with the man in a polite manner suitable to the situation, since remaining in contact with him is not benefiting you. Please consider asking a Muslim male you trust, such as your brother or an Imam in the community, to keep contact with him in order that he has access to answers about Islam. Perhaps an Imam can explain to him the appropriate understanding of the Prophet Jesus (may Allah grant him peace) in Islam. Accepting that Jesus (may Allah grant him peace) did not die on the cross is something that is known by necessity to be a part of the religion. Allah says in unequivocal terms in the Qur’an:
“…and they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but so it was made to appear to them. And those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no knowledge, but only conjecture to follow. Of a surety they killed him not. Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself. And Allah is Exalted in Power and Wise.” [Al-Nisā’, 156-157]
Since his embracing of Islam and its tenets is a prerequisite to him being a potential husband for you, and it not clear that he is Muslim, it would not be proper to pray istikhara regarding marrying him, as you cannot supplicate for or seek guidance in something that is unlawful. Give the situation some time in order to allow yourself to pull out of the situation, physically (by involving someone you trust to sort out the man’s beliefs) and emotionally. Continue during this time to ask Allah for what is good for you. Then reevaluate the situation and move from there.
Regarding istikhara: The istikhara is a prayer in which one seeks guidance and good from Allah in a particular matter. This guidance and good as unfold on the plane of worldly causes and effects, not merely dreams and feelings – meaning that Allah facilitates what is best for one if one genuinely supplicates for the good and strives to do what is best. As Shaykh Faraz Rabbani describes,
“the sunna regarding actions is two-fold: (a) one takes the best and most effective of means; and (b) one places one’s trust and reliance on Allah. The istikhara is primarily related to the latter. It in no way negates one’s duty to take the proper steps in choosing a marriage partner of finding out the relevant details related to their worldly and religious life, their character, conduct, and personality.”
The hadith that you mentioned contains the Prophetic guidance to not despair in Allah’s mercy and to have conviction in His wishing well for us and His ultimate wisdom. If the slave truly understands their slavehood to Allah, they will never abandon supplicating to Him, because it is a manifestation of the realization of their poverty-stricken state and Allah’s supreme Richness, Completeness and Generosity. Supplication is furthermore an answer to Allah’s request, “…and call upon Me, I will answer you…” [Surat Ghafir, 60]. However, one has to know that Allah’s answering of a prayer comes in different forms. Likewise the answer of our istikhara can be in a form that we do not anticipate. Allah may respond to one’s supplications by giving one what was supplicated for, or by withholding it in order to store up good for them in the Hereafter, or by withholding evil from one in his life. In a similar hadith the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) says,
“There is not upon the face of this earth a Muslim who calls upon Allah with a supplication except that Allah gives it to them or withholds from him a harm commensurate in measure [the the good he was seeking], as long as does not ask for the sinful or severing of kinship.” [Al-Tirmidhi]
May Allah guide you and us to that in which His pleasure lies.
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani