Why Did I End Up in Pain Even after Following the Istikhara?

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

My friend met a man at work, and they had to interact a lot, and she was getting too comfortable with him. So she made du’a the next time they had to interact, “Ya Allah, please do not attach my heart to this man if he is not meant for me.” Since then, they got close, and he proposed to her. They prayed istikhara and got engaged smoothly. Six months later, his mother changed her mind and asked him to pray istikhara about another girl. He obeyed her and felt optimistic about it. Now both families are verbally committed but not yet engaged. My friend is devastated. How could this happen after she sought Allah’s guidance?

Answer

Sister, your friend did the right thing by following her istikhara. I know this isn’t easy to digest, but following one’s istikhara does not ensure a perfect life. It doesn’t even guarantee that a couple will stay together forever. Let’s take a closer look at the du’a itself.

“O Allah, verily I seek the better [of either choice] from You, by Your knowledge, and I seek ability from You, by Your power, and I ask You from Your immense bounty. For indeed You have power, and I am powerless; You have the knowledge, and I know not; You are the Knower of the unseen realms. O Allah, if You know that this matter is good for me about my religion, livelihood, and the end of my affair, then decree it for me, facilitate it for me, and grant me a blessing. And if You know that this matter is not good for me about my religion, my livelihood, and the end of my affair, then turn it away from me and me from it; and decree for me better than it, wherever it may be, and make me content with it.” [Bukhari]

One seeks the better choice of two, from Allah’s guidance, according to what is better for one’s religion, livelihood, and the end of one’s affair. One is seeking that which is conducive to living their religion correctly, fulfilling material obligations in this world, and producing the testification of Faith on their lips at the time of death, pleasing their Lord.

One is not asking for a picture-perfect life with a picket fence without complications and problems. One is asking for that which leads one to save one’s hereafter.

As such, Allah Most High may want your friend to experience this pain for the greater good that is to come. He may wish for this failure to occur for her to succeed later. There is countless hidden wisdom in going through this pain. Maybe Allah Most High knew that he was terrible for her but knew that she couldn’t let go of him unless done this way. Perhaps he is saving her from a difficult mother-in-law. The possibilities are endless.

Ultimately, you and I cannot determine the answer to this question. Our job is to trust Allah and believe He wanted it to unravel this way. If we occupy ourselves trying to figure out Allah’s motives for something, we lose the true meaning of servanthood. The early Muslims used to explain destiny by saying that “it means knowing what was going to hit was never going to miss and what was going to miss was never going to hit.”

Check this course and article:
Why We Suffer: Understanding The Problem of Evil, Tribulations, and Suffering
Suffering and Divine Wisdom

I pray that Allah Most High makes it easy for your friend, increasing her faith and trust in Allah. I am sure that the right person will come; she should be prepared to receive him when he does, by the grace of Allah.

[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqida, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.