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9 August 2014

How to perform Salat-l-Istikhara

Anytime a Muslim is making a decision, he or she should seek Allah’s guidance and wisdom. Allah alone knows what is best for us, and there may be good in what we perceive as bad, and bad in what we perceive as good.
If you are ambivalent or unsure about a decision you have to make, there is a specific prayer for guidance (Salat-l-Istikhara) that you can do to ask for Allah’s help in making your decision. Should you marry this certain person? Should you attend this graduate school? Should you take this job offer or that one? Allah knows what is best for you, and if you are not sure about a choice that you have, seek His guidance.
Salat al-Istikhara is a powerful tool that Allah has given us to ask His guidance in all matters. We should not hesitate to pray Istikhara before making any choice in our lives, big or small.
It’s important to do this prayer with sincerity, knowing in our hearts that only Allah can give us the guidance we seek, and resolved to follow the guidance He gives us, even if it clashes with our own desires.
We should also say the dua with firm conviction, not begging or pleading, but asking Allah clearly for guidance.
And we should not be impatient after our dua. We do not put Allah on a timetable. And we should not expect some sort of miracle, or a dream full of signs and symbols. These things are not necessary. We simply say our prayers and trust that Allah has heard us and will answer us in the way that is best.
Salat-l-Istikhara is described in the Hadith narration below.
Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah: The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam used to teach us the way of doing istikhara (istikhara means to ask Allah to guide one to the right sort of action concerning any job or a deed), in all matters as he taught us the Surats of the Quran. He said, “If anyone of you thinks of doing any job he should offer a two Rakat prayer other than the compulsory ones and say (after the prayer):

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْتَخِيرُكَ بِعِلْمِكَ وَأَسْتَقْدِرُكَ بِقُدْرَتِكَ وَأَسْأَلُكَ مِنْ فَضْلِكَ الْعَظِيمِ فَإِنَّكَ تَقْدِرُ وَلَا أَقْدِرُ وَتَعْلَمُ وَلَا أَعْلَمُ وَأَنْتَ عَلَّامُ الْغُيُوبِ اللَّهُمَّ إِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الْأَمْرَ خَيْرٌ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي فَاقْدُرْهُ لِي وَيَسِّرْهُ لِي ثُمَّ بَارِكْ لِي فِيهِ وَإِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الْأَمْرَ شَرٌّ فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي فَاصْرِفْهُ عَنِّي وَاصْرِفْنِي عَنْهُ وَاقْدُرْ لِيَ الْخَيْرَ حَيْثُ كَانَ ثُمَّ ارْضِنِي بِهِ

‘Allahumma inni astakhiruka bi’ilmika, Wa astaqdiruka bi-qudratika, Wa as’alaka min fadlika al-’azlm Fa-innaka taqdiru Wala aqdiru, Wa ta’lamu Wala a’lamu, Wa anta ‘allamu l-ghuyub. Allahumma, in kunta ta’lam anna hadha-l-amra Khairun li fi dini wa ma’ashi wa’aqibati amri (or ‘ajili amri wa’ajilihi) Faqdirhu wa yas-sirhu li thumma barik li Fihi, Wa in kunta ta’lamu anna hadha-lamra shar-run li fi dini wa ma’ashi wa’aqibati amri (or fi’ajili amri wa ajilihi) Fasrifhu anni was-rifni anhu. Waqdir li al-khaira haithu kana Thumma ardini bihi.’
(O Allah! I ask guidance from Your knowledge, And Power from Your Might and I ask for Your great blessings. You are capable and I am not. You know and I do not and You know the unseen. O Allah! If You know that this job is good for my religion and my subsistence and in my Hereafter–(or said: If it is better for my present and later needs)–Then You ordain it for me and make it easy for me to get, And then bless me in it, and if You know that this job is harmful to me In my religion and subsistence and in the Hereafter–(or said: If it is worse for my present and later needs)–Then keep it away from me and let me be away from it. And ordain for me whatever is good for me, And make me satisfied with it). The Prophet added that then the person should name (mention) his need.
Sahih Al-Bukhari – Book 21 Hadith 263

* When making the dua, the actual matter or decision should be mentioned instead of the words “hathal-amra” (“this matter”).
What needs to be noted is that the answer to one’s istikhara prayer does not come simply in the form of dreams and feelings but in how Allah facilitates and unfolds events for an individual after he or she genuinely strives to do what is best.
Take the most effective means, which includes consulting those whose knowledge and wisdom one has confidence in, and place your trust in Allah.

Lastly, one needs to be patient in terms of receiving the answer to their prayers. Remember the words of our Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam, “The supplication of everyone is granted as long as he does not show haste and does not say that he made a supplication but it was not accepted.” [Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah]

And Allah knows best, He is the All-Seeing, All-Hearing, the best Planner. May He guide us and ease all our difficulties. Ameen.

Can Quran be read in non Arabic languages?


Can we read and write the Qur‘ān in any other language other than Arabic? 

Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh

Thank you for your question.

Reading and writing the Qur‘ān in translation or transliteration is permissible. 

It should be noted that the original Qur‘ān as the divine Speech of Allāh will always remain in Arabic. It is not permissible in any way shape or form to modify or change these original letters and words of the Qur‘ān. The Qur‘ān was revealed in Arabic and has always been preserved in Arabic. 

Muslims should try their utmost to learn Arabic to recite and understand the Qur‘ān in the language of its revelation. 

“We, Ourselves, have sent down the Dhikr (the Qur’ān), and We are there to protect it.” (Qur‘ān 15:9)

“We have sent it down, as an Arabic Qur’ān, so that you may understand.” (Qur‘ān 12:2)

And Allah knows best.

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Badat
Hadith of the Day Imam
Imam of the Islamic Foundation of Toronto and Director of Mathabah Institute

8 August 2014

What is Islam?

Islam is about…

Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. Indeed, one out of every five persons on this earth is a Muslim. There are nearly 3 million Muslims living in United Kingdom and the number is growing. Yet, unfortunately, Islam is also the most misunderstood religion. Muslims live in different parts of the world ranging from China to Argentina, Russia to South Africa. The country with the largest Muslim population is Indonesia.
Islam means the active submission to the one God. It is strictly a monotheistic religion since it restricts worship to the one supreme Lord who is the Originator and Creator of the universe. Peace (the root from which the word Islam is derived) is attained through complete obedience to the commandments of God, for God is the source of all peace. Muslims are those who believe in one God and in Muhammad as the final Prophet of God. They devote their lives to the service of God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.
Islam teaches that God (called Allah in Arabic) is the source of all creation and that human beings are the best of His creation. He communicates by inspiring them towards goodness and by sending Prophets who deliver God’s message. Muslims believe that the first Prophet was Adam followed by a long chain of Prophets to guide humanity. The Qur’an, according to Muslim belief, is the word of God revealed to Prophet Muhammad. It mentions many other Prophets like Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, Jacob, Joseph and Jesus. All the Prophets brought the same message, i.e., belief in one God, upright human conduct and belief in the accountability of human acts at the end of time.
Islam is the final religion revealed to human beings through the last Prophet who was called Muhammad. He was born in Mecca (in Saudi Arabia) in the year 570 A.D. Muhammad was a very truthful and honest person. He was also very pious and detested the moral decadence of his society. At the age of forty, God asked him, through the angel Gabriel, to proclaim the religion of Islam publicly. God’s message to humanity was delivered in the Qur’an which was revealed to Muhammad. The Qur’an, which is the holy book for Muslims, contains 114 chapters (called Suras). Muslims believe that it is the pure word of God, unadulterated over 14 centuries. It deals with issues that affect human beings in their earthly lives; issues like piety, upright human conduct, worship, the creation of a just and virtuous society and the practice of ethics.
Islam has two major schools of thought – the Shi’a and the Sunni. The Sunnis believe that the community selected its own leader after Prophet Muhammad’s death whereas the Shi’as believe that the Prophet had appointed ‘Ali, by divine will, to be his successor. Leadership is thus divinely designated. It is to be noted that both the Sunnis and the Shi’as are united in their major beliefs i.e., they believe in the same God, the same book, the same Prophets and pray in the same direction. The differences are mainly theological and jurisprudential.

The Teachings of Islam

Islam teaches that human beings are born pure and sinless. No one is responsible for, or can take responsibility for the sins of others. The doors of forgiveness are always open for those who repent sincerely. God continuously reminds us in the Qur’an of His infinite mercy and compassion. Muslims are enjoined to maintain inner spiritual purity through constant remembrance and prayer to God. Islam balances the spiritual dimension by emphasizing human responsibility. Human beings are created with a purpose. Attainment of piety is but one dimension of such purpose; playing an active role in the creation of a just society is another. Because Muslims attach importance to what happens in this world, they have made substantial contributions to the development of science, medicine, mathematics, physics, astronomy, geography and literature.
Muslims like Avicenna and Averroes have played major roles in the advancement of science in the West. The first university in the world was established by Imam Jafar Al-Sadiq in Madina, Arabia. Many crucial systems such as the Arabic numerals, algebra, the first map of the globe and navigational maps were developed by Muslims and adopted by the medieval Europeans.
Apart from human responsibility, Islam also teaches human accountability. The final destination of human beings is the hereafter. Muslims believe that, at the end of time, all human beings will be resurrected to account for their deeds. Those who have performed righteous deeds will be rewarded with eternal bliss in heaven and those who have performed evil acts will be punished in hell.

Islam and War

The concept of jihad (wrongly translated as holy war) refers to the duty of Muslims to struggle for their faith and the welfare of the Muslim community. The Qur’an does not permit aggression against anyone and Prophet Muhammad propagated his message in a peaceful manner. Warfare is permitted only in self-defence. However, it must be noted that people only resort to violence when their basic human rights are violated and when all attempts at peaceful settlement are thwarted.

Islam and Human Rights

Islam teaches that human beings have a moral obligation to live in harmony with one another.Islam also recognizes and accords rights to all human beings regardless of race, color or creed. Islam requires its followers to show respect and tolerance even to those who do not share their faith. Prophet Muhammad said: “God has no mercy on one who shows no mercy to others”.
Freedom of conscience is guaranteed by the Qur’an itself. It states: “There is no compulsion in religion” (2:256). Islamic law stipulates that Muslims should protect the status of minorities.
Therefore the life and property of all citizens in an Islamic state are considered sacred, whether a person is a Muslim or not. Because of this, non-Muslim places of worship have survived and flourished all over the Muslim world. Islam further encourages Muslims to respect the rights of all living things. Therefore, Muslims are required to be conscious of the environment and are not allowed to cause harm to nature.
It is important to realize that far from being extremists and fanatics, Muslims are peaceful and law abiding citizens of the countries in which they live. This stance is derived directly from the Qur’an which states: “O human beings, We have created you from one male and female (Adam & Eve), and we have created you as different tribes and nations so that you may know each other” (49:13).

Islam and Women

Muslim women have all the rights of their male counterparts. Islam granted full rights to women fourteen hundred years ago. Muslim women may own and dispose property; they may work, exercise voting powers and exercise numerous other rights freely without constraints. More so, Muslim women cannot be forced to marry against their will.
To preserve chastity, respect and moral values in society, Muslim men and women are required to dress in a manner which is considered modest and dignified. Women are asked to cover their hair and wear loose clothing. The diversity of female dress in some Muslim countries is often the expression of local customs.
Since Islam is a universal religion, it is easy to become a Muslim. One has to believe and affirm that “There is no god but God and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God”.


1. The Oneness of Allah (Tawheed)
This goes without saying and is the absolute foundation of our religion.  I told them if they forget all of my other points to remember this.  While this point is simple, it is vast, and it is all that is important in our lives.  This means that He subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has no partners; He did not beget nor was He begotten.  He has no parents, He has no daughter, and He has no son.  We worship Him alone.  He is the One Creator, the One Sustainer, and in His hands are all things.  He introduces Himself to us in the Qur'an and we learn about Him through His names and attributes.  He is the Compassionate, the Merciful.
Only after someone has accepted this should they ask what Allah wants from them.  I don't even mention things that are mandatory or forbidden, because without believing that Allah is worthy of worship, the fact that they should eat with their right hand or avoid pork is irrelevant to them.
2. Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is the Final Messenger
Okay, so if they can remember two of the five points, then this is definitely the other one.  The first two, I explained, are a testament of faith.  If someone wants to accept Islam, then they declare points one and two and they become one who submits – a Muslim.
The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is the final messenger in a long chain of messengers.  They include the same ones that they probably believe in – Adam, Noah, Moses, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, and the list goes on and on (peace be upon them).  The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was the seal of these prophets.  He came with the same message as those who came before him.  The uniqueness about him is that being the seal of prophet hood, his life is documented like no other man in the history of the world.  That's how we follow his way.  The Muslim strives to emulate him, as he was a perfect example for us in his life, ethics, and conduct, as he was, as his wife Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) described him – “a living Qur'an.”  He was loved by all those who knew him.  He was, as he told us, sent to perfect good manners.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) teaches us that while Allah has rights, people also have rights upon us.  We will not only be judged by how we worshipped, but how we treated humanity and God's creation.  And he was a perfect example of that.  He is an inspiration to everyone who learns about his life, and the more you know about him, the more you will love him.
3. Islam is the Religion Meant for All People until the End of Time
I remember watching a debate between a Muslim and a Christian scholar many years ago, where the Christian asked the Muslim that if God is all Powerful, why couldn't He send the religion down at one time for all of humanity.  Why would He have to send it again with Islam if it was already revealed?  I wasn't very satisfied with the response, but as Allah so often does, within a few days I accidentally came across the answer while reading a book by imam Ibn Taymiyyah raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him). Allah sent every nation a prophet.  That prophet had a message to deliver to those specific people for that specific time.  It was never meant for all of humanity.  That's why when people tried to force those religions for everyone, there was absolutely no method for preservation.  Religions changed; messages changed; scriptures changed.
Islam is the final religion and the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) the final prophet and messenger.  Other prophets had miracles that they performed.  Moses parted the sea; Jesus raised the dead.  But those miracles were for those who were there to witness them.  Sure, we can try to imagine them, but unless you were there it's not the same.  That is more proof that it was meant specifically for their people.  While the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)did perform some miracles, his most important miracle is the Qur'an.  Not just the beauty of it, the vastness of it, the completeness of it, but the preservation of it.   If every Qur'an on earth disappeared, it could easily be duplicated because it is in our hearts and not just on paper.  That is part of the preservation of our religion.  The preservation of the Qur'an in its original form is proof,  by itself, that Islam is the final religion, meant for all of humanity, until the end of time.  It is the word of God in its original form, verbatim.  It is not an interpretation by any human being or a historical account of events.  Within this book, God addresses humanity directly and describes the path that leads to Him.
4. Jesus 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was a Prophet of Allah
Not just any prophet, but from among the five elite prophets.  His name is mentioned in the Qur'an five times more than that of “Muhammad”.  We believe in his original message; we believe in his miracles, and we believe in his return to earth before the end of days.  His status is no different than that of the other great prophets.  One thing I challenge people with is to ask if they follow the religion of Abraham and other prophets.  If Jesus was born after all of these prophets, how could any of them have worshipped him?  Scientists say that humans have been on earth for over 200,000 years.  Jesus 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was put on earth just 2,000 years ago – just 1% of that time.  How can just those who were born in that 1% of time achieve salvation through him, and those who don't accept him as God be destined to the hellfire?  Do we have a different scale to be judged on the humanity that lived in 99% of time since the beginning?
I explain that back in my college days when people asked what Islam says about Jesus, I would tell them to read the Chapter of Mary in the Qur'an and to start from verse 16 when Allah (swt] relates to us the story of Mary and the miraculous birth of Jesus.  It wasn't until years later that as I was reading the beginning of the chapter that I realized that I missed the entire point of the first 15 verses – the story of Zachariah.  Zachariah whispers a prayer to God –

“My Lord, my bones are weak, my hair is grey, but you've never let me down when I prayed to you.  I fear evil from my kinsmen after I'm gone.  My wife is barren.  So grant us a child.” [Surah Maryam, Verse 4-5]
Allah responds that He will grant him a child named Yahya (John).  Yet after this beautiful prayer that Zachariah makes, knowing that God always answers his prayers, he says:
“My Lord, how can we have a son when my wife is barren and I've reached extremely old age?” [Surah Maryam, Verse 8]
And Allah answers him:
“So shall it be.  Your Lord says – It is easy for Me.  For beyond a doubt, I created you before and you were nothing.” [Surah Maryam, Verse 9]
There it is.  Allah has now set us up for the miracle birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary.  Allah can grant a child to an elderly couple.  He can create Adam from nothing, and Eve from his rib.  Not only that, but every single one of our births is a miracle.  Just because we think we can explain something scientifically doesn't make it less than a miracle.  And just as Yahya's birth was a miracle, so was Zachariah's.  And just as Allah created Zachariah out of nothing, He is about to tell you in the upcoming verses how He did the same with Jesus.  And it was just as easy for Him.
5. We Will Have Accountability for Our Actions
In this world when someone commits a crime, we want nothing less than justice.  If someone murders people, harms someone, cheats, or steals, then we desire justice and want nothing short of it.  Why then would God, the Most Just, accept less than that?  And just as we would not accept someone committing a crime and a different person being sentenced to death for that crime, why would the Most Just allow someone else to die for our sins?  And if that were the case, what is the purpose of this life?
“Allah created death and life to test us which of us is best in deeds…” [Surah Al-Mulk, Verse 2]
We have no guarantees of where we will end up.  We have to keep striving.  There is a Day of Judgment and we will all stand before Allah with our book of deeds and be held accountable for our own actions.  There is a paradise and a hellfire.  They are eternal and everlasting.  And while there is accountability and ultimate Justice on that Day, it's important to note that Allah is the Most Merciful and Forgiving.  We will not earn Paradise by our deeds alone, but Allah has reserved most of His Mercy for humanity for the Day of Judgment, which transcends any notion of mercy that we could possibly imagine.
As I spoke about accountability to the church group, someone stopped me and asked me what paradise was like in Islam.  I narrated to them the hadith of the last person to enter into Paradise.  I told them it was what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no heart could imagine.  I gave them descriptions of gardens beneath which rivers flow, the palaces of paradise, the structures, the changing colors, the gold, the silver, the pearls, having all that you can wish for, the marketplace, the presence of the Prophets, the silk garments, the throne of Allah which would be the roof of paradise, the Light of Allah and His presence, and even with that we still can't imagine it.  When I was done, they all had smiles on their faces, and the person next to me in our circle took a breath and asked, “How do I get there?”  I told him – “You may not like what I'm about to tell you, but you have to worship Allah alone; associating no partners with him and no son.  You strive to do what's right and while I cannot even guarantee anything then, you will at least be on the right way.”  He smiled, nodded, and thanked me.
He then emailed me to thank me on behalf of their church group and said, “Many of us, including myself, were challenged last night.”  As a Muslim, it is only our duty to share with the world the beauty that we have been given.  It is time that we define ourselves.  And these interactions are the best way to do it.
And Allah knows best.

Q02. If a man is allowed to have more than one wife, then why does Islam prohibit a woman from having more than one husband?

If a man is allowed to have more than one wife, then why does Islam prohibit a woman from having more than one husband?
A lot of people, including some Muslims, question the logic of allowing Muslim men to have more than one spouse while denying the same ‘right’ to women.
Let me first state emphatically, that the foundation of an Islamic society is justice and equity. Allah has created men and women as equal, but with different capabilities and different responsibilities. Men and women are different, physiologically and psychologically. Their roles and responsibilities are different. Men and women are equal in Islam, but not identical.
Surah Nisa’ Chapter 4 verses 22 to 24 gives the list of women with who you can not marry and it is further mentions in Surah Nisa’ Chapter 4 verse 24 “Also (prohibited are) women already married”
The following points enumerate the reasons why polyandry is prohibited in Islam:
1.   If a man has more than one wife, the parents of the children born of such marriages can easily be identified. The father as well as the mother can easily be identified. In case of a woman marrying more than one husband, only the mother of the children born of such marriages will be identified and not the father. Islam gives tremendous importance to the identification of both parents, mother and father. Psychologists tell us that children who do not know their parents, especially their father undergo severe mental trauma and disturbances. Often they have an unhappy childhood. It is for this reason that the children of prostitutes do not have a healthy childhood. If a child born of such wedlock is admitted in school, and when the mother is asked the name of the father, she would have to give two or more names! I am aware that recent advances in science have made it possible for both the mother and father to be identified with the help of genetic testing. Thus this point which was applicable for the past may not be applicable for the present.
2.   Man is more polygamous by nature as compared to a woman.
3.   Biologically, it is easier for a man to perform his duties as a husband despite having several wives. A woman, in a similar position, having several husbands, will not find it possible to perform her duties as a wife. A woman undergoes several psychological and behavioral changes due to different phases of the menstrual cycle.
4.   A woman who has more than one husband will have several sexual partners at the same time and has a high chance of acquiring venereal or sexually transmitted diseases which can also be transmitted back to her husband even if all of them have no extra-marital sex. This is not the case in a man having more than one wife, and none of them having extra-marital sex.
The above reasons are those that one can easily identify. There are probably many more reasons why Allah, in His Infinite Wisdom, has prohibited polyandry.
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