Bismillah. A couple of weeks before the start of the semester and, in fact, during Ramadhan, I had to face, what I would consider one of the most stressful situations that I’d ever come across-choosing courses for the next year. Unlike many majors, the Biology program is pretty flexible when it comes to choosing the Bio courses of your choice-but, as good as that sounds, it’s like your brain is choosing its opponent in the memory game. Besides, the hassle of selecting which difficult course you’d like to memorize learn, there’s the stress of getting into the course of your choice, and then, finding the right time that fits your schedule-and I can go on about this.
Anyways, this was one of the difficulties that I’ve had to face, which literally feels like your thoughts are eating you away day after day until you finally come to a decision.
How I coped with this, and I’m still learning, is by praying Salat-ul-istikharah (seeking Allah’s counsel).
Jabir bin Abdullah said: “The prophet (Peace be upon him) used to teach us to seek Allah’s counsel in all matters, and as when he would teach us a surah from the Qur’an.” He would say: “When anyone of you has an important matter to decide, let him pray two rak’ahs other than the obligatory prayer, and then say:
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 الْأَمْرُ خَيْرٌ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي فَاقْدُرْهُ لِي وَيَسِّرْهُ لِي ثُمَّ بَارِكْ لِي فِيهِ وَإِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الْأَمْرَ شَرٌّ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي فَاصْرِفْهُ عَنِّي وَاصْرِفْنِي عَنْهُ وَاقْدِرْ لِيَ الْخَيْرَ حَيْثُ كَانَ ثُمَّ ارْضِنَيْ بِهِ
“O Allah, I consult You as You are All-Knowing and I appeal to You to give me power as You are Omnipotent, I ask You for Your great favor, for You have power and I do not, and You know all of the hidden matters . O Allah ! If you know that this matter (then the person reciting the du’a should mention the matter for which he is seeking Allah’s Guidance) is good for me in my religion, my livelihood, and for my life in the Hereafter, (or he said: ‘for my present and future life,’) then make it (easy) for me. And if you know that this matter is not good for me in my religion, my livelihood and my life in the Hereafter, (or he said: ‘for my present and future life,’) then keep it away from me and take me away from it and choose what is good for me wherever it is and please me with it.” (Bukhari)
When you are unsure about a decision, whether it’s related to school, work, family, the best counsel you can seek is from the one who is aware of your affairs, good and bad, Allah. Should you take this course? Should you work at that place? It’s important that we consult Allah and ask for help when we don’t know which way to turn, regardless of how big or small your problems may seem. Also, it’s possible that we may decide something with our heart because it’s something that we love, and neglect the logic. Allah is well aware of what’s good for us, likes and dislikes aside. Although, we avoid the bitterness of medicine, we should also be aware of the hidden remedy that we are turning away
After praying salat-ul istikhara, we need to learn to be patient, because Allah has heard us. We need to trust Allah’s judgement and, with, full faith believe that Allah will help us. There’s no need to expect signs or symbols, rather Allah will help us when it’s best. As Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) mentions:
“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]
Lastly, not only was I able to get into courses that I liked, but I also got into courses with Profs that actually made the content enjoyable. I also ended up dropping a course a day after courses would be fully refunded, just to end up back where I started which is initially dropping a course I thought wouldn’t be good for me, but I guess istikhara proved otherwise.