Q: I have a question about something that is confusing me, which I hope you can help me with. It is about
du‘a’-ul-Istikharah (supplication for guidance),
narrated on the authority of
Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah
(may Allah be pleased with them both), who said:
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) used to teach us the Istikharah (asking Allah for guidance to the right action through a prayer and supplication)...And then say: "Allahumma inni astakhiruka bi ‘ilmika, wa astaqdiruka biqudratika, wa as’aluka min fadlika-l-‘azhim, subhanaka taqdiru wa-la aqdiru, wa ta‘lamu wa-la a‘lamu, wa anta ‘allamu-l-ghuyub. Allahumma in kunta ta‘lamu anna hadha-l-amra...Wa aqdur lya alkhayra haithu kana, thumma raddiny bihi. (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 are Capable and I am not. You know, and I know not. You are the Knower of the Unseen. O Allah! If You know that this matter… (to his saying) and ordain for me the good wherever it may be and make me pleased with it.)”
(Part No. 24; Page No. 255) The confusion is in his saying: “O Allah! If You know...” because Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) knows all matters, the present, the past, and the future; and the wording: “If You know” is suggesting that we consider it to be limited, as if we are denying the extent of Allah’s Knowledge.
Concerning the phrase mentioned in the Hadith of Du‘a’-ul-Istikharah which says:
O Allah! If You know that this matter is good for me in my Din (religion) and my livelihood, then ordain it for me.
The Hadith bespeaks of Allah’s All-Encompassing Knowledge. A servant does not know anything, except what Allah gives them knowledge of or inspires them with. It is not permissible to understand from this phrase that Allah’s Knowledge is being denied or doubted. May Allah forbid it! Allah is Perfect and Above that! Allah (Glorified be He) is the All-Knower of any matter that a servant seeks from Him guidance in before creating mankind and after creation, and what is going to happen to them later in life. Rather, the meaning of the Du‘a’ is: If in Your Knowledge, You know that this matter is good for me...Or if it is bad for me...; this is what the supplicant for guidance is ignorant of and is asking help from the All-Knower for. The servant seeks Allah’s Guidance for what is good for them and to turn them away from harm, and turn it away from them. Only Allah knows this. You should distance yourself from thoughts like this that may tarnish your faith and affect your Din; you should think well of Allah, as He is as His servant thinks of Him. You should ask the trustworthy scholars if you ever have any doubts about anything related to your Din. (Part No. 24; Page No. 256) May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.