Result of Istikhara Prayer Caused My Depression

31 May, 2021
Q Assalamu Alaikum, I have gotten istikhara done by my mom twice and both times she received dreams. I followed the outcome and both of the actions I took as a result of the istikhara were, I hate to say it but, the biggest regrets of my life so far even though I was excited for both of them in the beginning and tried so hard to make them successful. And due to these two actions that I took two years ago, I have huge problems in my life right now that are causing me depression. Today I was thinking about my problems and I realized that if I had taken alternative actions then I would not have 99% of the problems I do right now which include disease and unemployment. I thought this may be a test to bring me closer to Allah SWT and it did for a while but then I just fell in to a state of hopelessness when it kept getting worse. Even my parents are distraught by all these sudden terrible problems. Why do you think this happened with my istikharas? Sorry for the long rant and if you can offer me any advice, I would appreciate it. Jazak Allah.

Answer

Answer:

As-Salaam ‘Alaikum sister,

Istikhara is a particular form of prayer which is nothing more than a normal du’aa’ in which a person prays to Allah (swt) to guide him/her to reach a right decision. It is not necessarily the case that in response to an Istikhara Allah (swt) will give an answer in the form of a dream, but the answer can also be in the form of a gut feeling or a sense of realization which, when considered on the balance of other research and external factors, may guide you in the right direction.

A dream should not be considered an absolute answer towards a particular direction, but as guidance as within the Shariah a dream is not the binding proof of something. Istikhara enables the relevant person to make a decision which is good for him/her in this world or the hereafter or both. That is why you should make Istikhara yourself and not rely on another person to make it for you even if it is someone as close to you as your own mother because, ultimately, it is your life the decision will affect.

Istikhara does not mean that a person should abandon the consideration of all other matters relevant to the situation. The person should weigh up all the pros and cons to reach a correct decision even after making Istikhara. The actual meaning of Istikhara is asking what is best and proper from Allah, the Merciful. Reliance (upon Allah), leaving all of one’s affairs (to Allah) and having a good or favorable opinion of Allah are the requirements before any supplication.

This means that after making Istikhara you must use your own intelligence, and weigh up the situation and think through  the possible consequences of any actions you take with the help of research and other people’s advice. It is again going back to the old “have trust in Allah but also tether your camel” philosophy.

I suspect that your depression is a consequence of your consequent difficulties and has immobilized you into feeling helpless and hopeless about your life. This is why you are being caught up in ruminating about what could and should have happened rather than looking at what is and working towards a solution.

My advice would be to stop dwelling on the questions you cannot find answers for and the things you cannot change i.e. why did the Istikhara not work? This is because you will forever be caught up in a spiral of negativity which will have a continuous adverse affect on your mental health and reduce your capacity for coping.

Another way of looking at your current difficulties may be harder, but remember that if you took the decisions that you made on the basis of your Istikhara, then regardless of the difficulties you are experiencing, keep faith in Allah (swt) and submit to your condition as ultimately your submission will yield a greater reward in the hereafter.

If you are still not able to reach satisfaction, then the best thing to do is to once again return to Allah (swt) and ask for “contentment of the heart” and for help to remove all difficulties rather than dwelling endlessly on why the Istikhara has misled you or caused you to make the wrong decisions in life.

Instead seek professional help to overcome your depression and try to search for practical help for the financial difficulties you are currently experiencing as in the end we cannot turn back time or predict the future. But what we can do is live for the present (and the hereafter) which is literally a gift from Allah (swt) – a present which we need to savour and appreciate. I understand that it is easier said than done, but the alternative is that you are going to feel more and more depressed and disillusioned with your life and your resilience will become nonexistent. Remember that things can only get better with the grace of Allah Almighty, so long as you keep your faith and trust as well as be practical about dealing with your problems.

Salam,

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About Najma M. Adam
Najma M. Adam, Ph.D., L.C.S.W. is the Director of Adam & Associates Counseling Services, Inc. Dr. Adam has many years of experience and has taught at several universities in the Chicagoland area. She actively conducts research and publishes. She received her Ph.D. in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Jane Addams College of Social Work and her Master’s Degree from the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration. Further information about her can be found at www.adamandassociates.com.