There are times when we are in a dilemma and we need Islamic advice. The religion of Islam is a religion that is built on the authentic knowledge of the words of Allah (ta’ala), and the sayings of His Messenger (ﷺ), such that whatever advice a Muslim needs as regards their faith, they will find it in the Qur’an and Sunnah.
So we are encouraged to seek advice. Seeking Islamic advice is not just about asking any Muslim you come across a question or reading up shady articles on the internet, however. For us as Muslims, we should be meticulous about where we take our religious advice from so that we are not misled.
With that said, here are some important steps to take when seeking Islamic advice.
Seeking Islamic Advice
From how to perform wudhu, to how to fulfill your obligations as a spouse, to how to perform janazah, we all have one question or the other that we seek answers to.
Whatever it is that is troubling your mind as regards to your faith, here are a few tips to help you in the right direction when looking for someone to give you answers.
Istikhara is the prayer of guidance. It is a dua that is made to Allah (ta’ala) when a person is trying to decide on something.
So, let’s say you want to apply for a new job and leave your current one. Before the application, the best thing to do as a Muslim is to make istikhara asking for Allah (guidance). If the new job is best for you, he will definitely lead you to it, if He wills.
What does Istikhara have to do with advice, since it’s a dua? You see, when you talk to Allah (ta’ala) first about something, you are telling Him your dilemma and seeking His advice and help. Even though He won’t come down to advice you on what to do, we believe that whatever we do after Istikhara is guided by Him.
If your dilemma isn’t about choosing something, maybe it’s something like dealing justly between your wives, the best thing before you seek advice from humans, is also to make dua to Allah (ta’ala).
If you seek the advice of humans before praying to Allah (ta’ala), it is as if you consider the human’s help to be more important.
After making dua, then you can ask people for advice.
Seek Knowledgeable People
Even though there is so much information out there for us as Muslims, we still run a risk of being misguided if we go seeking answers by ourselves.
Yes, you can read a book that tells you about polygamy, for example, but the best thing is when you find a knowledgeable person to explain the text to you so that you do not miss any nuances or contextual meaning differences. All of which are common when reading Arabic or translating the Qur’an.
Meet your local Imams for Islamic advice. Or someone who is proven to be educated in the matter that you seek advice on. Your uncle may be married for forty years, but that doesn’t mean that he’s knowledgeable in the fiqh of marriage.
Don’t ask someone who is probably just winging it themselves. You want someone who will guide you according to the Quran and the Sunnah.
During the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), the companions would seek his advice on any and everything. Nothing was considered too small or too embarrassing.
And one thing that was quite common was that when the Prophet (ﷺ) was alive, his companions would go to him directly for advice, especially when it relates to matters of the deen.
They always went straight to the source of knowledge. Even if they had older parents at home, they take their marital questions to the Prophet (ﷺ).
Be Sincere with Your Intentions
When we seek Islamic advice, we should always bear in mind the importance of intentions.
Why are you seeking advice? Is it to make yourself or someone else better? Or is it to commit acts of injustice against others? Or is it to ‘shop’ around for the most lenient fatwa?
Check your reason for seeking advice and see how sincere you are. Because chances are that in some cases, the advice we sought may give us answers that are bitter to swallow.
Giving Islamic Advice
Sometimes, you’re the giver of advice and not the receiver. The responsibility of giving excellent advice falls on you and you should take a lot of things into consideration.
Fear of Allah (ta’ala)
When someone asks you for advice on issues relating to Islam, remember Allah (ta’ala) and fear Him as regards your response.
If you know that you do not have the capacity to sincerely advise the person, may be due to limited knowledge or conflict of interest, excuse yourself from that duty. Point them in the direction of someone that can help them instead.
The need to make dua falls on both the seeker of Islamic advice and the giver. For the later, you want to ask Allah (ta’ala) to guide your speech and help you say only that which is truthful and beneficial.
Because at the end of the day, we will all be accountable for any advice that we have given anyone. So you want to put Allah (ta’ala) first, before giving advice.
Use Authentic Sources
The source of your information is really important when giving Islamic advice. Unlike generic life advice, when you advise someone in Islam, your words should be grounded in the Quran, Sunnah, or the words of scholars before us.
If you use something other than these, you need to be sure that your source of information can be traced back to the Quran or Sunnah. This will save us from misleading other people and possibly falling into sin.
“There are six rights of a Muslim upon a Muslim: When you meet him, greet him; when he invites you, respond to him; when he seeks counsel, give him advice; when he sneezes and praises Allah, say to him: ‘May Allah have mercy on you (Yarhamuk-Allah)’; when he is sick, visit him; and when he dies, follow his funeral” (Muslim)
Seeking Islamic advice helps us to better ourselves and understand our deen more. So, for everyone who has a thing or two to clarify as regards their faith, the best thing is to seek answers in the best way you can.
The Dua of Istikhara
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) “If anyone of you thinks of doing any job he should offer a two rak`at prayer other than the compulsory ones and say (after the prayer): — ‘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-lamra 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 (ﷺ) added that then the person should name (mention) his need.” (Bukhari)