Question and answer details
|I was recently courting a young woman, and seeing as we were both serious about marriage, she suggested I perform istikhara. I'd never done so before, and was nervous that perhaps it was an underhanded means of showing me the door, so I did so, asking Allah for guidance if I should marry her, and within about half an hour of the prayer and completely out of nowhere I am completely overcome with what can only be described as rapture, an intense happiness and warmth that radiated throughout my entire body to the point of physical incapacity, and simultaneously laughing and crying to the point my facial muscles ached; suffice it to say, it was like nothing I'd ever experienced before or since, and so I thought the answer was a definitive 'yes'. Nonetheless, about six weeks later she decides to end the relationship, though we part on the most amicable of terms. For the following two days, while highly satisfied that the breakup had been so painless, if not enjoyable, I have a nervous anxiety in my stomach that wouldn't go away, that I didn't have the complete closure I was looking for. Thus, I perform the exact same istikhara again, and a few hours later and again out of nowhere, I have this intensely positive and visceral physical/emotional response that I wouldn't otherwise experience, though more subdued than the first response had been, as I was at a friend's house. Thus, the next day I resolved not only to remain single, but to begin teaching myself Urdu; among her major misgivings was that her immediate and extended families wouldn't accept me, and that none of them had married outside their heritage. A few days after that, at a time of confusion and unease, I perform istikhara a third time, and this time the response manifested itself not in any immediate physical/emotional sensation, but through a series of dreams I've been having ever since, among the most literal I've ever had and the first time I'd ever felt Allah was directly communicating a very specific message to me, and which come to me at precisely those times I feel most dispirited and doubtful about the utility of my efforts; among the more vivid examples are, when I was feeling upset that I hadn't heard from her for a while (we'd resolved to remain friends and remain in contact) I have a dream in which I am studying from my Urdu texts, the exact same ones I use in real life (for added effect, in the dream my phone rings, with the exact same ringtone and wallpaper I use in real life), and my aunt, who has been even more anxious than my own parents that I marry, asks me why I'm studying Urdu, and I tell her because my istikhara told me that I am to marry a Pakistani woman; she then responds, quite literally, "You should follow the istikhara." The next evening, I have another dream: I am in the middle of a sexual act with another woman who would otherwise epitomize female physical appeal for me, but as soon as I realize what's happening I throw her off me; I took this as a warning not to consider involvement with anyone else. This past Monday, I felt the urge to inform her precisely what was going on within me, and so I performed istikhara a fourth time, and then texted her to explain that since the breakup I'd proceeded on the basis of the three istikharas, which (I still feel) strongly imply some eventual reconciliation, and my confusion at the conflicting signals being sent by her and Allah. A few hours ago I finally hear back, saying that she doesn't wish to revisit her decision, that it came on the basis of her own istikharas, that dreams are to be disregarded as we are unable to interpret them, that istikhara means only that an outcome will be made easier or more difficult based on what's in our best interests, and, based on my most recent message, that it was not a good idea to remain even platonic friends. I'm genuinely unsure how to proceed, as I feel I'm getting two completely different messages; please advise. Allah Hafiz.|
|Dr. Maryam Bachmeier|
Assalamu `alaykum dear brother,
When a person makes istikharah, they will learn the authentic desire and pure hope of their heart. A human being’s heart of hearts is always inspired by ALLAH. This can be confusing when outer circumstances do not match what the feeling of desire is.
Your desire is innocent and pure. Indeed, what your intuition was telling you may be that you feel that you would be happy if you married this woman. So, you came to understand your passion, but not necessarily the will of ALLAH.
You are in love. Compatibility, destiny, and love are all different things though they can trigger one another. We know that nothing happens by accident. Thus, if you and this woman do happen to marry, it will occur and this would be good/easy for you.
Your feelings of rapture are the “in love” feelings and these are triggered by your human needs, emotional needs, chemistry, hormones and also your subconscious psychological needs. “In love” is something that “happens” to us, but we can actually fall “in love” with many people, and many times who have “complimentary” emotional needs, chemistry, hormones and subconscious psychological needs. It is not an actual “bond” and it does not predict compatibility. And, those initial passionate feelings usually simmer down once you actually spend time with the other person. This is a normal course of nature.
Once you actually live with someone, your body chemistry and hormones adjust to the situation, and you relax emotionally and psychologically, so the intensity of that passion and those feelings calm down. This is when compatibility will be very important because you cannot depend on those rapturous, emotional, intense feelings of passion to keep you together. They will come and go like the wind.
The Istikharah was telling you that if you made a commitment to this woman, and she made a commitment to you also, that you would have your desires met and that if she agreed, it would be easy for you. But, if she is not accepting your proposal, then it is not destined.
So now, you are learning how to tell the difference between your intuition and your feelings. It is possible that you were not able to understand your intuition or the whisper of the angels because your feelings overwhelmed you. It is also possible that your emotional and physical state influenced your dreams.
When we have a strong desire, our focus from revelation can be distracted. It takes practice at listening to that silent voice within that comes from ALLAH and His Angels to know when it is the echo of a deep seated need/desire or whether it is from G-d.
Pay attention to what the woman is telling you and ask ALLAH to help you detach from her so that you can see and hear HIS guidance more clearly. Stop calling her and disengage from her and focus on your relationship with ALLAH.
The “secret” is this: If we pray for personal revelation to know what is pleasing to G-d and we are seeking to know what is the will of ALLAH, while detaching from our own passions and strong desires we will quiet our minds and hearts enough to hear a different kind of whisper.. it is a kind of “awesome” whisper, but not so rapturous.
A spiritual rapture will not involve the passion love of another human being, unless it is a love for ALLAH and His Creation of Humanity. A spiritual rapture is the intense awareness of our connection to ALLAH and that unbelievable feeling of union that we have with our Lord as it brings us to a state of extreme AWE. A spiritual rapture will make you feel as if you are not in or even of this world… it is not a romantic feeling of human love… watch the sunset by yourself and pay attention to the details and you will get a tiny idea of what a spiritual rapture feels like.
That is different from an intense emotional desire or feelings of romantic love. When we feel what you are describing, we are feeling our own emotional overwhelm and our own passion for something that we really, really want. That is not the same as following a path toward the destination that our Lord is asking us to arrive at for His sake. There is a difference to the tone and feeling when a personal revelation from Allah is given to us and you have to practice listening in order to understand this.
So, do listen to the woman and work through your feelings of loss and grief. There is a popular saying “If you let her go, and she comes back to you, then it is meant to be”. But if she doesn’t come back then move on.
Ask Allah to show you your whole life path and focus on that. When you do this, you increase the probability that you will meet the woman who is going to be your life partner as well.
I pray this helped you. Letting go is never easy.
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About the Counselor:
Dr. Bachmeier is a clinical psychologist who has been working in the mental health field for over 15 years. She is also a published researcher, former adjunct professor at Argosy University, writer, and consultant to her Spiritual community in the areas of mental health, clinical disorders, cultural, family and relationship issues, and more.