The Ruling of Isti`aadhah

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Allah says,

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These verses command the servant of Allah to seek refuge with Him from the accursed Shaytaan due to the severe enmity he displays towards mankind and displayed towards their father, Aadam (AS). Allah says,

  “Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good and turn away from the foolish. And if an evil suggestion comes to you from Shaytaan then seek refuge with Allah. Indeed He is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” [Al-A`raaf (7): 199-200]

“Repel evil by means of what is best. We are best Acquainted with the things that they utter. And say, ‘My Lord! I seek refuge with you from the whisperings of the devils and I seek refuge with you my Lord lest they come near me.’” [Al-Mu`minoon (23): 96-98]

“Repel [evil] with that which is better then indeed the one, between whom and you there was enmity, [will become] as though he was a devoted friend. But none is granted [this quality] except those who are patient and none is granted it save one who possesses a great portion [of high moral character]. And if an evil suggestion comes to you from Shaytaan then seek refuge with Allah. Indeed He is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” [Fussilaat (41): 34-46]

  “O Children of Aadam! Let not Shaytaan deceive you, as he removed your parents out of Paradise.” [Al-A`raaf (7): 27]

Ibn al-Jawzee said,

Servants of Allah! Contemplate on the removal of your father, Aadam from Paradise, the home of security and his descent to the home of disgrace and abasement. The reason for this was none other than the accursed Shaytaan. Your Master has prohibited you from obeying him and ordered you to disobey him. Indeed in his obedience lies the Displeasure of ar-Rahmaan and disobeying him necessitates residing in Paradise and the descent of Pleasure.

Allah, Glorified and Exalted, said,

  “Shaytaan threatens you with poverty and orders you to immorality.” [Al-Baqarah (2): 268]

So whosoever obeys him, he forsakes him and diverts him from the guidance and opens in his heart the doors to misguidance and ignominy. [1]

Allah further explains to us the extreme enmity of Shaytaan with His words,

Indeed Shaytaan took an oath saying,

  “Indeed Shaytaan is an open enemy to you so take him as an enemy. He invites his followers only that they may become the denizens of the blazing Fire.” [Faatir (35): 6]

“Will you then take him and his offspring as friends and protectors besides Him while they are open enemies to you? Wretched it is as an exchange for the wrong-doers.” [Al-Kahf (18): 50]

  “By Your Might! I will surely misguide them all, except Your chosen slaves amongst them.” [Saad (38): 82-83]

It is for this reason that we have been encouraged to seek refuge with Allah from the accursed Shaytaan. With regards to reciting the Qur`aan, Allah says,

  “When you wish to read [lit: have read] the Qur`aan then seek refuge with Allah from the accursed Shaytaan. Indeed he has no power over those who believe and put their trust only in their Lord. His power is only over those who follow him and join partners with Him.” [An-Nahl (16): 99-100]

A group of the reciters and scholars, from amongst them Hamza, ibn Seereen, Ibraaheem an-Nakha`ee and Daawood adh-Dhaahiree, were of the opinion that one seeks refuge after the completion of recitation, taking to the literal sense of this verse. They also stated that the reason for doing so would be to repress self-astonishment at the completion of an action of worship.

A second opinion voiced is that one seeks refuge before and after ones recitation. However the famous, well-known opinion, which is the opinion of the majority is that one seeks refuge before recitation in order to safeguard oneself from the whisperings of Shaytaan. This groups understood the meaning of the verse to be, “when you wish to read the Qur`aan…” in the same sense as the verse,

  “When you intend to stand for prayer [lit: have stood for prayer], then wash your faces and forearms…” [Al-Maa`idah (5): 6]

Abu Daawood reports from Abu Sa`eed al-Khudree that,

When the Messenger of Allah ﷺ stood at night [for prayer, he would commence the prayer] by saying the takbeer and then saying, “SubhaanakAllahumma wa bihamdika, wa tabarrakasmuka, wa ta`aalaa jadduka, wa laa ilaaha ghayruk.” [2] Then he would say, “laa ilaaha illAllah” [3] three times, then he would say, “Allahu Akbar” three times and then he would say, “A`oodhu billaahi as-Samee` al-Aleem min ash-Shaytaanir Rajeem – min hamzihi wa nafkhihi wa nafthihi” [4]

Abu Daawood reports from Naafi` bin Jubair from his father who said,

I saw the Messenger of Allah ﷺ saying when he entered into prayer, “Allahu Akbar Kabeera” [5] three times, “Alhamdulillaahi Katheera” [6] three times and “SubhaanAllahi Bukratan wa Aseela” [7] three times. Then he said, “Allahumma innee A`udhubika mina ash-Shaytaan, min hamzihi wa nafkhihi wa nafathi” [8]

The majority of scholars are of the opinion of that isti`aadha is recommended and not obligatory. However it is reported from `Ataa bin Abee Rabaah that it is obligatory to say it within the prayer and outside the prayer when one desires to recite the Book of Allah. Ar-Raazee stated that the proof for this opinion was that the verse, “seek protection with Allah” is mentioned in the imperative, that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ persisted in uttering it throughout his life and that it serves as a protective barrier from Shaytaan – therefore if an obligation can only be fulfilled by a particular means then that means also becomes an obligation.

Isti`aadha is for the recitation in prayer – this being the opinion of Abu Haneefah and Muhammad. As such it is to be said before one starts reciting al-Faatihah. Shaykh Mashur Hasan Salmaan said,

It is clear that isti`aadha is legislated in every rak`ah [of prayer]. This due to the generality of His saying, “When you wish to read the Qur`aan then seek refuge with Allah from the accursed Shaytaan.”

This is the most correct opinion of the Shaafi`ee school and declared to be the strongest opinion by ibn Hazm. [9]

Al-Haafidh ibn al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy upon him, explained the meaning of a`oodhu (I take refuge) in a beautiful way. He said,

Know that the verb `aadha and its derivatives carry the meaning of being careful and wary, guarding and fortifying, being rescued and victorious. Its essential meaning is to flee from that which you fear will harm you to that which will safeguard you from it. This is why the one you seek refuge with is named m`aadh and malja` (the source of refuge and recourse).

In the hadeeth there occurs, “when the daughter of al-Jawn entered upon the Prophet ﷺ [after their marriage] he moved his hand [to touch her] and she said, ‘I take refuge with Allah from you.’ He said, ‘indeed you have sought refuge with the Ma`aadh, return and rejoin your family.’” [10]

Therefore the meaning of a`oodhu is: I take refuge, guard myself and take precaution. There are two opinions concerning the basis of this verb. The first is that it is derived from the meaning of as-satar, covering or protection, and the second is that it is derived from the meaning of luzoom al-mujaawara, firmly adhering to that which adjoins it.

As for the first opinion then the Arabs used to say with regards to a house that is in the shade of a tree – `uwwadha. Therefore when this house did `aadha with this tree by being built under its shade the Arabs named it `uwwadh. The same applies to the one who takes refuge for he seeks protection and cover from his enemy with the one he seeks refuge with.

As for the second opinion then the Arabs used to say regarding flesh that was stuck to a bone and could not be removed, `uwwadha, because of its refusal to be dislodged from the bone. The same applies to the one taking refuge for he sticks firmly to the one he is seeking refuge with and refuses to be distanced.

Both of these opinions are correct for seeking refuge includes both. The one taking refuge seeks protection with the one he is seeking refuge with and sticks firmly to him. His heart attaches itself to him and holds firm just as the child sticks close to its father when threatened by an enemy. Thsame applies to the one taking refuge for he flees from his enemy who desires his destruction to his Lord, throwing himself between His Hands, holding firmly to Him, sticking close to Him and resorting to Him.

Now, know that the reality of seeking refuge that is established in the heart of the believer surpasses and is beyond these descriptions, for these serve only as examples and representations. As for that which is established in the heart in its taking refuge, holding fast to and its throwing itself before its Lord, its need of Him and its submission and humility before Him, then all of this is beyond description.

In a similar vein, love of Him and fear of Him can only be described in a deficient way for they cannot truly be understood except through experiencing them. This is similar to the case of one trying to describe the pleasure of sexual intercourse to one who is impotent and feels no sexual urges. No matter how much you describe it and how many examples you give, never will he truly understand it. However if you were to describe it to one who does have these urges and has had intercourse then he will understand your descriptions completely.

If it is asked: When one is commanded to take refuge with Allah why does the form of the command carry a seen and taa`? For example in His saying,

  “Seek protection (fasta`idh) with Allah from the Accursed Shaytaan.” [an-Nahl (16):98]

Yet one says, ‘I take refuge (a`oodhu)’ and ‘I took refuge (ta`awwadhtu)’ without including the seen and taa`?

The reply is: the seen and taa` are grammatically used to denote a person’s seeking something. Therefore when one says, ‘asta`eedhu with Allah’ he is saying, ‘I seek refuge with Him.’ When he says, ‘astaghfirullaah’ he is saying, ‘I seek the forgiveness of Allah.’

Hence when the person says, ‘I take refuge (a`oodhu) with Allah’ he is actually implementing and realising what he seeks because he sought refuge and protection with Allah. There is a clear difference between actually taking refuge and seeking refuge. Therefore when the one who is seeking refuge is actually recoursing to Allah and holding firmly to Him then he says the verb that denotes this rather than saying the verb that denotes that he only seeks this.

The opposite is true for the saying, ‘astaghfirullaah’ (I seek the forgiveness of Allah) for in this case the person is asking Allah to forgive him. Therefore when he says, ‘astaghfirullaah’ he is implementing what he desires because the meaning of this statement is, ‘I ask Allah that He forgive me.’

This then is the best way of seeking refuge and it was for this reason that the Prophet ﷺ used to say, “I take refuge with Allah from the Accursed Shaytaan” and, “I take refuge with Allah’s perfect words” and, “I take refuge with the Might and Power of Allah” saying, ‘a`oodhu’ rather than ‘asta`eedhu.’

Indeed this is what Allah taught him to say with His words,

Employing the word ‘a`oodhu’ rather than ‘ast`eedhu.’ [11]

Ibn al-Jawzi said,

Know that the one who is taking refuge with Allah, the Great from the accursed Shaytaan has clung to the firm Rope of Allah. I take refuge with Allah from all sins and actions of transgression! I take refuge with Allah from misguidance and treachery! I take refuge with Allah from the Displeasure of ar-Rahmaan!

O My brother! Know that when the servant clings to the rope of the created king he is saved from the evil of the oppressors. Therefore it far more befitting and appropriate for the one who takes refuge with the Lord of the Universe from the accursed enemy, Shaytaan, that he be saved. [12]

There are a number of texts showing us the virtue of isti`aadha:

1. Bukhari reports from Sulaymaan ibn Sarad (RA) that,

Two men abused each other in the presence of the Prophet ﷺ while we were sitting with him. One of the two abused the other while in a state of rage, his face red. The Prophet ﷺ said, “I know a statement that if he were to say, what he is experiencing would leave him. If only he were to say, ‘I take refuge with Allah from the accursed Shaytaan.’” [13]

2. Ahmad reports from Abu Dharr (RA) that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,

“O Abu Dharr! Take refuge with Allah from the satans from amongst men and jinn.” I said, ‘are their satans amongst men?’ He replied, “yes.” [14]

3. Abu Daawood reports from ibn Abbaas (RA) that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,

If anyone seeks refuge with [you] for the sake of Allah then grant him refuge. If any asks of you for the sake of Allah then grant his request. [15]

It is said that the word Shaytaan is derived from shatana which means to be distanced, and indeed Shaytaan is far removed from any good whatsoever. It is also said that the name is derived from shaata, which means to burn because he is made from fire. Others said that both meanings are correct. However, the first meaning is most correct and is proven by the language.


Footnotes

{1} Ibn al-Jawzee, ‘Bustaan al-Waa`idheen’ [pg. 27]

{2} You are glorified O Allah and praised! Your Name is Blessed; Your Majesty is Exalted and none has the right to be worshipped save You.

{3} There is none worthy of worship save You.

{4} I take refuge with Allah, the All-Seeing, the All-Knowing from the accursed Shaytaan: from his madness, arrogance and poetry.

The hadeeth is reported by Abu Daawood [Eng. Trans. 1/198 no. 774] and others and it is in ‘Saheeh Abu Daawood’ [no. 701]

{5} Allah is the Greatest, very great

{6} Praise and thanks be to Allah, again and again

{7} Glorified is Allah, morning and evening

{8} O Allah! I take refuge with You from Shaytaan – from his madness, arrogance and poetry.

The hadeeth is reported by Abu Daawood [Eng. Trans. 1/196 no. 763.] and ibn Maajah [no. 807]. It has been ruled to be da`eef with this wording by Al-Albaanee in ‘Da`eef Abu Daawood’ [no. 160], ‘Da`eef ibn Maajah’ [no. 173] and ‘Irwaa`’ [2/54]

However there is a saheeh hadeeth reported by ibn Maajah [no. 808] from ibn Mas`ud that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ used to say the above words of seeking refuge when he entered the prayer. Refer to ‘Saheeh ibn Maajah’ [no. 658] and ‘Irwaa`’ [2/55]

As for the supplication then it is authentically reported in Saheeh Muslim that it was said without the repetitions by one of the Companions in prayer upon which the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “wonderful for it [the supplication] is that the doors of heaven were opened for it.”

{9} Mashur Hasan Salmaan, ‘Al-Qawl al-Mubeen fee Akhta`i al-Musalleen’ [pg. 109]. Refer also to an-Nawawee, ‘al-Majmu`’ [3/323]; al-Albaanee, ‘Tamaam al-Minnah’ [pp. 176-177]

{10} Saheeh Bukhari [Eng. Trans. 7/181 no. 181, 182].

{11} Ibn al-Qayyim, ‘Badaa`i al-Fawaa`id’ [1/439-441]; ‘Tafseer al-Qayyim’ [pp. 538-541]

{12} Ibn al-Jawzee, ‘Bustaan al-Waa`idheen’ [pg. 26]

{13} Saheeh Bukhari [Eng. Trans. 8/87 no. 136]

{14} Ahmad [5/178]. The hadeeth has two routes of narration both which are weak as mentioned in Muqbil bin Haadee, ‘Takhreej Tafseer ibn Katheer’ [1/98]

{15} Abu Daawood [Eng. Trans. 3/1416 no. 5089].

It is saheeh. Refer to al-Albaanee, ‘as-Saheehah’ [no. 253]; ‘Saheeh Abu Daawood’ [no. 4260], ‘al-Irwaa’ [no. 1617]; ‘Saheeh al-Jaami’ [no. 6021]

(NOTE: If you want to build a strong and powerful relationship with Allah, check out Islamia TV, where you can watch Islamic speakers from across the globe deliver inspiring and motivational courses. Learn more at www.islamia.tv.)



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  “Say: I take refuge with the Lord of Daybreak” [al-Falaq (113): 1]

“Say: I take refuge with the Lord of Mankind.” [an-Naas (114): 1]