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Omen (Looking For Good Augury)

By: Ali Akbar Mazaheri
If the laws and ordains of Islam are correctly understood and rightly practiced, they will bring prosperity. But if they are misunderstood and wrongly practiced, then not only will they not bring prosperity, rather they will incur losses.

Kinds of Omen

1- Asking Beneficence and Guidance from Allah:
The real meaning of 'istikhara' or Omen is seeking benevolence, goodness, and guidance from Allah. And this was the very practical manner and method of the leaders of Islam (a.s). It is in fact a kind of supplication and seeking Allah's help and depending on him in all matters and circumstances, particularly in the selection of spouse.
Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini writes in this connection: The commander of believers Ali (a.s) offered two cycles of service for the sake of Omen, thereafter, he used to repeat a hundred times:

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I ask the beneficence from Allah.
Then he used to recite this prayer: O Allah! I want to perform that work which you know. If you consider it good for my religion, world and hereafter, (then) provide the means for it. And if you deem it bad for my religion, world, and hereafter, stop me from doing it, whether I dislike it of love it, since you know (the actual expedience) and I do not know. And You are the knower of the unseen.
Then he would take a decision and step into a job. (Makarimul Akhlaq, p 369).
The thirty third supplication of Saheefa Sajjadia of Imam Sajjad (a.s) described this point right from the beginning to its end (i.e seeking the beneficence and guidance of Allah). Please refer to the prayer, which is most attractive and beautiful.

2- The Commonly Known And Current Omen In Our Society
The Omen that is current and customary in our society is practiced thorough Quran or beads, and conventionally is a way to discover one's duty and religious obligation.
This kind of Omen has its root and origin in Islam, but regretfully, a distortion has taken place in it. And it has been mis-shaped and disfigured in many the case. That is to say, it has replaced thought, reasoning, investigation, searching and consultation. Thereafter it has not only lost its benefit, but also turned harmful. It is customary in spouse selection as well, and it sometimes inflicts serious damage and loss.

The Correct Use of Omen
Whenever a person wishes to perform a job and its goodness and advisability is clear to him. he should do it with the help and dependence upon Allah, asking for His benevolence. There is no room for Omen. If the evil and non-advisability of the work is conspicuous, even then there is no room and need for Omen. But if the goodness and evil of the work is not clear and evident, and he does not know whether he should do not it or not, then he must ponder, contemplate, study, investigate and seek advice, taking all the aspects of the problem into view.
If his mind is inclined and prefers one side of it, for instance one side is 70% and the other 30%, then he should do that which has a 70% weighting (whether doing or not doing it). But if he stays puzzled and at a loss as to which way to head, even after contemplation, research and consultation about all the possible methods and still remains undecided, that is to say, at a 50% decision and he is not inclined toward any one aspect of the job and at the same time cannot quit that work then comes the turn of 'customary Omen.'
Omen does not fix any religious or intellectual duty but drive man out of amazement and surprise, indication one of two ways for him. Moreover, it does not have any guarantee that the way indicated may be correct and the other one wrong!
And again it is not the work of everybody to hold a bead in his hand or open the Quran to understand his obligation or to repeat it a number of times until he gets his desired result.
Ayatollah Jawadi Amuli, who is one of the greatest exegetes of Quran and experts of Islam in the contemporary world, said about Omen: We have not been encouraged to Omen in Islam.

A Sorrowful Specimen of Misunderstanding the Omen
Adel who was a good and faithful student decided to marry. He was very sensitive about spouse selection and had put in all his best efforts to select a decent spouse.
To be just, he is a decent boy himself and one can say he has many of the qualities of a good spouse he set out many times, but he could not find the required spouse. Until at last his friends and relatives introduced a girl.
The search for investigation and recognition of the girl started. One of the near relatives of the girl was the friend of Adel. So the matter was discussed with him. He had a positive opinion about the girl and helped out to the best of his capacities to lever the ground for their mutual recognition. They contacted some other persons who knew the girl (such as teachers and classmates) and consulted them. The more they investigated, the more the hope of her being the desired girl strengthened.
After all the searching and endeavours were made, it became evident that everything was all right and there was no constraint and hurdle in the way of their marriage. Then came the turn of direct talks between the boy and girl, and the proposal.
The date was fixed for the boy to visit the girl's home, and we were very hopeful that the marriage would materialise. Suddenly, news came from the girl and her family that they had gone for Omen and it indicated to be bad.
I was greatly displeased by this news, since I was aware of their work and saw that everything was in a good shape. I was quite hopeful that the negotiation, visit and proposal would not have any difficulty, since I knew the girl very well and Adel too.
I wanted to contact the girl's family, avert them and make them change their mind. But the acquaintances said: They have a strong belief in Omen and think that after the Omen has given a negative result, it would be perilous for them to act against it, and this marriage would become a misery.
In my thoughts, I addressed the girl and her family. Oh girl! Oh mother and father! What is it that you did? Alas, why did you reject this boy without any logic? Do you know that such Omen is anti-Islamic? If the girl and the boy did not reach and understanding through direct talks or did not like each other or you had reached a negative result after making enquiries and had rejected him, there would have been nothing wrong. And I would not feel sorry. But now you have thrown away your prosperity and that of a decent orthodox boy, just by one Omen. Ah! What an ignorance and misconception of religion.
Many case have been seen where a boy and a girl matched each other, but on account of just such kind of an undue Omen, they could not get married or they were not even suitable for each other and did marry only to become miserable.

Another Specimen
A person proposed a girl. The girl's father, short of any investigation, recognition and consultation went to a man to take an Omen for him. He did it to a positive result and the girl was married to that boy.
After a certain period of time, it was discovered that the boy was not good and there was no match and proportion between the husband and the wife. But now it was al over and the marriage had taken place, and the difficulties and miseries started. The girl's father would lament and sorrowfully say: It is the fault of such and such a person's Omen that my girl became miserable and doomed.
This father should be told: It is the fault of extravagant beliefs, misconception and you own ignorance. ( Although the person who made Omen may also have been at fault since he did not inform this unaware person about the correct use of Omen. Perhaps even he himself was unaware of it.)
Omen has a vast discussion. For those who have knotted their fate and faith with Omen and likewise, those who are inclined to have more information about it, it is essential for them to carry out further research and study this topic.
Imam Khomeini (r.a) has and interesting and attractive discussion in this connection in the book Kashful Asrar, which is worth studying. Hereby we present a short extract from his worthy words and leave its perfect study to you: The traditions which pertain to Omen have not promised to always reach the aim without any shortage. But all that has been promised is that Allah bestows goodness upon the one who asks Him. if it is advisable in this world, He gives it here, otherwise He stores it for him. (Kashful Asrar, p 93, published by Nekukari Faterneeun Foundation).
At the end of this discussion, once again we quote Ayatollah Amini who says: The girl, the boy and the families must make an investigation for recognition of the spouse. If they still have any doubt, they should consult and take the advice of one or number of informed, aware and confidant persons. If they reach a result, they can take further steps. Omen is to be taken only where they do not reach a result through the way of investigation and consultation, and might yet be in a state of perplexity.
Naturally, investigation and consultation has priority over Omen. If the result of your search and probe is positive, go ahead with the practice, and there is no need of taking Omen. There are certain people who refer to Omen in each and every work, whereas sometimes, undue, out of place Omen becomes the cause of perplexity and hinders practice. (Spouse Selection p 166-168).
And finally, we must always keep the word of Ayatollah Jawadi Amuli in view who said: We have not been encouraged in Islam to take Omen.

Fate!
There is a false belief and word which is customary among people regarding the topic of marriage; for instance, such and such a girl is the fate of such and such a boy and so and so a boy is not in the fate of this girl or if luck is there, everything will become all right and it is not necessary to do anything else. If the fate is not there (to help), whatever is done will be useless and so on.
These ideas are vague and void and do not have any roots in relation or reason. The problem of divine decree and accident is something different.

Crossing the Slippery Road! Complete Caution at Every Step
it is my strong recommendation to all boys, girls, and their families that they should cross the phases of pre-proposal and marriage and what has been described in this chapter steadily, slowly, patiently, step by step, with complete caution and carefulness.
When they say a good work must be done quickly and swiftly, it may be true about the actual marriage, i.e. Do not delay the marriage. But it is not in any case correct about the premarital phases and the spouse selection. All the steps of choosing, paying visits, checking and talks should be carried out with patience, fortitude, and cool mindedness and with proper and necessary time between different phases.
Any kind of haste and rush at this stage is dangerous. Because many cases have been observed where people became involved and confronted with repentance and misery as a result of hurrying at this stage and quickly crossing over the ways and avenues of spouse selection, proposal and marriage.
This is a slippery way and a clever and reasonable person does not cross a slippery road hastily. Haste and carelessness and speedy movement at this point can result in and annihilating fall.
Have you ever seen a man crossing a minefield or a slippery avenue or a thorny way hastily and hurriedly? A reasonable and clever person never does that. The traversing of the ways in this phase need a step -by- step policy, not a revolutionary policy.
Yes, a revolutionary policy is essential in the actual marriage, when it should be quickly materialised and not delayed. But as far as the problem of spouse selection is concerned, it needs slow and cautious movement.
Sometimes, it is observed that some people cross all the phases of decision, investigation, consultation, proposal and marriage, investigation, consultation, proposal and marriage in a short time and finish the work. This is not correct in anyway. Of course, it is possible that in a few cases no difficulty arises and the job gets done in a good way. But in many cases, difficulties will be confronted and that will be the cause of repentance and suffering. The nature of spouse selection and crossing its phases demands patience, subtlety, and slow movement.
The imagination of a work, then concentrating thought, investigation and consultation respect to reach a result and final decision as well as taking steps in that direction needs a lot of time, Any haste in that is troublesome and dangerous.
Spouse selection more than anything else needs foresight and multidimensional contemplation: The sage and wise is the one who thinks about the end. Haste and hurrying in this valley means falling from the frying pan into the fire.
Even if everything seems to be on the right course, one must continue with complete care and slowness. A foresighted man is a blessed one and so is a foresighted woman.
Up to this point, by the grace and beneficence of Almighty Allah, the aim, objective, and manner of reaching it has explicitly become evident. And now we can, by dependence upon Allah and His help, take steps to select a suitable and desired spouse with all the subtlety and satisfaction at our command.
Allah be your guide and helper!

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