In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Allaah [The Most High] said:
وَعَسَىٰٓ أَن تَكۡرَهُواْ شَيۡـًٔ۬ا وَهُوَ خَيۡرٌ۬ لَّڪُمۡۖ وَعَسَىٰٓ أَن تُحِبُّواْ شَيۡـًٔ۬ا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ۬ لَّكُمۡۗ وَٱللَّهُ يَعۡلَمُ وَأَنتُمۡ لَا تَعۡلَمُونَ
And it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.” [AI-Baqarah. Verse 216]
Some of the underlying benefits in this verse:
The servant should hand over his affair to the One (Allaah) who knows – (perfectly without anything hidden from Him)- the end result of affairs. He should be pleased with what Allaah chooses and decrees for him because of the good end result he hopes for.
Neither should he make suggestions to his Lord nor put forward his choice over that of his Lord, nor does he ask for something about which he has no knowledge, because it maybe that what will bring about harm and destruction on him is found in what he asks, whilst he does not know. Therefore, he does not choose anything over what his Lord chooses; rather he asks his Lord to choose the best for him and make him pleased with what has been chosen for him, because there is nothing more beneficial for him than this.
When he hands over his affair to his Lord and is pleased with what has been chosen for him, his Lord facilitates him with strength, determination and patience in that which has been chosen for him; repel the afflictions he would have encountered due to the choice he makes and show him some of the good end results of the choice his Lord made for him, which could not have been attained through the choice he makes for himself.
He is relieved of the difficult reasoning about all types of choices and his heart is emptied of projections through which he ascends one obstacle and descends into another. And alongside this, he cannot escape what is decreed for him. If he is pleased with Allaah’s choice, then what has been decreed will come to him, whilst he is deserving of commendation and graceful in it; otherwise, what has been decreed will come to him while he is blameworthy and ungraceful, because he left with the choice he made for himself. (1)
If Allaah wants good and guidance for His servant, He makes him witness the fact that the blessing he has is one of His blessings and enables him to be grateful for it. (a) If his soul whispers to him to move away from it, he seeks guidance from His Lord – by way of Istikhaarah (b) – as one who is ignorant of his welfare and unable to attain it, and then delegates the affair to Allaah by asking Him to make a good choice for him. (2)
[a] Gratefulness: Imaam As-Sadi [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said:
لِتَسۡتَوُ ۥاْ عَلَىٰ ظُهُورِهِۦ ثُمَّ تَذۡكُرُواْ نِعۡمَةَ رَبِّكُمۡ إِذَا ٱسۡتَوَيۡتُمۡ عَلَيۡهِ وَتَقُولُواْ سُبۡحَـٰنَ ٱلَّذِى سَخَّرَ لَنَا هَـٰذَا وَمَا ڪُنَّا لَهُ ۥ مُقۡرِنِينَ
وَإِنَّآ إِلَىٰ رَبِّنَا لَمُنقَلِبُونَ
In order that you may mount on their backs, and then may remember the Favour of your Lord when you mount thereon, and say: “Glory to Him Who has subjected this to us, and we could never have it (by our efforts). And verily, to Our Lord we indeed are to return! [Surah Az-Zukhruf. Verses13-14]
Mentioned in the verses are the three pillars of gratitude, and they are: acknowledge Allaah’s blessings, proclaim Allaah’s Blessings, speak about them; praise Allah for it, and (c) submit to Allah and utilise these blessings to carry out acts of worship for the sake of Allaah (alone). This is because the intent behind the statement: [verily, to Our Lord we indeed are to return] is acknowledgement of recompense and to make preparations for it. The objective behind these favours is that they are an aid by way of which the slave seeks to fulfil the commands of Allaah. And regarding the statement: [And then may remember the favour of your Lord when you mount thereon]; this is a specific mention of the favour in that instance (i.e. at the time in which the person enjoys those favours), because blessings intoxicates many amongst the creation, makes them heedless, evil and ungrateful. Therefore, this state in which Allah commanded (a person to remember Him for His Favours) is a medication for this destructive ailment. When the servant of Allaah recalls that he is completely surrounded by the blessings of Allah and that nothing is from him;, but rather blessings are (from Allah) -its means are facilitated and its obtainment made easy (by Allaah), he submits to Allah, humbles him, thanks and Praises Allaah. And by way of this, he is given continuous blessings. [An Excerpt from Fataawa Sa’diyyah page: 61. slightly paraphrased]
[b]: What is Al-Istikhaarah? It is widespread amongst some people that Istikhaarah and seeking the best outcome in an affair is that one goes to the astrologers and soothsayers. This is in opposition to what is found in the Islamic legislation; rather Istikhaarah and seeking the best outcome in an affair is that one performs two optional Rak’ats and then supplicate with the legislated supplication. Jaabir Bin Abdillaah [may Allaah be pleased with him and his father] said, ”Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] used to teach us the way of doing Istikhaarah (i.e. the means to ask Allah to guide one to the right action concerning any job or a deed) in all matters as he taught us the Suras of the Qur’an. He said, ‘If anyone of you wants to do any task [i.e. wants to decide on a matter], he should offer a two rak`ats other than the compulsory ones and say (after the prayer):
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْتَخِيرُكَ بِعِلْمِكَ وَأَسْتَقْدِرُكَ بِقُدْرَتِكَ وَأَسْأَلُكَ مِنْ فَضْلِكَ الْعَظِيمِ فَإِنَّكَ تَقْدِرُ وَلَا أَقْدِرُ وَتَعْلَمُ وَلَا أَعْلَمُ وَأَنْتَ عَلَّامُ الْغُيُوبِ اللَّهُمَّ إِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الْأَمْرَ خَيْرٌ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي فَاقْدُرْهُ لِي وَيَسِّرْهُ لِي ثُمَّ بَارِكْ لِي فِيهِ وَإِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الْأَمْرَ شَرٌّ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي فَاصْرِفْهُ عَنِّي وَاصْرِفْنِي عَنْهُ وَاقْدُرْ لِي الْخَيْرَ حَيْثُ كَانَ ثُمَّ أَرْضِنِي
O Allaah! I seek the counsel through Your Knowledge, and I seek 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 (alone) know the unseen. O Allah! If You know that this task (or affair) 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 task (affair) 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 [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] added that then the person should mention his (or her) need [i.e. the affair or task]. [Bukhaari: 1162] [Al-Haqeeqatush Shar’iyyah Fee Tafseeril Qur’aanil Adheem Was-Sunnatin Nabawiyyah. Page 95]
After Istikhaarah, one also seeks the advice of upright people who are capable of giving advice in the affair. Al-Hasan al-Basree [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “By Allaah! Never have a people sought advice except that they were guided to the best of what was available to them”. Then he recited [the statement of Allaah]: [ And (the Believers) who (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation]. [Surah AshShurah. Verse 38]
Al-Allaamah Zayd Bin Haadi [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: Allaah [The Mighty and Majestic] commanded His Messenger Muhammad [sallal-laahu-alayhiwasallam] to consult his companions in some affairs: [And consult them in the affairs. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah]. [Surah Aal Imran. Verse 159]
He [i.e. the Prophet] is the example to be followed by the Ummah, therefore when it is the case that Allaah commanded him to consult his companions, then there is even a greater reason that the Muslims are in need of consultation amongst themselves. When a difficulty that is related to a Muslim’s religious and worldly affairs occurs, then indeed it is fitting that he consults someone whom he considers reliable, wise, truthful and sincere. He examines [the advice] given by that person, then he makes a choice – either to take that advice or decides not to take it based on what he is satisfied with, in relation to his personal affairs. The hadeeth places emphasis on the fact that consultation guides to the best outcomes, and due to this it is said, “The one who consults (others) does not regret (thereafter InShaaAllaah) and the one who performs Istikhaarah will not fail (to achieve what is good for him or her)”. Both Istikhaarah and consultation are legislated and a lot of good is achieved by way of them, as opposed to when affairs are pursued in a rigid and haphazard manner, for indeed this might lead to regret and harm. [An Excerpt from ‘Awnul Ahadis Samad Sharh Al-Adab Al-Mufrad’ 1/285. slightly paraphrased]
The One Consulted Must Fear Allaah: Abu Hurairah [(radiyallaahu-anhu) who said that the Messenger (sallal-laahualayhi-wasallam) said: [ The consultee is in a position of trust]. [Saheeh Sunan Abee Dawud. Number 5128]
The consultee is in a position of trust]. He is the one whose opinion is sought after regarding an affair of Maslahah (i.e. an affair that will bring about benefit and repel harm). He is in a position of trust with regards to what he is asked and it is not permissible for him to deceive the one who consults him, by concealing the affair that would bring about benefit. [Mirqaat Al-Mafaateeh Sharh Mishkaat Al-Masaabeeh. Vol 4. Hadeeth 5062. page 259]
This hadeeth is an evidence, showing that the consultee has to (advise) with the course of action and opinion -in relation to the consultation – that which he would do for himself. And it is not permissible that he directs his Muslim brother to something he would not be pleased with for himself. [Awnul Ahadis Samadi, Sharhu Al-Adab AlMufrad. Vol 1. Hadeeth Number 256. page 283]
[Ref 1: Al-Fawaa’id. page 204. slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 2: Al-Fawaa’id 259. slightly paraphrased]