Confusion and indecisiveness: Their cause and solution
Muhammad Asif Attari Madani
Interviews were underway for appointing the captain of a ship. The Director of the Selection Committee presented one particular question to every candidate: ‘If you ever had to abandon the ship in a violent sea storm, which lifeboat would you choose to save yourself and the crew members, a motorboat or a rowing boat?’ This question would perplex the interviewees, and upon giving an answer, the Selection Committee would ask for a justification to the answer, which would render the interviewee silent and unsuccessful. The same question was presented to the final interviewee who was more senior than the other candidates, to which he replied with great confidence, ‘the rowing boat.’ Someone from the Selection Committee panel asked him why, and he replied: ‘Because the power of an engine is limited, whereas the [great] level of strength that the Merciful Lord has placed within humans is something which even humans do not know of themselves. It is for this reason that humans put on an extraordinary display in exceptional circumstances. Based on my opinion and experiences, human strength is more reliable [than an engine’s power] in case of a sea storm.’ After listening to this definitive answer, the Selection Committee appointed this candidate as the captain.
Dear readers of the Monthly Magazine ‘Faizan-e-Madinah’, too often do we become confused in many matters in life. In a state of confusion, our thoughts become muddled. It becomes difficult to differentiate between what is right or wrong and what is true or false. As a result of jumbled ideas, a person is unable to arrive at a definitive conclusion or decision. Examples of this may include the following: Which school or Madrassa should one send his child to? Should science-related subjects be studied or a subject from the Faculty of Arts? Should one set up his own business or work for someone else? Should so-and-so be entrusted with money or not? Should one travel via train or via bus? In which area should a property be rented? Should the proposal that has been sent be accepted or rejected?
Changing one’s opinion as a result of some concrete evidence is not something censurable. However, we have people in our society whose views become somewhat muddled [and consequently, continuously shifting]. An individual might perceive something to be ‘poison’, and yet a few moments later, he may begin to think of the same thing as ‘honey’. An individual might declare someone to be a criminal, and yet again, after a few moments, he may deem the same person not guilty. Even if such people manage to form a decision, they are not able to remain steadfast. Consequently, others avoid doing business with them or hiring them as employees.
A solution to confusion and indecisiveness
In order to get rid of confusion, it is important to consider a number of things:
1. Instead of pursuing the option of experiencing something directly and incurring loss as a result, it is advisable to consult someone experienced on the relevant matter. Usually, seeking advice from people who are experienced in their respective fields discloses something that we may well not have known or thought of.
2. Make a decision after contemplating and leave the outcome with Allah.
Allah Almighty states:
وَ تَوَكَّلْ عَلَى الْعَزِیْزِ الرَّحِیْمِۙ(۲۱۷)
And rely upon Him; the Dignified, the Merciful.
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 19, Surah Al-Shu’araa, Verse 217)
In the commentary of this verse, ‘Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Na’eem-ud-Deen Muradabadi رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه writes: ‘Entrust all your affairs unto Him’. (Khazaain-ul-‘Irfan, p. 697)
The benefit in entrusting your affairs to Allah Almighty
Sayyiduna Imam Muhammad Bin Muhammad Ghazali رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه writes: ‘When you entrust your matter to Allah Almighty and ask him to grant you that which is better for you, you will certainly attain goodness and wellbeing. Furthermore, you will definitely experience good. Referring to the words of one of His pious people, Allah Almighty states:
وَ اُفَوِّضُ اَمْرِیْۤ اِلَى اللّٰهِؕ-اِنَّ اللّٰهَ بَصِیْرٌۢ بِالْعِبَادِ(۴۴) فَوَقٰىهُ اللّٰهُ سَیِّاٰتِ مَا مَكَرُوْا وَ حَاقَ بِاٰلِ فِرْعَوْنَ سُوْٓءُ الْعَذَابِۚ(۴۵)
And I entrust my matters to Allah; indeed, Allah sees (His) bondsmen.’ Therefore Allah saved him from the evils of their scheming, and an evil punishment surrounded the people of Fir’awn.
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 24, Surah Al-Mu’min, Verses 44-45)
Do you not see how Allah Almighty has clearly stated that He gave protection, aided against the enemy and made someone successful in his objective as a result of entrusting affairs unto Him? Reflect over this in length. May Allah give you the ability to do good.’ (Minhaj-ul-‘Aabideen, p. 114)
3. Sometimes, one has to choose between two things, and both are correct. If a decision cannot be made as to which option should be pursued, Istikharah should be performed.
The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said: ‘مَا خَابَ مَنِ اسْتَخَارَ، وَلَا نَدِمَ مَنِ اسْتَشَارَ، وَلَا عَالَ مَنِ اقْتَصَدَ’
Translation: ‘Whoever performed Istikharah will not fail. Whoever sought advice will not regret. Whoever pursued moderation will not be dependent.’ (Majma’-ul-Zawaaid, vol. 2, p. 566, Hadees 3670)
In order to learn the method of Istikharah, refer to pages 47-53 of Maktaba-tul-Madinah’s book Badshuguni.
May Allah Almighty protect us from falling into unnecessary confusion and indecisiveness.
اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ النَّبِیِّ الْاَمِیْن صلَّی اللہ علیہ واٰلہٖ وسلَّم