Based on online observations, it would appear that the word Aameen is being used very liberally by commenters on social media nowadays.
That alone, does not render the usage sinful or reprehensible, but since its observance is very often inappropriate to the context in which the Aameen is used, this post seeks to educate on the meaning of this phrase and the correct circumstances that necessitate its usage.
What does Aameen mean?
The word ‘ameen’ is a supplication meaning, “O Allah, respond (to, or answer what we have said).” It is a noun of the verb istajib meaning “Do answer”.
When should it be used?
Based on its meaning, Aameen should be said after one makes any Dua or Supplication to Allah SWT.
After concluding any supplication to the Allah, who is The Greatest, it is only proper etiquette and protocol that one who sincerely fears their Lord and is hopeful of His Mercy and Grace, just not not to expect his Lord to afford him certain favours, but rather, in total and absolute humility, awe, fear, and hope beg and implores the Lord Most Majestic to favorably respond to his supplications.
In this sense, Aameen is no more than a manifestation of the state of the utter humility, sincerity, helplessness, awe, fear and hope with which a slave addresses his Lord Most High, Most Majestic.
Since Surah Fatiha itself is a Dua, it is also established from the Sunnah, to recite Aameen, loudly or softly(based on the differing understandings of the Authentic Mathaahib) after its recital in Salaah.
Imam Bukhari RA relates from Ibn Shihab (az-Zuhri) who said, “The Messenger of Allah (SAW)would say ‘ameen’ (after recitation of Surah al-Fateha in prayers).”
Abu Hurairah RA reported that the Prophet (SAW) said, When the imam recites, ‘… not of those with whom You are angered nor of those who have gone astray (end of Surah al-Fateha),’ you should say ‘ameen’. If this corresponds to when the Angels say it, he will have all of his previous sins forgiven.” (Related by al-Bukhari.)
`Ali (RA) said: “Aameen is the seal of the Lord of the worlds, He has sealed with it his servant’s supplication”(Tabarani).
When Aameen is not applicable for usage, what other Islamic phrases can be used?
As mentioned above, Aameen is to be used predominatly in response to a Dua or supplication. When one encounters any other circumstance, one should respond using any of the bouquet of Islamic phrases available that would be appropriate to the context.
When one witnesses a Sign of Allah SWT’s Majesty, one can say Allahu Akbar(Allah is the Greatest. One can also use the same phrase as consolation against the challenges of life or the plots of the enemy.
One can say Hasbunallah wa Ni’mal Wakeel (Allah (Alone) is Sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer of affairs (for us)) when one is confronted with something that is overwhelming or that induces fear or distress
We can say Wal-laahul Musta’aan or ‘Allah is the One Whose Help is Sought’, when we encounter something that makes us feel helpless
Say Subhanallah(All Glory be to Allah) when one witnesses the marvels of Allah SWT’s Creation or anything extraordinary or amazing
Say Alhamdulillah(All Praise is Due to Allah) when reflecting on a bounty one has been bestowed with, or even when a calamity has befallen one
Say Inna Lillahi wa Inna ilayhi Rajioon (To Allah do we belong and to Him will we return) when experiencing a loss
“Wa Ma Tawfeeqee il-laah bil-laah” (“And my success is not but through Allah”) can be used when one is commended for an achievement, or as a Dua seeking blessing from Allah SWT to assist one to accomplish a particular task
Use “Masha Allah” meaning “whatever Allah wills” as an expression of admiration or glorifying Allah for anything with which one is pleased. It is also usable in conditional sense, meaning “whatever Allah wills, will be realized.” Usually used regarding something that has already occured
Insha’Allah means “Allah willing”. It is said when someone expects to do something or promises to do it or when he hopes that something will be realized. It is used when talking of the future
Islamic Helpline : http://www.islamhelpline.net/node/4972