“Put your trust in Allah, certainly, Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).” [Surah al-Imran; 3:159]
Istikhara is to seek guidance from Allah when one is faced with a problem to which no solution is apparent. To ask Allah SWT to guide you to the path best for you concerning an affair with two Halal options. Whenever a person is faced with a difficult problem, or becomes hesitant in making a decision and his/her knowledge of the matter is insufficient to guide them then after seeking advice from trusted friends and family, one should turn to Allah SWT and beseech His grace. One should willingly and with an open heart and mind supplicate for divine guidance and ask for direction so that the problem is solved in one’s own best interest. The Dua at such an occasion is called Istikhara. At anytime one makes a decision, one should seek Allah’s guidance and wisdom. Allah alone knows what is best for us, and there may be good in what we perceive as bad, and bad in what we perceive as good. This prayer is usually made when making a decision to marry someone, or working out which university to attend, and so on. But it can be related to any significant, or insignificant aspect of a person’s life. If confused about a decision, where you have a choice to make, make this prayer. Simply, seek Allah (Ta’ala)’s guidance. It comprises of a two Rak’ah non-obligatory (Nafl) prayer, prayed at anytime during the day, with the specified Dua recited at the end.
The Dua for Salaah al-Istikhara
According to a Hadith transmitted on the authority of Muhammad Ibn al-Munkadir, it was Jabir Ibn ‘Abdullah RA who said: ” Rasulullah SAW used to teach us how to seek guidance in choosing the best option available in a practical enterprise [al-Istikhara fi’l-amr], just as he would sometimes teach us a Chapter (Surah) from the Qur’an”
If one of you is concerned about some practical undertaking, or about making plans for a journey, he should perform two cycles of ritual prayer [rak’atain], not as an obligatory observance [farida], but voluntarily. Then he should say: Allahumma inni astakhiruka bi ilmika wa-astaqdiruka biqudratika wa-as’aluka min fadhlika al-adheem. Fa innaka taqdiru wala’ aqdiru. Wa ta’lamu wala a’alamu wa anta allaamul ghuyub. Allahumma in kunta ta’lamu anna [hadhal-amr] khayrun li fi deeni wa-ma’ashi wa-aqibat amri, fa’qdruhli wa-yasirh li thumma barik li feehi. Wa in-kunta ta’lamu anna [hadhal amr] sharrun li fi deeniy wa-ma’ashi was-‘aqibat amri. Fa asrifh anni wa-srif ‘anhu. Wa aqdurh liyal khayr hayth kana thumma a-rdhini bihi
(O Allah, Behold I ask you the good through Your Knowledge, and ability through Your Power, and beg (Your Favour) out of your infinite Bounty. For surely You have Power; I have none. You know all; I know not. You are the Great Knower of all things. O Allah! If in Your Knowledge [this matter] be good for my faith (Deen), for my livelihood, and for the consequences of my affairs, then ordain it for me, and make it easy for me, and bless me therein. But if in Your Knowledge, [this matter] be bad for my faith (Deen) for my livelihood, and for the consequences of my affairs, then turn it away from me, and turn me away therefrom, and ordain for me the good wherever it be, and cause me to be pleased therewith.)
Imam an-Nawawi holds that “after performing the Istikhara, a person must do what he is wholeheartedly inclined to do and feels good about doing and should not insist on doing what he had desired to do before making the Istikhara. And if his feelings change, he should leave what he had intended to do, otherwise he is not completely leaving the choice to Allah SWT, and would not be honest in seeking aid from Allah’s power and knowledge. Sincerity in seeking Allah’s choice means that one should completely leave what he himself had desired or determined.” After performing the Salaah, one should “have a good feeling” — a ‘firmness’ about one of the options. Whatever option one feels is best right after saying the Dua should be the decision. If still in doubt, the Salaah can be repeated (up to seven times). It should be mentioned that there is also no dream or specific timing involved to perform this prayer. After having placed one’s trust in Allah SWT, simply follow one’s feelings after performing it.
Overall summary of the method
- In time of decision-making, and a feeling of uncertainty about your affairs.
- You wish to pray to Allah Ta’ala to seek some guidance (on a Halal matter).
- Before reciting the Dua’ make sure that you are not already inclined to a given decision; otherwise it will mean that you serious about seeking guidance from Allah (Ta’ala).
- You perform the prayer, and recite the cited Dua’ at the end.
- Upon performing the prayer, you will have a feeling or inclination towards one choice. So that is the choice that you have to take, Insha Allah (God Willing).
- If your his mind has not been made up after the first day, and some doubt still persists, then repeat the Salaah the following day. This can be continued for up to seven days. Insha Allah, you will come to know of the advantage or disadvantage of that matter.