Muslims should seek Allah’s guidance and wisdom before making a decision. 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 at the time.
If unsure about a decision you have to make, there is a specific prayer for guidance (Salat-l-Istikhara) that you can do to, ask for Allah’s help in making your decision. Many muslims perform the guidance prayer for marriage. Should you marry this certain person? or should you attend this school? or Should you take this job offer or that one? Allah knows what is best for you, and if you are not sure about a choice that you have, seek His guidance as there is blessing in his guidance.
Salat al-Istikhara is a powerful. We should not hesitate to pray Istikhara before making any choice in our lives, big or small. Afterall, why waste time focusing on something that isn’t written for you.
It’s very important to do this prayer with pure sincerity, knowing in our hearts that only Allah (swt) can give us the guidance we seek.
We should also say the dua with firm conviction, not begging or pleading, but asking Allah clearly for guidance.
We must be patient after the dua, one should not expect some sort of miracle, or a dream full of signs and symbols. These things are not necessary but you can experience them. We simply say our prayers and trust that Allah has heard us and will answer us in the way that is best.
Salat-l-Istikhara is described in the Hadith narration below.
Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah: The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam used to teach us the way of doing istikhara (istikhara means to ask Allah to guide one to the right sort of action concerning any job or a deed), in all matters as he taught us the Surats of the Quran. He said, “If anyone of you thinks of doing any job he should offer a two Rakat prayer 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 فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي فَاصْرِفْهُ عَنِّي وَاصْرِفْنِي عَنْهُ وَاقْدُرْ لِيَ الْخَيْرَ حَيْثُ كَانَ ثُمَّ ارْضِنِي بِهِ
‘Allahumma inni astakhiruka bi’ilmika, Wa astaqdiruka bi-qudratika, Wa as’alaka min fadlika al-‘azlm Fa-innaka taqdiru Wala aqdiru, Wa ta’lamu Wala a’lamu, Wa anta ‘allamu l-ghuyub. Allahumma, in kunta ta’lam anna hadha-l-amra Khairun li fi dini wa ma’ashi wa’aqibati amri (or ‘ajili amri wa’ajilihi) Faqdirhu wa yas-sirhu li thumma barik li Fihi, Wa in kunta ta’lamu anna hadha-lamra shar-run li fi dini wa ma’ashi wa’aqibati amri (or fi’ajili amri wa ajilihi) Fasrifhu anni was-rifni anhu. Waqdir li al-khaira haithu kana Thumma ardini bihi.’
(O Allah! I ask guidance from Your knowledge, And 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 know the unseen. O Allah! If You know that this job 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 job 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 added that then the person should name (mention) his need.
Sahih Al-Bukhari – Book 21 Hadith 263
* When making the dua, the actual matter or decision should be mentioned instead of the words “hathal-amra” (“this matter”).
Remember the words of our Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam, “The supplication of everyone is granted as long as he does not show haste and does not say that he made a supplication but it was not accepted.” [Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah]
The answer to one’s istikhara prayer does not come simply in the form of dreams and feelings (but it can as well) but it can be explained in how Allah facilitates and unfolds events, place your trust in Allah and be patient.
And Allah knows best, He is the All-Seeing, All-Hearing, the best Planner. May He guide us and ease all our difficulties. Ameen.