For Muslims, the religion of Islam provides a complete way of life. From divine worship to serving humanity, and maintaining relationships to simple mannerisms, Islamic scriptures have not failed to leave any of it out.
Decision-making is an integral part of all our lives. Whilst many of us converse with others before we embark on any enterprise, seldom do we think about asking for Allah’s guidance. Over a thousand years ago, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught his companions how one should approach any decision-making process: discuss with others and ask Allah for his blessings.
What is Istikhara?
When a Muslim is unsure about a certain decision or if he’s about to embark on any enterprise, it is recommended to ask Allah for a sign of the outcome. This is done through the Istikhara prayer. The Istikhara prayer is one of the most phenomenal features of Islam which entails a supplication, after which a Muslim will be provided with signs as to whether something is right or wrong for him. This practice helps in adding conviction to one’s decision-making process and also removes any doubts about a certain decision. Not only was it merely prescribed by the Prophet ﷺ, but it was also highly encouraged at all times.
In one hadith, it has been narrated by Jabir Ibn Abdullah RA, ‘The Prophet (p.b.u.h) 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 Suras of the Qur’an.’ [Sahih Bukhari]
The Reality of Istikhara?
One of the most common misconceptions around the Istikhara prayer is that many believe it is vital to have a dream about that which one has sought guidance. Whilst this can serve as an answer or a sign, it is not essential to have a dream. If one experiences ease in the matter in which he sought guidance, this can also be used as a motive to proceed with a decision.
A further point to add is that Istikhara is not only for big decisions such as marriage, work or starting a new job. The supplication can be recited for more trivial matters such as deciding which route to take or before making a purchase.
How To Perform Istikhara Prayers
One should perform Wudhu (ablution) before commencing the prayers
After performing Wudhu, one should pray two nafl (optional) raka’ats of prayer
In the first raka’at, Surah Kafiroon should be recited after Surah Fatiha and Surah Ikhlas in the second raka’at
Upon completion of the two raka’ats, one should raise his hands and recite the supplication of Istikhara
It is better to do this before sleeping, but this is not necessary
Before reciting the supplication of Istikhara, one should precede this with praise of Allah and by sending peace and blessings upon the Prophet ﷺ. The Du’a should also be closed in this manner.
What Is The Istikhara Du’a
The supplication that should be recited after praying the two nafl raka’ats is:
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
Allâhumma inni astakhiruka bi ilmika wa astaqdiruka biqudratika wa as’aluka min fadlikal-azimi, fa innaka taqdiru walâ aqdiru wa ta’lamu walâ a’lamu wa anta allamul ghuyubi. Allâhumma in kunta ta’lamu anna hâdhal amra khayrun li fi dini wa ma-ashi wa aqibati amri faqdir-hu li wa yassir-hu li thumma barik li fihi wa in kunta ta’lamu anna hâdhal amra sharrun li fi dini wa maâshi wa aqibati amri fasrifhu anni wasrifni anhu waqdir liyal-khayra haythu kâna thumma ardini.
“O Allah, verily I seek the better [of either choice] from You, by Your knowledge, and I seek ability from You, by Your power, and I ask You from Your immense bounty. For indeed You have power, and I am powerless; You have knowledge and I know not; You are the Knower of the unseen realms. O Allah, if You know that this matter is good for me with regard to my religion, my livelihood and the end of my affair then decree it for me, facilitate it for me, and grant me blessing in it. And if You know that this matter is not good for me with regard to my religion, my livelihood and the end of my affair then turn it away from me and me from it; and decree for me better than it, wherever it may be, and make me content with it.”