Every person some time in life comes across a situation where the human mind fails to weigh the pros and cons of a particular act. There are times when it becomes a challenge to decide if a particular job is beneficial for you or marrying a certain person would lead to a happy life, whether a project should be undertaken or not, and if applying for a promotion would be successful. In these major life-altering decisions, the role of Istikharah comes in.
WHAT DOES ISTIKHARA DO?
Istikharah is simply a way to ask for Allah’s guidance when our own decision making seems to be clouded. It means to implore the Creator to counsel one regarding the affairs of life, especially when there are two permissible alternatives to choose from. Prophet Muhammad PBUH emphasized the significance of Istikharah by saying,
Sa’ d ibn Waqas reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “Istikharah (seeking guidance from Allah) is one of the distinct favors (of Allah) upon man, and a good fortune for the son of Adam is to be pleased with the judgment of Allah. And a misfortune of the son of Adam is his failure to make Istikharah (seeking Allah’s guidance), and a misfortune for the son of Adam is his displeasure with the judgment of Allah.”
HOW TO PERFORM ISTIKHARA?
The method of Istikhārah is as follows:
Perform two Rakaats with the intention of Salaatul-Istikharah. After Suratul-Fātihah, recite Suratul-Kāfirūn in the first Rakaat and Suratul-Ikhlās in the second Rakaat.
This is what should be read:
I suggest translation of the dua should also be added. Here it is:
(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 act 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 act 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
As you may notice, the words ‘hathal amra’ / this act (underlined in the English translation)has been mentioned twice in the dua. When you come to these words, think about the reason for which you’re asking for Allah’s guidance when reading these actual words.
You should now proceed with whatever your heart intends with regard to that matter.
It is Mustahab (preferable) to perform the above procedure three to seven times.
When circumstances do not allow a person to perform Salāh, Istikharah will be correct by merely reciting the Du‛ā’ at any time.
1.None of the narrations of the Ahādīth that discuss Istikharah have any mention of dreams or even performing the Istikharah before sleeping. It is however preferred by some scholars that Istikharah be performed before sleeping. If one chooses to do so, then he should sleep in the state of purity (i.e. with Wudhū’), facing the Qiblah.
After making Istikhārah, it is not necessary to see a dream. A person should carry out whatever occurs to him, since Istikharah is a humble supplication unto Allāh Ta‛ālā to bestow the best.
THE SHORTER DUA OF ISTIKHARA
The shortest form of Istikhārah is merely to recite the following Du‛ā’ when intending to do anything:
اَللَّهُمَّ خِرْ لِيْ وَاخْتَرْ لِيْ
“Oh Allāh, destine good for me and choose for me
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.
Istikharah is a very powerful tool and thus shall be performed with utmost belief and sincerity that Allah will accept your prayer and will guide you towards the best. The purpose of Istikharah is not to plead Allah for a certain wish but to ask him for guidance. If you do not get your answer during the first attempt, it is preferable to perform it 3 times up to seven times. Allah knows the best and He is the best administrator. May He direct us towards the best during all our challenges. All we need is patience and strong faith as Prophet Muhammad once said,
“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.”
ALLAH DOES WHAT’S BETTER FOR YOU
When you take a particular decision after Istikharah and it doesn’t turn out well in the long run, never blame Allah. Realize the fact that what he made you do was in the best of your interest and that it’s a blessing in disguise. He is the one with infinite wisdom and when He tests us with a situation and takes something that we thought was good for us, have faith that it wasn’t. As Allah says in Quran,
“…and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.” (Surah Baqarah, Aayat 216)
Never forget that Allah is the most merciful of all and blaming him for our calamities would just take us spiritually far away from our Creator. That’s why when you’re done with an Istikhārah, stay at peace of mind that what Allah will do would be the best decision of all. Prophet Muhammad has clearly stated in many of his sayings that the one who performs Istikhārah can never become unsuccessful in reality. Al-Hasan al-Basri once said,
“Do not resent the calamities that come and the disasters that occur, for perhaps in something that you dislike will be your salvation, and perhaps in something that you prefer will be your doom.”
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