People often need to make decisions that greatly affect their lives. In such cases, it is best to consult Allah and choose the better option. That’s where Istikhara comes in. The word Istikhara means seeking Allah’s help to make a decision. Istikhara helps a Muslim attain peace of mind and heart, as no matter the outcome of the decision, he can rest assured that it is the best decision for him. Keeping this in mind, this blog will take a deeper dive into the concept of Istikhara, the salah and dua of Istikhara, and other essentials one must know beforehand.
Istikhara is a sunnah prayer consisting of two rakahs. This prayer can be performed to seek Allah’s guidance about any matter, like marriage, finance, career, etc.
In a hadith by Hazrat Jabir bin Abdullah RA, he narrates that “the Prophet Muhammad PBUH used to teach him and others Istikhara for each and every matter, just as he used to teach them the Quranic Surahs.
The Prophet PBUH also used to say that if anyone of you intends to do something, then he should pray a two-rakah prayer other than the obligatory prayer and then say the dua. Then he should mention his need.”
To clarify the times when one should do Istikhara, Ibn Abi Jamra explained the conditions. Concerning the hadith narrated by Hazrat Jabir bin Abdullah RA, he said that this hadith ‘refers to something specific.’ Moreover, he also stated there is no need to perform Istikhara to decide whether to do something wajib (obligatory) or mustahabb (liked or encouraged). He also said that there is no need to do Istikhara to decide whether someone should do something haram (forbidden) or makruh (disliked).
Istikhara is for matters that are mubah (permissible) or in mustahabb matters where one has to decide but is not sure which mustahabb option should be given priority. He further states that Istikhara refers to big and small decisions. Because, sometimes, an insignificant issue can also lay the foundation for a bigger problem.
When you have decided to perform Istikhara, there are some rules you need to follow, which are as follows:
- Since Istikhara is performed like a prayer, you must make wudu (partial ablution).
- Then pray two rakahs as you would for any other prayer.
- Then recite the dua for Istikhara.
The evidence of Istikhara dua comes from several authentic narrations. One of these narrations is below.
اللَّهُمَّ إنِّي أسْتَخِيرُكَ بعِلْمِكَ، وأَسْتَقْدِرُكَ بقُدْرَتِكَ، وأَسْأَلُكَ مِن فَضْلِكَ العَظِيمِ؛ فإنَّكَ تَقْدِرُ ولَا أقْدِرُ، وتَعْلَمُ ولَا أعْلَمُ، وأَنْتَ عَلَّامُ الغُيُوبِ، اللَّهُمَّ إنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أنَّ هذا الأمْرَ خَيْرٌ لي في دِينِي ومعاشِي وعَاقِبَةِ أمْرِي – أوْ قالَ: عَاجِلِ أمْرِي وآجِلِهِ – فَاقْدُرْهُ لي ويَسِّرْهُ لِي، ثُمَّ بَارِكْ لي فِيهِ، وإنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أنَّ هذا الأمْرَ شَرٌّ لي في دِينِي ومعاشِي وعَاقِبَةِ أمْرِي – أوْ قالَ: في عَاجِلِ
أمْرِي وآجِلِهِ – فَاصْرِفْهُ عَنِّي واصْرِفْنِي عنْه، واقْدُرْ لي الخَيْرَ حَيْثُ كَانَ، ثُمَّ أرْضِنِي قالَ: «وَيُسَمِّي حَاجَتَهُ-
‘Allahumma inni astakhiruka bi’ilmika, wa astaqdiruka biqudratika, wa as’aluka min fadlika-l-‘azim, fa innaka taqdiru wala aqdiru, wa ta’lamu wala a’lamu, wa anta’allamu-l-ghuyub. Allahumma in kunta ta’lamu anna hadha-lamra khairun li fi dini wa ma’ashi wa ‘aqibati `Amri (or said, fi ‘ajili `Amri wa ajilihi) fa-qdurhu li, Wa in kunta ta’lamu anna ha-dha-l-amra sharrun li fi dini wa ma’ashi wa ‘aqibati `Amri (or said, fi ajili `Amri wa ajilihi) fasrifhu ‘anni was-rifni ‘anhu wa aqdur li alkhaira haithu kana, thumma Raddani bihi.
“O Allah, I seek Your counsel through Your knowledge and I seek Your assistance through Your might and I ask You of Your immense favor, for indeed You alone decree fate while I do not, and You (alone) know (all things) while I do not, and You alone possess all knowledge of the Unseen.
O Allah, if You that know this matter ( articulate matter) to be good for me as pertains to my religion, my life and livelihood and to the final outcomes of my affairs, then decree it for me, facilitate it for me, and then bless it for me. But if You know this matter to be harmful to me as pertains to my religion, my life and livelihood and to the final outcomes of my affairs, then distance it from me and distance me from it, then decree what is good for me – wherever it may be – and content me with it.”
After you have recited this dua, you should mention your need.
After you have prayed Istikhara and supplicated to Allah about your need, you can interpret the result of Istikhara as follows:
- You may have a ‘good feeling’ about one of your options or be more inclined towards one of your choices.
- The events may change in an order that you were not expecting.
- You may see other signs, such as a conversation or a phone call.
Whatever the sign may be, remember that your heart will feel content and at peace when you decide to move forward and choose the option.
Many people say that the result of Istikhara only comes in dreams, but this is not true. The purpose of Istikhara is to consult Allah to guide the person to the best option. This option doesn’t necessarily have to come in the form of a dream. Additionally, dreams can be true or false.
Sometimes, dreams are correct; other times, they are a cluster of one’s wildest thoughts. That’s why relying on dreams for some important matters may be a little unsafe, and unless you have had your dreams interpreted by someone with enough knowledge, look for other signs.
Many hadiths on this topic also don’t mention any dreams. Although dreams can be a sign, relying on the heart and seeing which option gives you more peace and reassurance is safer.
If you still feel restless, you can pray Istikhara again.
With Istikhara, make sure to rid your heart of any previous opinions you may have had. When you have performed Istikhara, you have entrusted Allah with the decision. After that, if you still choose the option that you were going to choose before, although it feels wrong, then you are interfering in Allah’s decision, and that is not right. But the best way to decide is to choose whatever you feel wholeheartedly inclined to.
Remember, the result of Istikhara may not seem good or correct to you, but that doesn’t mean it is not right. Since Istikhara is a dua, and duas are sometimes answered in a way that is easy to understand and other times in ways that are only understandable to Allah, one should rest easy knowing that whatever is happening is for the best.