Istakhara in Arabic means, “to seek guidance in making a decision about something.” istakhara prayer
is Sunnah, prescribed in a hadith narrated by Al-Bukhari:
“The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to teach his companions to make istikhaarah in all matters, just as he used to teach them soorahs from the Qur’aan. He said: ‘If any one of you is deliberating about a decision he has to make, then let him pray two rak’ahs of non-obligatory prayer, then say: Allaahumma inni astakheeruka bi ‘ilmika wa astaqdiruka bi qudratika wa as’aluka min fadlika, fa innaka taqdiru wa laa aqdir, wa ta’lamu wa laa a’lam, wa anta ‘allaam al-ghuyoob. Allaahumma fa in kunta ta’lamu haadha’l-amra (then the matter should be mentioned by name) khayran li fi ‘aajil amri wa aajilihi (or: fi deeni wa ma’aashi wa ‘aaqibati amri) faqdurhu li wa yassirhu li thumma baarik li fihi. Allaahumma wa in kunta ta’lamu annahu sharrun li fi deeni wa ma’aashi wa ‘aaqibati amri (or: fi ‘aajili amri wa aajilihi) fasrifni ‘anhu [wasrafhu ‘anni] waqdur li al-khayr haythu kaana thumma radini bihi (O Allaah, I seek Your guidance [in making a choice] by virtue of Your knowledge, and I seek ability by virtue of Your power, and I ask You of Your great bounty. You have power, I have none. And You know, I know not. You are the Knower of hidden things. O Allaah, if in Your knowledge, this matter (then it should be mentioned by name) is good for me both in this world and in the Hereafter (or: in my religion, my livelihood and my affairs), then ordain it for me, make it easy for me, and bless it for me. And if in Your knowledge it is bad for me and for my religion, my livelihood and my affairs (or: for me both in this world and the next), then turn me away from it, [and turn it away from me], and ordain for me the good wherever it may be and make me pleased with it)” (Sahih Al-Bukhari 1166).
Istakhara prayer is very simple. It is two rakat of voluntary prayers followed by the dua of Istakharah. This prayer demonstrates submission to the command of Allah and is a practical demonstration that there is no power or strength except Allah. It allows us to seek Allah’s guidance in all aspects of our life. It allows us to turn to Allah and to seek both the goodness of this life and of the Hereafter.
Once one performs the istakhara prayer, one should do that which feels is the best. By performing the istakhara prayer and making a decision, we should trust in Allah and realize that the decision we have made is for the best and will benefit us in this world and the next.
When to do istakhara prayer?
One should perform istakhara prayer in cases where the individual does not know the right decision to make. istakhara prayer is not to be performed in matters where it is known whether a thing is good or bad, such as acts of worship, doing good deeds, sins or evil actions. Istakhara prayer is to be performed when there is a choice of two permissible things and the person must decide on which one to do or not do.
When to pray Istakhara?
istakhara prayer should be performed before deciding on a course of action. The person who wants to pray istakhara should have an open and mind and be in the process of making a decision. Istakhara prayer should be performed when one starts thinking of the matter so that the blessings of prayer and dua of what is good will become clear, aiding an individual in making a decision. If istakhara prayer were to be performed after making a decision, there would not have been as much benefit as the decision has already been made.
Common misconceptions of istakhara prayer are that the results of the decision would appear to you in a dream or through a sign of some sort. This is not necessarily true. The “results” of istakhara prayer is simply a feeling. Istakhara prayer demonstrates our trust in Allah’s plan. When we have a decision to make and we perform istakhara prayer, we decide on a course of action knowing that this is the best for us in this life and the next as we sought Allah’s guidance in the matter. Istakhara prayer leaves little room for regret.