“Istikhara is a word which means asking Allah to help one make a choice, meaning choosing the best of two things where one needs to choose one of them.” (Ibn Hajr)
Many times in life, we stumble upon situations where we get confused while making a choice. For example, we might get confused while choosing a job, getting married, or starting a new business. That’s when we make Dua Istikhara after performing 2 rakaats of non-obligatory Salat Istikhara asking Allah to help us make the best decisions.
Meaning of Istikhara in Islam
Istikhara or precisely said Salat Istikhara is a beneficial vessel that helps a believer in seeking direct guidance of Allah SWT in any matter.
The direct meaning of Istikhara is “to ask Allah to guide us towards the right choice.” Undoubtedly it brings lots of goodness or Khair because it is derived from the Arabic root word “Khair.” So that makes the meaning of Dua Istikhara- Dua or prayer for getting guided towards goodness. SubhanAllah! How amazing is Allah SWT? He has provided us with so many means to reach out to him in any situation. Now the question is do we really make enough effort?
Narrated Jabir bin `Abdullah:
As-Salami: Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) used to teach his companions to perform the prayer of Istikhara for each and every matter just as he used to teach them the Suras from the Qur’an He used to say, “If anyone of you intends to do something, he should offer a two Rakat prayer other than the compulsory prayers, and after finishing it, he should say: O Allah! I consult You, for You have all knowledge, and appeal to You to support me with Your Power and ask for Your Bounty, for You are able to do things while I am not, and You know while I do not; and You are the Knower of the Unseen.
O Allah If You know It this matter (name your matter) is good for me both at present and in the future, (or in my religion), in my this life and in the Hereafter, then fulfill it for me and make it easy for me, and then bestow Your Blessings on me in that matter. O, Allah! If You know that this matter is not good for me in my religion, in my this life, and in my coming Hereafter (or at present or in the future), then divert me from it and choose for me what is good wherever it may be, and make me be pleased with it.” (See Hadith No. 391, Vol. 8)
Rules of Dua Istikhara
Dua Istikhara is referred to as Dua that we make after performing Salat Istikhara i.e. non-obligatory prayer of 2 Rakats. However, these terms are often used interchangeably and many people prefer to use Dua Istikhara commonly. It is so because of the special Arabic Dua that is taught by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
It is important to realize that Dua Istikhara is not a spell that will magically tell you about your future. Salat Istikhara helps you seek guidance from Allah in situations where you feel stuck. It is not permissible to pray Dua Istikhara over unnecessary subjects.
- 1. Having tawakkul in Allah SWT.
Having 100% Tawakkul and faith in Allah’s decision is the core of Istikhara. It is our adamant belief over Allah SWT that ultimately makes us perform Dua Istikhara. It is necessary as sometimes we do not get desirable results.
For example, You may be confused about seeking a job opportunity. And you perform Dua Istikhara for that purpose. Now your mother may want you to seek that opportunity but because of Istikhara, you felt a stronger inclination over leaving it. In that case, you should not be disheartened and trust the plans of Allah SWT. You should guide your mother to perform Salat Istikhara and make Dua Istikhara too and make her understand the will of Allah.
[But they plan, and Allāh plans. And Allāh is the best of planners.] Surah Al-Anfal: verse 30.
2. Offer Salat –al Istikhara or Dua Istikhara properly
Salat Istikhara or Dua Istikhara is a form of non-obligatory prayer. Hence, it should be performed separately. Select a peaceful spot, free from unwanted noises. Make yourself clean and wear neat and tidy clothes. Remember, our salahs are our conversation with Allah SWT so one should offer every Salah properly and in a calm state of mind.
3. Do not get disheartened if you do not get the answer the first time.
If you do not get the answer, keep praying Salat Istikhara. It is recommended to pray Salat Istikhara seven times, not necessarily consecutively. So if after seven tries you still don’t have the answer, don’t be afraid to try again on the eighth and so on.
4. Matters that do not justify offering Salat Istikhara
We should not confuse Salat Istikhara with something magical. It does not tell us the future nor gives us any superpower to look into other people’s futures. It is a beneficial Sunnah that definitely makes our connection with Allah SWT stronger and makes us attain the best of the options.
For example, You cannot perform Istikhara to de-code which subject examination will be tough and what topic you should prepare for.
Another Example: Whether you should wake up to offer Fajr in the morning or not. Offering daily prayers is an obligation for Muslims. Hence, you cannot make Dua Istikhara for such matters.
Also, we cannot perform Salat Istikhara for things that are haram for us.
Example: One cannot perform Salat Istikhara to decide whether to go to a certain party with a non-mahram or not.
5. Matters that justify offering Salat Istikhara
Dua Istikhara is the ultimate gift from Allah SWT. How best it is that you get directly guided by Allah SWT and make yourself tension free from worries that were your decision right or wrong. Even if the answer was opposite to what you wanted, you will be assured that it was indeed the best as it was planned by Allah SWT, like every step of our life. You can pray Dua istikhara for:
- Matters concerning marriage (after you have got all the background checked)
- Matters regarding jobs and businesses ( after calculating every positive and negative)
- The matter that requires migration, buying, selling, etc
How to Make Dua Istikhara or Pray Salat Istikhara
Dua Istikhara or Salat Istikhara is the non-obligatory prayer of two rakaats. Keep in mind that you CANNOT offer the Sunnah or Farz (obligatory) prayer and then read Dua Istikhara. It has to be separate two rakaats of Istikhara. The steps of praying Salat Istikhara start with choosing a neat and clean place with a calm environment.
It is necessary because it helps you in staying focused in Salah. Perform ghusl if needed or make ablution or wudu and wear neat and clean clothes. Undoubtedly, this step is necessary even for our daily prayers.
How to Pray Istikhara Step by Step
Step 1: Make ablution or Wudhu
“Cleanliness is half of faith” – Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
Steps of making Ablution or Wudhu
- Make an intention to perform Ablution. Start with “Bismillah” and wash your right hand first then your left hand three times.
- Clean your mouth three times. Rinse your mouth or swish water in your mouth three times to clean it properly.
- Clean your nose properly with water three times.
- Wash your face properly so that it covers your forehead, chin, and base of the ears. It is recommended to wash your face thrice too. If you are having a thin beard, make sure the water reaches the skin below it. And if you have a thick beard, wash the surface and run your wet fingers through it.
- Then wash your right arm three times. Make sure you wash it properly and the water covers every part of your skin till the elbow.
- Then wash your left arm three times in the same manner.
- Now wipe your head starting from the region just above your hairline and going back to the head and coming to the front again.
- Clean your ears by putting the index fingers on both the sides of the respective ear and using the thumb to wipe the back of your ear.
- Clean your right foot by washing it thoroughly with your left hand. Make sure to clean it till the ankle, in between the nails, and heel. Do not leave these portions dry.
- Now use your left hand only to clean your left foot in the same manner.
- Complete your ablution with the following Dua:
أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إلَّا اللهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ، وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّداً عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ
Ash-hadu ‘an laa ‘ilaaha ‘illallahu wahdahu laa shareeka lah, wa ‘ash-hadu ‘anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa Rasooluh.
I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah alone, He is One; He has no partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His save and His messenger.
Step 2: Lay down your prayer mat and position it according to Qibla.
Step 3: pray two rakaats of non-obligatory prayers
The first step of performing Salah includes making an intention. This can be done in either Arabic or your own language. Say,
- ‘I intend to pray the two Rak‘at of Salat Istikhara for Allah facing the Ka‘bah’, on time (Mention the time, say, after Maghrib or time present).
- Now raise your hands up to your earlobes (men), and shoulders (women), whilst saying ‘Allahu Akbar’. This means ′Allah is the Greatest’. This is called the state of ihram and in this state, all worldly things are forbidden such as talking, laughing, eating, drinking or thinking about anything that will distract you.
- Now place your right hand over your left, just below the naval. Women have to place their hands over their chest.
- Say quietly,’SubhanaK-Allahumma wa bihamdiKa, wa tabaarak-asmuKa, wa ta-‘aala jadduKa, wa la ilaaha ghayruK’. Meaning ‘O Allah, glory and praise are for You, and blessed is Your Name, and exalted is Your Majesty and there is no god but You’.
- Next, recite quietly, ‘Auudhu bi-Llahi min ash-Shaitaanir rajeem bismi-Llahir Rahmaani Raheem’. Meaning, ‘I seek protection in Allah from the rejected Satan. In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
- Then recite Surah al-Fatihah, ending by saying silently ‘Ameen’.
- Now, you can recite any other Surah. You can also recite a minimum of three verses of any Surah, or one long verse which is equal in length to three short verses. However, it is good to recite a complete Surah.
- Now, bow down and say ‘Allahu Akbar’ which means ‘Allah is the Greatest’, as you place your hands on your knees, with your back straight. This position is called Ruku (bowing), and in this, you have to say ‘Subhaana Rabbiy-al-Adheem’ three times. It means ‘Glory be to my Lord, the Great’.
- Then while standing you have to say, ‘Sami-Allahu liman hamidaH’ – ‘Allah heard the one who praised Him’. Then say, ‘Rabbana laKal hamd’ which means ‘O our Lord, all praise belongs to You’.
- Say ‘Allahu Akbar’ and go down into prostration or Sujood. When prostrating, your forehead, nose, palms of hands, knees, and toes point forward and should be touching the floor.
- Say, ‘Subhaana Rabbiy-al-Aalaa’ three times. It means ‘Glory be to my Lord, the Highest’.
- Sit up saying ‘Allahu Akbar’. Rest the palms of your hands on your knees. Sit on the flat of your left foot, as you keep the toes of the right foot pointing forward. Women have to lean on their left hip and have to point the toes of both feet towards the right side.
- After a few moments, return back into prostration saying ‘Allahu Akbar’
- Stand up completely whilst saying ‘Allahu Akbar’. And now you have completed the first rakaat of your Salah.
- Repeat these steps again till you complete your 2nd Sujood and sit in a rest position.
- While sitting, recite the first part of the Tashaahud which is
’At-tahiyyatu lillah, was-salawaatu wat-tayyibaat. As-salaamu ‘alayka ayyuhan-Nabiyyu wa rahmat-Ullahi wa barakaatu. As-salaamu alayna, wa alaa ibaadi-llahis saaliheen’.
‘All compliments are for Allah, and prayers and goodness. Peace be upon you, O Prophet, and the mercy of Allah and His blessings. Peace be upon us and on the righteous servants of Allah’.
- Then, keeping your hands on the knees, raise your right index finger of the right hand, with the other fingers in a clasping position. Now, recite the second part of the Tashaahud,
‘Ashhadu an laa ilaaha ill-Allahu wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan abduHu wa Rasooluh’.
‘I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger’.
- Lower your right index finger, so both your palms are positioned in the resting position.
’Allahumma salli alaa Muhammadiw wa alaa aali Muhammadin, kamaa sallayta alaa Ibraheema wa alaa aali Ibraheema, innaKa Hameedum Majeed. Allahumma baarik ‘alaa Muhammadiw wa alaa aali Muhammadin, kamaa baarakta alaa Ibraheema wa alaa aali Ibraheema, innaKa Hameedum Majeed’.
‘O Allah, send Your mercy upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, just as You sent mercy upon Ibrahim and the family of Ibrahim. Truly You are Praiseworthy and Glorious. O Allah, send blessings upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, just as You sent blessings upon Ibrahim and the family of Ibrahim. Truly You are Praiseworthy and Glorious.
- It is then highly recommended to recite supplications (du’a) after that. You can recite,
‘Rabbana aatina fid-dunya hasanataw wa fil-aakhirati hasantaw wa qina adhaaban Naar’. This means, ‘O our Lord give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the punishment of the Fire.’
Complete the last step of your Salah by turning your head first over your right shoulder and saying ‘As-salaamu alaykum wa rahmat-Ullahi wa barakaatuH’. Then repeat these words while turning your head over the left shoulder. It means ‘May peace, the mercy of Allah and His blessings be upon you.’
Now recite the Dua Istikhara and tell your matter to Allah SWT.
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْتَخِيرُكَ بِعِلْمَكَ، 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- عَاجِلِهِ وَآجِلِهِ- فَاقْدُرْهُ لِي وَيَسِّرْهُ لِي ثُمَّ بَارِكْ لِي فِيهِ، وَإِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الْأَمْرَ شَرٌّ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي- عَاجِلِهِ وَآجِلِهِ- فَاصْرِفْهُ عَنِّي وَاصْرِفْنِي عَنْهُ وَاقْدُرْ لِيَ الْخَيْرَ حَيْثُ كَانَ ثُمَّ أَرْضِنِي بِهِ
English text of Dua Istikhara in Arabic
‘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 ay as-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.’
Meaning of Dua Istikhara
(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.
When should we recite Dua Istikhara?
Dua e Istikhara has to be recited after offering Salat Istikhara. Indeed, it is a powerful tool that helps us in attaining the guidance of Allah for our own goodness. However, one should know that it does not work like magic. For instance, if there’s something that you are certain about, for example, you know all the perks and benefits a company offers you and there’s nothing negative about it, then you can do Dua Istikhara for earning Allah SWT’s blessings. And with full Tawakkul you can opt for that job.
Istikhara is the third step of decision-making. The first is the use of intelligence to evaluate the situation and its outcomes. The second is Istisharah, meaning to seek advice from your family and friends. And third is Istikhara. Going in this sequence is beneficial while making any decision.
Purpose of Dua Istikhara
As mentioned, Salat Istikhara can be performed for any situation that requires choosing one or the answer is in “Yes” or “No”. Many scholars believe that we can perform Salat Istikhara even for small things because it brings blessings from Allah. You can offer Istikhara for situations such as:
- Choosing a spouse
- Starting a business
- Migrating for job opportunities
- Investing and many more.
NOTE: Istikhara definitely means goodness or Khair but it does not mean success( as comprehended by a normal human mind). For example, if you get no in answer for a certain investment and you do not make that investment. However, some other person makes the same investment and earns profits. This does not mean that your istikhara was answered wrongly. Instead, it has some hidden Khair that we as humans fail to understand.
Time of Performing Salat Istikhara or Dua of Istikhara
Many scholars believe that you can perform Istikhara at any permissible time of day or night. However, you can perform Dua Istikhara after Isha prayer, Fajr prayer, or at the Tahajjud time to make it more beneficial and effective. It is also recommended to perform Salat Istikhara after Isha prayer and sleep with wudhu or ablution. It should be noted that the message here is to signify mental, physical, and spiritual purity. So if you can’t maintain your wudhu for the whole night, it’s not a problem.
Signs of an Answer
Many people believe that we receive signs in our dreams. If we see a good and happy dream or see green color in our dream then it signals yes. And if we see scary and fearful dreams or red color then it signals no. However, we cannot rely on our dreams fully as many times we see dreams according to the things going on in our minds.
The correct sign of an Answer is a change of heart. We feel more inclined towards the answer. For example, if you were to buy a property and you performed Salat Istikhara for that, then you feel negative towards making any investment or vice-versa. The inclination of the heart is the true sign of the Dua Istikhara.
Question1: I did Istikhara but I didn’t get any answer. What should I do?
Answer: Have tawakkul and faith that Allah will soon answer your prayer. It is one of the signs of a believer that he/she does not get tired while asking from his Lord. Keep asking Allah till you get an answer.
Question2: I am not able to wake up for Fajr. Though I can perform Salat Istikhara after the Isha prayer. Will I get answered?
Answer: It is important to pray your daily obligatory prayers before going for non-obligatory prayers. Make sure you complete your obligatory prayers routinely. Make strong niyyah for completing your daily prayers and head for Salat Istikhara.
Question3: Can I pray Salat Istikhara for anyone else?
Answer: Offer Salat Istikhara yourself to attain Allah’s guidance.
Question4: Will I make the wrong decision if I do not perform Salat Istikhara?
Answer: Having faith and ultimate reliance on Allah SWT is one of the characteristics of a believer. We know that Allah is All-Aware and All-knowing and not a leaf falls but He knows about it. So have full faith that even if you didn’t offer Salat Istikhara, Allah has guided you towards the best.
Question5: I had a positive inclination toward a situation but I still didn’t make it. How will it impact me?
Answer: Know that our every action is Allah’s plan for us. And what can go wrong if the Almighty has planned. Make lots of Dua and endure with patience.
Question6: I do not know how to read Arabic. How can I offer Salat Istikhara?
Answer: Allah knows what is in your heart and He knows how much effort you are putting to establish a connection. Read the transliteration or translation if you cannot memorize it anyway. Have firm faith in Allah and pour down your heart into it.
Question7: I have already made my mind regarding a decision. Can I still pray Salat Istikhara?
Answer: Yes, Salat Istikhara is also a form of Ibadaah. You can offer Salat Istikhara to attract Allah’s blessings.
Question8: Is reciting the Dua Istikhara enough if continued with the obligatory prayers?
Answer: No. Salat Istikhara has to be performed strictly before Dua Istikhara. One cannot make Dua Istikhara right after obligatory prayer, without offering 2 rakaats of non-obligatory prayers.
Question9: is it mandatory to pray Salat Istikhara seven times?
Answer: Is it right to pray Salat Istikhara till you don’t get the answer.
Question10: Is there any maximum number of rakaats in Salat Istikhara?
Answer: Salat Istikhara comprises only two rakaat of prayer as mentioned in hadith, followed by Dua e Istikhara.
“O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (Baqarah 2: Verse 153)
Indeed, Allah is with the patient. And our dua and prayers are our strongest weapons to combat any situation in life. Dua Istikhara is such a powerful tool that helps you sail in any situation and guide you towards the best that may or may not be comprehended by you but it will still be the best for you.
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