Every now and then, a time comes in our lives when we seek somebody’s help in the successful implementation of any important matter of our lives. Usually, we choose the option at first, which we might have thought of as a secondary benefit, but when a professional recommends that particular option to us, we jump to it without a second thought.
We can get the most benefit if they make their decisions based on rightful judgment, which is only possible through the help of Allah. In general, supplications are among the most useful ways to get closer to Him and get His guidance in solving confusing and challenging problems. Apart from the obligatory five prayers, there are other prayers as well, which are proved from the life of Allah’s Messenger (PBUH), including the night prayer, duas for Istikhara, etc.
Istikhara is useful for attaining the wisdom and help of Allah SWT in making the important decisions that will affect our future. If you are looking for the right way to offer Istikhara prayer, you have landed on the right post.
In this blog Inshallah, we will explain how to pray Istikhara step by step to help you attain the guidance of the Almighty. But, before heading to the method, let’s focus on the importance of Istikhara first.
Istikhara literally means to seek goodness. In general, Istikhara meaning is to look for Allah’s guidance and supervision in the easiness or removal of any uncertainties in any matter prior to taking any important decision or performing a major task. It could be matters pertaining to career, marriage, business, and much more. Basically, it means to ask Allah to guide you to the good or right answer.
Istikhara prayer is not only two Rakas of prayer, but it is two Rakas accompanied by a specified supplication after it. It is the prayer of guidance recited during times of irresolution and indecisiveness. Before we learn how to pray Istikhara step by step, it is important to know that one must have absolute faith in Allah as the ultimate Knower of things (both unseen and seen and whatever lies in the whole world) to get His guidance and direction for the successful execution of any matter.
Many people ask: Is Istikhara mentioned in Quran? Well, Istikhara is not explicitly mentioned in Quran but it can be seen through many verses that seeking Allah’s help while doing something important or making any decision is of great benefit. Following is one Quranic verse that clearly shows that Allah loves those who put their trust in Him:
“It is out of Allah’s mercy that you ˹O Prophet˺ have been lenient with them. Had you been cruel or hard-hearted, they would have certainly abandoned you. So, pardon them, ask Allah’s forgiveness for them, and consult with them in ˹conducting˺ matters. Once you make a decision, put your trust in Allah. Surely Allah loves those who trust in Him.” (Ali-Imran: 159)
The importance of performing Istikhara prayer can be seen through a number of hadiths. A hadith narrated by Jabir bin Abdullah states that: “The Prophet (PBUH) used to teach us how to perform Istikhara prayer in all matters as he taught us the Suras of the Quran. He said, “If anyone of you thinks of doing any job, he should offer a two Rakas prayer other than the compulsory ones and say the Istikhara supplication after the prayer.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
On another occasion, Sa’d narrated that the Messenger of Allah said: “From (the signs of) the son of Adam’s prosperity, is his satisfaction with what Allah decreed for him, and from the son of Adam’s misery is his avoiding to seek guidance from Allah, and from the son of Adam’s misery is his anger with what Allah decreed for him.” [At-Tirmidhi]
Istikhara is just like any other prayer; it cannot be done without making Wudu first since Tahrah and its importance in Islam are something crucial. let’s now learn how to pray Istikhara step by step:
Below is the Istikhara dua with English translation and transliteration.
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْتَخِيرُكَ بِعِلْمِكَ وَأَسْتَقْدِرُكَ بِقُدْرَتِكَ، وَأَسْأَلُكَ مِنْ فَضْلِكَ الْعَظِيمِ، فَإِنَّكَ تَقْدِرُ وَلاَ أَقْدِرُ وَتَعْلَمُ وَلاَ أَعْلَمُ وَأَنْتَ عَلاَّمُ الْغُيُوبِ، اللَّهُمَّ إِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الأَمْرَ خَيْرٌ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي فَاقْدُرْهُ لِي وَيَسِّرْهُ لِي ثُمَّ بَارِكْ لِي فِيهِ، وَإِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الأَمْرَ شَرٌّ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي فَاصْرِفْهُ عَنِّي وَاصْرِفْنِي عَنْهُ، وَاقْدُرْ لِي الْخَيْرَ حَيْثُ كَانَ ثُمَّ أَرْضِنِي بِهِ
Allahumma inni astakhiruka bi’ilmika, Wa astaqdiruka bi-qudratika, Wa asaluka min fadlika al-‘azim Fainnaka taqdiru Wala aqdiru, Wa ta’lamu Wala a’lamu, Wa anta ‘allamu l-ghuyub. Allahumma, in kunta ta’lam anna hadha-l-amra (mention the matter here for which you are seeking Allah’s Guidance) Khairun li fi dini wa ma’ashi wa’aqibati amri Faqdirhu li wa yas-sirhu li thumma barik li Fihi, Wa in kunta ta’lamu anna hadhalamra shar-run li fi dini wa ma’ashi wa’aqibati amri Fasrifhu anni was-rifni anhu. Waqdir li al-khaira haithu kana Thumma ardini bihi.’
“O Allah, I consult You as You are All-Knowing and I appeal to You to give me power as You are Omnipotent, I ask You for Your great favor, for You have power and I do not, and You know all of the hidden matters. O, Allah!
If you know that this matter (then mention the matter for which you are seeking Allah’s Guidance) is good for me in my religion, my livelihood, and for my life in the Hereafter, then make it (easy) for me. And if you know that this matter is not good for me in my religion, my livelihood, and my life in the Hereafter, then keep it away from me and take me away from it and choose what is good for me wherever it is and please me with it.”
Once you learn how to pray Istikhara step by step, it is time to learn what is the best time to offer this prayer. Istikhara is a Sunnah prayer, and Islamic scholars share the same opinion that people have the liberty to offer their Istikhara prayer at any permissible time of the day and night they want or is convenient for them. But, according to the traditions passed down from the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s Companions (RAA), the final third of a night is the ideal time for fulfillment of one’s supplications.
Abu Huraira (RA) described: Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said, “Our Lord, the Blessed, the Superior, comes every night down on the nearest Heaven to us when the last third of the night remains, saying: “Is there anyone to invoke Me, so that I may respond to invocation? Is there anyone to ask me so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone seeking my forgiveness so that I may forgive him?” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
On another occasion, Abu Umamah (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) was asked: “At what time does the supplication find the greatest response?” He (PBUH) replied, “A supplication made during the middle of the last part of the night and after the conclusion of the obligatory prayers.” [Sunan At-Tirmidhi]
Another question that many people have in their mind: Is it compulsory to sleep after Istikhara? And the answer is: no, it is not compulsory to sleep right after you pray Istikhara.
After learning how to pray Istikhara step by step and offering it, a person should put aside his/her own decision or inclination about a certain matter and wait for Allah SWT to show His signs or make everything happen as Allah has written for us. If a person feels unclear about the outcome of the prayer, he is allowed to repeat it if needed.
Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller, an American Islamic scholar, says that the more a person performs the Istikhara prayer, the clearer its outcome gets to him. He, himself, prays it for everything, even when one would not imagine performing Istikhara for a specific matter.
It is not necessary that one sees Istikhara signs in dream or sense them. Rather than waiting for a symbolic vision, the person should reflect within to find answers and seek advice from wise and knowledgeable people. Those who wonder how to know if Istikhara is negative should focus on the inclination. After performing Istikhara, Allah guides the person and will not put an inclination towards an option if there is no Khayr (goodness) in it.
The benefits of Istikhara prayer are immense, from transparency in complex matters to being able to get Allah’s support and getting closer to Him. When a person on earth calls upon Allah after waking in the middle of the night, He highly admires his act, listens to his supplication, and mentions his name in front of the angels.
Shah Waliyyullah (RA) says: “From amongst the greatest benefits of Istikhara is that man becomes detached from his carnal desires, his animalistic characteristics become subject to his angelic nature, and he hands himself over to Allah. When he does this, he reaches the stages of the angels whose quality is that they await the command of Allah. When Allah’s command is received, they exert themselves through divine motivation and not carnal motivation. I believe that excessive Istikhara is a proven tonic for the inculcation of angelic qualities.”
When Unable to Pray Istikhara: If you are wondering that can you do Istikhara on your period or while traveling, you should know that you can definitely say the dua of Istikhara and ask for the guidance of Allah the Almighty.
How to pray Istikhara step by step for a marriage proposal? Doing Salat Al Istikhara for marriage is the same as you do for other purposes. After performing an obligatory prayer, recite two Rakas, followed by the Istikhara dua for marriage. Mention the name of the person and his/her mother and pray to Allah SWT to get a hint of whether that person is right for you or not.
Here is the Istikhara dua for marriage in English:
O, Allah! I seek goodness from Your Knowledge, and with Your Power (and Might) I seek strength, and I ask from You Your Great Blessings because You have the Power and I do not have the power. You Know everything, and I do not know, and You have knowledge of the unseen. Oh, Allah! If in Your Knowledge this action (about marriage proposal of the name of man or woman and his or her mother’s name) is better for my religion and faith, for my life and end [death], for here [in this world] and the hereafter, then make it destined for me and make it easy for me and then add blessings in it, for me.
O, Allah! In Your Knowledge, if this action (about marriage proposal of the name of man or woman and his or her mother’s name) is bad for me, bad for my religion and faith, for my life and end [death], for here [in this world] and the hereafter, then turn it away from me and turn me away from it and whatever is better for me, ordain [destine] that for me and then make me satisfied with it.”
Istikhara prayer is a natural procedure – do not expect anything otherworldly. It is a prayer that is performed to ensure that you have the blessings of Allah SWT backing your choice. If you perform the prayer in the right manner, which includes truly entrusting the matter to Almighty and disregarding your own feelings, then He will make everything clear in a way that is best for your this and your next world affairs.
We now know how to pray Istikhara step by step. Pray with sincerity, follow through on the answers you receive, and get expert help to make the best choice for you. Feel free to contact qualified professionals working at Riwaq Al Azhar to learn how to pray Istikhara step by step and better understand its outcome.
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