When a Muslim is confused about how to resolve a matter, they can ask Allah to help by reciting the Istikhara prayer. Salat al-Istikhara is a powerful tool given to us so that we may seek His Guidance and Wisdom in all matters of life – whether big or small.
The word Istikhara originates from the Arabic root word of Khair, which is an umbrella word connotating all that is good.
One can pray the Istikhara prayer to seek God’s advice about things that are permissible. For instance, whether they should relocate for school or work, if they should accept a marriage proposal, or if they should buy a particular car or house. The Istikhara Prayer is a sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, that he recommended and performed.
Many harbour the misconception that the answer they seek will come in a dream or a vision, or that the answer will appear magically to them. While that is possible, the Divine response will not necessarily arrive in this way.
By doing this prayer, God might place an inclination in one’s heart that will guide you to go through with the action He chose for you, enabling you to feel a sense of peace and contentment with your decision. On the contrary, the one that gets a negative response may feel doubtful, apprehensive, and averse to moving forward with their matter.
The main way that God answers the prayer is by clearing the right path while closing all other avenues. If the Divine answer was no, then one might oversleep that day, suffer a flat tire on their vehicle, or experience a rejection of their marriage proposal. One should look out for these signs that lead them in the right direction.
It is also important to note that the one seeking an answer needs to await the answer patiently. Our Prophet (pbuh) stated that the supplication of everyone is granted, providing that they do not show haste and do not assume that the supplication made was not accepted.
it was narrated by Jabir bin Abdullah may God be pleased with him:
“The Messenger of Allah used to teach his Companions to perform Istikharah in all matters, just as he used to teach them Surahs from the Qur’an. He said: ‘If anyone of you is deliberating about a decision he has to make, then let him pray two Rak’ahs of non-obligatory prayer, then say:
Istikhara is a two-rakat non-obligatory prayer which is completed by reciting the Istikhara dua, either before one finishes his prayer, or once the prayer is finished. Whilst either is permissible, it’s recommended to do as the Prophet (pbuh) did, which is to recite the Istikhara dua during prayer towards the end.
Istikhara cannot be performed for matters that are wajib (obligatory) or haram (forbidden), as these are rulings that are clear and thus, should be stayed away from. Rather, Istikhara is for matters that are permissible for Muslims.
Whilst prayer can not be offered by women during their period, it is permitted for women to only read the Istikhara dua if they’re wanting Allah’s guidance on what decision to make.
May Allah make it easy on us all and give us the wisdom to make the right decisions. Ameen.