When we are unsure about making a decision, we can perform Solat Istikhara.
Istikhara means ‘to seek the best of affairs’. It is a Sunnah prayer of two raka’at with the intention to seek guidance from Allah s.w.t. on whether to proceed or to withdraw from the matter. It could be matters pertaining to marriage, career pathways, business and many more.
It is a Sunnah prayer taught by the Prophet s.a.w. In a hadith, the Prophet s.a.w. said:
مِن سَعادةِ ابنِ آدمَ كثرةُ استِخارةِ اللهِ تعالى، وَرِِضَاهُ بِمَا قَضَى اللهُ لهُ، ومِن شَقاوةِ ابنِ آدمَ ترْكُه استِخارةَ اللهِ تعالى وسَخَطُهُ بِمَا قضَى اللهُ له
Amongst the happiness of the son of Adam is the abundance in performing Istikhara (seeking the best) from Allah the exalted and contentment upon what is ordained by Allah for him. And amongst the misery of the son of Adam is his disregard for Istikhara to Allah the exalted and his resentment for what is ordained by Allah for him.
In another hadith narrated by Imam At-Tabrani, the Prophet s.a.w. said:
كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يُعَلِّمُنَا الاِسْتِخَارَةَ فِي الأُمُورِ كَمَا يُعَلِّمُنَا السُّورَةَ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ
The Prophet s.a.w. used to teach us (the way of performing) Istikhara in all matters just as he taught us a verse from the Quran.
The Sunnah Istikhara prayer is performed in two raka’at like other Sunnah prayers.
First, establish the niat (intention) is as follows:
أُصَلِّي سُنَّةَ الاِستِخَارَةِ رَكعَتَينِ لِلَّهِ تَعَالَى
Usolli sunnatal-Istikharati rak'ataini lillah ta'ala
I intend to pray the Sunnah Istikhara prayer, two raka'at, for Allah s.w.t.
Second, give the Takbir (Takbiratul-Ihram) and perform a two raka’at prayer.
After ending the prayer with the Salam, invoke upon Allah s.w.t. with the adab of making a Dua.
As taught by our Prophet Muhammad s.a.w, read the following Dua:
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 ـ أَوْ قَالَ عَاجِلِ أَمْرِي وَآجِلِهِ ـ فَاقْدُرْهُ لِي وَيَسِّرْهُ لِي ثُمَّ بَارِكْ لِي فِيهِ، وَإِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الأَمْرَ شَرٌّ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي ـ أَوْ قَالَ فِي عَاجِلِ أَمْرِي وَآجِلِهِ ـ فَاصْرِفْهُ عَنِّي وَاصْرِفْنِي عَنْهُ، وَاقْدُرْ لِي الْخَيْرَ حَيْثُ كَانَ ثُمَّ أَرْضِنِي ـ قَالَ ـ وَيُسَمِّي حَاجَتَهُ
O Allah! I seek Your counsel 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 are All-knowing of the unseen (hidden),
O Allah! If You know that this matter is good for me in my religion, my livelihood and my affairs in the Hereafter, if it is better for my present and later, then ordain it for me and make it easy for me, and then bless it for me,
And if You know that this matter is harmful (bad) for me in my religion, my livelihood and my affairs in the Hereafter, or if it is bad for my present and later, then ward it off from me and keep me away from it. Then ordain for me with whatever is good for me wherever it may be found, and help me be content with it.
The Prophet added that afterwards, the person should name (mention) his need.
Unlike the 5 obligatory prayers, which have their own specific timings, there is no set time to perform Solat Istikhara. You may perform it at any point of the day except during the forbidden hours, which are:
1. After the Subuh prayer until sunrise
2. When the sun is at its meridian until it goes past it (which is about 5 minutes before Zuhur)
3. After the Asar prayer until sunset
This prohibition is based on the hadith of the Prophet s.a.w:
حين تطلُعُ الشمسُ بازغةً حتى ترتفعَ، وحين يقومُ قائمُ الظهيرةِ حتى تميلَ الشمس، وحين تَضيَّفُ الشمسُ للغروبِ حتى تغرُبَ
“When the sun rises until it goes high in the horizon, when the sun is at its meridian until it goes past the meridian, and when the sun sets until it is totally down."
After performing the Sunnah Istikhara prayer, do note that the answer might not come immediately. If there is greater conviction or clarity on a certain pathway, we should proceed with it. Not all answers come in manifested results or in dreams.
If there is no inclination felt in the heart, we should look into our affairs and judge whether there is ease or an obstacle to proceed or perhaps to withdraw accordingly. Our circumstances in life can be a part of Allah’s facilitation to give us the best of affairs from our Istikhara.
For some, the result from their Istikhara is not as clear as what others might experience. It is important to consult others and the people we trust. However, we do not rely upon all these efforts per se. They are indeed necessary and are part of the process of seeking guidance.
Instead, we rely upon Allah s.w.t. This can be seen in the following verse:
وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِى ٱلْأَمْرِ ۖ فَإِذَا عَزَمْتَ فَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُحِبُّ ٱلْمُتَوَكِّلِينَ
“Consult with them in (conducting) matters. Once you make a decision, put your trust in Allah. Surely Allah loves those who trust in Him.”
(Surah Ali-’Imran, 3:159)
May Allah s.w.t. provide us with courage and wisdom to make the best decisions and guide us throughout our journey in this world.
Watch this video on how to perform Istikhara: