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“Istikhara” means to seek goodness from Allah (Exalted is He), meaning when one intends to do an important task they do istikhara before the task. The one who does the istikhara is as if they request Allah Almighty that, O the Knower of Unseen (Exalted is He) guide me if this task is better for me or not?

According to Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 21, Number 263:

Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah :The Prophet (Sallal Laho Alaihi Wasallam) used to teach us the way of doing Istikhara, 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 Rakat prayer other than the compulsory ones and say (after the prayer):

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A lot has been said about the Istikhara prayer, but what is it really? And how do you perform it? In this guide, we’ll break down the steps for you and teach you what to look for when you’re praying for guidance.

What Is the Purpose of Istikhara?

The Islamic prayer of Istikhara is a two-part process that is said when you are feeling confused or uncertain about a decision you need to make. The first part is the supplication, in which you ask Allah for guidance. The second part is the visualization, in which you imagine yourself in the best possible scenario after making the decision you are seeking guidance on.

Istikhara is Arabic for “Seeking guidance.” The prayer is supposed to provide guidance and clarity in situations where you are feeling lost or uncertain. It’s not meant to be used for things like choosing a college major or what car to buy only for things where there might be consequences if the decision is made incorrectly.

Some people believe that Istikhara should only be used for major life decisions, while others use it for smaller things like choosing a restaurant. The important thing is that you trust your intuition and feelings after doing the prayer. If it feels like the right decision, go with it. If not, then reconsider.

How Do You Pray the Istikhara Prayer?

After you have cleansed yourself and made ablution, stand facing the qiblah (direction of the Ka’bah in Makkah). Recite Surah Al-Fatiha and Surah Al-Kafirun. Then, recite the following du’a (supplication):

Allahumma inni astakhiruka bi ilmika wa astaqdiruka bi qudratika wa as’aluka min fadlikal-azim. Fa innaka taqdiru wa la aqdiru wa ta’lamu wa la a’lamu wa anta ‘allamul ghuyub.

Allahumma in kunta ta’lamu anna haola-alaika ghayru mukhtalifin faqdirhu li wa yassirhu li thumma baarik li fima anta a’taytu bihi.

Translation: “O Allah, I ask You for guidance by virtue of Your knowledge, and I seek strength by virtue of Your power. And I ask You for a good end in this life and in the Hereafter. You are capable of doing everything, and You know everything.”

After reciting this du’a, close your eyes and earnestly make dua (supplication) to Allah for guidance.

What Is the Meaning of the Words in the Istikhara Prayer?

When you recite the Istikhara prayer, you’re asking Allah for guidance in making a big decision. You want to know if what you’re about to do is the right thing, and you want His blessing on it.

The words of the Istikhara prayer are:

“Allahumma inni astakhiruka bi’ilmika, wa astaqdiruka bi-qudratika, wa as’aluka min fadlika al-khaira wa ‘al-ain. Allahuma in kunta talamu anna hadha al-amra khayrun li fi dini wa maqamati wa aqibati amri, faqdirhu li wa yassirhu li, thumma baarik li fi hali.”

This prayer is translated to: “O Allah! I seek Your guidance by virtue of Your knowledge, and I seek power through Your might, and ask of You from Your infinite bounty; goodness and blessings sufficient for me and for my needs that are near and those that are far away. O Allah!

If You know this matter (about which I have asked) to be good for me both in this world and the next, then decree it for me and make it easy for me, and bless me therein. But if You know this matter to be bad for me both in this world and the next, then turn it away from me and decree for me what is good wherever it may be, and bless me therein. And protect me from the evil of what You decreed.”

Making Duâa Following the Istikhara Prayer

After you have done the istikhara, you must make duâa (supplication) asking Allah to help guide your decision. You can do this in whatever words feel right for you, but here are a few ideas to help get you started.

Begin by praising Allah, as He is the Most Generous and Most Kind. Ask Him to grant you clarity on the best decision and to guide your heart and soul towards His pleasure. And, ask Him to open up all possibilities that lead to success.

If there is fear or worry associated with the decision, ask Allah for protection against any harm that may come from whichever choice you make.

And lastly, always thank Allah for His guidance and mercy no matter what your decision may be.

Practical Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Istikhara Prayer

Before you begin your prayer, it’s important to reflect on the decisions at hand and note any feelings or thoughts that come up. This can help shift your mental state into a more focused and open space.

You should also be sure to perform your Istikhara in a comfortable and peaceful environment, preferably one in which you feel secure and relaxed. It’s also helpful if you dress in something special”perhaps donning your best clothes or a ritual garmentâ”as this can heighten the experience.

You may wish to light a candle or keep flowers nearby to set the tone even more. It is important to have an awareness of what you are trying to achieve and why, so it can help to have some sort of visual reminder of your intentions in front of you while reciting the prayer.

Finally, make sure that you take your time with each step during the prayer process. The more mindful and intentional your practice, the clearer it will be when Allah grants an answer.

FAQs on Performing Istikhara

You may have some questions about the process of performing Istikhara as you go along. Let’s quickly answer some of the most common questions here.

Q. Is there a certain time when I must perform Istikhara?

A. It is best to perform Istikhara at night just before sleeping, as that is when a person’s focus is deeper and their minds and hearts are open to receive Allahs guidance.

Q. Is there a specific number of times I should repeat the prayer?

A. You can repeat the prayer as many times as you want, however, it is advised to aim for at least three or seven repetitions during each session in accordance with Islamic tradition, and then to wait for God’s will to manifest itself within forty days from the beginning of your prayer journey.

Q. Should I be mindful while performing Istikhara?

A. Yes, absolutely! The key principle behind successful Istikhara performance lies in making sure your soul is in the right place and that you are turning towards God with all your heart and soul while performing it.

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Salat al-Istikharah
Salat al-Istikhaara (Arabic: صلاة الاستخارة), which translates to Prayer of Seeking Counsel, is a prayer recited by Muslims who are in need of guidance