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Friday, July 22, 2016

Before any major decision, pray Salat-ul-Istikhara

Before any major decision, pray Salat-ul-Istikhara


What is Salat ul Istikhara?

Source: Fiqh-us-Sunnah, volume 2, number 32 and volume 4, number 141.
Often, we have to make major life-changing decisions: whether to undertake a major project or not, whether to apply for a promotion or not, whether to change career or not, whether to invest in a certain company or not, whether to get married or not, whom to get married to, etc.
Istikhara (Arabic) means to ask Allah to guide one to the right thing concerning any affair in one’s life, especially when one has to choose between two permissible alternatives, e.g. a career choice, getting married, etc.  Similarly, a traveller should consult good righteous persons before setting out on a journey, because Allah says, “And consult them (O Prophet) in affairs (of moment),” (Qur’an, 3: 159) and one of the characteristics of the believers is that “they (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation” (Qur’an, 42: 38). Qatadah said, “Every people who seek the pleasure of Allah and consult with one another are guided to the best course in their affairs.” The traveller should also make istikharah and seek guidance from Allah.
Sa’ d ibn Waqas reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “Istikharah (seeking guidance from Allah) is one of the distinct favors (of Allah) upon man, and a good fortune for the son of Adam is to be pleased with the judgment of Allah. And a misfortune of the son of Adam is his failure to make istikharah (seeking Allah’s guidance), and a misfortune for the son of Adam is his displeasure with the judgment of Allah.” Ibn Taimiyyah said, “He who seeks guidance from the Creator and consults the creatures will never regret it.”

How does one pray Salat ul Istikhara?

Salatul Istikharah is a sunnah of the Prophet (s).   It is a prayer that one may pray if one must choose between permissible alternatives: it is two non-obligatory rak’at (that can be recited separately or in combination with the regular sunnah prayers or the prayer for entering the mosque […] during any time of the day or night, and to recite therein whatever one wishes of the Qur’an after reciting al-Fatihah. After the two-rak’ats, one praises Allah and sends salutations to the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam and recites the following supplication which has been recorded by al-Bukhari in Jabir’s hadith (see full text below): “The Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam would teach us al-istikhara for all of our affairs as he would teach us a surah from the Qur’an. He said: ‘If one of you is deliberating over an act, he should pray two non-obligatory rak’at and say: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 the person reciting the du’a should mention the matter for which he is seeking Allah’s Guidance) is good for me in my religion, my livelihood, and for my life in the Hereafter, (or he said: ‘for my present and future life,’) 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, (or he said: ‘for my present and future life,’) 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.”
The following hadith (referred above in Fiqh-us-Sunnah) is narrated by Jabir bin Abdullah about Salat-ul-Istikhara in Sahih Bukhari (volume 2, hadith number 263 and again volume 9, hadith 487):
The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to teach us the way of doing Istikhara (Istikhara means to ask Allah to guide one to the right sort of action concerning any job or a deed), 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)‘Allahumma inni astakhiruka bi’ilmika, Wa astaqdiruka bi-qudratika, Wa asaluka min fadlika al-‘azim 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 (then the person reciting the du’a should mention the matter for which he is seeking Allah’s Guidance)   Khairun li fi dini wa ma’ashi wa’aqibati amri (or ‘ajili amri wa’ajilihi) Faqdirhu li wa yas-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.
Istikhara3
Note from Rafik BeekunI have included the french, german and spanish translations of the above dua at the end of this post.
Similar hadiths were reported by Jabir (r) in Sahih Bukhari (volume 8, hadith number 391).
Note from Rafik Beekun: If you have trouble with the arabic version of the dua for Istikhara, here is a dua video where the dua is being recited in arabic.  Both the arabic version of the du’a, its english transliteration, and translation are included. Please use it to practice reciting the dua correctly before praying Salat Istihara:

Salat ul Istikhara: Prayer for consultation

Memorizer for the du’a for Salat ul Istikhara

If you cannot view the above video clip, please click here to hear the MP3 version of it.
To summarize,  here is how you pray Salat-ul-Istikhara step-by step:
  • Perform Wudu (the ablution) if you do not have it already.
  • Pray 2 raka’at either with the intention of praying Istikhara separately by itself  or jointly with  two non-obligatory rak’at (e.g. the regular sunnah prayers or the prayer for entering the mosque, or tahajjud.) Please make sure that you are not praying during the three times when it is undesirable to pray [The Prophet (s) said:   “There is no prayer after the Fajr until the sun (sufficiently) rises; and there is no prayer after the ‘Asr until the sun completely sets.” [Muslim, 1041, agreed upon].  Again, in another hadith reported in Muslim 1040, it is narrated: “ Three were the times at while Allah’s Messenger ( ) forbade us from praying or burying our dead (ie. funeral prayer): when the sun begins to rise until it is fully up; when the sun is at its height until it passes the meridian; and when the sun begins to set until it is completely set. [Muslim, 1040]”  Please note if istikhaarah is done for something that is immediate and cannot be delayed, then this prayer may be performed at a time when prayer is not allowed, such as if a person wants to travel after รข€˜Asr prayer. But if the matter is not immediate and the prayer can be delayed until after the time (see fatwah below)
  • Immediately after you have completed the 2 rakats, recite the abovementioned Istikhara Dua highlighted in yellow and mention the matter for which you are seeking Allah’s Guidance you have at the appropriate point in the du’a (indicated in red in the du’a above and also indicated in the video clips above).
  • Follow An Nawawi’s advice on how to interpret Allah’s guidance (please see section below).

What happens after one prays Salat ul Istikhara?
An-Nawawi holds that “after performing the istikharah, a person must do what he is wholeheartedly inclined to do and feels good about doing and should not insist on doing what he had desired to do before making the istikharah. And if his feelings change, he should leave what he had intended to do, otherwise he is not completely leaving the choice to Allah, and would not be honest in seeking aid from Allah’s power and knowledge. Sincerity in seeking Allah’s choice, means that one should completely leave what he himself had desired or determined.” [Note from Br. Rafik Beekun: Please view the video on “Istikhara and Marriage” at the bottom of this web page where the Sheikh elaborates on the different ways in which your prayer will be answered, Insha Allah}
It is not necessary that you get a dream or even a “feeling.” Rather, the istikhara is a prayer that Allah guide you towards that which is best (khayr) for you. If you do the prayer of guidance (istikhara) with the proper manners, the most important of which is to truly consign the matter to Allah and suspend your own inclinations, then Allah will make events unfold in the direction that is the best for your worldly and next-worldly affairs.
Please remember that the core of being a Muslim is to put your absolute trust in Allah.  Accordingly, once you perform the prayer of Istikharak, you need to follow the guidance of Allah whether it means pursuing or abandoning the intended undertaking. Allah also says:
And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if any one puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is ((Allah)) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish his purpose: verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion.” (Qur’an 65:3)

How many times can one pray Salat ul Istikhara?

As stated above, there is no limit on the number of times you can pray Salat ul Istikhara . though the fuqaha mention that it is recommend to repeat it, up to 7 times if necessary (usually done on separate occasions). [cf: Radd al-Muhtar]

Salat Istikhara and Marriage

Sunni Path Academy
Clip from SunniPath Answers Live event. This answer addresses the issue of how to pray Salat al-Istikhara, particularly in relation to marriage. Answered by Shaykh Hamza Karamali

Divine GPS: The Inner Dimensions of Salat Istikhara

This 39 minute lecture is by Imam AbdulBary Yahya. He was born in Vietnam during the Vietnam War, and very soon thereafter immigrated to the U.S. with his family. He grew up in Seattle, WA and after completing his primary and secondary education there, began his studies at the Islamic University of Madinah. It was at the University that he befriended Muhammad Alshareef, as they sat next to each other in the first year of their studies.
Upon graduation from the Islamic University of Madinah’s College of Shariah, AbdulBary Yahya returned to Vietnam and Cambodia and became a teacher and director of the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society in Cambodia and the Umm al-Qura Charity Organization in Vietnam.
He presently resides in Seattle, WA with his family, and is an instructor with AlMaghrib Institute, an organization that provides trademark double-weekend seminars leading students towards a bachelor’s degree in Islamic Studies. He is currently the Imam (spiritual leader and adviser) of Masjid Jaamiul Muslimeen in Seattle, WA. He also holds the positions of President of the Cham Refugee Community and Vice-President of the Islamic Center of Washington State.