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What is Salaat al-Istikharah?

Linguistically al-Istikharah comes from the verb Istikharah which means 'seeking / requesting guidance in what is good.' So, al-Istikharah is the noun for request or action. While in the Islamic terminology al-Istikharah means that a servant seeks guidance from his Lord upon the manner described by the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) by praying two rakaahs of supererogatory prayer, then supplicating with the specific Du'aa for al-Istikharah for doing an action which is mubah (action which neither brings about reward if performed nor brings about punishment if abandoned - allowed) or for leaving it, or in an obligatory or recommended action in which he has a choice.

Since, the servant is weak in his comprehension, ignorant of the unseen and indecisive about his actions, Allah, the Most High and the Most Merciful, ordained Salaat al-Istikharah for him whenever he faces an obstacle or is concerned about an affair: he consults his Creator and seeks His guidance with regard to it because Allah Alone is the Knower of Ghaib (unseen), He Alone is the most knowledgeable about the reality of the affairs and their results, their benefits from their harms, their good from their evil, in this world and the Hereafter:

"And with Him are the keys of Unseen, none know them but He. And He knows whatever is there in the earth and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but by His knowledge; there is not a grain in the darkness (or the depth) of the earth, nor any flesh or dry (green or withered) but is written in a Clear Record." [Soorah al-An'aam (6): 59]

Hence, when the servant is concerned about an affair or decided upon a matter, or a problem arises in his mind and he wishes to act upon it, then he should seek guidance form his Lord before embarking upon it according to the manner prescribed in the Sunnah of the Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam).

Procedure and supplication of Istikhara

Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said:

"From the prosperity of an individual is his seeking guidance from his Lord and his contentment with what He has ordained and from the misfortune of an individual is his abandoning seeking guidance form his Lord and his displeasure after what is decreed (for him) comes to pass".
[Saheeh at-Tirmidhee, Ahmad, al-Haakim and other]

As for the proof for the permissibility of Salaat al-Istikharah then Imaam al-Bukhari narrates in his Saheeh that Mutraf bin Abdullah Aboo Mus’ab narrated to us that Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Abee al-Mawaal narrated to us from Muhammad ibn al-Munkadir from Jaabir (radhi allahu anhu):

'The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) used to teach us al-Istikharah (seeking of guidance) in all of our affairs, like he would teach us a Soorah of the Qur'an saying:

"If any of you is concerned about an affair, then let him pray two rakahs other then the obligatory prayers after which he should supplicate:

'Allahumma inni astakhiruka bi'ilmika, Wa astaqdiruka bi-qudratika, Wa as'alaka min fadlika al-'azlm 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 Khairun li fi dini wa ma'ashi wa'aqibati amri (or 'ajili amri wa'ajilihi) Faqdirhu 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.'

'O Allah,
I seek Your counsel by Your knowledge
and I seek Your assistance by Your Power
and I ask You from Your immense favor,
for verily you are able while I am not,
and verily You know and I do not,
and You are the knower of the unseen.

O Allah!
If You know this affair is to be good for me
in relation to my religion, my life and end
(or he said my present and my future),
then decree and facilitate it for me
and bless me with it.
And if You know this affair
to be detrimental (harmful) for me
concerning my religion, my life and end
(or he said my present and my future),
then remove it from me and remove me from it
and decree for me what is good wherever it be
and make me satisfied with it.'

And he mentions his need".

[Ahmad (3/344), al-Bukharee (eng. trans. Vol.2, no.263), Aboo Dawood eng. trans. Vol.1, no. 1533, an-Nisa'ee (no. 3253), at-Tirmidhee (no.480) and Ibn Majah (no. 1383)]

How many times to pray?

It depends. Sometimes it takes only once to get the answer and sometimes it takes longer. It is better to do istikhara seven (7) times. If you have received an answer as explained in the section below, stop doing istikhara. You do not have to continue to do isitkhara for 7 days. It is better that right after reciting the supplication, given above, sleep with ablution (people who cannot keep the ablution for longer times due to health problems do not have to worry about ablution before falling asleep) facing the direction of the Qibla (facing the Qibla is not required but it is a Sunnat of our beloved Prophet Peace Be Upon Him). It is better to recite salutations (durood/ salawat) on the Prophet Allah's Grace and Peace be upon him before and after the above Dua (supplication) .

If in the dream one sees whiteness (means any thing white in color, for example: milk, white paper, white sky, white clothes, white light etc.) or greenness (means any thing green in color, for example: grass, plants, trees, green clothes, green light etc.) then understand that this task is better and if one sees redness (means any thing red in color, for example: blood, red clothing, red fruit, red light etc.) or blackness (means any thing black in color, for example: black water, black light, black clothings, black sky, black wall etc. ) then understand it is bad and avoid it.

If do not remember any dream or do not see any colors then follow your heart. Whatever intention grows stronger in your heart regarding your targated work follow it after seven days of istikhara.


Allah knows the best.


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