Istikharah

Istikhärah Du’ä

عَنْ جَابِرٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، قَالَ: كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يُعَلِّمُنَا الِاسْتِخَارَةَ فِي الأُمُورِ كُلِّهَا، كَالسُّورَةِ مِنَ القُرْآنِ: ” إِذَا هَمَّ بِالأَمْرِ فَلْيَرْكَعْ رَكْعَتَيْنِ ثُمَّ يَقُولُ: اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْتَخِيرُكَ بِعِلْمِكَ، وَأَسْتَقْدِرُكَ بِقُدْرَتِكَ، وَأَسْأَلُكَ مِنْ فَضْلِكَ العَظِيمِ، فَإِنَّكَ تَقْدِرُ وَلاَ أَقْدِرُ، وَتَعْلَمُ وَلاَ أَعْلَمُ، وَأَنْتَ عَلَّامُ الغُيُوبِ، اللَّهُمَّ إِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الأَمْرَ خَيْرٌ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي – أَوْ قَالَ: فِي عَاجِلِ أَمْرِي وَآجِلِهِ – فَاقْدُرْهُ لِي، وَإِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الأَمْرَ شَرٌّ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي – أَوْ قَالَ: فِي عَاجِلِ أَمْرِي وَآجِلِهِ – فَاصْرِفْهُ عَنِّي وَاصْرِفْنِي عَنْهُ، وَاقْدُرْ لِي الخَيْرَ حَيْثُ كَانَ، ثُمَّ رَضِّنِي بِهِ، وَيُسَمِّي حَاجَتَهُ ” (البخاري: ٦٣٨٢)

The Prophet صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ used to teach us Istikhärah for each and every matter as he used to teach us the Sürahs of the holy Qurän. (He used to say: ) If anyone among you intends to do something, he should offer a two-rak’ah prayer other than the obligatory prayer, and then say:
Allähumma innï astak̅h̅ïruka bi ìlmika, wa astaqdiruka biqudratika, wa as’aluka min faz̄lika-làz̅ïm, fa innaka taqdiru walä aqdiru, wata`lamu walä a`lamu, wa anta àllämu-lg̈uyüb. Allähumma in kunta ta`lamu anna häza-lamra k̅h̅airun lï fï dïnï wa ma`äs̅h̅ï wa `äqibati amrï (or the reporter said: fï `äjili amrï wa äjilihï) fäqdurhu lï, wain kunta ta`lamu anna häza-lamra s̅h̅arrun lï fï dïnï wama`äs̅h̅ï wa `äqibati amrï (or the reporter said: fï `äjili amrï wa äjilihï) fas̈rifhu ànnï was̈rifnï ànhu, wäqdur liya-lk̅h̅aira ḧait̄h̅u käna, t̄h̅umma raz̄z̄inï bih.
He should then mention his need.
(Bukhärï: 6382)

Meaning of the Du’ä

Alläh! I invoke Your infinite knowledge to guide me to the better path. I invoke Your limitless power to give me some power. I beseech You for Your great bounty. The fact is that You are capable while I am not, You are knowledgeable while I am not, and You know all the hidden things.

Alläh! If according to Your knowledge this matter is beneficial for me in my Dïn, in my worldly affairs, and in the Hereafter (or the reporter said: in my near future and remote future), then destine it for me.

Alläh! If according to Your knowledge this matter is harmful for me in my Dïn, in my worldly affairs, and in the Hereafter (or the reporter said: in my near future and remote future), then turn it away from me and turn me away from it. Destine the beneficial matter for me whichever it is, then grant me satisfaction regarding it.

Explanation

Source: Mazähir Haq Jadïd 1/834; Mirqätul Mafätïh: 1323, 3/985; Sharh Riyäzus Sälihïn 4/159

Why

The most important duty of the Prophet صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ was to teach Alläh’s Book: its words, meaning, commentary and how to practice it. How important Istikhärah is can be gauged from the fact that Alläh’s Prophet صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ taught this to the Sahäbah almost as seriously as he would teach the Sürahs of the holy Qurän.

In several Hadïths, Alläh’s Prophet صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ sheds light on the importance and virtue of Istikhärah.

1.
«مِنْ سَعَادَةِ ابْنِ آدَمَ كَثْرَةُ اسْتِخَارَتِهِ اللَّهَ وَرِضَاهُ بِمَا قَضَى اللَّهُ تَعَالَى لَهُ، وَمِنْ شَقَاوَةِ ابْنِ آدَمَ تَرْكُهُ اسْتِخَارَةَ اللَّهِ وَسُخْطُهُ بِمَا قَضَى اللَّهُ لَهُ»
Doing Istikhärah frequently and remaining satisfied with Alläh’s decision regarding him is a sign of a man’s good fortune.
Not doing Istikhärah and having bad feeling regarding Alläh’s decision for him is a sign of a man’s misfortune.
(Tirmizï)

2.
مَا خَابَ مَنِ اسْتَخَارَ، وَلَا نَدِمَ مَنِ اسْتَشَارَ، وَلَا عَالَ مَنِ اقْتَصَدَ.
A person who does Istikhärah never fails. A person who takes worthy people’s counsel never regrets. A person who spends moderately does not get poor.
(Tabaränï)

When

If you are at some critical juncture of your life, if you have to make a decision regarding some risky venture, you should seek help. It could be your marriage (this girl or that girl), migration to a new country, taking up a new kind of job or job-oriented course, time and manner of performing a must-do act (like going for Haj this year or next year); in short anything where you have to make a decision that can have substantial impact on your future. It shouldn’t be a routine affair like the next meal nor something you should never do (like watching movie) nor something you must do (like the next Fajr Saläh: doing it or not doing).

If you seek help from a pious well-wisher, knowledgeable in the matter at hand, it is called Mashwarah. If you seek guidance from Alläh, it is called Istikhärah. Both are Sunnah of the noble Prophet صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ, so you can opt for either. If you can’t reach a conclusive decision through one approach, you may take the second.

How

You should perform a two-rak’ah Nafl Saläh of Istikhärah at any time of the day or night other than the forbidden hours.

The forbidden hours are:
(1) from the end of Fajr Farz till around 20 minutes after sunrise,
(2) midday: 10-15 minute period before Zuhr start-time, and
(3) from the end of ‘Asr Saläh till sunset.

After completing the Istikhärah Saläh, recite the du’ä mentioned in the above Hadïth in red color.

You may recite the Istikhärah du’ä after performing any non-Farz two rak’ah Saläh: like Sunnah or Tahiyyatul Masjid or Tahiyyatul Wuzü. However, it is preferable to perform two rak’ah specifically for Istikhärah.

There is no specific Sürah to recite in the Istikhärah Saläh. However, some reports suggest that Sürah Al Käfirün (109) and Al Ikhläs (112) are preferable. Some scholars suggest 28:68-69 in the first rak’ah and 33:36 in the second.
28:68-69
وَرَبُّكَ يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَاءُ وَيَخْتَارُ – مَا كَانَ لَهُمُ الْخِيَرَةُ سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ وَتَعَالَى عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ – وَرَبُّكَ يَعْلَمُ مَا تُكِنُّ صُدُورُهُمْ وَمَا يُعْلِنُونَ.
33:36
وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ وَلَا مُؤْمِنَةٍ إِذَا قَضَى اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَمْرًا أَنْ يَكُونَ لَهُمُ الْخِيَرَةُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِمْ وَمَنْ يَعْصِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلَالًا مُبِينًا.

If you know ‘Arabic, you may replace the words هذا الأمر (this matter) in the du’ä with something more specific, like هذا النكاح or هذا السفر (this marriage or this journey). You also have the option to mention your concern at the end of the du’ä in any language you like. Or you may just keep the matter in your heart.

By Istikhärah’s blessing, the better option will take hold in your heart with Alläh’s guidance. You can now proceed forward with the decision your heart suggests.

You may get this decisiveness in your heart after just one Istikhärah. If you are still unsure what to do, perform Istikhärah up to seven times. In Shä Alläh you will be guided. As a last resort, you may make do with the suggestion of a pious well-wisher with knowledge of the matter at hand.

In a hurry

Just recite this du’ä:
اللَّهُمَّ خِرْ لِي وَاخْتَرْ لِي، وَلَا تَكِلُنِي إِلَى اخْتِيَارِي.
Alläh! Benefit me, select the better option for me, and do not leave me at the mercy of my decision.

And proceed with whichever option Alläh guides your heart towards.

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