Istikhara is to seek guidance from Allah when one is faced with a problem to which no solution is apparent.
Whenever a person is faced with a difficult problem, or becomes hesitant in making a decision and his knowledge of the matter is insufficient to guide him then after seeking advice from trusted friends he should turn to Allah and beseech His grace. He should willingly and with an open heart and mind supplicate for divine guidance and ask for direction so that the problem is solved in his own best interest. The Du'aa at such an occasion is called Istikhara. Istikhara is in fact an invaluable teaching of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) with which the Muslims have been favoured. This blessing could give solace to many for all times to come. It is related in the Hadith that Rasulullah (SAW) use to teach the Istikhara to the Sahaabah (RA) like the Qur'an is taught to children. In another Hadith it is stated that 'He does not fail who makes Istikhara and he does not regret who makes Mashwarah (consultation).
In the Masnoon Istikhara, after one has carried out his responsibility as best as one can, one should hand over the entire matter and oneself to the limitless knowledge of Allah Ta'ala. By resorting to Istikhara one is now retrieved of making a decision on ones own. Whenever counsel is sought from a respectable and experienced person, it is expected that he will give good advise and assist to the best of his ability. Similarly Istikhara is to seek counsel that the all-Knowing and Merciful Allah? Once Istikhara is made then Allah Ta'ala will surely guide him to do what is best for him. Now there can be no perplexity. Only that will happen which Allah Ta'ala wills and which is good for ones own sake though one may not be able to see it immediately. It is not necessary that one must experience or see an evident change or vision. Allah Ta'ala alone knows what is best for His servants. It is related in the Hadith that 'Success and good tidings for the son of Aadam (Insaan) is in performing Istikhara and his misfortune lies in not making Istikhara'.
Method of Istikhara:
When making Istikhara begin with performing two Rakaats Nafl Salaat. Then with all sincerity recite the following Du'a.
Allaahumma innee astakheeruka bi ilmika wa-astaqdiruka biqudratika wa-as'aluka min fadhlika al-adheem. Fa innaka taqdiru walaa aqdiru. Wa ta'lamu walaa a'alamu wa anta allaamul ghuyoob. Allaahumma in kunta ta'lamu anna haadhal-amr khayrun liy fiy deeniy wa-ma'aashiy wa-aaqibat amriy, fa'qdruhliy wa-yassirh liy thumma baarik liy feehi. Wa in-kunta ta'lamu anna haadhal amr sharrun liy fiy deeniy wa-ma'aashiy was-'aaqibat amriy. Fa asrifh annee wa-srif 'anhu. Wa aqdurh liyal khayr hayth kaana thumma a-rdhiniy bihee
Trans: O Allah!! Behold I ask You the good through Your Knowledge, and ability through Your Power, and beg (Your favour) out of Your infinite Bounty. For surely You have Power; I have none. You know all; I know not. You are the Great Knower of all things. O Allah! If in Your Knowledge this matter be good for my faith (Deen), for my livelihood, and for the consequences of my affairs, then ordain it for me, and make it easy for me, and bless me therein. But if in Your Knowledge, this matter be bad for my faith (Deen) for my livelihood, and for the consequences of my affairs, then turn it away from me, and turn me away therefrom, and ordain for me the good wherever it be, and cause me to be pleased therewith.
While reciting this Du'aa when one reaches HAADHAL AMR (THIS MATTER) at both places he should think of his problem. May Allah guide and assist us all.
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