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How does Istikhara work? | Blog


I’ve found myself praying Istikhara multiple times in 2014 when faced with very tough decisions. Four days into 2015 and I’ve already prayed it once. While we make du’a all the time, Salatul-Istikhara (the prayer of seeking a God-guided outcome in times of decision) is an extra special prayer to me because we, as human beings, are resigning ourselves fully and completely to the will of Allah (SWT). One is asking for his guidance and is relying on him totally and that experience is a humbling one. As Suhaib Webb says, “such a powerful tool we have been given, to admit our complete lack of knowledge, power, ability, and sight, and the absolute dominance of Allah (SWT) in all these abilities.” Surprisingly, it is also one of the most underused prayers by Muslims. The translation to the du’a recited after the two rakahs is below:

O Allah! I seek goodness from your knowledge and with your power (and might) I seek strength, and I ask from You Your Great Blessings, because you have the power and I do not have the power. You know everything and I do not know, and you have knowledge of the unseen. Oh Allah! If in your knowledge this action ------------------------------------------------ (you list the action here which you intend to do) is better for my religion and faith, for my life and end [death], for here [in this world] and the hereafter then make it destined for me and make it easy for me and then add blessings [baraka'] in it, for me. O Allah! In your knowledge if this action is bad for me, bad for my religion and faith, for my life and end [death], for here [in this world] and the hereafter then turn it away from me and turn me away from it and whatever is better for me, ordain [destine] that for me and then make me satisfied with it.

Funny enough, it wasn’t until recently when I found myself in a position to ask how Istikhara actually works. For the longest time, my assumption was that God gives us a sign somehow. I’ve heard numerous interpretations as well so it sounds like there are many misconceptions about it. Some people say that one has dreams. Others say that one has colorful dreams and the colors that appear in those dreams determine whether whatever it is you asked for help on is a good thing for you, or a bad thing for you. While other people say Allah (SWT) provides you with situations that allow you to determine what kind of a decision to make. It seems that majority have very different ideas on how the prayer actually works. Suhaib Webb says that Istikhara isn’t about signs or dreams but that one can have dreams and that it’s not impossible. But let’s not forget that that’s not the main idea behind the prayer.

Intrigued by a post from one of my Facebook friends who mentioned she had prayed Istikhara, I privately messaged her to relay my concerns. I expressed to her that I had made the prayer on several occasions wholeheartedly but was wondering if I was missing the signs.

She said she had been in a similar situation before and one day, after freaking out a bit, she decided to go to a mosque to ask her local imam. He said that “waiting for a sign is... something people made up to go along with it but that’s not what you should be expecting.” The idea is that if you are to make Istikhara with a clear mind, then the decision you end up making or feel most strongly about is the decision you were meant to make. Therefore, the du’a is answered by the final decision that you make. She also mentioned that when she has made decisions after praying Istikhara, she felt at peace with the decisions she had made. When I prayed Istikhara the other day and made a very tough decision, I can genuinely say I felt at peace with that decision. That’s not to say that it was easy at all and it continues not to be easy but it felt like it was the right thing to do and I have not, for a second, doubted that decision. As my friend says: “he is the best of planners. If this is not meant to be, it is not meant to be. And having that clarity and being able to ‘let go’  of the situation is an out-of-this-world blessing.”

To summarize, here is a short video on how Istikhara works:

How is one’s Istikhara answered?

I hope in times of difficulty, whether on a major or minor issue, that you take the time to pray Istikhara and that Allah (SWT) brings the best outcomes for us all inshallah.


photo credit: Mosa'aberising via photopin cc



January 12, 2015

I have a marriage proposal and I absolutely have no feelings whatsoever for the girl I know her since childhood and have never looked or thought of her as a potential spouse. My mom is asking me to make istikhara. Should I do istikhara I had heard sometime back one should do istikhara if they are confused, but in this case I simply don't like the girl. Please help. Should I do isrikhara?

Aisha Kibwana

January 12, 2015

Aleikum Salaam. I'd first like to post a disclaimer that I am not a religious authority so my response is based on my limited knowledge of your situation and my logic. That said, 100% pray Istikhara, as your mom said, but keep in mind, again, that praying Istikhara will not really hand you your answer. From your comment, it sounds like you are felling the pressure to marry her but are not too keen on marrying her. My recommendation is you sit down and reflect (sit down with a pen and paper if you have to) on what this marriage would mean for you. Remember that "marriage is 'mithaq' - a solemn covenant (agreement). It is not a matter which can be taken lightly. It should be entered into with total commitment and full knowledge of what it involves. It is not like buying a new dress where you can exchange it if you don't like it. Your partner should be your choice for life. One should be mature enough to understand the demands of marriage so that the union can be a lasting one." You have to evaluate for yourself fully what this marriage would mean in the long-run and whether it would be fair to her as well. Think of it critically (look beyond 'lack of feelings' and consider long term compatibility as well as her other qualities). Depending on your relationship with her, don't be afraid to ask others close to her or ask her directly. Sometimes, you may think you know a person but you may only be seeing her in one way and differently from how others see her. Ideally, the person you are going to marry is the person you plan on being with for a long time. Many times in our culture(s) we are pressured into marriage but are not given the room to weigh in on the matter and make the decisions for ourselves, as adults. Too often, I see of hear of people getting into a marriage only to separate shortly after because they went into it blindly and discovered they were incompatible. Of course your parents have your best interest in mind but at the end of the day YOU will be the one sharing your life with your spouse. So instead of dwelling in your confusion, try to get yourself out of the confusion by thinking through it and acting accordingly. Take you time by evaluating the scenario productively then make your decision and pray Istikhara. Whatever happens after is what will be meant to be. Inshallah this advice is beneficial to you.

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