Revive a Sunnah

In the name of Allah
Revive a Sunnah: Istikharah (seeking Allaah's Counsel)

Jaabir bin Abdullah (radi Allahu anhu) said: The Prophet (sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) used to teach us to seek Allaah's Counsel in all matters, as he used to teach us a Surah from the Qur'an. He would say: When anyone of you has an important matter to decide, let him pray two Rak'ahs other than the obligatory prayer, and then say:

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْتَخِيرُكَ بِعِلْمَكَ، وَأَسْتَقْدِرُكَ بِقُدْرَتِكَ، وَأَسْأَلُكَ مِنْ فَضْلِكَ الْعَظِيمِ، فَإِنَّكَ تَقْدِرُ وَلَا أَقْدِرُ، وَتَعْلَمُ، وَلَا أَعْلَمُ، وَأَنْتَ عَلَّامُ الْغُيُوبِ، اللَّهُمَّ إِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الْأَمْرَ- خَيْرٌ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي- عَاجِلِهِ وَآجِلِهِ- فَاقْدُرْهُ لِي وَيَسِّرْهُ لِي ثُمَّ بَارِكْ لِي فِيهِ، وَإِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الْأَمْرَ شَرٌّ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي- عَاجِلِهِ وَآجِلِهِ- فَاصْرِفْهُ عَنِّي وَاصْرِفْنِي عَنْهُ وَاقْدُرْ لِيَ الْخَيْرَ حَيْثُ كَانَ ثُمَّ أَرْضِنِي بِهِ

"O Allah, I seek the counsel of Your Knowledge, and I seek the help of Your Omnipotence, and I beseech You for Your Magnificent Grace. Surely, You are Capable and I am not. You know and I know not, and You are the Knower of the unseen. O Allah, if You know that this matter [then mention the thing to be decided] is good for me in my religion and in my life and for my welfare in the life to come, - [or say: in this life and the afterlife] - then ordain it for me and make it easy for me, then bless me in it. And if You know that this matter is bad for me in my religion and in my life and for my welfare in the life to come, - [or say: in this life and the afterlife] - then distance it from me, and distance me from it, and ordain for me what is good wherever it may be, and help me to be content with it."

Reported by al-Bukhari, 6841; similar reports are also recorded by al-Tirmidhi, al-Nisaa’i, Abu Dawood, Ibn Maajah and Ahmad

1. Salaat al-Istikharah is a means of achieving true submission [‘uboodiyyah] to Allaah and focusing the Muslim’s heart on Allah, and freeing him from feeling attached to other created beings. 

2. Ibn Hajar said, commenting on this hadeeth: "Istikharah is a word which means asking Allah to help one make a choice, meaning choosing the best of two things where one needs to choose one of them." [Fath al-Baari, Kitab al-Da’waat and Kitaab al-Tawheed]

3. He also said: "The general meaning includes both major matters and insignificant ones. Perhaps an insignificant matter may result in something major." [Fath al-Baari (11/184)]

4. Al-‘Ayni said: "The words “in all things” are indicative of its general meaning, and that a man should not regard anything as too insignificant because it is small and not pay attention to it, and thus not pray istikhaarah or pray for guidance concerning it. He may regard something as insignificant but doing it or not doing it may lead to great harm. Hence the Prophet (sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “Let one of you ask his Lord even with regard to his shoelace.” [‘Umdat al-Qaari (7/223)]

5. Ibn Abi Jamrah said: "It is a general phrase which refers to something specific. With regard to matters that are waajib (obligatory) or mustahabb (liked or encouraged), there is no need for istikharah to decide whether to do them, and with regard to matters that are haraam (forbidden) or makrooh (disliked), there is no need for istikharah to decide whether to avoid them. The issue of istikharah is confined to matters that are mubaah (allowed), or in mustahabb matters when there is a decision to be made as to which one should be given priority.’ I say: it refers to both great and small matters, and probably an insignificant issue could form the groundwork for a big issue."

6. Ibn al-Haaj al-Maliki said: "Some of them pray istikharah as prescribed in sharee’ah and then wait until they see a dream from which they will decide whether they should go ahead and do whatever they prayed istikharah about or not, or until someone else sees a dream for them. This does not count for anything, because the infallible one (sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) told us to pray istikharah and consult others, not to rely on what is seen in dreams." [Al-Madkhal, 4/37]

7. Ibn Uthaymeen said: "Salaat al-istikhaarah is done when a person is thinking of something and is hesitant about the consequences, so he prays istikhaarah to Allaah, i.e., he asks Allaah for the better of the two options: going ahead with it or not doing it. But he should not pray istikhaarah with regard to everything, meaning that if a person wants to eat lunch he should say, I will pray istikhaarah about it, or if he wants to go and pray with the congregation in the masjid he should say, I will pray istikhaarah about it. Rather he should pray istikhaarah and ask Allaah for guidance about things of which he does not know the consequences..." [Liqaa’aat al-Baab il-Maftooh by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (no. 85, question 1)]

8. Whoever seeks the counsel of the Creator will not regret it and whoever seeks the advice of the believers will feel confident about his decisions. Allah said in the Qur'an: "And consult them in the affair. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah."


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