From Imam Nawawi’s Riyad as-Salihin (The Meadows of the Righteous), Chapter 97: On the Istikhara and consultation, and as reported in Sahih alBukhari…
Jabir said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to teach us the istikhara, asking for the good in all matters, as he would teach us a sura of the Qur’an. He said, ‘When one of you is intending to do something, he should pray two rak’ats outside the obligatory prayer and then say, ‘O Allah, I ask You for the best by Your knowledge and I ask You for strength by Your power and I ask You for some of Your immense bounty. You have power and I do not. You know and I do not. You are the Knower of the Unseen worlds. O Allah, if You know that this matter is good for me in my deen and my livelihood and the end of my affair (or he said, ‘my affair sooner and later’), then ordain it for me and make it easy for me and then bless me in it. If You know that this matter is bad for me in my deen and my livelihood and the end of my affair (or he said, ‘my affair sooner and later’), then avert it from me and avert me from it and ordain something better for me wherever it may lie and make me content with it.’ He added, ‘Then he should name the thing he wants to do.'”
Subhan’Allah it’s been one of those days where this pauper reads something on DeenPort and then her heart becomes intrigued by the subtlety of the situation that is really easy to solve but possibly frustrating to implement. The topic was on Istikhara.
By The Grace of Allah we’ve been offered with many crossroads, U-Turns, dead-ends, and mergers in our life and we’d love to say for all of these directions we sought His Help by praying Salat ul Istikhara but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to have been the complete case. We did pray to Allah for His Guidance, just never prayed the actual dua mainly due to not knowing that it existed, let alone what the dua was, how to pray it, or what to do after the dua was made. So instead at a young age all the way up to my teens we would clasp ones hands and ask Allah for His Guidance on such matters that perplexed ones heart… such as “Allah. I know You’re there listening in on my thoughts so here goes… that chocolate bar was for me right or should I give it to my brother?” and later as this student matured in age and mind “Ya Rabb! Exams are a nightmare. Do I do medicine or something else – which career move is better for me?”
Alhumdulillah we found how to pray Salat ul Istikhara in our University years and ever since have done our best to read the full prayer or the shortened duas to seek His Ultimate Guidance and to feel sakeena in “handing over” our affairs to Him. In the beginning stages of reading Salat ul Istikhara it used to be difficult to read, mainly because ones own nafs and inclinations would come in the way or one would get confused as to whether the dream was related to the dua or whether it was related to the ongoings of the day before. However, Alhumdulillah, over time one learns to really tie that camel and get on with it. You read Istikhara – asking for guidance, tie the camel (so to speak), implement some action, and see what the cause of the action is. It’s like when you’re baking a cake… you can’t just put the oven on and get out the ingredients – you have to work at it and then see whether the cake was tasty or tasteless. Either way, Alhumdulillah you got your answer! (Forgive me if that analogy was a bit strange or incomprehensible – it was the only thing that came in ones mind).
Alhumdulillah, we’ve been fortunate enough to see where ones Istikhara has lead us to and we’ve been made wary of decisions that just need sabr and tawakkul. Some people get dreams, some don’t. Some people get “feelings”, some don’t. Some people see a path open up for them, some don’t. And some people get a halal cocktail of it all, and some don’t. Either way, it’s the Ultimate Trust in Allah that we all need to implement.
In regards to dreams… don’t ponder over it. Easy to say but seriously leave it with Allah. If there’s good in it then Alhumdulillah, if there’s negativity then Alhumdulillah. Seek His Guidance and Salvation and fall into His Hands… as Shaykh Hamza Yusuf once said: “float… you’re in Good Hands”.
It’s also useful to surround yourself around people who seek His Guidance often as when you consult them they’ll act as reminders to you to “just get on with it and ask Allah”. These examples of beautiful people implement the dua such that it’s not just a paragraph or two of words to them but a complete training tool of ones mind and actions. We once asked a dear Shaykh about the permissibility of someone else reading Salat ul Istikhara for oneself and they replied “is your relationship that bad with Allah that you can’t ask yourself? He is ArRahman… go and ask Him” … what great advice this was as at the time this pauper was failing to make her connection with Allah and thus Istikhara became a means for that connection to be made and to find sakeena in our duas ~ the feeling that you’re going to be okay if you just ask for Him. Subhan’Allah.
There was also someone we met who without hesitation when posed with a question or dilemma would say “15 minutes?” to which we’d reply “please (suggesting ‘go ahead’)” and they’d go do wudhu and pray. What great teachers this student has encompassed in her life such that they remind her to rely solely on Allah for answers and hidaya. To know that if He brought us to something then He will also bring us out of it. Subhan’Allah. May Allah increase those who remind this pauper of His Ultimate Tawfeeq and Guidance, and may He make them of His People instead of the peoples people. Allahumma Ameen.
- Istikhara: The Guidance Prayer
- The Istikhara Prayer
- Guidance about the Guidance Prayer (Istikhara)
- Follow Up Questions on Istikhara
- RE: Istikhara prayer and the dream
Overall then… Tawakkultu ‘ul Allah (Trust in Allah). We wish you all the best in your path and hope that we all meet to drink from The Hawd on the Final Day with a vision to see His Final Unvieling. Allahumma Ameen.