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West London Islamic Centre & Jamia Masjid

Islamic Articles::Worship & Supplication

Seeking Divine Assistance in Times of Indecision




Istikharah prayer is a two-rak`ah non-obligatory Prayer by which one seeks Allah (swt)’s guidance when they are confused or can’t choose between permissible alternatives. In this case, the Muslim should pray to Allah (swt) to guide them to whatever He sees fit for them and make his heart content with the decision.

In the Prayer, one asks Allah (swt) to facilitate the matter if it is good and turn it away if it is not. Thus after praying Istikharah, one should decide on a course of action, and trust that if the matter does not work out, it is because it was not good for them. One should not then feel disappointed if things did not go as hoped.

Istikharah is only prescribed for matters deemed permissible by the Shari`ah and not for any issue that plainly opposes Allah (swt)’s prescriptions. It is when you have two permissible options and you do not know which is better for you that you should resort to Allah (swt) the Almighty to seek His guidance.

Istikharah means, “seeking the best course of action.” In Islam, it is used for approaching Allah (swt) through Prayer for guidance in a case when one cannot make up their mind. It should however be pointed out, that Istikharah applies strictly to cases that are halal (lawful or permissible), since there cannot be a question of choice concerning matters that are considered haram (unlalwful or impermissible).

When faced with important decisions in life, a believer is persuaded to use all of their Allah (swt)-given resources, as well as to consult people who are known for their knowledge, piety and sound opinion. After having done so, he can turn to Allah (swt) for guidance.

Humans are limited in knowledge, and Allah (swt) alone possesses perfect knowledge. Allah (swt) has told us that He alone possesses the keys to all that is good. He has also promised to help us if we turn to Him earnestly and sincerely.

We see around us people doing all manner of things for confirmation when faced with important decisions in their life. The Pre-Islamic Arabs resorted to the practice of divining with arrows or the stirring of birds. In modern times, even some of the most prominent people consult astrologers, psychics, gurus or so called spiritual masters. Islam teaches that since Allah (swt) alone knows the unseen realities, and He alone is aware of what is good for us in an absolute sense, we must seek His help. In a Muslims five daily prayers, we recite in Surah Faitha numerous times 'You alone we worship and from You alone we seek help.'

The Prophet (pbuh) taught us how to do so. He told us that if we are faced with decisions in life and are unable to make up our mind, we must approach Allah (swt) through Prayer. This Prayer is called the Prayer of Istikharah. It is a Sunnah or a highly recommended act. The specific method of doing it is as follows:

First, one must offer a Prayer of two rak`ahs (units) with the intention of seeking guidance from Allah (swt). Then they should offer the following supplication:

“Allahumma inni astakhiruka bi`ilmika, wa astaqdiruka bi-qudratika, wa as’aluka min fadlika al-azim, fa’innaka taqdiru wala aqdiru, wa ta`lamu wa la a`lamu, wa anta `allamu-l-ghuyub. Allahumma, in kunta ta`lamu anna hadhal-amra [here mention your case] khairun li fi dini wa ma`ashi wa `aqibati ‘amri  faqdurhu li wa yas-sirhu li thumma barik li fihi. Wa in ta`lamu anna hadhal-amra sharrun li fi deeni wa ma`ashi wa `aqibati ‘amri fasrifhu `anni was-rifni `anhu, waqdur liya al-khaira haithu kana thumma ‘ardini bihi.”

O Allah (swt), I seek Your help in finding out the best course of action (in this matter) by invoking Your knowledge; I ask You to empower me, and I beseech Your favor. You alone have the absolute power, while I have no power. You alone know it all, while I do not. You are the One Who knows the hidden mysteries. O Allah (swt), if You know this thing (I am embarking on) [here mention your case] is good for me in my religion, worldly life, and my ultimate destiny, then facilitate it for me, and then bless me in my action. If, on the other hand, You know this thing is detrimental for me in my religion, worldly life, and ultimate destiny, turn it away from me, and turn me away from it, and decree what is good for me, wherever it may be, and make me content with it.

After having done so, you should follow the decision that you are strongly inclined to. If you feels no such inclination, then you should choose one of the options; you can rest assured that Allah (swt) will guide your steps. It has been reported that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “One who asks Allah (swt) for guidance in choosing the best course of action will never be a loser.”

It is not at all necessary for a person to have visions or dreams following Istikharah. However, if a person does experience a dream, and they feel strongly about it, they should follow it.

Imam An-Nawawi (RA) said: “After making Istikharah, a person must do what he or she is wholeheartedly inclined to do and feels good about doing and should not insist on doing what they had desired to do before making the Istikharah. And if his or her feelings change, he or she should leave what he or she had intended to do, for otherwise he or she is not leaving the choice to Allah (swt), and would not be honest in seeking help from Allah (swt)’s power and knowledge. Sincerity in seeking Allah (swt)’s choice means that one should completely abandon what one desired oneself.”

Also, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, former head of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and member of the Fiqh Council of North America states:

“Doing Istikharah does not mean that one should not use one’s reason or experience. Allah (swt) the Exalted has commanded us in the Qur’an that we should use our intellect and seek knowledge. If we do not know something, we should ask those who know. But human reason has limitations. We do not know everything; only Allah (swt) does know all things. When we are faced with a dilemma then we should turn to Allah (swt) to seek His guidance.

After offering Istikharah, you may do whatever is best in your understanding or whatever convinces you. You may repeat the du`a’ of Istikharah several times if you are still hesitant. It is not necessary to dream about anything and you do not have to wait for an answer in your dreams. It is reported in a Hadith that the Prophet (pbuh) said: “O Anas, when you intend to do some important things, then seek the good (seek Istikharah) from your Lord seven times and then do that to which your heart (or mind) is inclined, because the good is in it.”

Most of the hadiths on this subject do not talk about any dream. However, the famous Hanafi jurist Ibn `Abdeen has suggested in his Hashiyah that one should make the Istikharah Prayer before sleeping, and should sleep after having performed Wudu’. The face should be towards Makkah. If one sees something white or green in one’s dream, then the answer is yes, but if one sees something dark or red then the answer is no.

Other jurists of Shafi`i, Maliki and Hanbali schools say that one should do that which is most convincing. According to Imam Malik, other people can also perform Istikharah on behalf of someone.

And Allah (swt) knows best.


The Prophet(pbuh) said, 'My example and the example of the Prophets before me is like a man who built a house, which he built and perfected except for the space on one block; people would go round the house and stare in awe at its perfection and say,'Had it not been for this space!' The Prophet continued, 'I am that brick, I am the last of the Prophets.' (Al-Bukhari)
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