What is salat al istikhara?
Praise be to Allaah.
Istikhaarah means asking Allaah to help one make a choice, meaning choosing the best of two things where one needs to choose one of them.
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to teach to make istikhaarah in all things,
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 istikhaarah to decide whether to do them, and with regard to matters that are haraam (forbidden) or makrooh (disliked), there is no need for istikhaarah to decide whether to avoid them. The issue of istikhaarah 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.
The description of Salaat al-Istikhaarah was reported by Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allaah al-Salami (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said:
“The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to teach his companions to make istikhaarah in all things, just as he used to teach them soorahs from the Qur’aan.
He said: ‘If any one of you is concerned about a decision he has to make, then let him pray two rak’ahs of non-obligatory prayer,
Allaahumma inni astakheeruka bi ‘ilmika wa astaqdiruka bi qudratika wa as’aluka min fadlika, fa innaka taqdiru wa laa aqdir, wa ta’lamu wa laa a’lam, wa anta ‘allaam al-ghuyoob. Allaahumma fa in kunta ta’lamu haadha’l-amra (then the matter should be mentioned by name) khayran li fi ‘aajil amri wa aajilihi (or: fi deeni wa ma’aashi wa ‘aaqibati amri) faqdurhu li wa yassirhu li thumma baarik li fihi. Allaahumma wa in kunta ta’lamu annahu sharrun li fi deeni wa ma’aashi wa ‘aaqibati amri (or: fi ‘aajili amri wa aajilihi) fasrifni ‘anhu [wasrafhu ‘anni] waqdur li al-khayr haythu kaana thumma radini bihi
Translation: (O Allaah, I seek Your guidance [in making a choice] by virtue of Your knowledge, and I seek ability by virtue of Your power, and I ask You of Your great bounty. You have power, I have none. And You know, I know not. You are the Knower of hidden things. O Allaah, if in Your knowledge, this matter (then it should be mentioned by name) is good for me both in this world and in the Hereafter (or: in my religion, my livelihood and my affairs), then ordain it for me, make it easy for me, and bless it for me. And if in Your knowledge it is bad for me and for my religion, my livelihood and my affairs (or: for me both in this world and the next), then turn me away from it, [and turn it away from me], and ordain for me the good wherever it may be and make me pleased with it.”