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Salaah al-Istikharah - The Prayer for seeking Guidance

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Explanation of the Meaning of the Du’aa al-Istikharah

“O Allah, I seek Your counsel by Your knowledge”
Meaning I request You that You choose good for me and help me in this need of mine and I seek a means of approach to You by Your knowledge which encompasses everything in the heavens and the earth.

Seeking help by the Absolute Knowledge of Allah and seeking a means of approach by it, is very appropriate, since the need of seeking guidance is connected with the Unseen and Allah Alone is the one, with Eternal knowledge that extends over everything and nothing escapes from it and verily, He knew all that which occurred, what will occur and all that which did not occur:

“Verily, Allah is All-Knower of everything” [(8): 75]

And Indeed, nothing escapes His Knowledge:

“And that Allah surrounds (comprehends) all things in His Knowledge” [(65): 12]

And “With Him are the keys of Ghaib (all that is hidden) none knows them but He. And He knows whatever there is on the earth and in the sea; not a leaf falls, but He knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, but is written in a Clear Record.” [(6): 59]

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“And I seek Your assistance by Your Power and I ask you from Your immense favor, for verily you are Able and I am not”

Meaning I request from You in that which You have decreed for me, and I seek means of approach to You by Your Power.

Here, the slave of Allah requests His Lord to make Him content with His choice by His Power, Ability and Immense Favor, since, the slave’s ability is from the Ability and Power of Allah, otherwise he is weak. Making matters easy is from the Ability of Allah and the Great Favor from Him that He has bestowed upon His slaves, if He doesn’t make things easy for His slave, they will turn difficult and he may dislike what Allah chooses for him, unaware of the good that is placed in it for him. So, he requests Allah from His immense Favor keeping in view the following statement of Allah: 

“And it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not.” [Soorah Baqarah (2): 216]

One of the manifestations of this great fact is the treaty of Hudaybiyah. The year of Hudaybiyah, when the pagan Arabs of Quraish tribe prevented the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) and his Companions (radhi allahu anhu) from entering Makkah to perform Umrah. Instead of the severe conditions imposed by the Mushriks and great dislike of the treaty by his Companions, Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) accepted them, being confident that Allah would not abandon him and that He will grant him victory. Allah knew that the treaty of al-Hudaybiyah was the beginning of victory. On the way back to Madinah Allah revealed the verse:

“Verily! We have given you (O Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)), Fathan Mubeen, a manifest victory.” [(48): 1]

And indeed, due to the treaty, many good things regarding the manifestation of Deen and retreat of Kuffr took place. People came nearer and entered discussions with each other, Muslims could speak about Islam with proofs and evidences. There came in the fold of Islam as many people as the people who entered before. And regarding this treaty Allah says in His Book:

“He knew what you knew not, and He granted besides that a near Fathan (victory).” [(48): 27]

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 “And verily You know and I do not, and you are the Knower of unseen”

“Say: None in the heavens and the earth know the unseen except Allah.” [Soorah an-Nahl (27): 65]

So not a soul knows anything from the Ghaib (unseen), except by His permission:

This permission is of two types:

1. Permission through Revelation – Particular to the Prophets and Messengers:

“(He Alone) the All-Knower of the Ghaib, and He reveals to none His Ghaib. Except to a Messenger whom He has chosen (He informs him of unseen as much He likes), and then He makes a band of watching guards (angels) to march before him and behind him.” [Soorah Al-Muzzammil (73): 26-27]

And similar was the case with the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), the information of the future in his prophecies were the little that he was told of the future through the Angel Jibreel (alaihis-salaam) and not a result of his own knowledge. Allah made him manifest to this when He said:

“Say: I have no power to bring good to myself nor avert harm, but it is only as Allah wills. If it were that I know the unseen, I would have multiplied the good and no evil would have touched me.” [Soorah al-A’raf (7: 188]

2. Permission through the creation of the universe – Knowledge of the way Allah’s creation operate and its scientific discoveries – whatever a believer or a disbeliever comes to know from the knowledge that was previously unknown, like the discovery of electricity etc…

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 “O Allah if You know this affair to be good for me in relation to my religion, my life and end (or he said my present and my future), then decree and facilitate it for me and bless me with it. And if You know this affair to be detrimental for me concerning my religion, my life and end (or he said my present and my future), then remove it from me and remove me from it and decree for me what is good wherever it be and make me satisfied with it.”

Here, the slave asks Allah for His Blessings in his affair because if Allah guides him due to His Knowledge, helps him due to His Ability and Power, then he needs Allah’s help to preserve it and His Blessings in it so that his matter becomes firm and grows.

Precisely, Istikharah is dependant on three things:

1.      The Absolute Knowledge of Allah

2.      Allah’s Ability and Power of decreeing

3.      Allah’s Blessings, which does not diminish, and His generosity, which is not repelled.

For theses reasons, it is appropriate to start the Du’aa with seeking a means of approach by His Knowledge in choosing what is good for him, then follows that which is required for his choice to be attained, by seeking help through His Power – the ability to enact the action. Then, because the affair requires the blessing of Allah and His favors so that the choice is blessed and so is the benefit from it – it is appropriate that he asks Allah for His blessings, which encompass everything.

Then, since the slave is short-sighted, his affairs unsettled, not being pleased with what is given to him and not content with what is ordained for him, it is appropriate that he should end his Du’aa by asking for contentment in what will be ordained for him.

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