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Salaah al-Istikharah - The Prayer for seeking Guidance

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What are the Affairs in which one can make al-Istikharah?

One can make al-Istikharah only in those affairs that are allowed (mubah: action which neither brings about reward if performed nor brings about punishment if abandoned) like worldly affairs for e.g. traveling, the modes of transport, business dealings, trade, places and time in which one has a choice etc.

Al-Istikharah cannot be made in obligatory, recommended, disliked and forbidden actions, since obligatory actions are forbidden to leave and forbidden actions are obligatory to leave, for e.g. performing obligatory Hajj, abandoning of alcohol or other acts of disobedience. Rather, he can make al-Istikharah in those obligatory and recommended affairs in which there is a choice e.g. marriage is obligatory but since he has a choice with respect to whom he should marry, he may seek guidance (i.e. perform al-Istikharah) with regard to a particular women, and a women may seek guidance in regard to a particular man – but not in marriage itself.

Also al-Istikharah can be made if one is faced with two obligatory duties or conflicting recommended duties, e.g. the case of marriage and Hajj for the one who only possesses enough money for either of them.

Thus, al-Istikharah can be made in all these affairs, whether one is sure of them or not, since the purpose of al-Istikharah is asking Allah, the guidance and ability to do something, and having resolve to do something does not contradict making al-Istikharah.

 Can al-Istikharah be made in those affairs whose result is known?

Yes, since Allah alone knows the reality of Affairs and their consequences and the saying of Allah should be enough for us:

“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]

Du’aa Prescribed After Being granted that which he has asked for

The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “If one of you buys a maid-servant then he should say: ‘O Allah, I ask of You her good and the goodness within her and the goodness that You have made her inclined towards. And I take refuge with You from the evil within her and the evil that You have made her inclined towards, and he should ask for blessings. And if one of you buys a camel then he should touch the top of its hump and supplicate for blessings and say likewise.” [Aboo Dawood v.2, no. 2155, Ibn Majah and al-Haakim]

And in another narration: “If one of you marries a woman or buys a maid-servant, he should touch her forelock and mention Allah’s Name – the Mighty and Sublime – and pray for the blessings.”

Therefore, it is prescribed to put one’s hand on the front of what he has acquired, mentioning Allah’s Name and then praying for blessing with the afore-mentioned Du’aa, and likewise on similar matters such as buying a car and other than that. 

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