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Salaah al-Istikharah - The Prayer for seeking Guidance

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What is Salaat al-Istikharah?

Linguistically al-Istikharah comes from the verb Istikharah which means ‘seeking / requesting guidance in what is good.’ So, al-Istikharah is the noun for request or action. While in the Islamic terminology al-Istikharah means that a servant seeks guidance from his Lord upon the manner described by the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) by praying two rakaahs of supererogatory prayer, then supplicating with the specific Du’aa for al-Istikharah for doing an action which is mubah (action which neither brings about reward if performed nor brings about punishment if abandoned - allowed) or for leaving it, or in an obligatory or recommended action in which he has a choice.

Since, the servant is weak in his comprehension, ignorant of the unseen and indecisive about his actions, Allah, the Most High and the Most Merciful, ordained Salaat al-Istikharah for him whenever he faces an obstacle or is concerned about an affair: he consults his Creator and seeks His guidance with regard to it because Allah Alone is the Knower of Ghaib (unseen), He Alone is the most knowledgeable about the reality of the affairs and their results, their benefits from their harms, their good from their evil, in this world and the Hereafter:

“And with Him are the keys of Unseen, none know them but He. And He knows whatever is there in the earth and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but by His knowledge; there is not a grain in the darkness (or the depth) of the earth, nor any flesh or dry (green or withered) but is written in a Clear Record.” [Soorah al-An’aam (6): 59]

Hence, when the servant is concerned about an affair or decided upon a matter, or a problem arises in his mind and he wishes to act upon it, then he should seek guidance form his Lord before embarking upon it according to the manner prescribed in the Sunnah of the Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam).

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