As young people we are faced with so many challenges and decisions to make. It happens during our schooling years whereby we don’t know what to study afterwards. It later moves onto the jobs we are being interviewed for. Then the greatest decision we have to make, the decision that completes half of our lives as Muslims: Marriage. But our minds are always in a state of conflict because we never know if our decisions will be best for us. Don’t we realise we have a built in GPS? Through Allah (swt) we will always know where we are going. That is why the Prophet Muhammad (saw) taught Salaat-ul-Istikharah to his companions.
Many people use various methods to make decisions. And although advice and consultation should be sought from our Muslim brothers and sisters, Islam has taught us a specific way in which to ask for guidance from Allah (swt). Many people feel that Salaat-ul-Istikharah is used primarily for marriage. However Salaat-ul-Istikharah is tool for guidance. One should bear in mind that when one prays Salaat-ul-Istikharah they should not pray for things that are haraam. We also don’t have to pray Salaat-ul-Istikharah for trivial matters which don’t have a great influence in your life. So if you seek guidance from your creator for a big decision that you are about to embark on then pray Salaat-ul-Istikharah.
Whenever I met a potential marriage partner I would perform Salaat-ul-Istikharah and a few days later they would walk away. I never saw the bigger picture until recently. I sought guidance from my creator because I didn’t know if this was a decision that was going to be good for me and now I know why they walked away. The reason is because they were not good for me in this world and in the hereafter.
You need to have the yaqeen that Allah (swt) will guide you as to what is best for you. This is a part of Imaan. Allah (swt) will make you choose as to what will be better for you in this life and hereafter. People also have a misconception that your choice will always come to you in a dream. But sometimes it won’t always work that way. Sometimes you may have a very strong inclination towards a feeling but Allah (swt) will guide you as to what is best for you or not. You as a person should be sincere and choose the decision that will be better for your deen. Sometimes the dream or feelings you experience will be different to what you hoped for. You as a Muslim should be strong and go through with the decision Allah (swt) has guided you towards. “He knoweth What (appeareth to His creatures As) Before or After or Behind them. Nor shall they compass Aught of his knowledge Except as He willeth” – Ayatul Kursiy. So think of Salaat-ul-Istikharah as your divine compass. When you are lost and can’t find your way home then use your compass.
Pray 2 raka’at either with the intention of praying Salaat-ul-Istikharah separately by itself or jointly with 2 rakaat of, for example, tahajjud.
Immediately after you have completed the 2 rakaats, recite the Istikharah Dua.
O Allah, I consult You as You are All-Knowing and I appeal to You to give me power as You are Omnipotent, I ask You for Your great favour, for You have power and I do not, and You know all of the hidden matters. O Allah! If you know that this matter (then he should mention it) is good for me in my religion, my livelihood, and for my life in the Hereafter, (or he said: ‘for my present and future life,’) then make it (easy) for me. And if you know that this matter is not good for me in my religion, my livelihood and my life in the Hereafter, (or he said: ‘for my present and future life,’) then keep it away from me and take me away from it and choose what is good for me wherever it is and please me with it.” The Prophet Muhammad (saw) added that then the person should name (mention) his need.