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Why do we take out the istekhara?

Mu' meneen Brothers and Sisters,

As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.  (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)


One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:

1. Why do we take out the istekhara?

2. Is there any advantage to it?

3. If an istekhara comes out negative, how many times should a person take it out

how often and what frequency? 


(There may be some grammatical and spelling errors in the above statement. The forum does not change anything from questions, comments and statements received from our readers for circulation in confidentiality.)




Significance of Istkhara

In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is no one (no idol, no person, no grave, no prophet, no imam, no dai, nobody!) worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.


Translation of Istakhara supplication as done and taught by the Messenger of Allah (saws):
O Allah! I seek Your guidance (in making a choice) by virtue of Yourknowledge, 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 Allah! If in Your knowledge, (this matter) is good for my religion, my livelihood and my affairs; immediate and in the distant, then ordain for me, make it easy for me and bless it for me. And if in Your knowledge, (this matter) is bad for my religion, my livelihood and my affairs; immediate and in the distant, then turn it away from me, and turn me away from it. And ordain for me the good wherever it be and make me pleased with it.


Q-1: Why do we take out the istekhara?

Hadrat Jabir (r.a.) reports that the Prophet (saws) would teach us al-Istikharah for all of our affairs as he would teach us a Surah of the Qu'ran. He (saws) said 'if one of you is deliberating over an act, he should pray two rak'ahs and recite the supplication of Istakhara.

Related by Al-Bukhari.


Saad ibn Waqas (r.a.) reported that the Prophet (saws) said, "Istikharah (seeking guidance from Allah) is one of the distinct favors (of Allah) upon man, and a good fortune for the son of Adam is to be pleased with the Judgment of Allah. And a misfortune of the son of Adam is his failure to make istikharah, and a misfortune for the son of Adam is his displeasure with the Judgment of Allah."


The meaning of the term Istikhara in Islamic Jurisprudence means for a slave of Allah to ask His All-Knowing All-Wise Lord to guide him to the right thing concerning any affair in ones life, especially when one has to choose between two (or more) permissible and lawful alternatives. The Messenger of Allah (saws), whenever he had to make a decision between two lawful options would perform the Istikhara seeking the guidance of his Lord, and he highly encouraged the believers to do the same in all their affairs; thus seeking the guidance of the All-Knowing, All-Wise Lord is a preferred and highly encouraged Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saws).


Q-2: Is there any advantage to it?

Performing the Sunnah of Istikhara neither means that one will get what one desires, nor does it mean that the Divine Decree or Qadr of Allah will change, nor does it mean that what is not coming to him will be bestowed upon him!!!


The one performing Istikhara, by its very performance submits and signifies his absolute and abject limitations, helplessness, and humility towards his Lord Most High, signifies that they completely put their trust and their faith in none save Him and Him Alone, signifies that they seek His Help and Guidance in every affair of theirs, and signifies that whichever way their Lord guides them, they will accept that guidance as His Decision and His Decree and will be absolutely content with it.


For example if one has to make a choice between two women in marriage, it would be prudent for the believer to follow the Sunnah and seek the guidance and help of Allah by performing the Istikhara. Then the believer should send his marriage proposal to whichever of the two woman he is more inclined to. If Allah Subhanah Wills for that marriage to happen, one will see that the proposal goes absolutely smoothly, the girl and her guardians happily accept the proposal, and everything just seems to falls in place as if all by itself! When the transaction goes through smoothly, the one who has performed the Istikhara should know with absolute and total conviction that Allah Subhanah is Pleased with this transaction and deed, and this woman is the absolute best woman for him in all of creation, and He should wholeheartedly be absolutely content with the decision he has made.


Alternatively, if after performing the Istikhara the person who sends the proposal to the woman he is inclined to for marriage sees that there seems to be a blockage at every step, the girl seems to refuse his proposal, or the guardians of the girl are not happy with his proposal, or his own parents and loved ones seem to be against the union, etcthat even after his very best efforts the desired transaction is just not getting throughthen one who has performed the Istikhara should realize that Allah Subhanah does not Will to make this union happen, and he wholeheartedly accepts that as the Decision and Decree of Allah Subhanah and knows with absolute conviction that the woman he desired is not the best for him. His heart is absolutely content with the Decree and Decision of his Lord Most High, and he thus stops pursuing this particular matter any more.


There are tremendous benefits and advantages of performing the Sunnah of Istikhara, the most important of it being that one pursues or leaves alone the thing with total and absolute conviction.content in the belief that if it was good for him in this life and the Hereafter, the Lord would have granted it to him; and if it was not good for him, the Lord would have distanced him from it. This superb process of seeking guidance and help from the Lord Most High through Istikhara helps the believers against indecision, regret and sorrow for the thing one is unable to receive, and bestows total confidence and conviction to pursue what one desires to achieve.


Q-3: If an istekhara comes out negative, how many times should a person take it out how often and what frequency? 

There is absolutely no limit prescribed by the Messenger of Allah (saws) regarding how many times one may approach the Lord seeking His Help and Guidance, nor has the Messenger of Allah (saws) dictated on which lawful things one may approach their Lord for guidance. Provided the matter one seeks help and guidance on from the Lord is lawful in its essence, one may approach the Lord seeking His Help and Guidance as often and as many times as one wills.


The truth is brother, that if after performing the Istikhara, one gets a negative feeling, then one should know and believe with absolute conviction that that matter is not Pleasing to Allah Subhanah..and it would only be an affirmation of ones belief and trust in the Divine Decrees and Decisions of Allah Subhanah that one who sincerely trusts their Lord and His Knowledge, should immediately drop that idea . absolutely content in their belief that what they desired was neither good for them in this life nor the Hereafter, and that if their Lord Wills, He may provide them with an alternative which is far far more superior than what one had previously desired.


But to pursue the thing relentlessly after one has got a negative response to their Istikhara would be an affirmation that one wishes to get what one has desired regardless of whether their Lord is Pleased with it or not; that would not be an act of piety or righteousness or one befitting a true believer. Piety and righteousness would be that after one gets a negative response to their Iskikhara, they should immediately stop pursuing that matter without absolutely any regrets, content in the belief that their Lord, if He Wills and Pleases, will provide and bestow them with a thing much more superior and better than what they had previously desired.


The performance of Istikhara does not change or alter the Divine Decrees and Decisions of Allah Subhanah in the least; but its performance and the obedience of its response only affirms the unconditional trust and belief a believer keeps in the Decisions of their Lord Most High, Most Supreme.


Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allahs Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me alone. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.


Your brother and well wisher in Islam,





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