It is mentioned in the Holy Quraan:
"Seek Allah's help with patience and Salah and truly it is indeed hard except to the humble minded." (Baqarah 45)
Hazrat Huzaifah says that whenever Rasul Allah happened to face any difficulties he would at once resort to salah.
For any important matter which arises `Istikhaarah` is the best solution. Today Istikhaarah is commonly observed for marriage, although it can be performed before starting any intended work be it journey, business etc.
Istikhaarah is an appeal to Allah to give guidance of the better between two choices, when an individual is hesitant and cannot make up his decision of choosing either of the two.
The purpose behind Istikhaarah has been widely mistaken by people. It is to seek help and guidance from Allah Ta'aalaa in the achievement of any intended work, and not to acquire information or a report. It is merely a supplication to enable one to make the right decision. Through Istikhaarah a servant requests a beneficial outcome from Allah Ta'aalaa, and should the intended be harmful that Allah will create such causes that will prevent him from carrying out his intention.
The person doing Istikhaarah could have a dream which is glad tidings for him .but it is not necessary to have a dream or spiritual inspiration, or even an inclination in the heart towards any of the two alternatives. One should choose one of the alternatives and act upon it considering it appropriate. To believe that it is necessary to have a dream or spiritual inspiration or feeling in the heart is incorrect because there is no evidence in the Shariat to support this claim. Thus, Istikhaarah is a means to acquire the beneficial and not to seek information.
After Istikhaarah the intended will be easy to accomplish which will be for the welfare of the world and the hereafter, although it might seem harmful. From this we know that to ask someone to perform Istikhaarah for oneself is incorrect unless you ask them to supplicate for you.
Contradictory to the common belief it is not essential to perform Istikhaarah before retiring to bed and thereafter refrain from communicating with anyone, since it has not been fixed in the hadith.
In marriage, when the intention of proposing is made one should pray two rakaats of nafl prayer. ie. salaat Istikhaarah and then recite the dua of Istikhaarah (as in the following hadith) with all sincerity. Whilst reciting the dua when one reaches Haazal Amr (at both places) he should think of his reason for Istikhaarah. Thereafter, one should make dua that Allah blesses one with a good and pious husband.
see also Method & Dua of Istikharah
Allah. - The only one God.
Rasul Allah. - The Holy Prophet Mohammed, .
Salah. - Prayer.
Istikhaarah. - Special supplication tp Allah for Guidance
Ta'aalaa. - The most high.
Rakaat. - One cycle or unit of prayer
Nafl. - Optional.
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