Istikharah (Part 1)

We’re generally taught to pray Istikhara (prayer of guidance) for important choices such as job change, who to marry etc. But I’ve noticed we actually face a lot of trivial decisions which cause us similar aggro – how much to sell the car, should I move my kids’ school, should you discuss a sensitive topic with someone and a whole host of other headaches!

We can spend hours or even days subconsciously flipping between different scenarios and honestly, it can be stressful. But the beauty of Istikhara is not just it’s simplicity, but it’s impact. 

If you resort to Istikahara for any type of decision you are struggling with, there’s an instant tranquillity which follows. You are presenting the burden of this decision to the Creator (swt) himself, to help guide you to that which is best for your dunya *and* hereafter.

The beauty of this, is that this act is a sign of your tawakul (trust) in Allah as you’re saying ‘O Allah, You know what is best for me, I just don’t know’. With that statement, you become from those who rely on him, and Allah *loves* those who place their trust in him. 

Imam al-Qurtubi defines Tawakul as ‘Depending upon Allah with an expression of inability’. I can’t think of a more apt way to link Istikhara with trust in Allah. 

And so Istikhara for all types of things is not to be looked down upon, instead it is a sunnah as per the hadith of Jaabir (ra):

عَنْ جَابِرِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، قَالَ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يُعَلِّمُنَا الاِسْتِخَارَةَ فِي الأُمُورِ كُلِّهَا كَمَا يُعَلِّمُنَا السُّورَةَ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ

“The Messenger of Allah used to teach us to perform Istikharah in *all* matters, just as he used to teach us Surahs from the Qur’an” (Al-Nasai).

I can’t count the number of times Istikhara has done a 180-degree turn on me just when I thought I had a decision all figured out. Likewise, it has kept me firm when I really needed it, knowing that Allah will guide us to that which is best and ultimately, to that which he loves.