How do I ask Allah (swt) to guide me about a decision (Istikhara)? What are the different methods?
Before performing Istikhara (asking Allah swt), it is important to go over the decision with yourself by thinking about it and researching as well as consulting others (family, friends, etc). If you are still confused/uncertain about making a decision then you can make an Istikhara.
There are 3 main ways you can perform Istikhara:
Prayer of Istikhara (Salat al-Istikhara)
Istikhara from the Quran or prayer beads.
Performing the Istikhara from the Quran means that you will get a yes or no answer depending on the content. Ahmed Al Hassan says: “… So if it was [a verse of] glad tidings then rely on Allah [and continue with the matter]. But if it was [a verse of] warning, caution or threatening then avoid the matter.” Ajwibat Al-Fiqh vol3 p56 q155.
Performing the Dua and/or Salat of Istikhara requires one to receive the result of the decision by observing their heart/feeling. However if there is still doubt/uncertainty after doing the Dua and/or Salat of Istikhara, then it is recommended to do the Istikhara of Quran or prayer beads after them.
Ahmed Al Hassan mentions three important things concerning Istikhara:
The Istikhara is asking Allah (the Glorious and Al-Mighty), in which case it is important to be firm in intention for [three] matters:
First: You must not lean towards one decision over the other [i.e. performing it or not performing it], but instead the two of them must be equal inside you.
Second: You must be ready to completely accept Allah’s answer. And there must not be any rejection on your part, nor any discussion relating to it when the answer is received.
Third: You must accept the answer and consider it as a big blessing from Allah upon you. Allah has spoken to you and answered you.
These three matters are essential as a boundary so that [if you follow them] then you have actually asked Allah. Jawab Al Muneer, vol3, p48, q236, a23.
The methods of the three ways:
1 – Dua of Istikhara
There are many Dua here, I will mention one here from Imam Al Sadiq (as) :
“In the case of an important action, recite: [ أَسْتَخِيرُكَ اللهَ ] [I seek the best from Allah] one hundred and one times. And for an action with lesser importance then recite it ten times.”
This can be found here: http://www.al-islam.org/istikhara-seeking-the-best-from-allah-muhammad-baqir-haideri/section-6-various-forms-istikhara
The mentioned Dua is number 16 in the above link. Number 16-23 are all Dua’s for Istikhara.
2 – Salat al-Istikhara
There are various ways of doing this, I will mention one. Note that the two unit prayer is just like Fajr prayer except with the intention of Istikhara of the matter you wish to make a decision on.
al‑Imam al‑Baqir (as) narrated that: “Imam Ali (as), would pray a two unit prayer and once finished, would say; [ أَسْتَخِيرُكَ اللهَ ] [I seek the best from Allah] one hundred times, and then say:
[O Allah! I have intended to perform a task which You [already] know about. Thus, if you know there is good in it for me in this world, in my religion and in the hereafter, then make it (the task) easy for me; and if you know that there is bad in it for me in this world, in my religion and in the hereafter, then let me turn away from that task; whether I dislike that task or love it, since You know (better than I do) and I do not know and You are the Knower of the Unseen.]
Then act according (to whatever you feel in your heart).”
This is number 24 from the same link above: http://www.al-islam.org/istikhara-seeking-the-best-from-allah-muhammad-baqir-haideri/section-6-various-forms-istikhara#24-method-seeking-best-done-amir-al‑mominin-ali
Numbers 26 and 27 also have the two unit prayer for Salat al-Istikhara.
3 – Istikhara from the Quran or prayer beads
I will show three of these, 2 from the Quran and 1 from the prayer beads:
a) The Prophet of Allah (s) said: “Whenever you want to seek the best by the Book of Allah (the Glorious and Great) recite Surah al‑Ikhlas (Surat Tawheed) three times, and send blessings on the Prophet and his family three times, then say:
((أَللهُمَّ تَفَأَلْتُ بِكِتَابِكَ وَتَوَكَّلْتُ عَلَيْكَ فَأَرِنِي مِنْ كِتَابِكَ مَا هُوَ مَكْتُومٌ مِنْ سِرِّكَ الْمَكْنُونِ فِي غَيْبِكَ))
[O Allah! I am seeking the best by Your Book and I am relying upon You so show me from Your book that what is written from Your secrets and known from your Unseen Knowledge.]
Then open the Quran and take the answer from the beginning of the first line on the page on the right side.”
This is number 30 in this link: http://www.al-islam.org/istikhara-seeking-the-best-from-allah-muhammad-baqir-haideri/section-6-various-forms-istikhara#30-seeking-best-quran-done-prophet-allah-s
b) Concerning Istikhara, Imam Ali (as) has instructed to read Surat AlFatiha 3 times, then read Surat Tawheed 3 times and then recite the following dua:
[Allaahumma inni tawakkaltu 3alayk, wa tafaa’altu fee kitaabikal kareem, fa’arinee ma huwal-maktoomu fee sirrik almaknoon, wa fee ghaybik almaknoon ya thal jalal wal ikram]
[Oh Allah, I have relied upon you, and referred (in optimism) to your generous book, so bring me closer to what is hidden in Your mystery, that which is hidden in your concealment, Oh the most merciful of the merciful ones.]
After you do the above, you open the Quran to a random page, starting from the right. You count 7 pages (which means you will go forward 14 pages, i.e. each page is a two-sided page). Then in that page, you then count down 7 lines. Get the first letter of the seventh line. Then compare the letter with the below list:
أ (Good, happiness, joy and conciliation)
ب (They will see many benefits, and they will be safe from people that they fear)
ت (They were sinning and they will repent from it)
ث (They will be given good in this world and in the Hereafter)
ج (They will find many benefits in the matter that they intended)
ح (They will be given good and halal sustenance from where a place that is not expected)
خ (Do not continue with the matter, it is bad/corrupt)
د (They will get what they want and obtain happiness)
ذ (They will defeat/overcome their enemies)
ر (They will be victorious among their people)
ز (They will fall into conflict and danger, so give sadaqa [charity] )
س (They will be blessed with happiness and good)
ش (Their enemies will fear them)
ص (They will fall into a great matter so give sadaqa [charity] )
ض (They will possess abundant wealth)
ط (They will see the best in this world and the Hereafter)
ظ (Something hidden about the matter will be revealed)
ع (They will be supported and helped with their matter)
غ (They will fall into a great matter so they should give sadaqa [charity] )
ف (Allah will reunite them after they have been separated)
ق (They will be happy and accepted among the servants [of Allah] )
ك (They will fall into conflict, so give sadaqa [charity] )
ل (Their matter will be made possible, and their enemies will be defeated/overcome)
م (They should beware so that they do not fall into regret)
ن (They will be a person of good status and accepted [among people] )
هـ (Their matter will stop for a bit, but its ending is good)
و (They will be given wealth and will not be in need of anyone)
يـ (They will find glad tidings in it of good)
The above is a refined translation of: http://www.hashemstudios-board.com/viewtopic.php?t=4080
The original in Arabic: http://vb.almahdyoon.org/showthread.php?t=5455
c) Narrated from Imam Al Mahdi (as) regarding the Istikhara by using the prayer beads: “The prayer beads [Tasbih] should held, and blessings should be sent on Muhammad and his family three times [Allahuma Salee Ala Muhammad wa Alee Muhammad]. And then pick a spot on the beads and count them two by two. If at the end only one bead remains, then you should perform that action; and if two beads remain, then you should not perform it. ”
Taken from number 34 of this link: http://www.al-islam.org/istikhara-seeking-the-best-from-allah-muhammad-baqir-haideri/section-6-various-forms-istikhara#34-istikhara-tasbih-beads-imam-al‑zamana
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