The Prescribed Prayer: Chapter Two (cont.)

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Istikhaarah generally means to desire good and seek well being. The Sunnah recommended that if one intends to undertake a lawful enterprise, but is not sure about the outcome, then seek Allah's guidance by observing two Raka'aats of Sunnah. According to Hadeeth by Jaabir (r.'a.) the Prophet used to teach his companions Istikhaarah in every thing as he taught them the verses of Al-Quran. Elsewhere, the Prophet said:

"Let the person (who wants to embark on an important task) ask his Lord's (guidance in it), even if it is about his sandal's strip." (Ash-Shaukaanee)

In the procedures of this prayer, one offers two raka'aats of Sunnah in which one should recite Al-Faatihah followed by a Suurah or verse from Al-Quran. After the Salaah one praises Allah and then invokes Allah's blessings on Prophet Muhammad. One may recite the second part of Tashahhud, Salaatu 'Alan Nabiyy, followed by the Du'aa of Istikhaarah, reported from the Prophet:
Allaahumma astakheeruka O Allah, I seek good from You and
bi'elmika by Your knowledge,
Wa astaqdiruka biqudra tuka And I seek Your power Out of Your
Wa asaluka min fadlika 'Azeem. I beeseech You of Your Grace, You
Fainnaka taqdiru wa laa aqdiru, have power and I do not have power.
Wa ta'alam wa laa a'Alam wa And You know and I do not know
anta 'allaamul ghuyuub and You are the knower of the unseen.
Allaahumma inkunta ta'alam O Allah, if You know that this
anna HAADHAL AMRA khairul enterprise is good for me spiritually,
lee fee deenee wa ma'aashee and materially as well as its ultimate
wa 'aaqibatu amree, faqdir hu result grant me access to it, and
lee wa yassirhu lee thumma smooth for me its attainment, then
baaril lee feehi bless me in it.
Wa inkunta ta'alam anna If You know that this enterprise is
HAADHAL AMRA sharrulee fee bad for me spiritually and materially
deenee wa ma'aashee wa as well as its ultimate result, then turn
'aaqibati amree fasrifhu annee it away from me and turn me away
wasrifnee 'anhu waqdir lee from it and make accessible to me
lkhaira haithu kaana thumma good wherever it is, then grant me
ardinee bihee contentment with it.

The hadeeth indicated that one should mention his enterprise when one says:

"O Allah, if You know that this enterprise is good"

such as:

"O Allah, if You know that this trip is good for me."

Istikhaarah does not have to be repeated; indeed, after Istikhaarah, one may decide or embark on what one is inclined to do. But one should not follow the inclination one has the desire for before the Istikhaarah. Instead, one should leave his choice and follow the inclination inspired by the Istikhaarah.

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