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How to Pray Istikhara: A Step-by-Step Guide

Istikhara is a special Islamic prayer for seeking guidance from Allah when one needs to make an important decision and is feeling uncertain about what to do. Learning how to pray Istikhara properly can help provide clarity and direction in times of confusion. This step-by-step guide explains the meaning of Istikhara, when to perform it, and the method of praying it according to the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

What is the Meaning of Istikhara?

The Arabic word “Istikhara” literally means “to seek goodness“. In the Islamic context, Salat-al-Istikhara refers to the prayer of guidance – a powerful tool that Allah has given us to seek His counsel and make decisions that align with His will.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to teach his companions to perform Istikhara regarding all their affairs, just as he used to teach them the chapters of the Quran.[1] This illustrates the tremendous importance and value of this prayer.

When Should You Pray Istikhara?

You can pray Istikhara for any decision or matter in which you are unsure about what choice to make. Some common examples of when people make Istikhara include:

  • Deciding whether to accept a marriage proposal
  • Choosing between two job offers
  • Making a major purchase like a house or car
  • Determining the best school or career path
  • Resolving any matter that you are confused about

However, it’s important to note that Istikhara is only done for permissible and halal matters. You cannot pray Istikhara for decisions involving haram acts like lying or drinking alcohol. It should also not be done for obligatory religious duties like praying the 5 daily prayers.[2]

Prerequisites Before Praying Istikhara

Istikhara is actually the last step in the Islamic decision-making process. Before jumping to perform the prayer, there are two important prerequisites that should be fulfilled:

  1. Research and reflection: Thoroughly research the matter that you are seeking guidance for. Reflect deeply on the pros and cons of each choice. Use the intellect that Allah has blessed you with to try to determine the best path forward.
  2. Consultation (istishara): Discuss the matter with knowledgeable and wise people whom you trust. Seek their advice and opinions. The Quran instructs us to consult with others in making decisions.[3]

Only after completing these two steps, if you are still confused and unable to decide, should you then perform Istikhara to seek Allah’s guidance. Istikhara is not a replacement for using our own reason and judgment.

How to Perform Istikhara Prayer

The method of praying Istikhara is as follows:

  1. Perform wudhu (ablution) if you are not already in a state of purity.
  2. Pray two rakah of voluntary prayer. In the first rakah, after Surah Al-Fatihah, recite Surah Al-Kafirun. In the second rakah, after Surah Al-Fatihah, recite Surah Al-Ikhlas.[4]
  3. After completing the two rakah, praise Allah and send blessings upon Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
  4. Recite the supplication of Istikhara in Arabic:[5]

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْتَخِيرُكَ بِعِلْمِكَ وَأَسْتَقْدِرُكَ بِقُدْرَتِكَ، وَأَسْأَلُكَ مِنْ فَضْلِكَ الْعَظِيمِ، فَإِنَّكَ تَقْدِرُ وَلَا أَقْدِرُ وَتَعْلَمُ وَلَا أَعْلَمُ وَأَنْتَ عَلَّامُ الْغُيُوبِ، اللَّهُمَّ إِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الْأَمْرَ خَيْرٌ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي فَاقْدُرْهُ لِي وَيَسِّرْهُ لِي ثُمَّ بَارِكْ لِي فِيهِ، وَإِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الْأَمْرَ شَرٌّ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي فَاصْرِفْهُ عَنِّي وَاصْرِفْنِي عَنْهُ، وَاقْدُرْ لِيَ الْخَيْرَ حَيْثُ كَانَ ثُمَّ أَرْضِنِي بِهِ

  1. After reciting the Arabic dua, say in your own language the specific matter for which you are seeking guidance. For example, “O Allah, if getting married to this person is good for me in my religion and in my life and for my welfare in the Hereafter, then bring it about and make it easy for me and bless me in it. But if it is bad for me in my religion and in my life and for my welfare in the Hereafter, then turn it away from me and turn me away from it, and decree for me what is good wherever it may be and make me content with it.”
  2. Go to sleep with a clear mind and heart, trusting that Allah will guide you to what is best. There is no need to look for or interpret any dreams.

Interpreting the Answer to Istikhara

Many people mistakenly believe that you must see a specific sign or dream after praying Istikhara in order to know the answer. However, this is not correct. The answer to Istikhara usually comes in the form of a feeling of inclination or disinclination in the heart towards one of the choices.[6]

If after praying Istikhara, you feel a strong pull and sense of contentment towards a particular decision, then this is a sign that it is likely good for you. However, if you feel uneasy or encounter obstacles in pursuing that path, then this may be an indication that it is not the best choice.

It’s important to have patience after performing Istikhara. The answer may not come immediately. As long as you have made a sincere effort to follow the guidance, trust that Allah will place blessings in whatever He decrees for you, even if it’s not what you initially desired.

Mistakes to Avoid in Istikhara

There are some common mistakes and misconceptions that people have in regards to Istikhara:

Treating Istikhara like fortune-tellingIstikhara is a dua for guidance, not a magical way to predict the future.
Expecting or demanding specific signsYou cannot put conditions on Allah. The answer will come in whatever form He wills.
Relying only on Istikhara without using reasonIstikhara does not replace the need for thinking, researching, and consulting others.
Performing Istikhara for someone elseIstikhara is a personal prayer. Each individual must pray for their own situation.[7]
Repeatedly making Istikhara for the same matterOnce you pray Istikhara with sincerity, have trust in Allah’s decree. Continuing to do it again and again may indicate lack of contentment.


Learning how to pray Istikhara with proper understanding is an invaluable tool for making sound decisions and seeking Allah’s guidance. By using our intellect, consulting with others, and then turning to Allah with sincere supplication, we can navigate the uncertainties of life with greater clarity and peace of mind.

As the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever seeks guidance from the Creator and consults with the creation and then is determined in his matter will never regret.”[8] May Allah guide us all to what is best in this life and the next.


[1] Sahih al-Bukhari 1166
[2] Istikhara: Seeking The Best From Allah (SWT) –
[3] Quran 3:159
[4] Sunan an-Nasa’i 1389
[5] Sahih al-Bukhari 6382
[6] Istikhara: The Signs You’re Looking For – The Muslim Vibe
[7] Common Misconceptions about Istikhara – SeekersGuidance
[8] Majma’ al-Zawa’id 2/280

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