Wednesday, 12 May 2010

PERFORM ISTIKHARA (-Such a powerful tool.)

“Humility is to leave your home and not to meet ANYONE except that you believe him to be better than you.” ~Imam Hassan Al-Basri

“The Three Abandoned Prayers”. In it, the author discusses three prayers that have been largely underused by many Muslims, but which hold great power.
They were Salat-ut-Tawbah (The Salah of Repentance), Salat-ul-Istikhara (The Salah of Seeking A God-Guided Outcome in Times of Decision),
Salat-ul-Tasbih (The Salah of Glorification of God).
No doubt, many of us have been heedless of these powerful tools for growing in our closeness to Allah, but one in particular which is important to re-think is Istikhara.

....The Abandoned Prayer....
....Salat-ul-Istikhara.......

The procedure for this Salah is best described by the hadith:

On the authority of Jabber Ibn ‘Abdullah he said: The Prophet (S) would instruct us to pray for guidance in all of our concerns, just as he would teach us a chapter from the
 Quran. He (S) would say ‘if any of you intends to undertake a mater then let him pray two supererogatory units (two rak’ah naafilah) of prayer and after which he should supplicate:

‘O Allah, I seek Your counsel by Your knowledge and by Your power I seek strength and I ask You from Your immense favor, for verily You are able while I am not and verily
You know while I do not and You are the Knower of the unseen. O Allah, if You know this affair -and here he mentions his need- to be good for me in relation to my religion,
 my life, and end, then decree and facilitate it for me, and bless me with it, and if You know this affair to be ill for me towards my religion, my life, and end, then remove it
from me and remove me from it, and decree for me what is good wherever it be and make me satisfied with such.’

Such a powerful tool we have been given, to admit our complete lack of knowledge, power, ability, and sight, and the absolute dominance of Allah (swt) in all these abilities.
Such a great and mighty prayer, comprehensive in its outlook, its span of time, and its effect on our lives. Balanced within this world and the Hereafter. Something which
 only Divine Guidance could have brought us.

Many of us use this prayer, rightfully, to seek Allah’s assistance in making decisions concerning school, getting a job, getting married, going to Hajj, or maybe even
choosing a house. Unfortunately though, we have relegated one of the most powerful duas available, to only the most important decisions.

What we don’t realize however is that this prayer need not only be for the most important, crucial decisions in our lives. Why do those who are in Islamic Work, not use
 this prayer when making decisions in the organization? Why not use it when making difficult choices at work? For a specific project choice or topic choice for a paper in
 school? Why do we not use it every time we say: “Ya Allah…I wish you would just me what is best for me!” or “Ya Allah! I wish you would just show me what to do!”

So many decisions to make. So many decisions at workplaces. But in these decisions, we don’t remember that much of our worry can be removed by leaving the decision
to Allah (swt).

What made the Companions the unique Quranic generation was that their entire thought process revolved around the Quran and around supplication to Allah swt .They  relegated to Allah and His Messenger, every decision in their lives, after putting forth an intelligent and sincere effort at solving their problems.
As the Prophet said:  “Ad-Dua mukh-ul-’ibaadah”.
"Supplication is the essence of worship".

Anytime a Muslim is making a decision, he or she should seek Allah's guidance and wisdom. Allah alone knows what is best for us, and there may be good in what we perceive
as bad, and bad in what we perceive as good.

If you are ambivalent or unsure about a decision you have to make, there is a specific prayer for guidance (Salat-l-Istikhara) that you can do to ask for Allah's help in making your decision.
 Should you marry this certain person? Should you attend this graduate school? Should you take this job offer or that one? Allah knows what is best for you, and if you are not sure  about a choice that you have, seek His guidance.

According to Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 21, Number 263:

Narrated Jabber bin 'Abdullah (R.A).: The Prophet (Sallal Laho Alaihi Wasallam) used to teach us the way of doing Istikhara, in all matters as he taught us the Suras of the Quran.
 He said, "If anyone of you thinks of doing any action he should offer a two Rakat prayer other than the compulsory ones and say (after the prayer):

"Istikhara" means to seek goodness from Allah (Exalted is He), meaning when one intends to do an important task they do istikhara before the task.

The one who does the istikhara is asking Allah Almighty, the Knower of Unseen (Exalted is He) to guide him or her to know whether the task is better for him or not.

Salat al-Istikhara is a powerful tool that Allah has given us to ask His guidance in all matters. We should not hesitate to pray Istikhara before making any choice in our lives, big or small.

It's important to do this prayer with sincerity, knowing in our hearts that only Allah can give us the guidance we seek, and resolved to follow the guidance He gives us, even if it clashes with our own desires.

We should also say the duas with firm conviction, not begging or pleading, but asking Allah clearly for guidance.

And we should not be impatient after our dua. We do not put Allah on a timetable. We say our prayers and trust that Allah has heard us and will answer us in the way that is best.

The Prophet (SAW) used to teach us the way of doing Istikhara (Istikhara means to ask Allah to guide one to the right sort of action concerning any job or a deed), in all matters
as he taught us the Suras of the Quran. He said, "If anyone of you thinks of doing any work he should offer a two Rakat prayer other than the compulsory ones and say
(after the prayer):
 'Allahumma inni astakhiruka bi'ilmika, Wa astaqdiruka bi-qudratika, Wa as'alaka min fadlika al-'azlm Fa-innaka taqdiru Wala aqdiru, Wa ta'lamu Wala a'lamu,
 Wa anta 'allamu l-ghuyub. Allahumma, in kunta ta'lam anna hadha-l-amra Khairun li fi dini wa ma'ashi wa'aqibati amri (or 'ajili amri wa'ajilihi) Faqdirhu wa yas-sirhu li thumma
 barik li Fihi, Wa in kunta ta'lamu anna hadha-lamra shar-run li fi dini wa ma'ashi wa'aqibati amri (or fi'ajili amri wa ajilihi) Fasrifhu anni was-rifni anhu. Waqdir li al-khaira haithu
kana Thumma ardini bihi.

(O Allah! I ask guidance from your knowledge, And Power from Your Might and I ask for your great blessings. You are capable and I am not.
You know and I do not and you know the unseen. O Allah! If you know that this job is good for my religion and my subsistence and in my Hereafter... (Or said: If it is better  for my present and later needs). Then You ordain it for me and make it easy for me to get, And then bless me in it, and if You know that this job is harmful to me In my
 religion and subsistence and in the Hereafter... (Or said: If it is worse for my present and later needs). Then keep it away from me and let me be away from it. And ordain  for me whatever is good for me, and make me satisfied with it). The Prophet added that then the person should name (mention) his need.

WAY TO PERFORM ISTIKHARA:
First pray Two Cycles (raka') of ritual Prayer (nafil) such that in the first raka' after Surah Fatiha (Allhamd"¦) recite Surah al-Kafirun (Chapter 109)
and in the second raka' after Fatiha (Allhamd"¦)
 recite Surah al-Ikhlas (Chapter 112). After finishing prayer recite  (supplication/dua'): Dua .

How many times?
It depends. Sometimes it takes only once to get the answer and sometimes it takes longer. It is better to do istakhara seven (7) times. If you have received an answer,
you may stop doing istikhara. You do not have to continue to do istikhara for 7 days. It is better that right after reciting the supplication, given above, sleep with ablution
(people who cannot keep the ablution for longer times due to health problems do not have to worry about ablution before falling asleep) facing the direction of the Qiblah
(facing the Qiblah is not required but it is a Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Peace Be Upon Him). It is better to recite salutations (durood/ salawat) on the Prophet of Allah.
 Grace and Peace is upon him before and after the above Dua (supplication).

When one is not clear about the result of the istikhara, the fuqaha mention that it is recommend to repeat it, up to seven times if necessary (usually done on separate occasions). 
It is not necessary that you get a dream or even a "feeling." Rather, the istikhara is a prayer that Allah guide you towards that which is best (khayr) for you. If you do the prayer of  guidance (istikhara) with the proper manners, the most important of which is to truly consign the matter to Allah and suspend your own inclinations, then Allah will make events unfold  in the direction that is the best for your worldly and next-worldly affairs.

In general, when it is not possible to perform the istikhara prayer itself (such as when one is out on the road, or in one's menstrual period), it is recommended to simply
 read the dua itself.

The istikhara prayer may be made for a specific matter or be made for a general seeking of all that is best. Some scholars including Ibn `Arafah before him saw this kind of
istikhara prayer as being superior. Others, including Sheikh Ibn al-Arabi, recommended performing a general istikhara prayer for all that is good every day, ideally at the
 time of the Duha prayer (after sunrise).

Imam al-Nawawi mentioned that before the istikhara prayer, one should seek advice (istikhara) from those whose knowledge, wisdom, and concern one is confident.
 Ibn Hajar al-Haytami and others mentioned that one of the benefits of this is to further distance oneself from the desires of one's own egotistic inclinations.

It is recommended to open the dua of istikhara [below], with praise of Allah and sending blessings on the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace), and to close it in this
manner, too.

Like other duas, it is recommended that one face the Qiblah.

It is disliked to 'hasten' in seeking the answer to one's istikhara, like other duas, because the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) said,
"Your prayers are answered, unless you hasten, saying, 'I prayed, but no answer came.'"

One should be pleased with what Allah chooses for one, and not seek to follow one's whims after the answer to one's supplication becomes clear.

.....Sufyan b. ‘Uyainah– Allah has mercy on him – said:
"The first step in knowledge is to listen, then to be quiet and attentive, then to preserve it, then to put it into practice and then to spread it " .

Have fun praying and getting ready for the Day of Judgment coz that day will NOT be fun :) P.S.: don’t forget to make dua for me. !!