Istikhara is a means of seeking guidance from Allah when faced with making a decision that one may be unsure about. “Should I, or shouldn’t I.. Will I regret making this decision?”. Who better to ask than Allah? You will definitely know that you have made the right decision when the direction has come from Allah Almighty as a result of your supplications.
The description of Salaat al-Istikhaarah was reported by Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allaah al-Salami (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said:
“The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to teach his companions to make istikhaarah in all things, just as he used to teach them soorahs from the Qur’aan.
He said: ‘If any one of you is concerned about a decision he has to make, then let him pray two rak’ahs of non-obligatory prayer, then say:
Allaahumma inni astakheeruka bi ‘ilmika wa astaqdiruka bi qudratika wa as’aluka min fadlika, fa innaka taqdiru wa laa aqdir, wa ta’lamu wa laa a’lam, wa anta ‘allaam al-ghuyoob. Allaahumma fa in kunta ta’lamu haadha’l-amra (then the matter should be mentioned by name) khayran li fi ‘aajil amri wa aajilihi (or: fi deeni wa ma’aashi wa ‘aaqibati amri) faqdurhu li wa yassirhu li thumma baarik li fihi. Allaahumma wa in kunta ta’lamu annahu sharrun li fi deeni wa ma’aashi wa ‘aaqibati amri (or: fi ‘aajili amri wa aajilihi) fasrifni ‘anhu [wasrafhu ‘anni] waqdur li al-khayr haythu kaana thumma radini bihi
(O Allaah, I seek Your guidance [in making a choice] by virtue of Your knowledge, and I seek ability by virtue of Your power, and I ask You of Your great bounty. You have power, I have none. And You know, I know not. You are the Knower of hidden things. O Allaah, if in Your knowledge, this matter (then it should be mentioned by name) is good for me both in this world and in the Hereafter (or: in my religion, my livelihood and my affairs), then ordain it for me, make it easy for me, and bless it for me. And if in Your knowledge it is bad for me and for my religion, my livelihood and my affairs (or: for me both in this world and the next), then turn me away from it, [and turn it away from me], and ordain for me the good wherever it may be and make me pleased with it.”
(Reported by al-Bukhaari, 6841; similar reports are also recorded by al-Tirmidhi, al-Nisaa’i, Abu Dawood, Ibn Maajah and Ahmad).
Those are the ones whom Allah has guided, so from their guidance take an example. Say, “I ask of you for this message no payment. It is not but a reminder for the worlds.”
قال أبو جعفر: يقول تعالى ذكره: “ أولئك "، هؤلاء القوم الذين وكلنا بآياتنا وليسوا بها بكافرين, هم الذين هداهم الله لدينه الحق, وحفظ ما وكلوا بحفظه من آيات كتابه، والقيام بحدوده، واتباع حلاله وحرامه، والعمل بما فيه من أمر الله، والانتهاء عما فيه من نهيه, فوفقهم جل ثناؤه لذلك =” فبهداهم اقتده “، يقول تعالى ذكره: فبالعمل الذي عملوا، والمنهاج الذي سلكوا، وبالهدى الذي هديناهم، والتوفيق الذي وفقناهم =” اقتده “، يا محمد، أي: فاعمل، وخذ به واسلكه, فإنه عمل لله فيه رضًا، ومنهاجٌ من سلكه اهتدى.
‘Satan said, ‘I have destroyed them with sins and they have destroyed me with their repentance, so when I saw this, I destroyed them with their own desire, so they think that they are guided and they do not seek forgiveness.’
Prophet Muhammad ص
al-TarghIb wa al-TarhIb, v. 1, p. 87, no. 13