“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 duaa with firm conviction, not begging or pleading, but asking Allah clearly for guidance.
And we should not be impatient after our duaa. We do not put Allah on a timetable. And we should not expect some sort of miracle, or a dream full of signs and symbols. These things are not necessary. We simply say our prayers and trust that Allah has heard us and will answer us in the way that is best.
We have several articles about Salat-al-Istikhara on this website, IslamicAnswers.com. Take the time to read the articles and learn how to perform the Istikhara prayer properly. It will benefit you tremendously in your life choices.
According to Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 21, Number 263:
Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah: 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):
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