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If you think about it, our lives revolve around decision-making. We start to make decisions the moment we get up from bed in the morning to when we set the alarm at night for the next day.

We make most routine decisions without giving much conscious thought to them.

But there are some important life decisions that take days or even months of deliberation and can cause a lot of apprehension and anxiety. 

Choosing what subject to study at university, which college to opt for, who to choose as a life partner, when to have children, which house or country to move to, all of these and more are some significant decisions that alter the course of our life.

How can you make such a big decision on your own?

How can you make the “right” choice when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the many scenarios and what-ifs running through your mind? 

Adopting the Sunnah method of decision-making gives you that much-needed blueprint to help you through the process.

It enables you to gain clarity and peace of mind so you can make the best decision possible. 

Steps to Follow When Making an Important Decision:

  1. Research and gather as much information as possible.
  2. Perform the Salah of Istikharah to seek Divine Guidance.
  3. Seek Mashwarah (counsel) from relevant experts.
  4. Ground yourself in the knowledge of who you are and what you want.
  5. Place your utmost trust and faith in Allah ﷻ.

1. Research and gather as much information as possible.

The first step is to find out everything you can about your options.

For example, if you have to decide on a subject to major in or the right college to attend, ask people who have careers in that field or who are studying at that college, and find out everything you can. 

If you have to decide whether or not to accept a certain marriage proposal, find out about the potential’s Deen, their family background, current financial situation, and anything else that’s important to you. 

Spend time and gather as much information as possible so you can make a well-informed decision about what (or who) to choose. 

2. Perform the Salah of Istikharah to seek Divine Guidance.

You should always do Istikharah before making any big decision in your life.

Istikharah literally means to seek out goodness, to seek the Khayr from Allah ﷻ. 

Rasulullah ﷺ used to teach his companions Istikharah with as much emphasis as he taught them the Surahs of the Quran.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ  said, “From the blessing of the son of Adam is the ability to seek good from Allah, doing Istikharah with Allah. Also from the blessing of the son of Adam is that they are pleased with whatever Allah has decreed for them. From the wretchedness of the children of Adam is when he leaves doing Istikharah with Allah. Also from the wretchedness of the human being is that the human being is displeased with what Allah has decreed for him.” – Musnad Imam Ahmad (ra)

How can you perform Salat-ul-Istikharah?

Do Wudu, then pray two Rakat (units) Nafl with the intention of Istikharah.

After saying the Salaam, recite this Dua:

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْتَخِيرُكَ بِعِلْمِكَ وَأَسْتَقْدِرُكَ بِقُدْرَتِكَ، وَأَسْأَلُكَ مِنْ فَضْلِكَ العَظِيمِ، فَإِنَّكَ تَقْدِرُ وَلاَ أَقْدِرُ، وَتَعْلَمُ وَلاَ أَعْلَمُ، وَأَنْتَ عَلَّامُ الغُيُوبِ، اللَّهُمَّ إِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الأَمْرَ خَيْرٌ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي فَاقْدُرْهُ لِي وَيَسِّرْهُ لِي، ثُمَّ بَارِكْ لِي فِيهِ، وَإِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الأَمْرَ شَرٌّ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي فَاصْرِفْهُ عَنِّي وَاصْرِفْنِي عَنْهُ، وَاقْدُرْ لِي الخَيْرَ حَيْثُ كَانَ، ثُمَّ أَرْضِنِي به.

“All praises are due to Allah, the Rabb of the Worlds. Salutations and Greetings be on our leader, Muhammad, his family and all his Companions. O Allah! I seek from You a decision by virtue of Your Knowledge (of what is best), and I seek from You the ability (to realize my object) by virtue of Your Power, and I ask You (to grant me) from Your Great Bounty, for indeed You have power and I do not have power, and You know and I do not know, and You are the Knower of the unseen. Oh Allah! If, according to Your Knowledge, this matter is good for me with regards to my religious affairs, my worldly life and my final outcome (i.e. in the Hearafter), then direct it towards me and ease it for me, thereafter grant me blessing in it. And if according to Your Knowledge, this matter is evil for me with regards to my religious affairs, my worldly life and my final outcome (i.e. Hearafter), then turn it away from me and turn me away from it. And direct towards me that which is good, no matter where it is, thereafter make me pleased with it (i.e. that good.)” [Tirmidhi, 480]

Keep whatever it is you’re making Istikharah for in mind when reciting the italicized part of the Dua.

Perform Salat-ul-Istikharah for 7 days, if possible, or 3, but even once is sufficient to include the Barakah of this prayer in your decision. 

How do you know the answer to your Istikharah?

The answer to your Istikharah is in the form of whichever option is made easier for you and fills your heart with peace.

Whichever option you feel confident about after praying Istikharah, know that that’s the “right” decision, insha Allah. You can pray Istikharah multiple times If you’re still not clear about what to opt for.

There is also a short form of the long Istikharah Dua that can be read when making everyday decisions:

 اللَّهُمَّ خِرْ لِي وَاخْتَرْ لِي
O Allah, destine good for me and choose for me.

3. Seek Mashwarah (counsel) from relevant experts.

The third most important Islamic step before making any big decision in life is Mashwarah – to seek counsel from others.

The command for seeking counsel in our important affairs is mentioned in the Quran itself.

You should seek counsel from people who are:

  1. Ahl i.e. they have the right to give advice, based on relevant expertise and/or experience. 
  2. Sincere toward you and only have your best interests at heart.

So if you’re deciding on what business line to pursue, get in touch with the people from that field who can guide you properly.

If you want to know which car to buy, reach out to an expert about your options.

If you want to know which doctor or therapist to visit, ask previous clients or other professionals.

4. Ground yourself in the knowledge of who you are and what you want.

An essential point I’d like to mention here, in addition to the steps outlined above, is to know your own self.

Know your preferences, your values, and your goals. Take all of these factors into consideration before you make a decision.

When you’re well-grounded in your identity and know exactly what you want out of life, you’re much more like to make wise decisions that align with your values.

On the flip side, decisions made out of a sense of obligation or due to pressure can lead to years of regret and misery.

5. Place your utmost trust and faith in Allah ﷻ.

After you’ve followed the Islamic teachings related to decision-making, be at peace with whatever choice you make.

Place your trust in Allah ﷻ and don’t fret about the outcome. Know that you tied your camel and did what you could.

فَإِذَا عَزَمْتَ فَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَوَكِّلِينَ
Once you have taken a decision, place your trust in Allah. Surely, Allah loves those who place their trust in Him. [3:159]

I hope you benefited from this article, insha Allah! Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

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Khadija Khan

Khadija Khan is a mental health and spiritual wellness coach. With over 5 years of experience, she is passionate about helping Muslim women heal from depression and anxiety to find joy and fulfilment in their lives. She writes on the topics of Islamic spirituality, relationships, parenting, and personal development. Continue Reading...

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