Do you often find yourself at a crossroad, not knowing which way to go? Do you find yourself against a wall, not knowing whether to climb it or dig under it? Do you find yourself facing certain life decisions and not knowing which one will be better for you? You must have. We all have, it is all part of our test in this world. Without trials, without decisions, this world would not serve its ultimate purpose; to find Allah (SWT) and turn to Him at the end of every road in life.

As humans, we tend to think that we are enough, and we do not necessarily need anyone else in deciding any course of action in life. But alas, the truth is that our life would be an utter and complete mess without the guidance of Allah (STW). When faced with difficult decisions, Allah (SWT) has blessed His believers with a direct communication channel, the prayer of istikhara, through which His guidance can be attained and executed in our everyday life.

So if you’re facing a dilemma, what do you do?

1- Consult a fellow believer

The first thing you should do is consult a reliable, pious and knowledgeable person, who you trust. Get their sound opinion regarding the matter at hand and consider their advice while making the final decision. For Allah has said:

"And consult them in the affair. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah." (Quran 3:159)

2- Istikhara

In Arabic, the word istikhara denotes “seeking guidance for the best course of action”. When one cannot make up one’s mind, regarding any or all matters one may face in this world, Allah (SWT) tells us to seek His support. Istikhara in itself is a blessed Sunnah, which was readily practiced by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) himself. Narrated by al-Bukhaari from Jaabir Ibn ‘Abdullah:

“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to teach his companions to make istikhaarah in all matters, just as he used to teach them surah from the Quran. He said: ‘If anyone of you is deliberating about a decision he has to make, then let him pray two rak’ahs of non-obligatory prayer. Then say:

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).” (In Bukhaari, Saheeh 1166).

If you’re turning to Allah (SWT) and calling out to Him for His help with every fibre of your being, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, better for you. Appeal to Him with deep sincerity and with complete and utter faith in the fact that Allah (SWT) always wants best for you and He will guide you to whatever is best for you, in this world, and the Hereafter. The beauty of istikhara lies in the complete surrender to the Divine Will. Allah (SWT) wants us to share our burdens with Him, so He may vanquish those burdens for us. What can be more beautiful?

3- Decide and have Tawakkal

Once you have done the istikhara, you should follow whatever you feel yourself being tilted towards. There is no set manual for how one knows what the right decision is, but what is certain is that Allah (SWT) embeds the right decision in the heart of the believer, and therefore, guides the steps taken by the believer following of the istikhara. What matters is that the believer constantly turns to Allah (SWT) to continue guiding him through each and every step that he takes and has ultimate faith in the Divine plan.

Man does not possess the ultimate knowledge of things, for only Allah (SWT) holds that attribute. He tells us time and time again that it is Him, and Him alone, who knows what is good for His servant and what is not. Allah (SWT) promises us that He will never forsake us and if we turn to Him, He will take care of us, for He knows best. So if you find yourself lost, or confused, or in despair at the hands of difficult situations, turn to Allah (SWT) and seek His guidance, for His guidance is perfect.