Istikhārah (lit. the asking of khair, i.e., good or blessing) means the asking of Divine blessing in the doing of a thing which a man intends to do. Kusūf means the eclipse of the sun or the moon. Istisqā' (from saqy, giving to drink) is a prayer for rain.
1 Jābir said,
The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, used to teach us istikhārah in all matters, as he used to teach us a chapter of the Qur'ān. He said:
"When one of you intends the doing of a thing, he should say two rak'ahs1 besides the obligatory prayers, then he should pray--'O Allāh! I desire Thy blessing by Thy knowledge, and I beg of Thee to give
1. The best time for istikhārah is after the 'Ishā' prayer.
me power (to do it) by Thy power, and I ask of Thee Thy great grace, for Thou hast the power while I have not the power, and Thou knowest while I do not know, and Thou art the Great Knower of the unseen things. O Allāh! If Thou knowest that this affair is good for me in the matter of my religion and my living and the result of my affair--or he said, in the present state of my affair and in its future--then ordain it for me and make it easy for me and bless (me) therein; and if Thou knowest that this affair is evil for me in the matter of my religion and my living and the result of my affair--or he said, in the present state of my affair and in its future--then turn it away from me and turn me away from it and ordain what is good
for me wheresoever it is, and make me contented with it.'
He (the Prophet) said,
"And he should say what he wants."2
2 Abd Allāh ibn 'Amr said 'When the sun was eclipsed in the time of the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, a call was given that prayer-service gathering together (people) was going to be held.
3 'Ā'ishah said,
'The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, recited aloud his qirā'at in the eclipse prayer and when he finished his recital he pronounced the takbīr and performed the rukū'; and when he raised (his head) from the rukū', he said, "Allāh listens to him who praises Him. Our
2. Istikhārah is an individual prayer. and it may be continued for several days until the mind through Divine help is settled on an affair. It is not necessary that a man should be informed in a vision as to the course which he should adopt.
Lord! And Thine is the praise." Then he returned to the recital (of the Qur'ān). In the eclipse prayer there are four rukū's and four sajdahs in two rak'ahs.3
4 Abd Allāh reported,
I saw the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, on the day he went out to pray for rain. He said, He (the Prophet) turned his back to the people and faced the Qiblah praying, then he turned over his outer wrapping garment, then he said with us two rak'ahs of prayer reciting therein the qirā'at aloud.4
3. The eclipse prayer is a congregational service in which both men and women take part (B. 16:10). The particular eclipse which is spoken of in this hadīth occurred on the very day on which Ibrāhīm, the Holy Prophet's eighteen months old son, died (B. 16:17).
4. This was a special service for rain held in an open place. Prayer may also be offered for rain without holding a special service (H xi. 13, B. 11:35).