Q. How and when does one perform the Istikhara prayer. And what should one perform this prayer for ?

A. In making important decisions it is recommended to ask advice when one is not sure about the right course of action. The first type of advice is from those whom one trusts and considers competent to answer. This is istishara. If this is insufficient then one makes istikhara, which consists in two rak`at on a fresh wudu' prayed to that intention and followed by a du`a asking Allah to clarify the matter for us: if good, to facilitate it for us and if not, to distance it from us. The exact wording is found in many books.

One may repeat the istikhara as many times as one wishes until one feels certain of the course to follow.

When the breast expands for something one cannot miss it. Similarly if one's unease remains or increases then the decision on the matter is clearly no. The seat of the fruit of istikhara is the conscience and the understanding both of which, however veiled over by our disobedience, nevertheless speak eloquently enough in each and everyone of us, and Allah knows best.