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AlKafi 1803



Assalamualaikum. I would like to ask. Is it permissible to perform istikharah prayer in more than two rakaats like in tarawih prayer?

Brief Answer:

An istikharah prayer is afdhal (better/ prioritized) be done in two rakaats. This is as decided by the four madhhabs. However, it is permissible if a person intends to do more than two rakaats.


An istikharah prayer is a Sunnah prayer performed to ask for guidance from Allah SWT. It is done when a person is in doubt in choosing something or confused in deciding what’s the best decision.

This is mentioned in a hadith of Jabir bin Abdullah RA that he narrated from the Prophet PBUH:

كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يُعَلِّمُنَا الاِسْتِخَارَةَ فِي الأُمُورِ كُلِّهَا كَمَا يُعَلِّمُنَا السُّورَةَ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ يَقُولُ:"‏إِذَا هَمَّ أَحَدُكُمْ بِالأَمْرِ فَلْيَرْكَعْ رَكْعَتَيْنِ مِنْ غَيْرِ الْفَرِيضَةِ.."

"The Messenger of Allah used to teach his Companions to perform Istikharah in all matters, just as he used to teach them Surahs from the Qur'an. He said: 'If any one of you is deliberating about a decision he has to make, then let him pray two Rak'ahs of non-obligatory prayer…’”

Sunan al-Tirmidhi (480)

Based on the above hadith, Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Mubarakfuri stated that the meaning of istikharah in this is a Sunnah istikharah prayer. He also said that this hadith becomes the dalil that it is impermissible for a person to belittle any matter even it seems small, then he left istikharah prayer. Probably, the matter he perceives as small may become something really harmful for him.

(Refer Tuhfah al-Ahwazi Syarah Jami’ al-Tirmizi, 2/482)

Basically, the number of rakaat for Sunnah istikharah prayer is two rakaats. Imam al-Nawawi said that:

أن من أراد مِنْ الْأُمُورِ صَلَّى رَكْعَتَيْنِ بِنِيَّةِ صَلَاةِ الِاسْتِخَارَةِ

“Whoever intends to do something among (trivial) matters, he shall perform two rakaat prayers with the intention of istikharah prayer”

(Refer al-Majmuʻ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 4/54)

Besides, in al-Mawsu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, it is stated that:

اتَّفَقَ فُقَهَاءُ الْمَذَاهِبِ الأَرْبَعَةِ عَلَى أَنَّ الأَفْضَل فِي صَلاَةِ الاِسْتِخَارَةِ أَنْ تَكُونَ رَكْعَتَيْن

“The scholars from the four madhhabs have decided that the afdhal (most prioritized) rakaat for istikharah prayer is two rakaats”

(Refer al-Mawsu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaytiyyah, 3/244)

However, in the same reference, it is mentioned that it is permissible to perform Sunnah istikharah prayer in more than two rakaats according to madhhab al-Shafi’e. This is as mentioned by Imam Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani:

فَلَوْ صَلَّى أَكْثَرَ مِنْ رَكْعَتَيْنِ أَجْزَأَ

“Even if a person prays more than two rakaats, it is valid” (Refer Fath al-Bari Syarh Sahih al-Bukhari, 11/185)

Pertaining to the Sunnah istikharah prayer, it is permissible to be done at any time except the prohibited time to perform Sunnah prayer. This is as mentioned in the hadith narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas RA:

أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم نَهَى عَنِ الصَّلاَةِ بَعْدَ الصُّبْحِ حَتَّى تَشْرُقَ الشَّمْسُ، وَبَعْدَ الْعَصْرِ حَتَّى تَغْرُبَ

"The Prophet (ﷺ) forbade praying after the Fajr prayer till the sun rises and after the `Asr prayer till the sun sets."

Sahih al-Bukhari (581)

In madhhab al-Shafi’e, it is prohibited to pray at five prohibited times. Three of them are related to the time itself while the other two are related to the action. The five prohibited times are:

  • From sunrise until the sun aligns with the length of a pike to the eyesight which is equal to 16 minutes (in the period of 16 minutes after the sun rises
  • From istiwa’ (when the sun is on its zenith) of the sun until zawal (the sun passes its zenith). The period of time is very short and it is prohibited to pray during that time.
  • From the sky is yellow in colour until maghrib.
  • After performing the subh prayer until the sun rises.
  • After performing Asr prayer until the sun sets.

(Refer Asna al-Matalib fi Syarh Raud al-Talib, 1/123-124)


An istikharah prayer is afdhal (better/ prioritized) be done in two rakaats. This is as decided by the four madhhabs. However, it is permissible if a person intends to do more than two rakaats.

Wallahu a’lam.