Sheikh Sayyed Sabiq states: “Salatul-Istisqa’ is offered when seeking rain from Almighty Allah during times of drought. It may be performed in one of the following manners:
1- The Imam prays, with the followers, two rak`ahs (Prayer units) during any time except those times in which it is not desirable to pray. In the first rak`ah, the Imam recites surat Al-A`la after Al-Fatihah, and in the second rak`ah, he reads surat Al-Ghashiyah after Al-Fatihah. Then, he delivers a khutbah (sermon) before or after the salah (Prayer). As soon as he finishes the khutbah, the people present should turn their outer garments around, each placing its left side on his right side and its right side on his left, face the qiblah (direction of the Prayer), supplicate Allah and raise their hands while doing so.
Ibn `Abbas reported: “The Messenger of Allah went out [to make the Salatul-Istisqa’] wearing old clothes, in a humble and lowly manner, and prayed two rak`ahs as he prayed the `Eid, but he did not give a similar khutbah.” (Reported by At-Tirmidhi)
`A’ishah narrated: “The people complained to the Messenger of Allah about lack of rain, so he gave orders for a pulpit (to be set up for him), and when it was set up for him, he appointed a day for the people to gather. He came out on that day when the sun had just appeared, and sat down on the pulpit. Then he extolled Allah’s greatness, praised Him, and then said: ‘You have complained of drought in your areas and of delay in receiving rain at the beginning of its season, but you have been ordered by Allah to supplicate Him and He has promised that He would answer your supplication.’ Then he said: ‘All praise and thanks are due to Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful, Owner of the Day of Judgment. There is no god but Allah; He does what He wishes. O Allah, there is no god except You. You are the Self-Sufficient and we are the poor. Send down rain upon us and make it a source of strength and satisfaction for us.’ He then raised his hands and kept raising them until the whiteness of his armpits could be seen. After this, he turned his back to the people and inverted his cloak, keeping his hands raised. Finally, he faced the people, descended from the pulpit, and prayed two rak`ahs. At that time Allah produced a cloud, thunder, and lightning. And, by Allah’s Permission, it rained and before he reached the mosque there was flooding. Then he saw how quickly the people were running for shelter, he laughed until his molar teeth could be seen. He said: ‘I bear witness that Allah has power over all things and I am Allah’s servant and Messenger.’ ” (Reported by Al-Hakim). It is furthermore related from `Ibad Ibn Tamim from his uncle `Abdullah Ibn Zayd Al-Muzni that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) went out to pray Salatul-Istisqa’ and prayed two rak`ahs, reciting them aloud.
And Abu Hurayrah reported: “The Prophet of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) went out one day to do Salatul-Ishtisqa’ and prayed two rak`ahs with us without any Adhan (Call to Prayer) or Iqamah (Second Call to Prayer). Then, he addressed us and supplicated Allah and turned his face towards the qiblah, with his hands raised up. Next, he reversed his cloak, placing its left side on his right side and its right side on his left side.” (Reported by Imam Ahmad)
2- The supplication for rain can also be made on the occasion of Jumu`ah (Friday) Prayer. In this case, the Imam makes supplications during the khutbah with the people of the congregation saying “Ameen”.
Al-Bukhari and Muslim report on the authority of Anas Ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) that a man entered the mosque on Friday while the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was addressing the people. The man said: “O Messenger of Allah, our wealth has been destroyed and we have nothing to carry us to the marketplace. Supplicate for us for rain.” The Prophet raised his hands and said: “O Allah, give us rain. O Allah, give us rain. O Allah, give us rain.” Anas said: “By Allah, at that time there were no clouds in the sky and there was no house or building between us and the mountain. From behind the mountain came a cloud looking like a shield. By the time it reached the middle of the sky, it burst and started to rain. By Allah, we did not see the sun for a week. Then, on the next Friday, a man entered the mosque from that (same) door while the Prophet was giving the khutbah and faced the Prophet, saying: ‘Our livestock is dead and the paths are impassable. Ask Allah to make it stop.’ The Prophet raised his hands and said: ‘O Allah, make it (rains) around us and not upon us. O Allah, make it rain upon the hills, small mountains, bottom of the valleys, and plantations.’ The rain stopped and we walked out in the sunshine.”
3- One may also make a supplication (for rain) without it being Friday and regardless of whether or not the Prayer takes place inside or outside the mosque. Ibn Majah and Abu `Awanah report that Ibn `Abbas said: “A Bedouin came to the Messenger of Allah and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, I come to you from a people whose shepherds do not have any fodder and whose prize stallion cannot move its tail due to the [drought].’ The Prophet mounted the pulpit, praised Allah and said: ‘O Allah, give us saving rain which leads to something good and which is productive – a general heavy rain – now and not later.’ Then, he descended from the pulpit. People came from every direction saying that it was raining.” (Reported by Ibm Majah). Ash-Shu`bi says: `Umar went out to make Istisqa’ and he did no more than seeking Allah’s forgiveness. The people said: ‘We did not see you making Istisqa’.’ He said: “I sought rain by what makes it descend (i.e., seeking forgiveness of Allah), unlike those (Arabs in the pre-Islamic period) who sought it by the stars of the sky.” Then, he recited the following two verses: ‘Seek forgiveness of your Lord. Lo! He is All-Forgiving. He will let loose the sky for you in plenteous rain.’ and: ‘Ask forgiveness of your Lord, and turn to Him (in repentance): He will send you the skies pouring abundant rain.’” (Reported by Abu Sa`id)”