What is Istikhara :
It means Appeal or Dua (Invocation)
A person must make Dua (Invocation) and Seek Allah’s help for any Need and then have faith on His Mercy with patience.
Hadis : From Bukhari Shareef
Volume 8, Book 75, Hadis Number 391:
Narrated Jabir (ra)
The Prophet used to teach us the Istikhara for each and every matter as he used to teach us the Suras from the Holy Qur'an. (He used to say), "If anyone of you intends to do something, he should offer a two-Rak'at prayer other than the obligatory prayer, and " Then he should mention his matter (need).
Hadis No. 263, Book No. 21, Prayer at Night in Sahih Bukhari
Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah : The Prophet (p.b.u.h) used to teach us the way of doing Istikhara (Istikhara means to ask Allah to guide one to the right sort of action concerning any job or a deed) . He said, "If anyone of you thinks of doing any job he should offer a two Rakat prayer other than the compulsory ones and say (after the prayer): -- “O Allah! I ask guidance from Your knowledge, And Power from Your Might and I ask for Your great blessings. You are capable and I am not. You know and I do not and You know the unseen. O Allah! If You know that this job is good for my religion and my subsistence and in my Hereafter, Then You ordain it for me and make it easy for me to get, And then bless me in it, and if You know that this job is harmful to me In my religion and subsistence and in the Hereafter, Then keep it away from me and let me be away from it. And ordain for me whatever is good for me, And make me satisfied with it. The Prophet added that then the person should mention his need.
Some of the verses of Holy Quran are mentioned below :
Surah No. 2, Al Baqr, Ayat No. 152 and 153
o فَاذْكُرُونِي أَذْكُرْكُمْ وَاشْكُرُوا لِي وَلَا تَكْفُرُونِ
o يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اسْتَعِينُواْ بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلاَةِ إِنَّ اللّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ
Remember Me and I will remember you, and give thanks to Me and should not be ungrateful.
O believers ! Seek help with patience and salat, and Allah is with those who keep patience.
Surah No. 40, Al Momin (Ghafir), Ayat No. 60
وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمُ ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِي
سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ
And your Lord said : make appeal to ME ; I will respond to your request. Infact, those who deny My worship, will enter Hell with shame .
Surah No. 42, Ash Shura, Ayat No. 26
وَيَسْتَجِيبُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُو
الصَّالِحَاتِ وَيَزِيدُهُم مِّن فَضْلِهِ
وَالْكَافِرُونَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ
And He responds to ( the appeals) those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and to them He gives more from His Bounty, but for the non believers there will be a severe torment.
The Above Ahadis are very clear, indicating that when a man is in need he should pray and make dua. It is no where mentioned that after doing Istikhara or dua a person should sleep and see something in his or her dream. It also confirms that after Istikhara or dua a person must take his own decision and then have trust on Allah so that a positive result is obtained.
He should say in his dua that he has no knowledge of any thing and Allah knows better and has command over all the things. May Allah help him to take a correct decision.
One should also keep in mind that if any kind of favour is needed then the appeal should be made to Allah Rabbul Izzat only. Allah is the greatest, who can listen, can see and has power over all the things. All of you must know that Istikhara is nothing more than a normal Dua in which a person prays to Allah Taala to guide him to reach a right decision. It is not correct to presume that in response to an Istikhara Allah gives an answer in the form of a dream. Similarly it is not necessary that a dream is seen after making an Istikhara and even though a dream is seen by the relevant person it is not an absolute answer towards a particular direction because dream is not treated in Shariah as a binding proof of something. The expected result of Istikhara is that the relevant person himself takes a decision which is good for him in this world.
Secondly, to make an Istikhara does not mean that a person abandons all other necessary enquiries. A person must carry out all efforts necessary to reach a correct decision. If a person is content on Istikhara only and does not make the required efforts to reach the correct decision he may fall into error.