What is the concept of Istikhara according to Qur’an and Sunnah. If someone sees something in the dream after doing Istikhara, how valid – reliable – is it?
Should it be followed?
Obviously we do Istikhara with the intent to see something in a dream that God SWT wants us to do (traditional concept). After the end of Nabuwwah (divine revelation) does such a dream qualify as Basharat (the only thing left of divine revelation)?
The Arabic word ‘Istikhara‘ means to ask God for whatever is good and in our best interest. The supplication that the Prophet (pbuh) taught us for the purpose of Istikhara is a very beautiful one, but it does not have anything in it that suggests that the person asking God for the good (Mustakhir) shall be given a sign in any dream. If you look closely at the words of this supplication (in case you do not have the words of the supplication with you, do let me know, I shall be glad to send you its Arabic words and its translation), all they imply is that whenever I have a decision to make, or have made a decision, I should pray to God that if the consequences of this decision are in my favor, from the perspective of the life of this world as well as the hereafter, He should help me in successfully carrying-out the decision. On the other hand, if the consequences of the decision are not to my benefit, from the perspective of the life of this world or from that of the hereafter, He should then remove all inclinations from my mind to implement such a decision, and satisfy my heart and soul in doing so.
My dear brother, God has given man the faculty of reasoning. He should take his decisions in the light of the apparent pros and cons of the alternative choices. He should not, in any case, base his decisions on dreams. As should be clear from the above explanation, the concept of Istikhara does not imply that we should wait for signs from God in taking our decisions; it only means that we should take our decisions and do whatever we think is right and then ask God that if our decision is the correct one, He should help us in carrying it out and making our plans successful, while if it is not the correct one, He should then alter the circumstances in such a way that we do not implement our decision, and that He should provide satisfaction to our heart in doing so.
Thus, in other words, Istikhara is the declaration of our belief that all things are in the control of God and that we, as His humble servants submit to all His decisions, even when we are made to alter our plans because of His decisions.
30th April 1998