Firstly, one must understand that none of the narrations in the Ahadith have any mention regarding a dream, or even about performing the ‘Istikharah’ before sleeping. However, some “Ulama do prefer that Istikharah be performed before sleeping.
With regards to the person who does see a dream after performing ‘Istikharah’, this dream is just like any other dream that a person sees. This means that just as other dreams fall under one of three categories (which will be explained shortly), likewise will the dreams seen after Istikharah1 be. It is reported in a Hadith narrated in Sahih Bukhari and other books of Hadith that dreams are of three types:
1. Hadeeth-un-Nafs (imaginations)
2. ‘takhweefus shaytaan’ a dream instilled in the mind by shaytan. This also known as ‘wasaaisu-us-shaytaan’ or ‘tahzeenu-us-shaytaan’.
3. ‘Bushraa minallaah’ True dreams, which are also known as ‘mubash-sharaat’
It is mentioned in a Hadith that the dreams of pious muminin (believers) are generally true dreams.
Another Hadith states: “The most true dreams are those seen at the time of Sahar (early dawn).
IS SALAH NECESSARY?
In some Ahadith that deal with ‘Istikharah’, mention has been made of two raka’at, while others contain no mention of Salah before ‘Istikharah’. Since the narration of Hadrat Jabir (Radhiallaahu Anhu) mentions the performance of two raka’at before ‘Istikharah’, Allamah ‘Aini (RA) has stated that it is Sunnah to perform two raka’at before ‘Istikharah’. In fact, the narration of Abu Ayyub Ansari (Radhiallaahu Anhu) contains the following words: ‘Thumma salli maa kataballaahu laka’
“Then perform how many rakaat Allah has destined for you” referring to the fact that if more than two raka’at (whether 4, 6, 8 etc.) are performed, it will be preferable. This narration of Hadrat Abu Ayyub Ansari (Radhiallaahu Anhu) also mentions of the performance of ‘wudu’ properly before the Salah, and praising Allah before the du’a.
However, since most of the narrations do not have any mention of Salah, ‘Istikharah’ will be correct by reciting the du’a only, especially when circumstances do not allow one to perform Salah.
HOW MANY TIMES?
As far as performance of ‘Istikharah’ more than once is concerned, the “Ulama have regarded it as ‘mustahabb’ i.e. preferable to perform it three times. This is on the basis of the narration of Ibn Mas’ud (Radhiallaahu Anhu) wherein he states that when Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) made du’aa, he would repeat it three times.
However this is not a Sunnah in Istikharah as there has been no mention in this regard in any of the Ahadith of Istikharah. As regards the narration of seven times, due to it being an unauthentic narration, it cannot be used as a basis for the establishment of any matter in Din.
THE SHORTEST FORM OF ISTIKHARAH1
In a ‘weak’ narration, Hadrat Abu Bakr (Radhiallaahu Anhu) is reported to have stated that whenever Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) intended to do anything, he used to say:
“O Allah, destine good for me, and choose for me’
Lastly, one of the most important benefits of Istikharah is that it strengthens a person’s connection with Allah. Through excessive Istikharah, one learns to take directly from the treasures of our Creator, the Being in whose hands lies all good and bad, benefit and harm. May Allah grant the writer, the reader and the rest of the ummah the understanding of this great and noble Sunnah.
From the above, it is apparent how easy Din has been made by Allah, and actually we are the ones who have made Din difficult. Consequently, the lifestyle that we follow causes us, as well as others, to believe that Islam is a difficult way of life. However, Allah has kept comfort, contentment, peace of mind and ease only in following His commands and the Sunnah of His Rasul (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam).
Now that we have learnt the importance of this great Sunnah, it remains our responsibility to search for every other Sunnah, bring it into our lives and take it to the rest of mankind. This was indeed the way of the Honourable Companions of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) and our pious predecessors. May Allah grant us the towfiq to follow their noble footsteps, Aameen.