In this day and age, people doubt the effect of Istikhaarah and do not give it due importance. This is a Sunnah and a metod through one asks Allah to guide his heart towrds that which is correct.
Istikhaarah is a form of consultation. There are two types of consultations: 1. Mushaawarah 2. Istikhaarah
Mushaawarah is consulting the immedaite wise people around you for their advice and view on an important decision. Istikhaarah is consulting Allah and asking for khair. This meaning is derived from the root of the word which is ‘Khair’ which means good.
Istikhaarah should be performed at night before sleeping. If a person wishes to do Istikhaarah for an important decision, then he should make it the final action of his day.
After peforming wudhu, a person should perform two raka’ahs of Salaah with the intention of an optional (nafl) prayer. Thereafter, sitting in the same place recite alhamdulillah and then Durood Shareef. Thereafter, the duaa for Istikhaarah must be recited. It is not necessary to memorise it. Throughout Istikhaarah, try to remember the purpose for which this actions is being carried out. Thereafter, try and sleep according to the Sunnah position facing the Qiblah without talking. Also, try not to think too deeply about the purpose. It must be remembered, alot of times, a person dreams of things he thinks of all day.
It is not necessary that you be given indications in a dream, although possible. Whatever your heart is strongly inclined towards doing should be your final decision. Istikhaarah should be performed for at least three days, and there is no limit. Continue doing it until a decision is made.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Yaseen Shaikh