I’ve performed istikhara every night for a year & felt dis-inclined to all the men who friends tried to matchmake. During Ramadan last year, a friend introduced me to someone who worked in a demanding industry. We immediately clicked, but his job made it difficult for us to communicate. Then things got bad; he lost everything & had to relocate. He told my friend he was serious about me. My heart is set on him too. Is this difficulty the answer to our istikhara?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah guide our hearts, tongues, and deeds to that which perpetually pleases Him.
Thank you for your question. I commend you for being willing to make your relationship lawful and for wanting to step out of the sin in which you find yourself. May Allah reward you for your intention and open a way for what is best.
The first step in your situation is to repent (make tawba) for having a boyfriend because it is unlawful. Instead, it would help if you stopped dating/communicating with him romantically, and he should propose marriage to you. If it is right for you, have your nikah, and if it is not, walk away. I am worried about your statement, “my heart is set on him,” as this is not only unlawful feelings but harmful to your spiritual, emotional, and potentially psychological well-being. Such an expression should only emanate from someone in a lawful marriage (nikah), but other than that, we urge that you set your heart on Allah and that which pleases Him.
Responses to Istikhara in Facilitation or Obstacles
When praying istikhara, there is a view that one should go ahead with what they feel most inclined and contented. There is a Prophetic narration wherein the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) reportedly said: “If you are concerned about a matter, then make istikhara seven times, praying to your Lord, then see what you feel most drawn towards, and goodness will be in that. [Ibn Sunni]
According to Imam Nawawi, “its chain of transmission is anomalous (gharib), and includes narrators whom I do not know.” [Nawawi, Adhkar] And according to Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani, “if this were proven, it could be taken as evidence, but its chain of transmission is very weak (wahin jiddan). [Ibn Hajar, Fath Al-Bari]
When Allah makes something easy for you after praying istikhara (concerning that matter), this is a sign that it is good for you and that you should proceed accordingly. However, the existence of obstacles and difficulties is an indication that Allah is pushing His servant away from the matter.
The above indication is taken directly from the meaning of the istikhara prayer, wherein the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said:
Oh, Allah, if You know this affair [the concerning matter is mentioned here] is good for me concerning my religion, my life, and end, then decree and facilitate it for me, and bless me with it. If You know this affair to be ill for me towards my religion, my life, and end, then remove it from me and remove me from it. And decree for me what is good wherever it be and make me satisfied with such. [Bukhari, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i, Abu Dawud, Ibn Maja and Ahmad].
Responses in Dreams
Another widespread view is that after praying istikhara, you should sleep, and whatever good or bad you see in your dream is a response from Allah to the prayer. There is no specific proof for this, although many pious servants of Allah reportedly experienced this, and Allah knows best.
Responses in Feelings
Ibn Taymiyya (may Allah have mercy on him) said about feeling happy with something: if one makes istikhara, then whatever Allah causes the person to feel happy about and makes easy for him, this is what Allah has chosen for him. [Majmuʿ al-Fatawa]
See also: Istikhara
I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.
[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan.
Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.
He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. He served as the resident Imam of Masjid al-Munowar in Retreat, Cape Town, for several years.
Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.