When doing Salatul Istikharah, one does not have to do anything but to perform Salat and recite the affirmed du‘a’ in a manner similar to any other du‘a’ in order to fulfill what one intends to do or leaves it.
Accordingly, scholars affirmed that [after performing this Salat] one should start doing the thing he finds his heart inclined to and should not depend on seeing a dream nor should one ask others to perform it on his behalf; it is just a kind of du‘a’ in which a muslim asks for Allah’s (Subhanahu wa Taala) help to guide him to that which is good. Once a muslim’s heart is willing to tread a certain path which turns to be successful, he would certainly feel satisfied and happy. If not, he would know that goodness is not in the path he chose and would also feel satisfied and thank Allah (Subhanahu wa Taala) for it.(1)
[1/63] A common mistake:
Some people believe that Salatul Istikharah is not valid unless others do it on their behalf and it should be followed by a dream. This is indeed a sheer extremism that Allah (Subhanahu wa Taala) never enjoined nor did His prophet’s (Sallalaahu Alaihi wa Sallam) Sunnah preach. This extremism was born out from exaggeration -that should be avoided- which led to abandoning one of the greatest of the prophet’s (Sallalaahu Alaihi wa Sallam) Sunnan and hence the loss of rewards and blessings.
O, dear muslim brother, ask for Allah’s (Subhanahu wa Taala) guidance in all your affairs and He (Subhanahu wa Taala) will surely guide you to that which is good. He (Subhanahu wa Taala) made asking for his help so easy; just recite the du‘a’ after performing any [two Rak‘ahs] Nafilah Salat or perform two Rak‘ahs especially for this purpose and surely you will be granted more rewards and blessings.
(1) There is disagreement amongst scholars regarding repeating Salatul Istikharah in case one could not decide which way to tread nor was his heart pleased with either doing what he intended to do or abandoning it. There is not, however, any affirmed proof that states the legality of repeating it. See: “Naylul Awtar” (vol. 3 / p. 90).
And never do what other people usually do of extremism or asking others to do it on their behalf; just take hold of the prophet’s (Sallalaahu Alaihi wa Sallam) Sunnah and you will surely be guided and succeed in this world and in the Hereafter. Indeed, how fortune he is who performs it and participate in its revivification amongst muslims.(1)
[2/63] After doing Salatul Istikharah, do whatever pleases your heart.
Never do that which you intended to do before doing the Salat; you should abandon such an intention otherwise you would not be asking for Allah’s (Subhanahu wa Taala) guidance but your own desires – we seek Allah’s (Subhanahu wa Taala) refuge from that.
One should be sincere when asking Allah’s (Subhanahu wa Taala) guidance, feeling free from one’s own knowledge and power and attributing them to Allah (Subhanahu wa Taala) alone. Once one does that, he has been free from his own desires.(2)
Regretfully, many people are not well acknowledged with the legal Salatul Istikharah; consequently, they invented many ways of doing it, none of which is affirmed in the Qur’an nor the Sunnah, not even reported that any of the righteous Salaf to have done them. These forged ways are frequently practiced, and when one preaches the legal one which the prophet (Sallalaahu Alaihi wa Sallam) used to practice, foul tongues will soon severely whip his back and will be considered as an extremist renegade. Indeed, there is no power nor might but with Allah (Subhanahu wa Taala).
(1) “Al-Madkhal” (vol. 3 / p. 90) by Ibnil Haj, “Hadyun Naby Fis Salawatil Khamssah” (pp. 222-3) and “Ad-Dinul Khalis” (vol. 5 / pp. 245-…)
(2) “Naylul Awtar” (vol. 3 / p. 90) with little editing.
The following paragraphs present some of these forged ways of doing Salatul Istikharah:
[3/63] Believing in setting a condition prior to doing Salatul Istikharah;
that is if the matter one wishes to do is good one would see a green or a white colour in one’s dreams. And if the matter is evil one would see a red or a black colour.
[4/63] Using the rosary by the one who needs Allah’s (Subhanahu wa Taala) guidance or others make it for him.
One holds the rosary and then presents one’s need secretly then gathers some of its beads in one’s hand and counts them. If the number of the beads is an odd one, one would not fulfill what he had intended to do. If the number is an even one, one would consider this as a good sign and would do what he had born in his intention.
Indeed, what is the difference between this way and that which the people of Jahiliyyah used to practice, i.e. the Tiyarah, which is totally prohibited in our Shar‘.
[5/63] The cup way.
A cup of coffee is made by a man or a woman for the one who needs the Istikharah. The later drinks the cup of coffee offered to him, then tips it over and after a while gives it to the former to “read” it for him. The former looks inside the cup after the leftover has made different shapes and lines -just like any liquid left over does. Then the “reader” starts making up different stories for the former and fills his head with legends!!
[6/63] Using necromancy [fortunetelling].
It is done by placing a cup full of water on a special person’s hand which has special lines. This process is done on a certain day of the week. Then the fortune-teller starts humming with unrecognized words calling some of the Jinns in order to bring the thief [as is usually done or tell him about the robery].
[7/63] Using the sand.
It is done by drawing disconnected lines on the sand, then they are counted in a special mathematical way known to those who practice this way. At the end, the fortune-teller gets to know the person’s sign [of the zodiac] and picks out all the information about this sign from a certain book he brought for such a purpose. Then he tells the person about the latter’s past and future events -as he claims. Those people with similar signs are told the same thing.
[8/63] Using the palm.
In this way the fortune-teller claims to have the ability of reading one’s palm through diagnosing and analysing its lines and starts telling others about their future.
[9/63] Using the Mushaf.
One opens the Mushaf randomly, if one’s eyes fell on an Ayah that talks about mercy, he would do the thing he wishes, otherwise he won’t.
[10/63] Some people go to Shaikhs and righteous people to do the Istikharah on their behalf which is a mistake!! No doubt that those of sound sense could easily realize that all these ways are part of the forbidden fortune telling believing in which is one of the grievous sins as the ‘Ulamah strongly stated.(1)
The prophet (Sallalaahu Alaihi wa Sallam) forbade it saying: ‘Whoever attends a fortune teller or a soothsayer and believes whatever he says [the former] has indeed disbelieved in that which was revealed on Muhammad (Sallalaahu Alaihi wa Sallam)’.(2)
He (Subhanahu wa Taala) also said: ‘Whoever attends a fortune teller, asks him about any thing and believes him, his Salat would not be accepted for forty days’.(3)
I wonder how could people seek such nonsense and falsehood and get away from the prophet’s (Sallalaahu Alaihi wa Sallam) guidance??! It is worth-mentioning here that some people violate the manner in which Salat is done such as: adding the du‘a false statements or believing in the necessity of setting conditions before doing the Salat: such as doing it in matter one is confused about, reciting the du‘a while doing Sujud … et. Another mistake people make after doing Salatul Istikharah is saying: ‘We made Istikharah and got no benefit’ or other statements that indicate that one is not fully submitted to Allah’s (Subhanahu wa Taala) will. In his “Al-Fawa’id” (p. 174), Ibn Al-Qayyim said: ‘The warm hearted father always does that which is best for his son; he would even cut one of his organs if necessary. And he would deprive him sometimes from money or desires if this is for his own good.
Allah (Subhanahu wa Taala) the All-wise and Most merciful who always showers His creatures with mercy when afflicting them with misfortune for their own good. Only those with deep faith in Allah (Subhanahu wa Taala) would understand and believe in this, unlike those who lack knowledge in Allah’s perfect names and attributes and resorted instead to their deficient minds, such would gain nothing at all.
Those who believe deeply in Allah (Subhanahu wa Taala) and His perfect knowledge would feel content in this world and in the hereafter when they would live in Paradise. This what truly means to believe in Allah (Subhanahu wa Taala), and accept Islam as one’s religion and Muhammad as our messenger’.
(1) See: “Al-Kba’ir”, Grievous Sin (no. 41) (p. 141).
(2) Narrated by: Ahmad in “Al-Musnad” (vol. 2 / pp. 408, 429, 476), Abu Dawud in “As-Sunnan” (vol. 4 / p. 15) (no. 3904), Ad-Darimi in “As-Sunnan” (vol. 1 / p. 259), At-Tirmithi in “Al-Jami‘” (vol. 1 / pp. 242-3) (no. 135), Ibn Majah in “As-Sunnan” (vol. 1 / p. 209) (no. 639), Ibnil Jarud in “Al-Muntaqa” (p. 58), Al-Hakim in “Al- Mustadrak” (vol. 1 / p. 8) and Al-Baihaqi in “As-Sunnan Al-Kubra” (vol. 8 / p. 135). Al-Hakim considered the Hadith as authentic in his “Al-Mustadrak” with which Ath-Thahabi agreed in his “At-Takhlis” and “Al-Kaba’ir” (p. 141) and so did Al- ‘Iraqi in his “’Amali” -as reported in “Faydul Qadir” (vol. 6 / p. 23).
(3) Narrated by: Muslim in his “Sahih” (vol. 4 / p. 1751) (no. 2230).
Please see the following link to understand how to offer the istikharah salah according to the Qur’an and Sunnah.: http://abdurrahman.org/salah/istikhara.html
The Clarified Ruling Of Mistakes Done In Salat – By: Mashhur Hasan Al Salman – Translated by: Iman Zakariyah Abu Gazie