How do you interpret your Istikhara?



Islamic Text

By the inclination of your heart.

عَنْ جَابِرٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، قَالَ: كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يُعَلِّمُنَا الِاسْتِخَارَةَ فِي الأُمُورِ كُلِّهَا، كَالسُّورَةِ مِنَ القُرْآنِ: ” إِذَا هَمَّ بِالأَمْرِ فَلْيَرْكَعْ رَكْعَتَيْنِ ثُمَّ يَقُولُ: اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْتَخِيرُكَ بِعِلْمِكَ، وَأَسْتَقْدِرُكَ بِقُدْرَتِكَ، وَأَسْأَلُكَ مِنْ فَضْلِكَ العَظِيمِ، فَإِنَّكَ تَقْدِرُ وَلاَ أَقْدِرُ، وَتَعْلَمُ وَلاَ أَعْلَمُ، وَأَنْتَ عَلَّامُ الغُيُوبِ، اللَّهُمَّ إِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الأَمْرَ خَيْرٌ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي فَاقْدُرْهُ لِي، وَإِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الأَمْرَ شَرٌّ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي فَاصْرِفْهُ عَنِّي وَاصْرِفْنِي عَنْهُ، وَاقْدُرْ لِي الخَيْرَ حَيْثُ كَانَ، ثُمَّ رَضِّنِي بِهِ

(Sayidina) Jabir said, the Prophet used to teach us Istikhaarah for every issue, like (he would teach us) a Surah of the Quran. (He used to say), ‘If something concerns you then perform two Rakahs of prayer and then say, O Allah, I ask You to show me what is best through Your knowledge, and bring it to pass through Your power, and I ask You of Your immense favour; for indeed You are able and I am not, You know and I do not, and You are the Knower of the Unseen. O Allah, if You know this matter to be better for me in my religion, livelihood and final outcome, then decree it for me. And if You know this matter to be harmful for me in my religion, livelihood and final outcome, then keep it from me, and keep me from it and bring about the good for me wherever it may be, and make me pleased with it.’ (Sahih al-Bukhari, 6382).

 Many scholars have mentioned that the interpretation of Istikhara is by the inclination of the heart.

ثم إن الاستخارة مستحبّة في جميع الأمور كما صرَّح به نصُّ هذا الحديث الصحيح، وإذا استخار مضى بعدها لما ينشرحُ له صدره. والله أعلم (الأذكار)

 Istikhara is recommended for all matters as stated by the text of this authentic Hadith. When a person makes Istikhara he should go with that which his heart inclines towards. And Allah (Most High) knows best. (Imam al-Nawawi, al-Adhkaar).

However, one must place the heart in an impartial position before performing Istikhara, otherwise the inclination of the heart cannot be considered an interpretation of Istikhara. After quoting Imam Nawawi, Imam Ibn Hajr clarified this point in Fath al-Bari:

لَا يَفْعَلُ مَا يَنْشَرِحُ بِهِ صَدْرُهُ مِمَّا كَانَ لَهُ فِيهِ هَوًى قَوِيٌّ قَبْلَ الِاسْتِخَارَةِ (فتح الباري)

And one does not act upon the inclination of the heart if he had a strong desire towards it prior to performing Istikhara. (Fath al-Bari).

Some scholars have said that if a person does not seem to have an inclination of the heart despite repeatedly performing Istikhara, then he should try to move ahead with the issue at hand. If there are unusual impediments in the way then he should take this to mean that his Istikhara is guiding him away from it, but if things run relatively smoothly then it means he should go ahead with it. This understanding is based on the fact that some narrations of the Hadith have the following words in the Dua of Istikaara.

اللَّهُمَّ فَإِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ هَذَا الأَمْرَ – ثُمَّ تُسَمِّيهِ بِعَيْنِهِ – خَيْرًا لِي فِي عَاجِلِ أَمْرِي وَآجِلِهِ – قَالَ: أَوْ فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي – فَاقْدُرْهُ لِي وَيَسِّرْهُ لِي، ثُمَّ بَارِكْ لِي فِيهِ

O Allah if you know this issue (then he mentions the issue) is best for me in my upcoming and distant affairs (or he said in my religious and worldly affairs, and my ultimate outcome), then decree it for me, make it easy for me, then place blessings in it for me. (Sahih al-Bukhari, 7390).

As for seeing certain colours in a dream to interpret Istikhara as positive or negative, this requires Hadith to prove it. I have not come across sound Hadith that mention such a method of interpretation, even the books that have mentioned this method of interpretation do not tend to narrate Hadith to support it. However, one should keep an open mind and if sufficiently strong Hadith are presented to support this method on interpretation then they must be considered. Yet the onus of providing such Hadith narrations must be upon those who make the claim.

And Allah (Most High) Knows best.

– Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen (30.01.2021)

See also:

What is the Dua of Istikhara?