The essence of Istikhārah is to seek goodness in any task a person intends undertaking. It is Mustahab (commendable) to perform Salātul-Istikhārah when one intends to undertake an important matter in one’s life.
The method of Istikhārah is as follows:
Perform two Rakaats with the intention of Salaatul-Istikhārah. After Suratul-Fātihah, recite Suratul-Kāfirūn in the first Rakaat and Suratul-Ikhlās in the second Rakaat.
This is what should be read:
اَلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ، وَالصَّلاةُ وَالسَّلامُ عَلَى سَيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ وَّعَلَى آلِهِ وَأَصْحَابِهِ أَجْمَعِينَ.
اَللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْتَخِيرُكَ بِعِلْمِكَ، وَأَسْتَقْدِرُكَ بِقُدْرَتِكَ، وَأَسْأَلُكَ مِنْ فَضْلِكَ العَظِيْمِ، فَإِنَّكَ تَقْدِرُ وَلاَ أَقْدِرُ، وَتَعْلَمُ وَلاَ أَعْلَمُ، وَأَنْتَ عَلَّامُ الغُيُوبِ، اَللَّهُمَّ إِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الْأَمْرَ خَيْرٌ لِّيْ فِيْ دِيْنِيْ وَمَعَاشِيْ وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِيْ، فَاقْدُرْهُ لِيْ وَيَسِّرْهُ لِيْ ثُمَّ بَارِكْ لِيْ فِيْهِ، وَإِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الْأَمْرَ شَرٌّ لِّيْ فِيْ دِيْنِيْ وَمَعَاشِيْ وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِيْ، فَاصْرِفْهُ عَنِّيْ وَاصْرِفْنِيْ عَنْهُ، وَاقْدُرْ لِيَ الخَيْرَ حَيْثُ كَانَ ثُمَّ أَرْضِنِيْ بِهِ.(mention your need)
(Note: Some narrations have the words: رَضِّنِيْ بِهِ in place of أَرْضِنِيْ بِهِ. Both forms are correct.)
“All praises are due to Allāh, the Rabb of the Worlds. Salutations and Greetings be on our leader, Muhammad, his family and all his Companions.
Oh Allāh! I seek from You a decision by virtue of Your Knowledge (of what is best), and I seek from You the ability (to realise my object) by virtue of Your Power, and I ask You (to grant me) from Your Great Bounty, for indeed You have power and I do not have power, and You know and I do not know, and You are the Knower of the Unseen. Oh Allāh! If, according to Your Knowledge, this matter is good for me with regards to my religious affairs, my worldly life and my final outcome (i.e. in the Hereafter), then direct it towards me and ease it for me, thereafter grant me blessing in it. And if, according to Your Knowledge, this matter is evil for me with regards to my religious affairs, my worldly life and my final outcome (i.e. in the Hereafter), then turn it away from me and turn me away from it. And direct towards me that which is good, no matter where it is, thereafter make me pleased with it (i.e. that good.)”
You should now proceed with whatever your heart intends with regards to that matter.
It is Mustahab (preferable) to perform the above procedure three times.
When circumstances do not allow a person to perform Salāh, Istikhārah will be correct by merely reciting the Du‛ā’ at any time.
1.None of the narrations of the Ahādīth that discuss Istikhārah have any mention of dreams or even performing the Istikhārah before sleeping. It is however preferred by some scholars that Istikhārah be performed before sleeping. If one chooses to do so, then he should sleep in the state of purity (i.e. with Wudhū’), facing the Qiblah. 2.If one does Istikhārah before sleeping, he should remember that the dream he sees will be given the same regard as other dreams. This means that his dream will fall under one of three categories, of which only the first category has meaning to it:
A true dream;
A dream instilled into the mind by Shaytān;
In addition to this, it should be remembered that the dreams of the pious are generally true dreams and that the truest dreams are those seen at early dawn (i.e. at the time of Suhūr)
3.After making Istikhārah, it is not necessary to see a dream. A person should carry out whatever occurs to him, since Istikhārah is a humble supplication unto Allāh Ta‛ālā to bestow the best.
4.The shortest form of Istikhārah is merely to recite the following Du‛ā’ when intending to do anything:
اَللَّهُمَّ خِرْ لِيْ وَاخْتَرْ لِيْ
“Oh Allāh, destine good for me and choose for me.”