The Sunnah of Istikharah
It is narrated from Hazrat Jaabir () that Rasulullah () used to teach us the dua of istikharah for important matters in the same manner as he used to teach us the Surahs of the Qur’aan.
He () used to say, ”When you intend doing any important work, then read two rakaats nafl salaat and thereafter read this dua.” (which is mentioned below) (Bukhari-pg. 944)
Rasulullah () once remarked to Anas () “O Anas! When you are undecided with regards to any matter, then seek counsel from your Rabb and do this seven times. Thereafter, whatever decision prevails in your heart regard it to be beneficial.” (Shaami-Vol.1, pg. 507)
Note: It is not necessary that one sees a dream or hears a voice. Asking another person to make Istikhaarah on one’s behalf is not substantiated from any hadith. To make Mashwarah (consultation) with someone else is Sunnat.
It has been mentioned in the hadith that whomsoever makes Mashwarah will never regret and whomsoever makes Istikhaarah will never be unsuccessful.
If one does not get the opportunity to perform Salaatul Istikhaarah and needs to make Istikhaarah urgently, then reciting the dua of Istikhaarah only will suffice. If one has not learnt the dua of Istikhaarah then one should recite this concise dua:
Detailed Dua of Istikhara
At this point you will bring to mind the matter for which you are making istikhaarah.
Trans: O Allah, I ask you of good through Your knowledge, and ability through Your power, and beg (Your favour) out of your infinite bounty. For surely You have power, I have none. You know all, I know not. You are the great knower of all unseen things.
O Allah, if in Your knowledge this matter is good for my faith, for my livelihood, and for the consequences of my affairs then ordain it for me and make it easy for me and bless me there in. But, if in Your knowledge this matter is bad for my faith, for my livelihood, and for the consequences of my affairs, then turn it away from me, and turn me away from it and ordain for me the good wherever it be, and cause me to be pleased therewith.
After having recited this dua, adopt that aspect towards which the heart is inclined.