Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
When one is not clear about the result of the istikhara, the fuqaha mention that it is recommend to repeat it, upto 7 times if necessary (usually done on separate occasions). [cf: Radd al-Muhtar]
It is not necessary that you get a dream or even a "feeling." Rather, the istikhara is a prayer that Allah guide you towards that which is best (khayr) for you. If you do the prayer of guidance (istikhara) with the proper manners, the most important of which is to truly consign the matter to Allah and suspend your own inclinations, then Allah will make events unfold in the direction that is the best for your worldly and next-worldly affairs.
In general, when it is not possible to perform the istikhara prayer itself (such as when one is out on the road, or in one's menstrual period), it is recommended to simply read the dua itself. [Radd al-Muhtar]
The istikhara prayer may be made for a specific matter or be made for a general seeking of all that is best. Some scholars, including Imam Abd al-Wahhab al-Sha`rani and Ibn `Arafah before him saw this kind of istikhara prayer as being superior. Others, including Shaykh Ibn al-Arabi, recommended performing a general istikhara prayer for all that is good every day, ideally at the time of the Duha prayer (after sunrise).
Imam al-Nawawi mentioned that before the istikhara prayer, one should seek advice (istishara) from those whose knowledge, wisdom, and concern one is confident. Ibn Hajar al-Haytami and others mentioned that one of the benefits of this is to further distance oneself from the desires of one's own egotistic inclinations.
It is recommended to open the dua of istikhara [below], with praise of Allah and sending blessings on the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace), and to close it in this manner, too.
Like other duas, it is recommended that one face the qibla.
It is disliked to 'hasten' in seeking the answer to one's istikhara, like other duas, because the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) said, "Your prayers are answered, unless you hasten, saying, 'I prayed, but no answer came.'"
One should be pleased with what Allah chooses for one, and not seek to follow one's whims after the answer to one's supplication becomes clear.
>>there is a pious lady in our community who has offered to pray istikhara
for me to help me make a decision for marriage...[ .... ] my question to you
is if you know if this idea of relying on someone else's istikhara is a good
idea and compatible with the teachings of Islam on how to make dua and decisions.
should i follow her advice (according to her dreams and feelings) to me on this
issue or not?<<
This is one means you can take: to seek the istikhara of a pious person. The permissibility of this was mentioned explicitly by the Malikis and Shafi`is. The Hanafis do not appear to have discussed this issue [al-Mawsu`a al-Fiqhhiyya, Kuwait], but there is nothing in it that would indicate its impermissibility. Rather, it is merely the taking of a means, which is permitted as long as one knows that the one who gives and takes, benefits and harms is Allah alone.
In such cases, though, one should not leave doing the istikhara oneself...
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