Answered by Shaykh Salim Ahmad Mauladdawila
Question: Assalamu alaykum
I had a proposal.
On the day of the meeting the guy had suddenly gotten sick. Right after they cancelled, he started feeling better. They took this as a sign of istikhara.
Can such things be taken as a sign for istikhara?
Does this count as breaking a promise sinfully?
Answer: Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim
God says in the Quran, “And don’t say of anything, ‘Indeed, I will do that tomorrow’, except [with adding], ‘If God wills’, and remember your Lord when you forget [it] and say, ‘Perhaps my Lord will guide me to what is nearer than this to right conduct'” [18-23-24].
Istikhara is a very private affair, and as such the interpretation of a sign, be it a dream, happening, illness, or anything else, is also a very private matter. It is because of this that one shouldn’t worry too much about an outward ‘sign’ per se, but more how they feel they should act after performing the prayer and dua. Interpreting istikhara is hence a subjective matter and we as a third party can only take someone’s word for it when they say that their istikhara gave them a particular result.
As for promises towards others, we are obliged to fulfil them as best we can, but not fulfilling them is acceptable in certain circumstances. Most commonly, one may make a promise but later find that fulfilling it would create a negative outcome. Also, we may make a promise but a change in our personal circumstances may mean that we cannot fulfil it. Other times, the promise itself could be made on an incorrect presumption, and thus also not require fulfilling. A case of a promise based upon istikhara would be similar to this third example, where the promise is dependent on the reality of the situation becoming known.
Regarding the feeling of darkness and the possibility of it relating to yourself, it would be best not to pay such things too much attention. Scholars often advise that interpretation of dreams and events should be done in the most positive light imaginable to not give any substance to darkness. The mentioned subjectiveness of interpretation of such matters means that, in this case, one would be better off concentrating on their relationship with God, asking Him for that which is better than that which he deferred, and being content with the way things turned out.
[Shaykh] Salim Ahmad Mauladdawila