Wa ‘Alaikum Salaam wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh dear brother,
Firstly, let me reassure you that you did the right thing to stop meeting with each other to avoid falling deeper into zina. Meeting with a sister alone outside of marriage is forbidden in Islam for this very reason; that it can lead to zina. We know this because it is narrated:
“…Behold! A man is not alone with a woman but the third of them is Ash-Shaitan…” (Tirmidhi)
Therefore, I advise you to begin by asking forgiveness from Allah (swt) for any haram contact you have had with this sister.
If you wish to meet her in the most appropriate way with the intention of seeking marriage to her, then you can organize a meeting with her in the presence of her mahram. This also gives her family a chance to meet you and get to know you, and likewise for you to meet her family and get to know them, too.
You say you have both made istikhara about the situation, which, ma sha’ Allah, is an excellent thing to do when it comes to making important decisions such as marriage. When making istikhara, it is important, however, to be aware of how to perform it properly and how to interpret the results of it to avoid making poor decisions.
As you know istikhara is the prayer for seeking guidance, and is the most excellent thing to do in a situation such as deciding upon whether to pursue a marriage to a certain person. The most important thing to begin with is to understand how to perform it in the correct way, in accordance with the Sunnah. Regarding how to perform istikhara in the correct way, the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:
“If any one of you is deliberating about a decision he has to make, then let him pray two Rak’ahs of non-obligatory prayer, then say: Allahumma inni astakhiruka bi ‘ilmika wa astaqdiruka bi qudratika wa as’aluka min fadlika, fa innaka taqdiru wa la aqdir, wa ta’lamu wa la a’lam, wa anta ‘allam al-ghuyub. Allahumma in kunta ta’lamu anna hadhal-amra khayrun li fi dini wa ma’ashi wa aqibati amri faqdurhu li wa yassirhu li thumma barik li fihi. Allahumma, wa in kunta ta’lamu annahu sharrun li fi dini wa ma’ashi wa ‘aqibati amri fasrifhu ‘anni wasrifni ‘anhu waqdur li al-khayr haythu kana, thumma radini bihi. (O Allah, I seek Your guidance (in making a choice) by virtue of Your knowledge, and I seek ability by virtue of Your power, and I ask You of Your great bounty. You have power, I have none. And You know, I know not. You are the Knower of hidden things. O Allah, if in Your knowledge, this matter (then it should be mentioned by name) is good for me in my religion, my livelihood and my affairs (or: both in this world and in the Hereafter), then ordain it for me, make it easy for me, and bless it for me. And if in Your knowledge it is bad for me and for my religion, my livelihood and my affairs (or: for me both in this world and the next), then turn it away from me and turn me away from it, and ordain for me the good wherever it may be and make me pleased with it.)” (Sunan an-Nasa’i)
Therefore, we can conclude that if it is that the best thing is for you to marry her, then Allah (swt) will make it easy for you to do so. You will be happy to move forward with this decision and it will be easy. If, however, it is not the right decision, then Allah (swt) will put obstacles in your way that will make it difficult to achieve and make your heart content with not marrying this girl.
There is no evidence in the Qur’an or Sunnah to suggest a direct link between praying istikhara and what comes in a dream after making istikhara, so please be cautious about how you are interpreting what you are seeing in your dreams. What we do about dreams is reported in the following hadith,
“Dreams are of three types: Glad tidings from Allah, what is on a person’s mind, and frightening dreams from Satan. If any of you sees a dream that he likes, let him tell others of it if he wishes, but if he sees something that he dislikes, he should not tell anyone about it, and he should get up and perform prayer.” (Tirmidhi)
Istikhara should be prayed with an open mind, not when you already made a decision and are simply looking for evidence to support your matter. Otherwise this is not truly seeking guidance from Allah (swt) as you are only waiting for a sign to support your own decision. So, for example, if you already have in your mind that you want to marry her and are just waiting for this sign, then this indicates that you already made a decision and might perhaps overlook any indications that you should not move forward with this marriage.
Regarding the signs of the istikhara, Aboutislam’s scholar says: “The results of an istikhara prayer can take many forms. Basically, you go by your feelings, whether you now feel more favorable or not. Also, you may notice events have changed, either for what you have expected or not. Note that you must follow the results of an istikhara because not doing so is tantamount to rejecting God’s guidance once you’ve asked for it. Also, you should firstly clear your mind, not have your mind already decided, and then afterwards follow the results willingly.”
So, I advise that you begin by asking for Allah’s (swt) forgiveness for meeting this girl in ways that are not permissible in Islam and seek to meet her in the way that Islam prescribes. Then you might pray istikhara again at this point in the correct way, having pursued the marriage in the most appropriate way, and seek Allah’s (swt) guidance on whether marriage to this girl is best for you.
May Allah (swt) guide you to make the best decision – a decision that Allah (swt) will be pleased with and you will be content with. May He (swt) grant you a righteous spouse who will be the coolness of your eyes.
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