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in category Fiqh (Jurisprudence)

Is dream interpretation halal or haram in Islam?

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In a Nutshell: For those who see good dreams, a person should praise Allah for the good dream, feel happy about it and speak about it to those whom he loves but not to those whom he dislikes.If the Prophet (saw) is seen in a dream, subject to matching his narrated description, the vision is true and can be acted upon, like any good dream, so long it does not go against anything in the Qur’an or Sunnah.

Sources

“Thus will your Lord choose you and teach you the interpretation of dreams and perfect His favour on you and on the offspring of Jacob, as He perfected it on your fathers, Abraham, and Isaac aforetime. Verily, your Lord is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (Qur’an Yusuf 12:6)

The Prophet (saw) said, “O people, there is nothing left of the glad tidings of Prophethood except a good dream that a Muslim sees or that is seen for him.” (Muslim)

The Prophet (saw) said: “True dreams are one of the forty-six parts of prophethood.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Allah’s Messenger (saw) used to say to his Companions, “He who amongst you sees a vision should narrate it and I would interpret it for him.” (Muslim)

The Prophet (saw) said: “Good dreams come from Allah, and (bad) dreams come from shaytan. Whoever sees something that he dislikes, let him spit (dry spitting without saliva) to his left three times and seek refuge with Allah from the shaytan, for it will not harm him.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (ra) said: the Prophet (saw) said: “If any one of you sees a dream that he likes, this is from Allah, so let him praise Allah for it and talk about it to others. If he sees other than that, a dream that he dislikes, this is from the shaytan, so let him seek refuge with Allah from its evil and not mention it to anyone, for it will not harm him.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Verily, a dream will come to pass in the manner it is interpreted. The parable of this is a man who raises his foot until he places it down. Thus, if one of you sees a dream, let him not speak about it unless with one who wishes him well or with a scholar.” (al-Mustadrak)

Abu Hurairah said: I heard the Prophet (saw) say: “Whoever sees me in a dream will truly see me – for the Shaytaan cannot take my shape.” (Agreed upon).

Towards the end of time, most dreams will be true. The Prophet (saw) said: “That will be because the prophethood and its effects will be so far away in time, so the believers will be given some compensation in the form of dreams which will bring them some good news or will help them to be patient and steadfast in their faith.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Aisha (ra) said: “The first revelation that was granted to the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, was the true dream in a state of sleep so that he never dreamed a dream but the truth of it shone forth like the dawn of the morning.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Abu Huraira hated to see a ghul (iron collar) around his neck in a dream and the people liked to see fetters (on their feet). The fetters on the feet symbolised constant and firm adherence to the deen (Bukhari)

Scholarly Opinion

The scholars are in general agreement that the dreams of prophets and messengers tend to be wahy (revelation), protected from shaytan. As a famous example, the Prophet Ibrahim (as) received the command to sacrifice his son Ismail in a dream and he acted upon it. Dreams of others however are interpreted in light of the Quran and Sunnah. If they are in accordance with them, they can be acted upon otherwise not.

The jurist ibn Hajar al-Asqalani said:

“All dreams are either of two types: (i) True dreams: These are the dreams of the prophets and of the righteous people who follow them. They may also happen to other people, but this is very rare, such as the dream of the kafir king which was interpreted for him by Yusuf (as). True dreams are those which come true in real life as they were seen in the dream.(ii) Mixed up false dreams, which warn of something.” (Fath al-Bari, Fath al-Bari, 12/369)

Whilst the jurist and mufassir al-Baghawi said:

“Know that the interpretation of dreams falls into various categories. Dreams may be interpreted in the light of the Quran or in the light of the Sunnah, or by means of the proverbs that are current among people, or by names and metaphors, or in terms of opposites.” (Sharh al-Sunnah, 12/220)

During the time of the Prophet (saw) he used to interpret the dreams of his companions. Some examples include:

The Prophet (saw) and the sahabah would see dreams. The Prophet (saw) said “I saw (in a dream) a black woman with unkempt hair going out of Medina and settling in Mahai’a. I interpreted that as (a symbol of) epidemic of Medina being transferred to Mahai’a, namely, Al-Juhfa.” (Bukhari)

Ibn Umar said I heard Allah’s Messenger (saw) saying, “While I was sleeping, I was given a bowl full of milk [in a dream], and I drank of it to my fill until I noticed its wetness coming out of my nails, and then I gave the rest of it to Umar.” The people sitting around him asked, “What have you interpreted O Allah’s Apostle?” He said, “[It is religious] knowledge.” (Bukhari)

Abdullah Bin Salaam was a Jew who reverted to Islam accepted Islam by just seeing the Prophets face and saying “This is not the face of a liar” [Sunan Ibn Majah]. He said “[In a dream] I saw myself in a garden, and there was a pillar in the middle of the garden, and there was a handhold at the top of the pillar. I was asked to climb it. I said, “I cannot.” Then a servant came and lifted up my clothes and I climbed [the pillar], and then got hold of the handhold, and I woke up while still holding it. I narrated that to the Prophet (saw) who said, “The garden symbolizes the garden of Islam, and the handhold is the firm Islamic handhold which indicates that you will be adhering firmly to Islam until you die.” (Bukhari)

The previous prophets also would do the same, the Prophet Yusuf (as) famously interpreting the dreams of his prison companions, informing one would become the pharaoh’s attendant and the other executed the following morning as well as the pharaoh of his time, telling him he would see 7 years of good harvests and 7 years of famine.

وَدَخَلَ مَعَهُ السِّجْنَ فَتَيَانِ ۖ قَالَ أَحَدُهُمَا إِنِّي أَرَانِي أَعْصِرُ خَمْرًا ۖ وَقَالَ الْآخَرُ إِنِّي أَرَانِي أَحْمِلُ فَوْقَ رَأْسِي خُبْزًا تَأْكُلُ الطَّيْرُ مِنْهُ ۖ نَبِّئْنَا بِتَأْوِيلِهِ ۖ إِنَّا نَرَاكَ مِنَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

And there entered the prison with him two young men. One of them said, "Indeed, I have seen myself [in a dream] pressing wine." The other said, "Indeed, I have seen myself carrying upon my head [some] bread, from which the birds were eating. Inform us of its interpretation; indeed, we see you to be of those who do good." (Qur’an 12:36)

ا صَاحِبَيِ السِّجْنِ أَمَّا أَحَدُكُمَا فَيَسْقِي رَبَّهُ خَمْرًا ۖ وَأَمَّا الْآخَرُ فَيُصْلَبُ فَتَأْكُلُ الطَّيْرُ مِن رَّأْسِهِ ۚ قُضِيَ الْأَمْرُ الَّذِي فِيهِ تَسْتَفْتِيَانِ

O two companions of prison, as for one of you, he will give drink to his master of wine; but as for the other, he will be crucified, and the birds will eat from his head. The matter has been decreed about which you both inquire." (Qur’an 12:41)

Allah also gave this ability to some of the Prophet’s (saw) companions (sahaba) like Abu Bakr al-Sadeeq, Abu Hurairah and Ibn Umar. This continued with some amongst the successors (tabi’een), with well-known examples like Muhammad bin Sireen.

There is a warning about those who falsely claim seeing a dream.

Ibn Abbass narrated that he heard the Prophet (saw) said, “Whoever claims to have seen a dream which he did not see, will be ordered to make a knot between two barley grains which he will not be able to do; and if somebody listens to the talk of some people who do not like him [to listen] or they run away from him, then molten lead will be poured into his ears on the Day of Resurrection; and whoever makes a picture, will be punished on the Day of Resurrection and will be ordered to put a soul in that picture, which he will not be able to do.” (Bukhari)

Conclusion

Ibn Hajar summarised by saying, “To sum up what has been said about good dreams, we may say three things: A person should praise Allah for the good dream. He should feel happy about it. He should talk about it to those whom he loves but not to those whom he dislikes.” (Fath al-Bari, 12/369)


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