Answered by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
To see our beloved master, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) in a dream is certainly very virtuous and a blessing from Allah Most High upon the person who was fortunate to see him.
When one dreams of the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace), then one has certainly seen him. It is stated in a Hadith:
Sayyiduna Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “He who saw me in a dream has certainly seen me, for Shaytan can not take my form.” [Sahih al-Bukhari & Sahih Muslim]
The Hadith commentators and scholars have given different interpretations as to the meaning of this Hadith:
1. That it is similar to seeing the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) in real life, but one will not be called a Companion (sahabi), and one will not be legally responsible to carry out the orders given in the dream, because moral responsibility is not based on dreams.
2. The Hadith is regarding those that were present at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), meaning whosoever saw him in a dream was given a glad tiding that he will also see him whilst awake. This meaning is also supported by another Hadith where the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give peace) said “Whosoever sees me in a dream will soon me whilst awake” (Sahih al-Bukhari & Sahih Muslim).
3. That whosoever saw the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give peace) in a dream, the dream is true and genuine. It is not merely an imagination. The Shaytan cannot come in ones dream and portray to be the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam. (All three interpretations related by Mulla Ali al-Qari in his al-Mirqat, 9/24).
The scholars have differed as to whether the dream is true in the case where one does not see the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) in his recognized features and qualities, that have been transmitted in the traditions.
Some scholars are of the view that the dream will only be true and genuine if the person sees the Prophet of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) in his recognised features. This opinion has been attributed to Qadi Iyad.
The majority of the scholars, however, including Imam Nawawi, are of the view that if a person dreams the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) then his dream is true, regardless of whether he sees him on his recognized features or otherwise.
If a person was to see the blessed Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) in his unrecognized features, for example, he saw him without a beard, or with full grey hair, etc… then this dream will need to interpreted.
The differences in appearance may be due to the good or bad habits of the dreamer. According to the variation of people’s personalities, their dreams differ. Some dream him old, whilst others dream him young. Some see him pleased, whilst others see him disturbed. Therefore, the dream will need to be interpreted by a person who is qualified in this field, and who has taqwa and piety (Mulla Ali al-Qari, Mirqat al-Masabih, 9/25).
In the light of the above, if one has a dream of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) then he has surely seen him. One should not doubt this, as this has been clearly mentioned in the Hadith. However, there are two points here which need to be remembered and understood properly.
The Status of Dreams
Firstly , dreams are not a source of evidence in Shariah. Therefore, if one received any order or guidance in the dream from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), then there are two possibilities:
1, If the order and command is in accordance with the laws of Shariah then it will be a source of evidence, but only for the one who saw the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) in the dream and not other people. The one who was ordered by the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) to carry out a certain act, should attempt to implement it. However, it will not be binding on him similar to the injunctions that are established in the Qur’an and Sunnah.
2, If the command is contrary to the established teachings of Shariah, it will not be accepted; neither will it be a source of evidence for anyone. It will not be permitted to act according to the dream.
The reason for this is that the science of interpreting dreams is very complex and not every individual is privileged to understand and interpret the dream. One may make a mistake in remembering or understanding the dream. People’s dreams could differ according to their own personality and condition of their faith (iman).
It is reported by Shaykh Ali al-Muttaqi al-Hindi (Allah have mercy on him) that a person saw in his dream that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give peace) was ordering him to consume alcohol. He became very disturbed by this thus referred to the scholars. One of the great scholars of that time Shaykh Muhammad ibn Urat (Allah have mercy on him) gave the interpretation of the dream by saying: “The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) did not say “Consume alcohol” (ishrab al-khamr), rather He said: “Don’t drink alcohol” (la tashrab al-Khamr). Due to the disorder of your mind, you understood the contrary”. (Mazahir Haq, 4/325).
It becomes clear from the above that those who innovate things in Islam and base it upon dreams are clearly contradicting the spirit of Shariah. They must refrain at once from this practice.
The secondaspect to remember here is that the main objective should be to act upon the injunctions of Shariah and follow the beautiful ways of our beloved Prophet (Allah bless him & give peace). Salvation and success do not depend on dreams.
If a person was to see the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) in his dream, but kept back from obeying his command and acting upon his Sunnah in his day to day life, it will not be sufficient for salvation in the here after.
During the days of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give peace), numerous people like Abu Jahl and Abu Lahb saw the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) regularly, but remained dwellers of hell, as they did not earn the pleasure of Allah Almighty and his beloved (peace and blessings be upon him).
On the other hand, we have people like Uwais al-Qarni (Allah be pleased with him) who was not fortunate to see the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), but was regarded amongst the very pious people.
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) is reported to have said to Sayyiduna Umar al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with him):
“The best from the Tabi’ins (Followers of the Companions) is a person called Uwais. He has a mother and has been afflicted with leprosy. (When you meet him) ask him to seek forgiveness for you (from Allah). [Sahih Muslim]
It is thus clear from the above that the main objective should be acting upon the teachings of the Messenger of Allah. If one implements his teachings in ones life and then sees him in a dream, then surely it is very virtuous. However, if one kept back from obeying his commands, then seeing the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) is by no means a sign of success.
And Allah knows best
Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa, Leicester, Uk
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