Interpreting dreams


Dear ulama, what is shariah saying about interpreting dreams, do the person have to be ulama to interpret dreams or some special qualifications ?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

The science of interpreting dreams is an intricate one that requires the interpreter to have in depth knowledge of the different sciences of Dīn. Generally, dreams do not materialise in reality as exactly seen in one’s sleep. They tend to hold a hidden meaning which needs correct interpretation in light of the Qur’ān and Hadīth. This is why it is not everybody’s job to interpret dreams. The mere knowledge of the different factors that indicate towards the truth of a dream is not sufficient for one to interpret a dream.

Caution must be observed when narrating a dream to someone. It should only be interpreted by an Aalim who has the knowledge of interpreting dreams. Consider the Hadith,

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ الرُّؤْيَا عَلَى رِجْلِ طَائِرٍ مَا لَمْ تُعَبَّرْ فَإِذَا عُبِّرَتْ وَقَعَتْ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ وَأَحْسِبُهُ قَالَ ‏”‏ وَلاَ يَقُصُّهَا إِلاَّ عَلَى وَادٍّ أَوْ ذِي رَأْىٍ ‏”

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: The vision (dream) flutters over a man as long as it is not interpreted , if it is interpreted (correctly), it takes place. And I think he said: Tell it only to one who loves or one who has proper judgment. (Sunan Abi Dawud 5020)

Hereunder are a few conditions that one should fulfil before attempting interpretation of dreams:

  • Should be knowledgeable regarding the Qur’ān and Hadīth.
  • Should have an insight in the linguistics of the Arabic language.
  • Should understand the conditions and temperaments of the people seeking an interpretation.
  • Should be knowledgeable regarding the principles of interpreting dreams.
  • Should be spiritually upright and have good character.
  • Should be truthful.
  • May need to take into consideration the present conditions.[1]

Further, interpretations of dreams differ from person to person. It is not merely the nature of the dream and its contents that are sufficient for an interpretation. More importantly, those who are learned in the field of interpreting dreams have to consider the Deeni condition of the person who has seen the dream and relate the contents of the dream to his condition in order to give an interpretation. Whilst two people may have seen the exact same dream, there is high possibility that the interpretations of both persons be very much different.

Whilst ‘Ulama have outlined certain scenarios of dreams and their interpretations, it is not necessary that a dream of that nature always holds that particular meaning. From general experience and knowledge ‘Ulama may have interpreted a certain type of dream in a specific manner, they have also specified that such interpretations are variable.

In the time of The Prophet Sallallahu Alahi Wa Sallam, he used to interpret the dreams of the Sahabah himself. This can be understood from the Ahadith, 

عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم كَانَ مِمَّا يَقُولُ لأَصْحَابِهِ ‏ “‏ مَنْ رَأَى مِنْكُمْ رُؤْيَا فَلْيَقُصَّهَا أَعْبُرْهَا لَهُ ‏”‏

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) used to say to his Companions: He who amongst you sees a vision should narrate it and I would interpret it for him. )Sahih Muslim 2269(

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ بَيْنَا أَنَا نَائِمٌ أُتِيتُ بِقَدَحِ لَبَنٍ، فَشَرِبْتُ مِنْهُ، حَتَّى إِنِّي لأَرَى الرِّيَّ يَخْرُجُ مِنْ أَطْرَافِي، فَأَعْطَيْتُ فَضْلِي عُمَرَ بْنَ الْخَطَّابِ ‏”‏‏.‏ فَقَالَ مَنْ حَوْلَهُ فَمَا أَوَّلْتَ ذَلِكَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَالَ ‏”‏ الْعِلْمَ ‏”‏‏.

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “While I was sleeping, I was given a bowl full of milk (in the dream) and I drank from it (to my fill) till I noticed its wetness coming out of my limbs. Then I gave the rest of it to `Umar bin Al-Khattab.” The persons sitting around him, asked, “What have you interpreted (about the dream) O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)?” He said, “(It is religious) knowledge.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 7008)



And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mufti Arshad Ali

Darul Iftaa, Jaamia Madinatul Uloom (Trinidad) /

[1]   تعبير الرؤيا لابن سيرين مع الترجمة بالأردية، ص 5 [مدينة ببلشنغ كمبني]

اعلم وفقني الله وإياك إلى طاعته أن الرؤيا لما كانت جزءاً من النبوة لزم أن يكون المعبّر عالما بكتاب الله تعالى، حافظا لحديث رسول الله صلي الله عليه وسلم وعلى آله، خبيرا بلسان العرب واشتقاق الألفاظ، عارفا بهيئات الناس، ضابطا لأصول التعبير، عفيف النفس، طاهر الأخلاق، صادق اللسان، ليوفقه الله لما فيه الصواب ويهديه لمعرفة معارف أولي الألباب فإن الرؤيا قد تعبّر باختلاف أحوال الأزمنة والأوقات….