How to interpret dreams skillfully
Fatwa No: 340525

  • Fatwa Date:13-3-2017 - Jumaadaa Al-Aakhir 15, 1438
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Question

Hello. I have read articles on your website that say that only specialists can interpret dreams. So my question is: how does one become a skillful dream interpreter so that he has Islamic qualifications to interpret them?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

The scholars stated that it is not permissible to interpret dreams unless one has knowledge of the interpretation of dreams. Such knowledge requires knowledge of the two revelations, i.e. the Quran and the Sunnah; the examples given in the Quran; and the proverbs of the Arabs so that one would be able to compare something to its analogue and give inference of something to its likeness. Imaam Maalik  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “No one should interpret dreams except the one who knows well how to interpret them; then if he sees a good dream, he may narrate it to others, but if he sees something else (i.e. a bad dream that he dislikes), he should say something good or keep silent.” [Reported by Ibn ‘Abdul-Barr in At-Tamheed]

In his work Ar-Risaalah, the Maaliki scholar Ibn Abi Zayd Al-Qayrawaani said, “A person who does not have knowledge of dreams should not interpret them.” The reviewer of Ar-Risaalah, An-Nafraawi, said in his book Al-Fawaakih Ad-Dawaani:

“'He should not interpret dreams' means that it is forbidden 'to interpret dreams for the one who does not have knowledge of them', otherwise, this would be a lie, because the news from an unknowledgeable person is a lie; as Allah says (what means): {And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge.} [Quran 17:36]

What is understood from his [Ibn Abi Zayd’s] statement is that the one who has knowledge of dreams, meaning that he knows the principles of interpreting dreams, which are the Quran and the Sunnah, the language of the Arabs, their poetry, and their proverbs, and that he is a person of virtue, righteousness, and discernment; it is permissible for him, in this case, to interpret them, but it is not permissible for him to interpret them just by looking in the books of the interpretation of dreams like some ignorant people do; they open books such as the book of Ibn Seereen, when it is said to him, 'I saw such and such,' and thereby interpret the dreams, but in fact he does not have knowledge of the principles of the interpretation of dreams; so this is forbidden...

Ibn al-Qayyim  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in I'laam Al-Muwaqqi’een:

Allah has given us various examples: either predestined, legislated, while awake, and during sleep, and guided His slaves to take heed of them, to compare something to its analogue, and to give inference of something to its likeness. Rather, this is the basis of interpreting dreams, which are one part from the parts of prophecy and a kind of revelation. Dreams are based on analogy and representation and inferring the intangible from that which is tangible. Do you not see that the clothes such as the Qamees (long shirt) is interpreted to mean the religion? Its length, width, cleanliness, or dirt are a reflection of a person's religion, as the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) interpreted the Qamees to mean the religion and knowledge. The correlation between the Qamees and knowledge and the religion is that each one of them conceals the person [the one who wears it] and beautifies him among the people; the Qamees covers his body, and knowledge and the religion cover his soul and his heart and beautifies them among the people.

Similarly, milk is interpreted to mean the Fitrah (natural predisposition) as each one of them [the milk and the Fitrah] is considered a nutrition which is necessary for life and the perfection of creation. If a child is left to his Fitrah, he would not divert from the milk; as he is naturally inclined to prefer milk over anything else; the same thing applies to the Fitrah of Islam upon which Allah created mankind.

Another example is that cows are interpreted to mean the people of religion and goodness who populate the land in the same manner that cows populate the land while they do not do any evil or harm and have much goodness, and the land and people are in need of them. It is for this reason that when the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) saw in a dream that cows were being slaughtered, this meant the killing of some of his Companions.

Likewise, planting and plowing the soil is interpreted to mean work (actions), because the worker (doer) sows good and evil, and he only reaps that which he had sown [as you sow, so shall you reap]; so this worldly life is a farm, and the actions are the seeds, and the Day of Judgment is the day the seeds grow (appear) for the one who had sown them, and the day of harvest...

Hence, a dream is an example given by the angel who is entrusted by Allah with the dreams so that the one who sees the dream draws an analogy of the example that is given to him with its counterpart, and he interprets it according to its analogue... Were it not that the ruling on something is the same as the ruling on its analogue, then this interpretation of dreams would have been void. Allah, the Almighty, informed us that He gave examples for His slaves in many places in the Quran, and He ordered us to listen to His examples and invited His slaves to understand them and ponder over them and take heed from them, and this is what is intended by them.

Allah knows best.

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