Ever had a dream and wonder if it meant anything? What does Islam teach about dreams and their meanings? Scientists explain that every single person has a dream each night they sleep, although many do not remember them. The Islamic position on dreams often differs from the western attitudes toward dreams which are primarily influenced by scientific theories and a limited materialistic approach.
When we sleep our souls partially or temporarily leave our bodies. Sleep is a minor form of death, where the body is present but the soul is elsewhere. Some people underestimate the significance of dreams by completely disregarding them while others make too much of them and make every decision in their life based on a dream. Both the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him highlight that some dreams have symbols and meanings.
The Prophet peace be upon him categorized dreams into three types:
- a vision or true dream that is from God;
- a false dream which comes from the devil
- a meaningless everyday dream which could come from one’s lower self or subconscious thoughts
The true dreams are often given to those who are righteous but is not necessarily limited to them. The story of Joseph in the Qur’an is perhaps the best example of an interpretation of true dreams. The chapter speaks of three dreams, the dream of Joseph peace be upon him, the dreams of the two prisoners, and the dream of the king. Each of these dreams had a meaning that later unfolded into the real world. For example, the king said ‘Verily I saw (in a dream) seven fat cows which were eaten by seven lean cows; and seven green ears of corn and other (seven) dry. O’ chiefs (of my court)! Explain to me my dream, if you are able to interpret dreams’.” (Quran 12:43)
Most people at the time were unable to interpret this dream and considered it to have no meaning. But Joseph peace be upon him interpreted this dream to mean that Egypt will experience seven prosperous years followed by seven years of drought and famine. This interpretation saved the people of Egypt from starvation.
True dreams also come in the form of seeing good things, such as seeing oneself in prayer, in paradise, or dreaming of good. These dreams are from God and should be shared only with those one trusts.
The False Dream
A false dream is usually a nightmare which originates from the devil. The Prophet peace be upon him gave instructions about dealing with these types of dreams. One man came to the Prophet peace be upon him and told him that he had a dream that his head had been cut off and that he was chasing it. The Prophet peace be upon him laughed and said when satan plays with one of you in your dream do not mention it to people.
The Prophet peace be upon him instructed that when one sees a bad dream they should immediately seek refuge with God from Satan, dry spit three times on their left, turn to their other side, and not share it with anyone.
The meaningless dream
The last and perhaps most common type of dream is that which may not carry any meaning. This dream might originate from one’s subconscious, what they ate in the day, or simply a release of things in their short-term memory. The way these dreams can generally be distinguished from the true or false dream is the feeling one has. The true dream is accompanied by a sense that it was inspired by God. The false dream is usually frightening of a nightmare. The meaningless dreams are usually just materialistic or carry no significant spiritual feeling accompanied with them.
Islam teaches that the human soul is not limited to this world, but also connected to the hereafter. Dreaming is a form of the soul connecting with other souls or events in a different dimension. Déjà vu is an excellent example of this. Time is only a creation of God and therefore in God’s view, the future already happened. God is capable of transporting someone into the future and then returning them back to the present. They then live until they meet that point in time again and this brings about the déjà vu moment. This is not to say that this is always accurate, but that souls leave this world in dreams. As humans, we are not only materialistic bodily creatures, but we also have a spiritual element. Our soul’s year for spiritual fulfillment and connection with their source and Creator, God Almighty. Want to learn more about Islam? Call 877-WhyIslam, you deserve to know!