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4 Dec 2022

Why your dreams matter more than you think — and why we must pay attention to them now more than ever

Why your dreams matter more than you think — and why we must pay attention to them now more than ever

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Faisal Amjad
Faisal Amjad is a serial entrepreneur and founder, with previous start-ups in the EdTech and Smart Home space. He is hugely passionate about knowing yourself, finding your purpose and lifelong learning which he helps people with through his non-profit, KNOW. He writes about purpose, polymathy and fulfilling one's potential.

Why your dreams matter more than you think — and why we must pay attention to them now more than ever

From the headline, it sounds like this is going to be the usual motivational spiel about never giving up on your dreams, why your dreams can come true, yada yada yada.

No.

I mean this literally. Your actual dreams. The ones you have in bed where you’re flying to the moon on a secret mission in a purple Henry Hoover whilst you’re really just dribbling and snoring away in your dinosaur PJ’s. (Maybe that’s just me then?).

As someone who considers himself a lifelong learner, I am also fascinated with the process of learning itself. How is knowledge actually acquired?

This rabbit hole I was taken down led me to understand the significance of dreams. I was very interested to learn how significant the process of learning our dreams was always considered in the Islamic tradition in the past — something we have sadly very much lost in today’s logic and data-obsessed world.

Here’s a little bit about what I’ve learned, along with some very interesting (and slightly scary) bits at the end…

Let’s start with understanding how dreams were used in history.

Dreams in Prophetic History

We are in the blessed days of Dhul Hiijjah, and Muslims all around the world are due to celebrate Eid-ul-Adha, which is a pertinent place to begin this article. This is the time of year we remember the story of the Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH), and the sacrifice of his son, Ishmael (PBUH). We all know the story, and it is one we remember fondly this time every year as we do our ritual sacrifice and give Qurbani.

What is of particular interest, for the purpose of this article, is the fact it was through a series of recurring dreams that Allah communicated his wish for Ibrahim to make his sacrifice. That is, his dream was the vehicle in which Allah communicated to his Prophet.

Here is the divine command which came to Ibrahim in a dream:

“We gave him the good news of a gentle son. And when he reached the age when he could work with him his father said to him: My son, I dreamt that I was sacrificing you. Tell me what you think (i.e., tell me what is your response). He replied: Father, do as you are bidden. Allah willing, you shall find me one of those who are steadfast. And when they had both surrendered themselves to Allah’s will and Abraham had laid down his son prostrate upon his face, We called out to him, saying: Abraham, you have fulfilled your dream. Thus did We reward the righteous. That was indeed a trial, clear in itself. We ransomed him with a tremendous sacrifice and bestowed on him (the praise) of later generations. Peace be on Abraham!”

37:99 – 109

This is just one example of the importance of dreams throughout history. In the above case, a dream was used by Allah to convey an important instruction.

There are many examples of dreams in the Qur’an and Hadith which convey how dreams have historically been a significant means of communication by Allah to his chosen people. The purpose of the dreams can vary, however. Here is another example:

Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said of the Prophet receiving revelation:

“The beginning of the revelations to the Apostle of Allah (SAW) was in the form of true dreams. He did not have a dream but it came to him like daybreak.”

This tells us another use of dreams was for it to be a means of receiving revelation from Allah.

A third example is from Surah Yusuf in the Qur’an where the Prophet Joseph (Yusuf, pbuh) had a dream in which he saw the sun, the moon and eleven stars prostrating themselves before him. His father, the Prophet Jacob (Yaqub, pbuh), immediately understood the significance of the dream (that his son was destined for greatness) and warned him not to disclose it to his brothers for fear that they might harm him:

“Behold, Joseph said to his father: father, I saw (in a dream) eleven stars and the sun and the moon; I saw them prostrating themselves before me. He said: O my son, say nothing of this dream to your brothers, lest they should plot evil against you: the devil is the sworn enemy of man.”

12:4-5

The dream of Yusuf was eventually fulfilled many, many years later when his father, mother and all eleven brothers came to Egypt:

“Then when they entered the presence of Joseph, He provided a home for his parents with himself, and said: Enter ye Egypt (all) in safety if it please Allah. And he raised his parents high on the throne (of dignity), and they fell down in prostration (all) before him. He said: O my father! This is the fulfilment of my dream of old! Allah has made it come true!”

12:99-100

This dream was different in that it was one that needed to be interpreted. More significantly, it shows us that another function of dreams is that they can also prophesise future events. Events seen in a dream may belong even to the very distant future (as in this case), and such dreams may also employ symbols which require interpretation.

The Critical Importance of Dreams

Dreams in Islam are a difficult topic to discuss with credibility. The great scholar Ibn Sirin was one of several experts on dream interpretation and even he mentions in his classical book on the same topic how difficult a science dream interpretation actually is. Even the most erudite scholars treated the subject very carefully:

Ibn Qutaybah ad-Dinawari mentioned in his book about dreams and dream interpretations:

“There is nothing in which people deal with from the different sciences that is more obscure, delicate, exalted, noble, difficult and problematic than dreams because they are a type of revelation and type of Prophethood.”

It is important to try and tackle this subject as believers, as in the absence of authentic knowledge around us we need to attune ourselves to this source, now more than ever.

In the book Dreams in Islam — A Window to Truth and To the Heart, it says:

One of the signs of the last age, i.e., before the end of the world, is the absence of knowledge (of truth and, therefore of Islam). Our widespread ignorance of the subject of ‘Dreams’ and the important place which ‘Dreams’ occupy in Islam is yet another indication that the last age has arrived! We live, today, in a world in which the overwhelming majority of mankind, including some Muslims cannot ‘see’. The only time a believer can be certain that he can ‘see’ is when he sees in dreams! But most people no longer understand this.

So, why are dreams so important to us, today?

“Anas bin Mālik (RA) narrated: Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said: ‘Indeed Messengership & Prophethood have been terminated, so there shall be no Messenger after me or a Prophet.’ The people were concerned about that, so he said, ‘But there will be Mubashshirat (i.e. glad tidings).’So they (the people) said: O Allah’s Messenger (PBUH)! What is Mubashshirat?’ He said, ‘The Muslims’ dreams, for it is a portion of the portions of Prophethood.”

Hadith no. 2272, Chapters on dreams, Jami’ at- Tirmidhi, vol. 4

There is another hadith which stipulates:

Narrated Anas bin Malik, Allah’s Messenger said, “A good dream (that comes true) of a righteous man is one of forty-six parts of prophethood.”

Sahih Al-Bukhari

The Prophet (SAW) himself used to take dreams very seriously:

“Abu Hurairah reported: When the Apostle of Allah finished his morning prayer he used to ask whether anyone had seen a dream, and used to say: After me there would be nothing left of prophethood except good dreams.”

Muwatta, Imam Malik

These two hadith tell us that Prophethood (and thus divine truth) is no longer amongst the Ummah, save for 1/46th of it, with that being dreams of the righteous believer.

There are many more examples, but the conclusion we can draw is that dreams are STILL significant in the world we live in today, and arguably even more so than ever. The purpose of this introduction was to first establish the fact that dreams DO have precedence in the Seerah and in the Qu’ran as being a significant means of communication by Allah.

The need to do this is because of the age we are living in. After all, it is only now, living in the secular, scientific realm that anything which cannot be explained tangibly or through science becomes discredited or seen as ‘wishy-washy’, ‘mumbo-jumbo’ or at best, ‘coincidence’. As the heart of Islam has become weaker and we are losing the very roots of our spirituality, we have become those very people who ‘have eyes and yet cannot see’. Everything has become literal and we rush to find daleels and frames of reference, otherwise we feel we cannot champion a view that we cannot verify with hard facts and data to the sceptical, critical cynics.

Dreams in the Last Age

To understand this subject further, there is comprehensive hadith which is worth analysing:

“Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said, ‘In the end of time, the dreams of a believer will hardly ever fail to come true, and the truthful of them in dreams will be truest in speech among them. And dreams are three types: 1. the good dream, which is glad tidings from Allah, 2. dreams about something that has happened to the man himself, and 3. bad dreams in which Shaytaan frightens someone.”

Hadith No. 7017, Book of Interpretation of Dreams, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 9;Hadith No. 5905 (2263), Book of Dreams, Sahih Muslim, Vol. 6;Hadih No. 2291, Chapters on Dreams, Jami’ At-Tirmidhi, Vol. 4

To analyse this further, I will break it down into the key points mentioned in the hadith.

There are three types of dreams

There are three types of dreams, good ones from Allah, bad ones from Shaytaan, and inconsequential dreams of the self. This may be where you have watched a film, and then dreamt about it, or had an experience in your life that you’ve then dreamed about.

We are primarily concerned with good dreams here, as we are discussing the nature of divine communication from Allah.

And secondly, because Al Muhallab says,

“Most of the dreams of the righteous people are good dreams because sometimes a righteous person could see a dream that is meaningless but that is not very frequent because Shaytaan’s control on them is very weak. And the opposite is true with other people because Shaytaan has a stronger grasp over them.”

The good dream, therefore, is divided into 2 categories:

  • a) Direct dream: something one would see in a dream and the exact scene repeats itself when you are awake, and thus requires no interpretation. (e.g. that of the sacrifice of Ibrahim)
  • b) A dream that comes in symbols and it needs to be interpreted. (e.g. that of Prophet Yusuf, above).

The need to be righteous

The Prophet (SAW) said:

“When the time (of the end of the world) draws close, the dreams of a believer will hardly fail to come true, and a dream of a believer is one of the forty-six parts of prophethood.”

Sahih Al-Bukhari

So, here we can see that the truthfulness of a dream is related to the sincerity of the dreamer.

“Those who have the most truthful dreams are those who are the most truthful in speech.”

Sahih Muslim 4200

People are of the following categories:

a) The Prophets: all of their dreams are truthful and but sometimes they need interpretation.

b) The righteous: most of the time their dreams are truthful (most of them need to be interpreted) and sometimes their dreams are direct.

c) The rest of the people: most of their dreams are not true but some of them could be true.” (Fath al-Bari bi Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari)

Again from this, we can draw a fair conclusion that for us to believe a dream to be truthful and potentially significant, the person relaying the dream must be righteous.

Towards the end of time, most dreams of the pious will be true

Ibn Sirin said,

”I heard Abu Hurairah saying, ‘the Prophet said, “When Time approaches, the dream of the believer rarely would lie.’”

When Time approaches…” is explained by Al-Qurtubi who says, “What is meant by this hadith, and Allah knows best, is the end of times…”

Sahih Al-Bukhari

What are the reasons that Allah would make dreams in such times true?

There are a couple of opinions on this. One is that:

“This will be because the Prophethood and its effects will be so far away in time, 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, 6499; Muslim, 4200

Ibn Abi Jamrah says,

”The reason why the believer sees true dreams at the time is because the believer will be ghareeb (stranger) as was mentioned in the hadith, ‘Islam began as something strange and it will return to the way it began being strange so give glad tidings to the strangers so give glad tidings to the strangers.”

Tidings, as we have mentioned can also be translated as ‘dreams’.

Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani comments on all the opinions by saying,

“Whenever the times are difficult for the believer, he will see dreams that are true frequently because he needs help. When the believer is alone, when the times are difficult, when you don’t find people supporting on truth, then Allah will inspire you to give you glad tidings through the good dreams you would see and this is to give the believers in those difficult and testing times gives the believers strength, it gives them confidence, it gives them hope so they would see a lot of dreams that would come true.”

Other Characteristics of Truthful Dreams

A repetition of a dream is a sign of its truth.

It does not matter if the same person sees the dream more than once or if more than one person sees the dream.

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar reported that some people were shown the Night of Qadr as being in the last seven days (of the month of Ramadan). The Prophet said, “I see that your dreams strengthen each other that Night of Qadr is in the last seven nights of Ramadhan so whoever searches for it, would search for it in the last seven days (of Ramadan).”

Sahih Al-Bukhari

If the dream is a glad tiding from Allah it would take a long time for it to occur while if it is a warning it would occur swiftly.

For example, Yusuf’s dream took a very long time to come to fruition (around 40 years). Some scholars say this is because Allah gives the believer glad tidings early on in his life to give him confidence and hope, to inspire and reassure him. If it is a warning, however, you would see it and it would occur very soon so that it would be the reason for fear in your heart.

Dreams are glad tidings and warnings but can not be used as a source of Shari‘ah.

Ash-Shatbi says regarding this,

“Benefit of the dream in giving the believer a glad tiding or warning not in legislation and judgement or rulings.”

This means that they cannot be set in stone, and law cannot be created out of something one sees in a dream. They require trust, faith and iman, and should not be imposed on anyone else unwillingly.

Truthful dreams are most likely short

If one sees a dream that is very long it is likely it doesn’t mean anything. True dreams are short and concise.

Photo by Chris Thompson on Unsplash

Recent Warnings in the Dreams of the Righteous

Now, onto the interesting bit.

Now that we have established that dreams are able to convey messages about the future and that in the end times, dreams of the pious would most likely be true, there are a number of frequent dreams many of the Slaves of Allah have been having that have been documented and shared. I have been collating and collecting some of these instances, below. See how many of the above features, you can spot.

1) Shaykh Habib Umar, Yemen, March 2014

Shaykh Habib Umar of Yemen said in the Rawhah:

“We wish for the recitation of the first and last 10 verses of surah al-Kahf (reconciling between two narrations) to be wide spread among Muslims especially before sleeping. For we are at the doors of Dajjal and end of times.”

2) H.I, France, July 2014

“I had a dream about 10 days before the crash of the Malaysian aircraft in Ukraine.

That was the first time that I had a dream that seemed to be so real, I mean the sound, the scene, etc…

I was at my parents home. Inside that home was night, and outside was the day. My parents live not so far from Paris Airport. I’ve heard the sound of an aircraft that was very close to us, hence, the noise was very loud.

When I watched through the window to see what was going on, I saw a commercial aircraft crashing in the building in front of mine. Then after a little while, I heard again the sound of a second aircraft, and again I watched through the window and a second aircraft was twisting like it lost its commands.

This plane crashed again, a bit more far than the first one, but still in the same city. I had an idea during my dream on how it could have happened, and I said to myself that it was a “magnetic bomb” which cancel the ability of planes to be controlled.

Then I said to myself that other planes were going to fall. I woke up my children, and took my wife and said to her that we have to go to the underground parking which would be much safer. Then I saw my mother and tried to convince her that we should go to the underground parking.

She refused and denied what was happening by saying that she couldn’t go because she had to prepare the lunch for my nieces. Then I went with my wife and kids to the parking, and then saw another plane falling directly to our building. I woke up before its crash.

End of the dream.

I thought that this was a usual dream before I had a chat with my friend (before the Malaysian Airlines crashed), who said to me that a dream is likely to be true when one of our parents appears in it. I was perplexed until came the crash of the Malaysian aircraft.

Then came the crash of the two military aircrafts in Ukraine .

Then Taiwan.

And now Air Algeria.

I’m a bit perplexed now.”

3) Shaykh Imran Hosein, Malaysia, September 2014

Assalaamu ‘alaikum!

I write to let you know that I just had two dreams — one after the other — in which I saw that nuclear war had started and the missiles were being shot into the sky.

The same thing happened just before 9/11 while I was still resident in Long Island. I had a dream in which I saw 9/11 taking place in tall buildings in Manhattan and I even made mention of the dream in a Jumu’ah Khutbah which I gave in Masjid Dar al-Qur’an in Long Island. 9/11 took place 2 years later.

The Prophet (sallalahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said that in Akhir al-Zaman the dreams of a believer will seldom fail to be true. The implication of my dream is perhaps, that there is only little time left — perhaps only a year or two — before the Malhama takes place and most people resident in the great cities of the world will die (particularly in North America and Europe).

4) A.S, Canada, October 2014

Dear friends, scholars, brothers and sisters

Last night, I had a dream. Not the kind of usual dreams that I usually have and that I can’t always remember but the kind of dreams that I rarely have and that make me think and tremble — I only had 3 intense meaningful dreams in my past life.

I saw cities in the darkness, masses of townsfolk outside walking everywhere on the streets, terrified and looking to the sky from which missiles were raining and innocents die.

I don’t know what that dream means… All I know is that it was scary and intense… and when I have a scary and intense dream then it is an announcement for something to come: a worldwide crisis? a meltdown? or trials and difficulties for mankind in the cities of the modern age? Albeit I don’t know, I felt the responsibility to share and only God knows best.

My beloved friends, scholars, brothers and sisters, this message reaches you, because you are close to my heart. I beg you to take care of yourself, your faith, your family and your wealth. I beg you to focus on what is essential in your life, to reconcile with your family and friends, to purify your heart and to prepare for the next with the clearest insight and the wisest conduct. I beg you to acquire a comprehensive knowledge and remain the humble servant who will lead and inspire mankind. The comprehensive knowledge is located in the intersection of sciences. The world has been shifting towards a new era, this process is accelerating and I wish us peace and success in this life and in the hereafter.

Stay positive.

5. A.B, June 2017

May I share a dream a brother shared with me few days ago at taraweeh Salah.

The brother was in Palestine last year and he saw Dajjal in his dream. He described him as powerfully built wearing a long black cloak. He said Dajjal was levitating. He was in Jerusalem. Dajjal had a mass following around him and people were worshiping him as God. The brother described Jerusalem as flourishing the outside of Israel the surrounding Arabian peninsula was all in a state of war no peace.

His dream is as the Hadith describes the fitna of Dajjal when he appears. The brother had the dream last Ramadhan in the holy city of Jerusalem.

6. Maulana Yusuf Lurgat, UK, 21st September 2020

“Last night, Shaykh-ul Hadith Maulana Yusuf Motala sahib visited me in a dream. He told me to urgently warn everyone to recite Surah Al-Kahf constantly. In his life, he stressed upon this in many of his bayaans, books and lectures and writings, and even got Surah al Kahf published with the title ‘the dua for the Dajjalic fitnah.’ Memorising the 10 verses at the start and end are a protection from the fitnah of Dajjal. May Allah protect us and the whole Ummah and give us the tawfiq to recite Surah al Kahf every day, and not just on Friday.”

7. Moazzam Begg, UK, 24 May 2021

Shortly after fajr (sunrise) this morning, after I went back to bed, I saw this incredible dream which I ‘d like to share (before FB take it down — again).

I was walking in a town in Gaza — near some hills. To my left were houses and buildings while to my right, an open and relatively uninhabited area…

People were already evacuating the town when the sonic boom of low-flying Israeli jets pierced the skies followed by ear-splitting explosions. (I’d heard these sounds before in Bosnia, Syria and Afghanistan but they were just as terrifying)…

Men, women and children — many children — ran towards the open area. As we got further away I could see silhouettes of men in the distance, slowly closing in… We all stopped. Was this a ground invasion, Israeli special forces perhaps? As the silhouettes turned into recognisable forms, the fear turned to curiosity..

The men were dressed in shalwar qameez and had folded shawls thrown over their shoulders. Some wore black turbans on their heads while others donned Afghani pakol (caps). All of them wore sandals on their feet. Some had walking sticks but all carried AK47 assault rifles or RPG launchers.

Some Palestinians shouted that the Afghan Mujahideen had arrived while others said it was the Taliban. By the time the Afghan-looking men reached us everyone had stopped running. The Israelis jets seemed to have gone too..

The people appeared relieved until one man said, “What are they going to do with their rifles against jets? And, this isn’t Afghanistan where we can hide and fight from the mountains. This is Gaza, the world’s biggest prison where we’re besieged by our enemy from land and sea.”

A man who appeared to lead the Afghans replied: “You are right my dear brother. This isn’t Afghanistan. But you have two things we’ve never had that are far greater than our mountains. You have al-Masra al-Mubarak (Al Aqsa and its surrounding area) in these lands and you have the sympathy and support of the whole world. That is why we are here too.”

Just at that moment, a pair of jets returned and flew towards us. This time, however, no one ran. I raised my hands towards the skies — skies polluted with Israeli jets — and, along with everyone else, called upon Allah three times with these words:

اللهم اسقط طائراتهم

اللهم اسقط طائراتهم

اللهم اسقط طائراتهم

(O Allah! Bring down their planes)

While we were praying, one Afghan mounted a rocket launcher on his shoulder and took aim at one of the jets… He said, “Bismillah”, just before he fired…

Prayers stopped and all eyes were fixated on the missile as it flew towards the jet… The explosion wasn’t as big as expected but we watched in awe as the plane fell apart in the air and hurtled down in a fireball and crashed on the very ground it tried to destroy.

The people’s shouts of “Allahu Akbar” seemed louder than the sound of the crash. “This Stinger anti-aircraft system is a gift we’ve kept just for you’” the man who fired it said with a smile. Just before the dream ended the Afghan leader said:

صبرا يا أهل فلسطين فإن نصر الله قريب

“Patience, people of Palestine, for sure the help of Allah is near.”

What now?

The purpose of this article is NOT to get one in a state of panic. Not at all. On the flipside, it is to get everyone more focused and aware of the reality that we live in, and less attached to the dunya. This is to serve as reminder, primarily for me, first. We need at this time more than ever to reconnect with the Qu’ran, and with our Islam. I have previously written an article which demonstrates how we must remain productive and focused no matter what trials and tribulations we face, here.

There are some key messages in the dreams above, and from some very respected and righteous people indeed. Yes, it may seem ominous and yes, perhaps a little scary. But we must be thankful to Allah as we are not helpless. We are free to make our own choices and free to do what we will with the information. Some of us will ignore it, some will share it and others will reflect. My purpose for writing this article is purely to convey a message and to plant a seed in your minds. What you do from here on in, is up to you.

To conclude, I came across a quote which resonated with me and ends this article perfectly. In a world filled with deception today, there is certainly an element of truth to it.

Reality is wrong. Dreams are for real.”

Tupac Shakur

This article has been republished & edited for The Invitation, find the original article here.

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