According To The Qur'an And Sunnah
By Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips
Paperback 131 Pages
ISBN : 9789830651163
Publisher : A.S. Noordeen, Malaysia
About The Book
Separates the authentic Islamic teachings on dream interpretation from the myths, superstitions and fabrications being circulated on the subject. It also provides a guide for dream interpretation according to references found in the Quran and authentic hadiths.
Since the English publication of Muhammad Al-Akili's 508 page work entitled, Ibn Seerin's Dictionary of Dreams: According to Islamic Inner Traditions in 1992, followed shortly thereafter by Dreams and Interpretations by Ibn Seereen, there has been an explosion of dream interpretation and interpreters among English-speaking Muslim communities in the West. On the other hand, dream interpretation has been a long established tradition in the Muslim East. However, it has become so mixed up with superstition, myths and fortune telling, that most educated Muslims shun this area. The fact of the matter is that dream interpretation is mentioned in the Quran and was regularly practised by the Prophet (pbuh), himself. Consequently, there is a real need to understand this subject, especially, considering that humans spend about a third of their lives sleeping.
After lectures in America, England and Canada over the past three years, I have found myself bombarded with requests to interpret the dreams of those in the audience. Not having delved into this field before, I felt at a loss to respond effectively to this phenomenon. My early research on material for the book, The Fundamentals of Tawheed, and Phd. research on exorcism in Islam had exposed me to some of the prophetic traditions on dreams. However, my scientific background left me rather skeptical about this field and its explanations of the future further increased my doubts.
Since none of the books which I read on dream interpretation in English or Arabic addressed the topic academically, I felt it necessary to research the subject in order to get proper clarification for myself and to provide for English readers an authentic and comprehensive analysis of this intriguing subject. Most books on the subject of dream interpretation are either attributed to Muhammad ibn Seereen (653-729CE) or refer much of their material and methodology to him. He was born and raised in the city of Basra, in Iraq, where he later became a major fiqh (jurisprudence) and hadith scholar among the students of the Prophet's companions. A number of the hadiths on dreams narrated by Abu Hurayrah and other companions were transmitted by him and he became known for dream interpretations. Subsequently, many fables about his interpretational ability were circulated. Eventually, books on dream interpretation were attributed to him, though his contemporaries make no mention of them, and these books are without reliable chains of narrators. That is, Ibn Seereen, without a shadow of a doubt, did not write any book on dream interpretation. He did, however, write a compilation of Abu Hurayrah's narrations from the Prophet (pbuh) along with the opinions of Abu Hurayrah. This text was kept by his brother, Yahyaa ibn Seereen, because Muhammad ibn Seereen, in his later days, did not like to keep books. Ibn Nadeem in his Fihrist made the first recorded reference to a book, Ta'beer ar-Ru'yah (The Interpretation of Dreams) written by Ibn Seereen. The Arabic text, Muntakhab al-Kalaam fee Tafseer al-Ahlam, which is in wide circulation today, is also falsely attributed to Ibn Seereen. Consequently, English translations based on it as well as other books, like Ibn Seerin's Dictionary of Dreams and Dreams and Interpretations, are all unauthentic.
In Al-Akili's introduction to his Dictionary, some authentic hadiths are quoted along with weak and fabricated traditions without any references being given either to their sources or their status. In fact, some authentic hadiths are mentioned as opinions of some dream interpreters. The author also quotes false information about the angel of dreams whose supposed name is given as Siddiqin. He is further described as being so huge that the distance between his shoulder and his earlobe is equivalent to seven hundred years of walking. Al-Akili also quotes explanations about the dream process which no one besides the Prophet (pbuh) has the right to speak on. For example, he states that when one falls asleep, his/her soul becomes like an extended ray of light, or like a sun, where he can see what the angel of dreams reveals to him through the effulgent light of his Lord. The author quotes many fabricated statements from Prophet Daniel and he falsely attributes to Imam Jafar as-Saadiq the practice of numerology. He quotes Imam Ja'far as saying, If one forgets a dream he saw at night, he should calculate the numerological value of the letters of his name on the basis of the Abjad system. He then should deduct the number nine from the total. If they result in an even number, then his dream is positive. If the total produces an odd number, then his dream has negative connotations. The author even goes so far as to tell the budding dream interpreter that he should ask the person who forgot his dream how did he find himself when he woke up. If the person who forgot his dream finds his hand over his fingers, he could have seen little trees. If he finds his hand laid over his ribs, then it could be women that he saw!
Al-Akili further recommends that the dream interpreter have knowledge about astrology, numerology, lucky days of the week and lucky hours of the day and night, all of which are from the realm of forbidden pseudo-sciences based on shirk (idolatry). For example, under the heading of Moon, he writes: Seeing the moon in the position of Cancer in a dream means [a] good time to get married and conceive children....Seeing the moon in the position of Sagittarius in a dream means [a] bad time for planting [of] seedling. Seeing it coupled with Capricorn in a dream is a bad sign for construction or laying a foundation to a structure, or for starting a business.
Meanings are even given to dreams about which the Prophet (pbuh) refused to interpret. For example, under Beheading Al-Akili states: In a dream, beheading means freedom from slavery or dispelling sorrows and dismay, payment of one's debts, or it could mean prospering. If one knows his assailant in the dream, it means receiving wealth at his hand. If one is sick, it means that he will recover from his illness, and if he is not sick, it means that he will attend a pilgrimage. If the assailant is a young boy, then it means comfort, joy and relief from his burdens through his own death. If a healthy person is beheaded in a dream, it means the end of his comfort or loss of his job or authority. If a traveler is beheaded in a dream, it represents his safe return home. On the other hand, the Prophet (pbuh) prohibited the communication of dreams containing beheading. Jaabir reported that a bedouin came to Allah's Messenger (pbuh) and said, Messenger of Allah, while sleeping, I saw my head cut off and I saw myself running after it. Allah's Messenger (pbuh) said to him, Don't tell people about the games Satan plays with you in your sleep.
Often Al-Akili gives so many different meanings for dreams, that one of them might come true at some point in one's life. For example, under Tongue, he says: ... Losing one's tongue in a dream represents the malicious joy of one's enemy, family, or neighbors for one's losses, or it could mean the death of a beloved, severing a relationship, or a plant disease that will affect one's fruit trees. Perhaps losing one's tongue in a dream could mean separation between husband and wife, divorce, losing one's job, or moving to a new town.
Consequently, Ibn Seerin's Dictionary of Dreams is not only unauthentic, it is misleading and cannot be relied upon by sincere Muslims for guidance. It is of little more value to Muslims than the Oneirocritica, the most famous book of dream interpretation compiled by the 2nd Century CE pagan Greek soothsayer Artemidorus Daldianus.
One cannot deny the permissibility of dream interpretation, because Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself interpreted his own dreams as well as those of his companions. Furthermore, it is well known that some highly respected Muslim scholars of the past have interpreted peoples' dreams. However, as with all other areas of knowledge in Islam, guidelines have to be set according to the Prophet's instructions and not according to human fancy. Consequently, I have attempted to collect all of the authentic narrations on dreams from the major collections of hadeeths: Saheeh al-Bukhaaree, Saheeh Muslim, Sunan Abee Daawood, Sunan at-Tirmithee, Sunan ad-Daarimee, Sunan Ibn Maajah, and Musnad Ahmad. From the subsequent compilation of over five hundred hadeeths on dreams, I have tried to deduce the Islamic legal principles governing this field of knowledge as well as organize the prophetic interpretations according to subject-matter for easy reference.
In closing, I would like to thank all who helped to bring this effort to fruition. Special thanks to sister Jameelah Campbell whose discussions and criticisms were invaluable, as well as to sisters Fakhrunnisa Mirza, Khadeejah Koya and my wife Sakeenah and brother Tahzeeb Raouf for their diligent proofreading. And credit must be given to my researcher 'Abdul-Majeed Alee Hasan for his major role in the compilation and authentication of the hadiths which form the basis of this work.
Finally, I hope that the contents of this book will provide a reliable basis for understanding dreams and their interpretation and that the book itself will become a recognized alternative to the fabricated and unauthentic texts that are presently in wide circulation among Muslims.
About The Author
Dr Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips was born in Jamaica, but grew up in Canada, where he accepted Islam in 1972. He completed a diploma in Arabic and a B.A. from the College of Islamic Disciplines (Usool ad-Deen) at the Islamic University of Madeenah in 1979. At the University of Riyadh, College of Education, he completed a M.A. in Islamic Theology in 1985, and in the department of Islamic Studies at the University of Wales, he completed a Phd. in Islamic Theology in 1994.
Abu Ameenah taught Islamic Education and Arabic in private schools in Riyadh for over ten years and for three years he lectured M.Ed. students in the Islamic Studies department of Shariff Kabunsuan Islamic University in Cotabato City, Mindanao, Philippines. Since 1994 he has founded and directed the Islamic Information Center in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (which is now known as Discover Islam) and the Foreign Literature Department of Dar al Fatah Islamic Press in Sharjah, UAE. Presently, he is a lecturer of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the American University in Dubai and Ajman University in Ajman, UAE.
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