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Last Updated: 2010/10/17
Summary of question
How is it possible for an individual to acquire the ability to interpret drams? Is there any authentic hadith (tradition) in this regard?
How is it possible for an individual to acquire the ability to interpret dreams? Is there any authentic hadith (tradition) in this regard?
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Detailed Answer

A dream is an imaginary series of events that everyone experiences in his mind while he is asleep. It is still not clear enough for scientists as to how it really takes place. The Holy Quran speaks about Joseph’s dreams which came true[1] and whom God taught the science of interpreting dreams.[2]

When in prison, Yusuf interpreted the dreams of his inmates and when he was out of the prison, he interpreted the dreams of the king of Egypt. Therefore, interpreting dreams or the allegorical explanation (ta’vil)[3] of dreams, as termed by the Quran, is a reality and a science which God, the Exalted, taught Prophet Yusuf. Daniel was also one of the prophets whom God taught the science of interpreting dreams.[4] The Quran gives examples of other divine prophets whose dreams God confirm and endorses to have been true.[5]

We come across two kinds of dreams in the narrations:

Some dreams are true and some are false.[6] The true dreams have been described and termed as “one part out of seventy parts of prophethood”[7]. This science cannot be acquired as it needs purification and cleansing of the soul, and it is given to an individual only on specific circumstances. It is for the same reason that the number of people bestowed with this ability is few and far between.

Of course, in some books, certain criteria and rules have been narrated for interpreting dreams. It is necessary to note that these criteria are general and absolute, and that they change with the change of the circumstances in which a person has dreamt. Hence, when it comes to what has been mentioned in the books regarding the rules and criteria of interpreting dreams, it is not possible to come to a reliable conclusion. May Allah grant you success.

[1] - Yusuf (Joseph): 4

[2] - Yusuf: 101

[3] - Yusuf: 101

[4] - Majlisi, Behar al-Anwar, Vol.14, p.371

[5] - Saffat: 105; Fath: 27.

[6] - Kulayni, Al-Kafi, Vol.8, p.91, Dar al-Kotub al-Islamiyah.

[7] - Saduq, Man La Yahzoruhu al-Faqih, Vol.2, p.584.

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