Errors in interpreting dreams and visions

[ BACK ] 1. Sometimes errors are made in interpreting various matters related to a prophecy, such as the time when it is to be fulfilled. The Holy Quran says:

"God indeed fulfilled the vision of His Messenger: you shall enter the Sacred Mosque, if God please, in security, your heads shaved and hair cut short, not fearing."


The Holy Prophet was in Madina when he saw in a dream that he had entered Makka and was performing the Tawaf (circuits) around the Ka`aba. So he and his Companions marched forth towards Makka, being certain that the vision would be fulfilled that very year. However, this could not come about, and the Muslims had to return, having concluded the peace treaty of Hudaibiyya. A few of the Companions began to wonder why they had failed to achieve their goal, so much so that Umar asked the Holy Prophet if he had not said that they would go to the Ka`aba and perform the Tawaf. The Holy Prophet said, ``Yes, but did I also say that it would be this year?'' They said, No. He then told them that they would certainly go to the Ka`aba and perform the Tawaf. This proves three points:

[i.] The prophet or other holy man who is the recipient of the prophecy from God is not informed of all the details relating to its fulfillment.

[ii.] The recipient of the prophecy can commit an error of personal judgement in interpreting the prophecy.

[iii.] It is in order for the prophesier to take some legitimate course of action on the basis of his own interpretation of the prophecy (as in this instance the Holy Prophet attempted to go to Makka to perform the Tawaf on the basis of his dream, to fulfil the prophecy).

2. The Holy Prophet Muhammad related:

"I saw in a dream that I was migrating from Makka to a place having date trees. So I thought that this would be Yamama or Hajar, but it turned out to be Madina."

(Bukhari, Book: Qualities of the Companions, 63:45)

3. It is related from Aishah:

"Some of the wives of the Holy Prophet asked him, Which one of us shall join you first after your death? He said, The one with the longest hands. So they compared their hands before him, and it was Sauda who had the longest hands. But we learnt afterwards [upon the death of the first one of his wives to pass away after him] that it meant the length of the hand in giving charity, and the first one to join him after his death was Zainab, who loved to give in charity."

(Bukhari, Book 24: Kitab al-Zakat, ch. 11)