Dreams are a part of everyone’s lives. Some of us may see dreams more often than others. Some may have extremely vivid and colorful dreams, while others may have bland and vague dreams. Other people dream little and they are likely to forget their dreams the moment they wake up. There is no particular significance in either situation. It is all due to the make up of each person. However, when we see a dream concerning someone who is important to us, or when the dream is related to something we hold dearly, we are likely to retain that dream in our memory, even if we belong to the second type of people who normally forget their dreams on waking up. In that case, is it possible to see our beloved Messenger (saw) in our dreams? The answer to that is that yes, it is indeed possible! Some may see him several times in their lives.
Seeing the Prophet (saw) in a dream is bound to have some kind of positive effect on us. Even a person of the type who forgets their dreams on waking up will remember this dream because of the special position of the Prophet (saw). Of course, this comes as no surprise considering every Muslim holds the Prophet (saw) in such high regard. Every Muslim’s goal is to be close to him on the Day of Judgment. Anas ibn Malik (ra) narrates the Prophet (saw) said,
“Whoever sees me in a dream has actually seen me. Satan cannot appear in my guise.” He also said: “Dreams by a believer count as one part of 46 parts of prophethood.”
Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Abu Dawood, At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah
This hadith highlights two key points the Prophet (saw) makes. An authentic hadith reported by Abu Qatadah (ra) also quotes the Prophet as saying,
“Whoever sees me in a dream actually sees me in truth.”
Sahih Bukhari & Sahih Muslim
A different Hadith reported by Abu Hurayrah quotes the Prophet as saying: “Whoever sees me in a dream will see me when awake. Shaytaan cannot put on my appearance.” This hadith is related in Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, and Ibn Majah.
The Messenger (saw) firstly points out that a dream in which he’s seen is a true dream. This can apply whether he is seen in his real form, which has been described by a number of companions or in a different form. There will always be a clear indication in the dream to inform the dreaming person that he is in fact seeing the Prophet (saw). It’s not necessary that the Prophet (saw) would appear to that person in his own figure and form. The statement, “whoever sees me in a dream will see me when awake” can be interpreted in multiple ways. It either relates to his contemporaries telling them that if they see him in their dreams, then they will see him in reality. Alternatively, it may mean that such a person will inevitably see the Prophet (saw) on the Day of Judgment. This signifies that he or she will have nothing to fear on that day. Both interpretations may be correct, with the first one applying during the Prophet’s (saw) lifetime and the second after he has passed away.
The second point to note is that Shaytaan can never disguise himself as the Prophet (saw). It is in fact Allah (swt) who has willed that Shaytaan cannot look like the Prophet (saw), even in dreams. This is a special blessing, because if we talk to the Prophet (saw) in a dream and he tells us something, whatever he tells us is correct. It does not constitute any new teachings, because the divine message he delivered is complete and nothing can be added to it. Yet the Prophet may give us some guidance, which will prove to be of real benefit to us.
It’s worth mentioning that if a person leads a life of piety and taqwa following the Sunnah of the beloved Messenger (saw) but does not see the Prophet (saw) in his/her dream this doesn’t mean he/she lacks anything. It is no reflection on his status as a good Muslim. Seeing the Prophet (saw) in dream is an act of Allah’s (saw) kindness, which He gives to whomever He wills, but does not add to the status of that person. Ultimately our status is determined by our actions and the intentions behind them. And Allah (swt) knows best.