Bad Dreams and What They Mean

Shaykh Jamir Meah gives a detailed answer on bad dreams, waking up emotionally distraught from them, and how one should deal with them.


Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

What does it mean when you have a bad dream, you cry in the dream and wake up crying?


Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Some dreams carry meanings, and others are merely subconscious processing and filtering of emotions, stimuli, memories, and information absorbed from the waking state. Other dreams are inspired by God, and others are from the whispering of the devil. Some dreams are true and some are false.

This is confirmed through the saying of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, “Dreams are of three types: The good dream which is good tidings from Allah; the upsetting dream which causes pain is from the satan; and the third one is a suggestion of one’s own mind.” (Muslim)

While it is not possible to give an interpretation of your dream, given the upsetting nature of your dream and your reaction upon waking, consider it as belonging to the second type of dreams, from the mischief of the devil.

What to Do upon Seeing a Bad Dream

In the same hadith mentioned above, the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, gave us instructions on what to do upon waking up from a distressing dream, “So if any one of you sees a dream which he does not like he should stand up and offer prayer and he should not relate it to people.”

In another narration, he, blessings and peace be upon him, advised, “Good dreams are from Allah, so if any one of you sees something which he likes he should not disclose it to one but whom he loves, but if he sees something which he does not like he should spit on his left side thrice and seek refuge with Allah from the mischief of the Satan and its [the dream’s] mischief, and he should not relate it to anyone, then it will not harm him.” (Muslim)

He, blessings and peace be upon him, also said, “When one of you sees a bad dream let him blow three times on his left, seek refuge in Allah from the Satan three times [i.e., by saying, A‘udhu billahi min al shaytan al rajim] and change the side on which he was lying.”

Protection when Sleeping

The sunna of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, gives us not only solutions to the problems, but also the preventive prescriptions to avoid situations and harm. Therefore, we find a comprehensive outline of bedtime etiquette which affords protection during sleep. For further details, please see How Can I Protect Myself From Bad Dreams? and Praiseworthy Acts to Do Before Sleeping.

Warmest salams,


Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

The Chaining of Shayateen (Devils) During Ramadan

Answered by Ustadha Shaista Maqbool

Question:  Assalamu alaikum. I was recently fortunate enough to spend some time in Makkah during Ramadan. I had a bad dream (I will not go into any detail) but was surprised as I previously understood bad dreams to be from shayateen and good dreams from Allah SWT.

How is it possible to have a bad dream if the shayateen are locked away in Ramadan?

JazakhAllah khair.

Answer: Wa’alaikum assalaam warahamtu Allahi wabarakatuh,

May Allah ta’ala accept your Ramadan.

The Prophet peace and blessings of Allah upon him, said, “When Ramadan enters the doors of the Heavens are opened, the doors of Hell are closed, and the shayateen are chained.” (Bukhari, Muslim, and others)

However, because sins and other evil occurrences related to the devil still go on during Ramadan, scholars interpreted the last part of the hadith “the shayateen are chained” in different ways.

1.  It refers to those shayateen that try to stealthily listen to the reports of the Heavens.

2. It means that the shayateen are not able to incite the Muslims in Ramadan to the same extent they can at other times so they become “as though” they are chained.

3.  “Shayateen” here refers to some of them, namely the intensely evil ones amongst them.

4.  It means the lessening of evil during Ramadan. This is because even if all of them are chained, there will still be evil since evil has other sources e.g. immoral persons, vile traits, and evil people.

5.  It means they are chained for certain things, not everything and for certain people, not all.

(Ibn Hajr, Fath al-Bari and Imam Nawawi, Sharh Muslim)

InshaAllah that clarifies your question. BarakAllahu feekum.


Shaista Maqbool

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

‘True’ Dreams Are 1/46 of Prophecy

Answered by : Shaykh Gibril Haddad

Question:’True’ dreams 1/46 of prophecy

Answer: Muslims use two value-laden Arabic words for “dream”, ru’ya and hulm, respectively “vision” and “fantasm” — both of which are mentioned in the Qur’an and the Prophetic Sunnah — which differ widely in application and significance, the first one being good and the latter either bad or meaningless.

When the dream originates from a higher spiritual source — such as God or the angels — it is a “truthful vision” (ru’ya sadiqah). This is the term the Mother of the Believers Aisha used when she described the beginnings of the descent of revelation upon Prophet Muhammad upon him and his family blessings and peace. Such visions are not only uplifting as a rule, but they also present meaningful disclosures which are invariably confirmed in a wakeful state: “He would never see a vision,” she continued, “except it subsequently came true as surely as the cleaving of the dawn.” The Prophet saw in his dream that he had conquered Mekah long before the conquest took place, after which the Quranic verse was revealed: { “Allah has fulfilled the vision of His Messenger in very truth” } (46:26). Similarly, Prophet Joseph saw 11 planets prostrating to him (12:4), which stood for his 11 brothers who eventually came under his sway.

If, however, the dream originates from a lower source such as one’s ego (nafs), the devil (shaitan) or a collaboration of both, it is considered either insignificant or harmful. Examples of nafs-bound dreams are sexual fantasies, dreaming of water when thirsty, wealth or other preoccupations rooted in one’s psyche as well as incoherent narratives. Examples of satanic whisperings are dreams that affect one’s spirit negatively. All such phenomena the Qur’an calls { “a confused jumble” } (12:44, 21:5), hence the Prophet himself made the semantic distinction: “Ru’ya is from God while hulm is from the devil.” He recommended to recount only dreams of the first type. As for bad dreams, we are ordered to keep their harm at bay by seeking refuge in God from them and strictly never retelling them to anyone.

Islam forbids the interpretation of dreams to all but experts. This prohibition is in recognition of the positive or negative effect dreams can have on our wakeful state and also because of the ineffable connection between their interpretation and reality in light of the Prophetic hadith, “Dreams are one out of 46 parts of Prophecy.” A similar hadith states: “Nothing remains of the beginnings of Prophethood except the good vision a Muslim may see.” Among the few people to whom the Companions confided their dreams were the Prophet himself and his close friend Sayyiduna Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, both of whom were expert interpreters. Among the Muslims of the succeeding generation, the most eminent interpreter was Ibn Sirin, who warned against amateurs: “This matter is connected with religion, so look well from whom you take your religion!” When Imam Malik was asked whether anyone could interpret dreams, he replied: “What! Is religion a plaything?”

Perhaps the most ironclad guarantee of a good dream in Islam is the Prophet’s statement that “Whoever sees me in a dream has truly seen me, for the devil cannot impersonate me”. However, apart from his direct contemporaries, how can one be sure that one is seeing Prophet Muhammad and not something else he imagines to be the Prophet? The ulema answered: Know the Prophet’s characteristics so you can be sure. This is why Imam al-Tirmizi compiled al-Shamail al-Nabawiyya, the most famous collection of hadiths (about 400) on the physical and moral Attributes of the Prophet, which he closed with the above-cited narrations on the high status of truthful dreams in Islam and the warning of Ibn Sirin against unqualified interpreters. In this respect, the Shamail is a manual on how to see the Prophet — a momentous glad tiding, dearly to be wished in the life of a Muslim.