Prophet in Islam is the highest spiritual station; only few attained it. It is not worked for; it is a blessing from Allah. Unlike in other religions where prophethood can be claimed by every Tom, Dick, and Harry; in Islam, prophethood is neither claimed nor earned. It is bestowed by Allah on whomsoever He wills. The Qur’an says: “Allah is most knowing of where He places His message (Q6:124).
Prophethood ended with Prophet Muhammad (SAW). There is no Prophet after him (Q33:40). Before him were Isa (Jesus), Musa (Moses), Abraham (Ibrahim), Ya’qub (Jacob), Yusuf (Joseph), Ayyub (Job), and a host of others (may Allah shower His blessings upon all of them).
If this is clear, one does not need to be too religious; with the intention of becoming a prophet. One cannot! The chapter of prophethood is closed. So also is the door along with the window. Even the path to it had been blocked with the coming of Muhammad (SAW). One can be very religious in order to seek Allah’s countenance; not to become a prophet.
Because of the hallowed place that prophets occupy in the minds of religious people, dreaming of them is considered a unique favor. But is it possible to dream of someone you don’t know and whom you have never seen? How do you recognize the Prophet whom you have never seen before? One might be told in a dream that a particular person is a prophet.
The challenge is how to believe the informant who informs you of whom so and so is (in a dream). How do you know if the informant is an angel or Satan? Whomsoever he is, how do you prove or verify that? How scientific is dream? These are some of the problems associated with dreams. Let’s put this aside.
Can one actually dream of the prophet? Do not forget that he (SAW) passed away more that 1,400 years ago. The prophet, before his demise, gave an answer to this question; though not very clear. He said: “Whoever sees me in a dream has indeed seen me, for the Shaytaan (Satan) cannot imitate me” (Muslim).
It means Satan can imitate people to perpetrate evils; but not the Prophet (SAW). So how does Satan do that? Does he take a human form? This is a discussion for another day.
What is not clear that the scholars debated in the above hadith is what is meant by “whoever sees me”. Was the Prophet referring to the companions who knew and saw him already during his life time or he was referring to anyone in any generation? If it is construed in the former sense, the ambiguity is completely removed as there is no debating the possibility. Understanding it in the latter sense is what is laced with ambiguity. I will come to this soon.
Before then, I am of the strong opinion that anyone (including you and me) can see the Prophet in dream. But could seeing the Prophet mean one is righteous? Does it also guarantee one Paradise? I boldly say no. Big NO! Here is why.
Some people saw him when he was alive and the fact that they saw him did not benefit them at all. Some people misleadingly thought they saw the Prophet unknown to them that they were deceived by Shaytaan (Satan).
In such encounter, the ‘prophet’ made permissible to them some of the things that are unlawful and vice versa. Examples of this category of people are legion. They were deceived and they themselves became deceptive through bogus dreams and phantom interpretations thereof.
They are the ones who speak in the name of God but act satanically. They are the religious leaders who give covers to corrupt politicians and promise them Paradise provided they build mosques and send people to Makkah for Hajj (pilgrimage).
They are the ones who embolden callous politicians to commit all atrocities because they have dreamt of the ‘prophet’ and he has instructed them that whatever they do is lawful. These clerics are those who told their political clients that they are rich and powerful because Allah and the Prophet are pleased with them and the masses are suffering because Allah despises them. Subhaanallah! These are of the worst creatures in the sight of Allah.
Since I am of the opinion (or rather, we are of the opinion) that one can see the Prophet in dream, one of the basic requirements is the ability of the dreamer to give a clear description of the Prophet. This is where the ambiguity lies. But it could be removed.
How is it possible to describe the Prophet who departed the earthly world more than a millennium ago? It is possible because Allah elevates and preserves the Prophet in such a unique way. It is unique in the sense that none of the great people of the past had their physical features so preserved like that of the Prophet (SAW).
Perfect descriptions of the prophet are recorded and preserved in books of hadith. These include his height, shoulder, skin, outlook, teeth, eyes, ears, hair (and its length). In fact, the number of the grey hair in his beard was jealously and meticulously recorded. So a dreamer would be asked to describe what he saw in his/her dream.
But what if someone lies about the description? For instance, he describes the prophet, having read about his description in books, to deceive the gullible that he had actually seen the prophet. Hmmn! This is the reason why some of us are not generally enchanted with narratives that have to do with dreaming of the Prophet.
Yet one might be inclined to believe that someone has actually seen the Prophet if the person is trustworthy and seeing the Prophet increases him in faith, piety and righteousness. I think that is the case of Dr. Muhsin Khan. Until his death, most people thought he was an Islamic scholar. He wasn’t! He was a medical doctor from Pakistan.
If you don’t know Dr. Muhsin Khan in the Muslim world, you need to upgrade. Upgrade please. He was the well-known translator of the Qur’an (popularly known as The Noble Qur’an) into English Language. He did not stop at that, he went on to translate the encyclopedic Sahih Bukhari (of many volumes) into English Language.
Don’t forget I said he is not an Islamic scholar. How was he able to achieve this feat? He dreamt of the Prophet (SAW). Without going into details, he narrated his dream to the eminent Sheikh, Ibn Baaz (the then Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia). The latter reportedly said, by way of interpreting his dream, that Muhsin Khan would benefit the Sunnah (the religion).
But how would he benefit the Sunnah? He was disturbed primarily because he was not a scholar. Must one really be a scholar to benefit the Sunnah or the religion? No.
After a while, Muhsin Khan realized he had a good mastery of English; thus he embarked on the translation of the books mentioned above.
Dreaming of the Prophet should yield good result like that of Muhsin Khan. If you dreamt of the Prophet, yet people are not safe from the evils of your tongue and hand, please keep your useless dream to yourself.
Muhsin Khan passed away last week at the age of 97. This is a life well spent in the way of Allah. How do you intend to spend your life? May Allah admit him into Paradise.
Would those bandits dream of the Prophet? I have no doubt, he will ask them to free those Islaamiyah kids and all the kidnapped. For they have acted against the Sunnah. May Allah touch their hearts and free our kids.