Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states: “Dreams, as we can safely infer from the Islamic sources, are of three types:
The first of these is termed mubashshiraat, which are sound dreams that are indicative of glad tidings. They result from angelic inspirations or suggestions cast by Allah in our consciousness. Referring to such dreams, the Prophet (peace be on him) said: “Nothing of the prophecy remains now (i.e. after his own call to prophethood) except sound visions, which are bestowed on a righteous believer, and it constitutes one thirtieth of prophecy.”
This type of dream can include premonitions or intimations of things that might happen in the future. For instance, a believer may experience a vision about his own imminent death, or some future events to occur, or receive some confirmation of his spiritual states, or even reminders/admonitions about his omissions or commissions. These may include visions of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) or other prophets and communications with them, or visions of symbols of Islam such as the Ka`bah or the Prophet’s mosque, etc.
A second type of dream is the result of Satanic whisperings or inspirations. Satan, the avowed enemy of man, is ever-present with us and he sees us in ways that we do not see him. Unless we take proper safeguards against him and such inspirations, he may trap us in his nets. He inspires in us all kinds of thoughts and suggestions, both in conscious and unconscious states. A person may be predisposed to such Satanic visions and inspirations if he is constantly exposed to sights, sounds and thoughts that are obscene or filthy.
A third type of dream can be termed as ‘idle dreams’, and they are due to the impact of unpalatable foods, or the over-exercise of one’s imaginations, or experiences in life which might also be reflected in one’s dreams.
A person experiencing a good vision is encouraged to share it with others—especially with those who are trustworthy and God-fearing; but if he/she experiences a bad dream, he/she is advised against disclosing it to anyone. In the latter case, immediately after experiencing such a dream, he/she is recommended to change the sleeping position, and seek refuge and protection in Allah by saying the following supplication:
“Bismillahi alladhi laa yadurru ma` ismihi shay’un fi al-ardi wa laa fi as-samaa’i wahuwa as-sami`ul `alim (In the name of Allah; with His name nothing whatsoever on earth or heaven can do any harm; He is the all-Hearing, and the all-Knowing).” Referring to this, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Thus he/she will be spared of any possible harm.”
While the first type of dream (i.e. mubashshiraat) is what every believer should seek and strive for, he/she must surely guard against the second type of dream.
The surest way to block Satanic inspirations and whisperings is by taking refuge in Allah and through cultivating the habit of consistency in dhikr, right thinking, right living and right conduct. It is, therefore, highly recommended to go to bed in a state of purity, after having recited portions of the Qur’an (such as surahs al-Fatihah, al-Ikhlaas, al-Falaq and al-Nas as well as Aayat al-Kursi), and to immerse oneself in dhikr and salah (i.e. saying blessings and sending salutations) on the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) before one lapses into a state of sound sleep.