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Abu Bakr and the Interpretation of Dreams

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Importance of dreams.

Before the Holy Prophet was commissioned as the Messenger of God, the truth was generally revealed to him through dreams. His dreams were always true, and cast a shadow of the events to come. The Holy Prophet accordingly attached great importance to dreams. Dreams were regarded as a species of revelation, and the interpretation of dreams became a matter of spiritual exercise.

Abu Bakr’s expertise in the interpretation of dreams.

According to a tradition, the Holy Prophet said that he was enjoined by God to relate his dreams to Abu Bakr. Whenever the Holy Prophet had a dream, he would relate it to Abu Bakr. Whenever Abu Bakr had a dream, he would likewise relate it to the Holy Prophet. They would then exchange views, and arrive at an agreed interpretation about the dream. In early Islam, interpretation of dreams was regarded as a spiritual exercise, and it was held that only those who had pure hearts and possessed an inward vision could have meaningful dreams and interpret their significance. According to Ibn Sirin, who is regarded as the Imam of the science of the interpretation of dreams, Abu Bakr was the best interpreter of dreams after the Holy Prophet.

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Battle of Uhud.

On the eve of the Battle of Uhud, the Holy Prophet saw in a dream, that he was driving some cows, and some cows out of these were slaughtered. He also saw a dent on his sword. Abu Bakr interpreted this dream to signify that some of the companions of the Holy Prophet would be martyred in the Battle of Uhud. The dent on the sword signified that one of the relatives of the Holy Prophet would be martyred.

Siege of Taif.

When after the fall of Makkah, Taif was besieged, the Holy Prophet saw in a dream that he had with him a bowl of butter. A cock pecked at it and spilt it. Abu Bakr interpreted the dream to mean that the siege of Taif would have to be raised without actual conquest.

Expedition against Banu Jadhima.

When Khalid was sent on an expedition against Banu Jadhima of Kinana, the Holy Prophet saw in a dream that he swallowed a morsel of dates mixed with butter and enjoyed their taste. Some of them, however, stuck in his gullet when he tried to swallow them. Then Ali thrust in his hand and pulled them out. Abu Bakr interpreted the dream to mean that something would happen in the campaign against Banu Jadhima at which the Holy Prophet would be happy as well as unhappy, and that he would send Ali to put matters right.

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In the campaign against Banu Jadhima, the tribe was overpowered, and at this the Holy Prophet felt happy. The Holy Prophet, however, felt unhappy when he learnt that Khalid had killed some Muslims as well. The Holy Prophet said, “O God I am innocent before Thee of what Khalid has done”. Ali was then sent to the tribe to pay blood money.

Herds of black and white sheep.

On one occasion, the Holy Prophet saw in a dream that he was driving a herd of black sheep. Then he found himself driving a herd of white sheep. After some time the two herds were inextricably intermingled and all attempts to separate them were of no avail. Interpreting the dream, Abu Bakr said that the black sheep signified the Arabs while the white sheep signified the people of other regions. The dream indicated that Islam would spread to other regions beyond considerations of color and creed.

Hudaibiya treaty.

On the occasion of the Hudaibiya treaty, the Holy Prophet saw in a dream that he was shaving his head after the pilgrimage. Abu Bakr interpreted the dream to signify that the main Hajj would have to be deferred to the following year.

Two and a half steps.

Once the Holy Prophet saw in a dream that he and Abu Bakr were walking together side by side. Then the Holy Prophet outpaced Abu Bakr by two and half steps. Abu Bakr interpreted the dream to mean that the Holy Prophet would be the first to be summoned to God, and that Abu Bakr would follow him after two and a half years.

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Drawing water from a well.

On another occasion, the Holy Prophet saw in a dream that he was drawing water from a well. Then he stepped aside and asked Abu Bakr to draw water. Abu Bakr was able to draw water for two to three rounds only, and then he showed signs of exhaustion. Umar then took up the job, and he was able to complete ten rounds. Abu Bakr interpreted the dream to signify that after the passing away of the Holy Prophet; the caliphate would vest in Abu Bakr whose period of office would be two to three years only. He will be succeeded by Umar whose period of office will be ten years.

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Wading through night soil.

Once Abu Bakr saw in a dream that he was wading through the night soil of the people. He related the dream to the Holy Prophet who interpreted it to mean that after the death of the Holy Prophet, Abu Bakr would be called upon to undertake apostasy campaigns.

Three moons.

Once, Ayesha saw in a dream three moons descend on her house. She related the dream to Abu Bakr, and he interpreted it that her house would be the burial place of three luminaries of the world. Subsequently the Holy Prophet, Abu Bakr, and Umar were buried in her house.

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Urinating blood.

Once a person waited on Abu Bakr and asked for the interpretation of his dream. In the dream he had seen himself urinating blood. Abu Bakr addressing him said, “God curse you. It appears that you go to your wife even when she is with monthly course. Desist from that.”

Opening of the sky.

Mahrz b Nuzlah, a companion saw in a dream that the sky had opened for him and that he had reached the seventh heaven. Abu Bakr interpreted the dream to signify that he would meet the death of a martyr, and that his abode would be in paradise.

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