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In parodying Christianity and the Bible, Tim Minchin sings:

...but if the voices in your head say to sacrifice your kid to satiate your loving God's fetish for dead baby blood, it's simple faith the book demands, so raise that knife up in your hand... -- Tim Minchin - The Good Book (YouTube, beginning 2:35)

We have Prophet Ibrahim and the sacrifice of his son in Islam too. Presumably, if a modern-day Muslim has a dream to sacrifice their child, they should not follow it. My question is essentially: how can we know this?

Question: If a modern-day Muslim had a dream to sacrifice their child, how should they react and why?

I would guess the answer might be either: (a) we should not follow it because dreams are easily misinterpreted, or (b) it's only Prophets who would be in that position. But I could be wrong, and I'm seeking a definitive answer.

  • Is Minchin asking this in order to mock theists? I don't know him, but just by googling a little I understood that he's likely an atheist trying to mock theists. Is that right? – Honey Apr 2 '17 at 3:31
  • @Honey: Mocking Christianity in particular. He begins "If you're one of those people that finds the, sort of, um, bashing of religion and stuff tiresome or offensive, just give me five more minutes." (I find him quite funny. A bit of a carry-over from my atheist past.) – Rebecca J. Stones Apr 2 '17 at 7:10
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The case is similar to a Muslim who has a dream where he is told to do worship an idol. The dreamer has no surety that the dream is a command from God, and indeed it goes against what is certainly the command of Allah (to not commit shirk) ... in all likelihood the dream is a trick from the devil to misguide the dreamer.


Comparing oneself to Abraham is a fallacy. Abraham was a Prophet, a man so close to God that God called him His friend (Khalil Ullah)[4:125]. The dreams of Prophets are always true and are a form of revelation.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir on 37:102

Ubayd bin `Umayr said, "The dreams of the Prophets are revelation".

Tafsir Al Qurtubi on 37:102

قال مقاتل: رأى ذلك إبراهيم عليه السلام ثلاث ليال متتابعات. وقال محمد بن كعب: كانت الرسل يأتيهم الوحي من اللّه تعالى أيقاظاً ورقوداً، فإن الأنبياء لا تنام قلوبهم. وهذا ثابت في الخبر المرفوع، قال صلى الله عليه وسلم: " إنا معاشر الأنبياء تنام أعيننا ولا تنام قلوبنا " وقال ٱبن عباس: رؤيا الأنبياء وَحْيٌ وٱستدل بهذه الآية. وقال السّدي: لما بُشِّر إبراهيم بإسحاق قبل أن يولد قال هو إذاً لله ذبيح. فقيل له في منامه: قد نذرت نذراً فَفِ بنذرك.

Muqatil said: "Abraham dreamt three consecutive nights." Muhammad bin Ka'ab said: "Allah sends revelations to Prophets while they are awake and while they sleep, because the Prophet's hearts don't sleep." It is proven in Hadith that the Prophet said: "Us Prophets, our eyes sleep but hearts do not". Ibn Abbas said: "The Prophets' dreams are revelation" and he pointed to this verse. Sadi said: "When Abraham was informed of the glad tidings of Isaac's birth, Abraham said: "He is sacrificed for Allah.", then it was told to him in a dream: "You Vowed, so fulfill your vow".

Even if it had been a mistake on Abraham's part, a revelation would have been sent to correct him (we see several examples of such in the life of the Prophet Muhammad(p.b.u.h) in the Quran, for example 66:1, 80:1, 33:37). Instead, we have angels aiding him as recorded in a tradition narrated in Tafsir Ibn Kathir:

Then Jibril(Gabriel), upon him be peace, took him to Jamrat Al-`Aqabah and the Shaytan appeared to him, so he stoned him with seven pebbles until he disappeared. Then he appeared him at Al-Jamrah Al-Wusta and he stoned him with seven pebbles.

From Tafsir Al Qurtubi:

وروي أنه لما ذبحه قال جبريل: اللّه أكبر اللّه أكبر. فقال الذبيح: لا إلٰه إلا اللّه واللّه أكبر. فقال إبراهيم: اللّه أكبر والحمد للّه؛ فبقي سُنة

It is narrated that when Abraham was about to perform the sacrifice, Gabriel said: "Allah is Great, Allah is Great", on this Zabih-Ullah(Ishmael) said: "There is no god except Allah, and Allah is Great" and on this Abraham said "Allah is Great and all praise is for Allah", and so this takbeer became the Sunnah.


A common person does not receive revelation (indeed revelation has ceased with Prophethood), and they don't see and interact with angels. The dreams of a common person can be from three sources, (i) from God, (ii) from the devil, (iii) from the thinking of their own mind (hadith 1,2,3,4), the source is not certain.

“A man came to the Prophet (ﷺ) when he was delivering a sermon and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Last night in my dream I saw my neck being struck and my head fell off, and I chased it, picked it up and put it back.’ The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘If Satan plays with any one of you in his dreams, he should not tell people about it.’” [Ibn Majah]

On the other hand, what is certain is that killing an innocent is forbidden and a major sin.

Quran 17:33 And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden, except by right. And whoever is killed unjustly - We have given his heir authority, but let him not exceed limits in [the matter of] taking life. Indeed, he has been supported [by the law].

Quran 4:29 O you who have believed, do not consume one another's wealth unjustly but only [in lawful] business by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves [i.e one another]. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful.

Quran 5:32 Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land - it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one - it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.

Also it is certain that God has enjoined a proper method of sacrifice, i.e. it should be an anam animal (cattle). And it is certain that Allah didn't intend for a human sacrifice and substituted it for a lamb in Abraham's case.

So, if a modern day muslim is to have a dream about sacrificing his child, he should act on what is certain and ignore the dream. Indeed acting on the dream would be disobedience to Allah.

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    Very well said. Prophet's dreams are revelations. – Honey Apr 2 '17 at 10:57
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I'm only addressing this if it's a dream

Such meticulous questions don't convey much value. I've never seen/heard one who's seen such a dream or anything remotely similar to it. But still I'll try answer both generic and specific so we can have a better dialogue.


Let me add more spice to your question: "Would you kill/mutilate innocent infants if you saw it in a dream? Or if it was written in the Qur'an? Or if someone who was known a prophet told you do so?" I'll gladly just trash that Qur'an, trash that prophet and trash that dream—by using my internal--God-given--touchstone

  1. Our God given wisdom which speaks to us...defines good and bad, guides us to heaven tells us this is right,this is wrong. Just like it tells us killing an innocent person is wrong. Stealing is wrong. This is no different. It's really a messenger within us. (Shias believe there are 2 messengers/proofs/touchstones, one is your own wisdom the other are prophets. One is internal the other is external. By using this internal touchstone we can differentiate a real messenger from a fake messenger)

    I've seen many folks on ISE or other places who almost hibernate their own logic and say, what does Qur'an say on this? What do narrations say about this? What do our scholars say on this? But sister the most effective guider is that which God has given to us our عقل our wisdom. Though the more this wisdom is polished/admonished with Qur'an/worship/service to Allah the better it gets at judging between right and wrong.

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن تَتَّقُوا اللَّهَ يَجْعَل لَّكُمْ فُرْقَانًا

    O ye who believe! if ye fear Allah, He will grant you a criterion (to judge between right and wrong) Anfal 29

    I recall once I was over the phone with my elder who was trying to resolve an issue between me and my wife...

    him: "do this!".
    me: "OK. I will. But (just to be sure) is there also any narration that says such?". I could hear him banging his head on the wall like 50 times. In a very bad way that made me feel dumb
    he replied: "FORGET RELIGION this is a rational thing to do! Why do you always need religion?!". I think the same applies to this situation.

2.dreams have almost NO value for non-infallible people. FWIW there are some people who can manipulate what you see in your dream, which gives more reason to not follow. Having that said there are times that a dream is like 100% sync with your God-given wisdom and heart and you could follow, but again with caution. (And if you can follow it's something applicable to you and only you, no one else. Don't generalize it) I mean say you see a dream of giving food to your neighbor, or you see a dream that you'll see someone on the subway that will ask you something about Islam and you should help him <--these may seem like fairytales but they happen rarely, like 1 in a 1,000,000. But again to specifically answer your question, if you which are infallible—unprotected by Allah saw a dream to kill another then just dump it cause it's completely illogical. Giving food to your neighbor or answering a question from a Chinese guy on your commute to your office isn't illogical so you can follow it—with caution.

  • I'm sorry I wasn't able to format the bullets properly. If anyone is able to do so. I'd appreciate – Honey Apr 2 '17 at 3:35
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    In my home country there have been incidences where a crazy muslim slaughtered his entire family because he saw this in a dream and compared himself to Abraham. This is a relevant question in my opinion. – UmH Apr 2 '17 at 10:58
  • @Uma hard to believe those words of such a man. But if true: Wow!! And yes relevant – Honey Apr 2 '17 at 10:59

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