Vision of the Prophet (sallahu’alya’hi’wa’salam)

In many of the islamic circles and many times the gatherings of the sufis a person is told how to see the prophet (saw) in a vision or a dream is highly beneficial and such an occasion is blessed, and rightly so. As the one who sees the prophet (saw) IS indeed a blessed individual, who has been given a great gift not many can attain. Although the prophet (saw) can come to anyone in a vision or a dream. He (saw) nonetheless does not tend to do that to everyone. Rare is the occasion that he (saw) will come to a person in a vision or dream without the effort being put in, by the visionary. By that i mean the person not having to do extra optional ibadah etc. Mostly, a person who is blessed with a constant or even a once-in-a-lifetime vision of the prophet (saw) must have or must be doing some extra effort in trying to please Allah and the prophet (Saw). Therefore in return is receiving the extra blessing from Allah.
As my teacher says,
“if you want allah to bless you with extra blessings than normal, then you must go that extra mile with Allah. you must do that extra special thing which the vast majority of muslims are not doing. For instance, praying thadajud, when others are not. Having the concern and worry of the ummah, when other are not. Going out and doing dawah and tableegh, or sticking to the sunnah like glue, when others have left it. When you do this, then you will see ALlah will automatically, give you the extra blessings and his closeness that others do not get. One of which is having the vision of the best of creation – the prophet (saw).”

However, in all the gatherings that we listen, attend to or read of. The individual who has seen the blessed vision is congratulated (and rightly so) for having seen the prophet (saw) in a vision or dream. As proof of authenticity that one can see the prophet (saw) people often quote this sahih hadith:

Abu Huraira (ra) narrates: The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Whoever has seen me in a dream, has in fact seen me, for Satan does not appear in my form” (Sahih Muslim, vol. 4 p 1225 no 5635)

There is a catch to this though. A person may claim to have seen the prophet (saw) in a vision or a dream but how do you know you have actually seen the prophet?. My shaykh (may Allah continually bless him.) has said and continues to say on many occasions that, many times it has happened and happens, where people think they have actually seen the prophet (saw) in a vision/cream when they have not. Although we know that the shaitan cannot take the form of the prophet (saw) and come to you as him. BUT, who is to say he cannot simply take the form of someone else (another prophet, companion, a friend of Allah) and come to you ‘pretending’ to be the prophet (saw)? when in actual reality it is NOT the prophet (saw)!
Many people of the past have been deceived like this and many in the present continue to be aswell.
So what is the criteria we can check to make sure that if we do, then we have indeed actually seen the prophet (saw) in our dreams and visions? Again my shaykh, the light of guidance, has given us a criteria on how we can do this.
This is by using the established scriptures, the hadiths and shamails of the prophet (saw) that describe the prophet (saw) in great detail as check boxes.

They can be used to see if our image of the prophet (saw) we have seen, match the descriptions of the hadiths and shamails. If they do not then we can clearly, and safely say the person we thought was the prophet (saw) in our dream was not him, but instead someone else. To use the established sources as check boxes is crucial. Many people, like i mentioned earlier have been deceived by the shaitan into thinking they were receiving direct instructions from the prophet (saw), in their lives. When the fact of the matter was, they were not.
This teaching of how to use the established sources to check oneself against the vision of the prophet (saw) was reinforced in me recently. I have started to read “The Mahdi of Sudan and the Death of General Gordon” by fergus nicoll. Fascinating book to say the least!
In brief, the book recalls the events during the 18th century of the rise and fall of Muhammad Ahmad, A individual who would frequently see the vision of the prophet, apparently. This is then eventually lead him to claim as being the expected mahdi and hence start a revolution against the egyptian/british rule in Sudan. He claimed to receive direct instructions from the prophet (saw). The book also has a number of his visions included to show the ‘apparent’ instructions which he received. Anyoneho disagreed with him was put to the sword. His defence was that he had been directy instructed by the prophet(saw) himself! – Nauzi’billah!
Below is one of the instructions he received, supposedly:

From the outword form this looks like a good vision, a vision saying what the quran and the sunnah already say, of submitting to Allah etc. Nonetheless, these sorts of misguided visions begin like this ith good beginnings which ends ugly.
This is a perfect example of how, one may think he/she is having a vision of the prophet (saw) but in fact it is the devil who is behind it. If he had checked himself against the established sources which clearly describe the prophet (saw). He could have easily seen that if his image of the individual in his vision matched the descriptions of the prophet (saw) in the scriptures or not. For a start, for him to have been mahdi, there must have been a number of the ‘end of times’ signs occurred before his arrival. Foremost of which is the arrival of the dhajjal.
* – For those who have a true shaykh, it is recommended that they present their vision to the shaykh before they say it to others, should the shaykh allow. As the true shaykh will be the one who can establish if, the vision or the dream of the prophet (saw) which the student has seen is a true vision. This is wy it is very impotant to check all our ations, states,and dreams with that of the established sors of islam, through the understnding of the true awliyah.