x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Dream interpreter unravels nighttime mysteries

Three times a week on his television show Ru'ya, Sheikh Wassem Yousef tells viewers that dreams really do come true.

Sheikh Waseem Yousef, who interprets dreams on the set of his television show Roaya on Dubai Noor TV.
Sheikh Waseem Yousef, who interprets dreams on the set of his television show Roaya on Dubai Noor TV.

With a twinkle in his eyes and a reassuring smile, Sheikh Wassem Yousef picks up his pen, looks into the camera and says: "Tell me your dream."

And people do, either by phoning in or e-mailing the hour-long religious show, Ru'ya, or Vision, shown at 9pm on Noor Dubai TV every Saturday, Monday and Wednesday.

One night, a caller who identifies herself as Um Hassan clears her throat several times before sharing her dream on the live show.

"I dreamt I saw a beautiful baby girl, she looked up at me as I approached her and smiled," she says. "I noticed she had very big teeth, even though she was just an infant."

She pauses before volunteering more information. "I am divorced, and so there is no chance of me having a baby anytime soon." Her voice cracking, she adds: "I am all alone."

Usually Sheikh Yousef writes down several of the callers' dreams and then goes through each in detail. In Um Hassan's case, he makes an exception and spoke directly to her.

"It is a good dream, Um Hassan, don't be sad," he says. "Healthy big teeth are a good sign, only the loss or falling teeth signal problems to come. Everything about the dream is positive and good. So you can feel at ease as there might be some good news coming your way in the near future."

Before he moves on to another caller, Um Hassan asks permission on air to get the sheikh's personal number. In return, he nods his head and requests the production team to give it to her.

"It is a great responsibility being a dream interpreter," says the 31-year-old from Jordan. "I have to be careful how I interpret a dream, for just one wrong word and the person sharing the dream could be misled."

The relationship between viewer and dream interpreter is so close that once when the sheikh's pen ran out of ink on the air, he received several pens as gifts from his viewers.

The show has become so popular he is often recognised and asked to interpret a dream, so he has taken to avoiding malls and public gatherings. "Sometimes I feel like an ATM of dreams," he says with a laugh. "It can get exhausting."

Sheikh Yousef spent a year interpreting dreams on radio before moving to television three years ago. He relies on the Quran and hadith, or narrations, of the Prophet Mohammed.

"Dream interpretation is mentioned in the Quran and the Prophet himself regularly interpreted his dreams and the dreams of those closest to him," Sheikh Yousef says.

Many local channels and radio stations have segments dedicated to tafseer al ahlam, or dream interpretation, hosted by a scholarly sheikh.

According to a fatwa in 2008 from the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments in Abu Dhabi, Islam permits interpretation of dreams so long as it is done by a trusted scholar. The fatwa said it must be accepted that these interpretations are "not definitive" and not to be relied on entirely.

If a dream contains signs of a death or divorce, Sheikh Yousef refrains from interpreting it. He also refuses to interpret any dream he cannot explain through religious sources.

According to the Prophet Mohammed: "Dreams are of three types: some are terrifying things from the Shaytan [devil], aimed at causing grief to the son of Adam; some are things that a person is concerned with when he is awake, so he sees them in his dreams; and some are a part of the 46 parts of Prophecy."

Sheikh Yousef regularly receives calls from non-Muslims who want their dreams interpreted. And sometimes, he hears from sceptics.

"Anyone who doubts the power of dreams, doubts his religion," he replies. "Most of the prophets, regardless of religion, relied on their dreams and visions and interpreted them as messages, who are we to dismiss that?"

In 2009, United Arab Emirates University in Al Ain published a study on the significance of dreams among 350 of its students. It concluded that about half the 135 male students, and most of the 215 female students, had an experience related to dreams that came true.

That is no surprise to Sheikh Yousef.

"Sleep is the brother of death," he explains. "When you sleep, your soul is awake, and so, it can see what you can't see when you are awake."

He adds: "Instead of relying on horoscopes and random signs, pay attention to your dreams. Allah has given you a gift, access through your dreams. Why take it for granted?"