Tafaʾʾul (Arabic: التَفَأُّل) is to take things as good omens or to make an optimistic prediction. This is recommended in hadiths, just as tatayyur or pessimistic predictions (taking things as bad omens) are prohibited. It is well-known that the Prophet (s) tended to take things as good omens. For instance, in the story of Hudaybiyya Peace Treaty, when the representative of Meccan officials went to the Prophet (s), he took this as a good omen, telling his companions "now things will go smoothly for you."
The reason why it is recommended to take things as good omens and it is prohibited to take things as bad omens is that the former inspires hope and has positive psychological effects. There are hadiths in which fortune-telling or tafaʾʾul by the Quran is prohibited. However, some scholars interpret those hadiths as concerning the prediction of future events through the Quran, rather than any sort of tafaʾʾul.
Definition of Tafaʾʾul and Its Difference from Istikhara
Tafaʾʾul is to make a good omen or to make an optimistic prediction, whether in one’s heart or with one’s tongue. This is contrasted to tatayyur, which is to make a bad omen. Tafaʾʾul is different from istikhara, in that the former is to be hopeful and optimistic about things, while the latter is to leave undecidable matters to God; that is, actions the rightness or wrongness of which cannot be settled through consultation with others.
Recommendation to Tafaʾʾul
According to hadiths, it is good to take things as good omens. For instance, there is a hadith from the Prophet (s) that says: “always make good omens so that you may find them.” Moreover, the Prophet (s) is said to like making good omens and disliked making bad omens. Indeed, he often took things as good omens.
In the story of Hudaybiyya Peace Treaty, when Suhayl b. ʿAmr went to the Prophet (s) for negotiations on behalf of Meccan officials, the Prophet (s) took this as a good omen, saying to his companions: “Now things will go smoothly for you.” Moreover, when the Prophet (s) was told that Khusruw Parwiz had torn his letter apart and sent him a handful of soil, the Prophet (s) took this as a good omen, saying “soon will Muslims conquer his land.”
According to a hadith from Imam ʿAli (a), it is a right thing to make good omens.
The Reason Why Tafaʾʾul is Recommended
According to Tafsir nimuna, making good omens does not have natural consequences. However, since it has positive psychological effects, it was not prohibited, unlike tatayyur (making bad omens).
- The material for this article is mainly taken from تفأل in Farsi WikiShia.