Issue 30 / April - June 2000
Dreams: A Spiritual Approach Part II
People have interpreted dreams since the creation of humanity. Prophets and Messengers always accepted and acted upon them, for a Prophet's dreams are frequently revelations from God.
Some people discount the reality of dreams, saying that dreams are the result of a person's dominant fluid.(1) If melancholy (black bile) is dominant, people dream of graves, as well as scary, terrifying, and dark-colored items. If choler (yellow bile) is dominant, they dream of fire, candles, and naturally colored yellowish items. If phlegm is dominant, they dream of water, rivers, waves, and white items. If blood is dominant, they dream of wine, fragrant plants, and such musical instruments as dulcimers and flutes.
These claims cover only one type of dream. However, there is more than one type of dream. For example, a true dream originates from the inner talk of soul. Dreams caused by the four above-mentioned fluids are not true, are confused, and are no more than illusions. Hence they resemble disorderly collections of plants of different sizes, colors, and conditions that are bundled together.
True dreams descend from the spiritual mind. If, however, what is seen is inspired by images and views left in one's imagination and memory by the imaginative faculty while one is awake, then they are called confused dreams.
Dream interpretation requires a person with subtle and deep knowledge who can see and understand the relations between images in the soul and unseen events. This knowledge allows inferences to be made based on the person's surrounding events. The main beneficiary of such knowledge is the dreamer, for he or she either receives glad tidings of the future or warnings about things to avoid or abandon.
God guides His servants to the true path in various ways, one of which is warning them of the consequences of their actions. Sometimes these warnings are communicated through Prophets, natural phenomena, disasters, or dreams. He also encourages His servants to find the straight path by thinking about various natural phenomena.
Dreams are not mere manifestations of feelings and thoughts in our subconscious, as claimed by some psychologists. Scholars divide untrue dreams into six categories:
â€¢ Dreams resulting from the carnal soul's wishes or desires. For example, people dream that they are with their close friends, of things that scare them, that they are eating (if they sleep while hungry) or vomiting (if they sleep with a full stomach), and that they are in a burning fire (if they sleep outside in bright sunlight).
â€¢ Dreams requiring total ablution that, being of a sexual nature, need no interpretation.
â€¢ Nightmares shown by Satan to scare believers. These are harmless.
â€¢ Dreams personally inspired by Satan. Such dreams cannot be considered true.
â€¢ Dreams caused by distress, trouble, and other personal circumstances.
â€¢ Dreams reviewing important past experiences.
These have no merit in terms of interpretation.
True dreams are very valuable and essential, since they serve as a contact with the Unseen, they open a window to the Unseen directly by using the spiritual faculties present in one's essence, and by avoiding the external stimuli coming from the senses connected to the physical world. Through this window a person looks at the prospective events and encounters some of fate-related scriptures or spectacles of the Tablet (al-Lawh al-Mahfuz). He or she sees the hidden reality of some events. At the same time, the imagination of the dreamer intervenes and puts these realities into the mundane images. Some of these dreams happen as in their interpretations. It is known from authentic narrative records that before his prophethood, the Prophet's (p.b.u.h.) dreams came true exactly as they were seen. (Bukhari, vol. 1, book 1, no. 3).(1)
True dreams result from a superior development of premonition, which exists in everyone and even in many animals. Most important of all, true dreams show that even minute events are known, recorded, and foreordained by God. For this reason, there is no happenstance, and events do not happen by chance or without a plan (Bayram, 41).
There are four types of true dreams:
â€¢ True dreams coming from God and are so clear that no interpretation is necessary. Anyone can have such a dream, and several will be presented below.
â€¢ Dreams conveying glad tidings from God about something that the person will perform. Some-times these dreams are sent to warn His servants away from evil or to expose their faults that need to be corrected so that they can follow the true path.
â€¢ Dreams representing reality through symbols and that come from the spiritual world.
â€¢ Dreams in which the agencies of the dream's witness, the dreamer's soul, and the place seen in the dream are important.
Nonbelievers, as seen in the case of the King of Egypt during the time of Prophet Joseph,(2) and even children can have true dreams.
For example, when he was seven years old, Prophet Joseph told his father that: "Father, I saw (in a dream) eleven stars, the sun, and the moon prostrating before me." His father replied: "My son, don't tell this vision to your brothers, lest they plot against you. Verily, Satan is the open enemy of humanity. God will choose you and teach you how to interpret dreams (and other things). He will perfect His favor on you and on the offspring of Jacob, as He perfected it on your fathers, Abraham and Isaac, aforetime. Your Lord is All-Knowing, All-Wise" (12:4-6). Everything came true later in Egypt.