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I am neither of the night nor a worshipper of the night;
Rather I am a child of the day and therefore give tidings of the day.
Those fancies that are the traps of saints;
Are the reflections of the moon-faced ones of Divine gardens.

While you sleep with your eyes closed, your ears deaf, your tongue mute, and your arms and legs motionless, how do you travel, meet people, and do many things in a few minutes or even seconds? When you get up in the morning, you feel deeply influenced by that few seconds’ adventure. Although Freud and his followers attribute dreams to the subconscious self, to thoughts and desires, impulses and past experiences, how can you explain dreams that inform you of a future event with which you have no contact or have never thought about? How do we dream? With what part of our body or being do we dream? Why do dreams last only a few seconds? How (and why) do we remember what we dreamed while asleep? All of these and many similar questions are like puzzles awaiting to be solved by science.

Sometimes while we are asleep, our thoughts and desires, impulses and past experiences, which constitute our subconscious, are revealed unconsciously. We may be sick or hungry, or have a problem that we cannot solve. The imagination gives form to the deviations of a bad temper, or the mind remembers an exciting event that happened some time ago and gives it a new, different form. All dreams coming from such moods are jumbled; they have some meaning, but they are not worth interpreting. For example, if we eat salty things before sleep, we may dream that we are lying by a pool; if we go to bed angry, we may dream that we are fighting with others.

There are some important hidden truths in sleep and dreams.

Like the dream of the Prophet Yusuf (Joseph), which is the kernel of the Qur’anic chapter of Yusuf, several verses (such as, We have appointed the night for you as a rest. (78:9)) show that there are some important hidden truths in sleep and dreams.

The people of truth do not approve of using the Qur’an as an ‘oracle’ to consult, nor of relying on dreams.

The people of truth do not approve of using the Quran as an ‘oracle’ to consult, nor of relying on dreams. Since the Quran gives to unbelievers severe and frequent blows, it may cause despair when the verses that threaten unbelievers appear before one who opens the Book to receive counsel. Likewise, since dreams are often opposite to the reality, they may also cause despair or demoralization even if they are essentially good and promising. There are many dreams which, though bad and dreadful in appearance, prove to be good and pleasing in actual life. Since not everyone is able to find the true relationship between a dream and its actual meaning, people become uneasy and anxious. It is for this reason that in the beginning I said as the people of truth say and quoted Imam Rabbani: “I am neither of the night nor a worshipper of night.”

True dreams are one out of the forty-six aspects of Prophethood.

God’s Messenger says in an authentic narration that true dreams are one out of the forty-six aspects of Prophethood. [That is, since God’s Messenger had true dreams in the initial six months of his twenty-three years’ Prophethood, true dreams are some kind of Divine inspirations.] This means that true dreams contain some truths and have some connection with the Prophetic mission. This is, however, a lengthy matter, profound and significant and related to Prophethood, so I will cut it short here, leaving its elaboration to some later occasion.

There are three kinds of dreams

Dreams are of three kinds. Two are included in the category of (in the Quranic expression) jumbled dreams. Either the imagination gives form to the deviations of a bad temper or the mind remembers an exciting event which happened some time ago, and gives it a new different form, and the dreams a man has in such moods are ‘jumbled ones’, (as mentioned in the sura Yusuf in the Quran1) not deserving of interpretation.

1. The king said: ‘I saw (in a dream) seven fat cows which seven lean ones devoured; and also seven green ears of corn and (seven) others dry. O my courtiers! Tell me the interpretation of my dream, if you understand the meanings of dreams.’ They said: ‘A jumble of dreams; and we are not skilled in the interpretation of jumbled dreams.’ (Joseph) said: ‘You shall sow, as usual, for seven years. Leave in the ear the corn you reap, except a little which you may eat. Then will come after that seven years of severity, which will consume all but a little of that which you have stored for them. Then will come after that a year in which the people will have abundant water and in which they will press (juice, oil, etc.)' (Yusuf, 12.43-4, 47-9.)

True dreams

One type of dream has nothing to do with the subconscious self. Such dreams carry important messages: either they are good tidings from God, which encourage us to do good things and guide us, or warnings concerning the evils we have done. Those dreams, which we call true dreams, are very clear and unforgettable.

Some true dreams contain news of the future. To understand the nature and mechanism of such dreams, consider the following:

As the essence of a piece of writing, its meaning, exists before it assumes a written, visible form, everything has an essential form of existence in God’s Knowledge before it appears in the world. Islamic philosophers call these essential forms archetypes. When God wills to send them to this world, through the manifestation of His Wisdom and Power and the appropriate Divine Names, He clothes them in material bodies. Between the world of archetypes (where God’s Knowledge has primary manifestation) and this world is another world-the world of immaterial forms or symbols. In this world, things exist in ideal forms or as symbols, and the concept and measure of time are completely different from their counterparts in our world. One who dreams finds or receives these symbols differently, based on such factors as time and place, culture and even national and individual characteristics.

When we sleep, our spirit ascends to this world of ideal forms without completely breaking its connection to the body. It continues this connection through a cord. It enters a different dimension of existence in the world of ideal forms or symbols, where past, present, and future are combined. As a result, it may experience a past event or witness a future one. However, since things in that world exist in ideal forms or symbols, the spirit usually receives symbols that require interpretation.

For example, clear water in that world may correspond to knowledge in this world. If you see your own waste matter, it may be interpreted to mean that you will earn money in lawful ways; if the waste matter belongs to others, its may mean that money will come to you in unlawful ways. As mentioned in Sura Yusuf, a fat cow may mean a year of abundant crops, while a lean one means a year of severity. The metaphors, similes, and parables found in the Qur’an and the Prophetic sayings, and sometimes among people, may provide significant keys to interpret dreams. Some true dreams are so clear that no interpretation is needed.

As the measurement of time is completely different in these two worlds, and as the spirit is far more active when not confined by the limits of the body while the person is dreaming, great saints who free their spirits, to a certain some degree, can travel long distances in a much shorter time than normal people.

Examples of true dreams

Abraham Lincoln’s dream the night before his assassination is famous. In his dream, he saw the White House servants running to and fro, telling each other that Mr. Lincoln had been killed. He woke from his sleep in great excitement and spent an uneasy day. Despite warnings, he went to a theater that evening and was killed.

Eisenhower’s dream just before he landed on Normandy in June 1944 changed the course of the Second World War. A few days before the date on which he had decided to land, Eisenhower dreamed that a big storm broke out and overturned the landing crafts. This caused him to move up the date. History records that his dream was accurate. The mother of Anne Ostrovosky, a Russian writer, saw many scenes of the German-Russian battles 5 years before the Second World War broke out. Her dream was published in several newspapers.

Several scientific or technological discoveries were first seen in dreams. Elias Howe, while trying to figure out how to thread a sewing machine, dreamed that he was a prisoner of a tribe who wanted him to thread a sewing machine. In mortal fear and puzzled, he suddenly saw holes at the ends of his captors’ spears. He woke up and made a little “spear” with a hole at one end. Niels Bohr, who was studying atomic structures, dreamed of planets connected to the sun with threads and turning around it. When he woke up, he conceived of a resemblance between what he had dreamed and atomic structures.

Many other true dreams have predicted future events or resulted in scientific or technological discoveries. But these few examples must suffice to understand the true nature of dreams-that is, they are the result of the sprit’s journey in inner dimensions of existence (the world of immaterial forms or symbols) and receiving signals therein.

Finally, dreams provide a strong proof for the existence of immaterial worlds as well as for Divine Knowledge and Destiny. If God Almighty had not predetermined and recorded all events in “the Supreme Guarded Tablet,” how could we be informed of future events? Also, dreams show that the measure of time differs greatly according to each world’s features.

A true dream is the result of the elaboration of a presentiment

A true dream is the result of the elaboration of a presentiment. Presentiment is found in everybody to some extent; it is possessed even by animals. I have even discovered that man and animals have, in addition to their inner and outer ones, two other senses that may be called ‘motivating and enticing senses or impulses’. Although the people of misguidance and corrupt thinking foolishly call those unperceived senses ‘instincts’, they should rather be regarded as ‘inborn inspiration’ through which Divine Destiny directs man and animals. It is through such direction of Destiny that, for example, when its eye is blind, a cat goes and finds the herb with which to heal its eye, and, by rubbing it against that herb, its eye is healed.

Likewise, such flesh-eating birds as vultures, which may be regarded as the sanitary officials of the surface of the earth because of being creationally charged with removing the corpses of wild animals, are informed of the existence of a carcass tens of miles away through that direction of Destiny or the inspiration of presentiment or through Divine orientation and are able to locate that carcass.

It is in the same way that some days-old bee can fly miles away and, without losing its way, return to its hive. It even happens frequently that a man unexpectedly appears before you at the moment you have mentioned him. This is because your spiritual faculty has ...
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