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The Dream in Islam: From Qur'anic Tradition to Jihadist Inspiration

The Dream in Islam: From Qur'anic Tradition to Jihadist Inspiration

by Iain R. Edgar


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The war in the Middle East is marked by a lack of cultural knowledge on the part of the western forces, and this book deals with another, widely ignored element of Islam—the role of dreams in everyday life. The practice of using night dreams to make important life decisions can be traced to Middle Eastern dream traditions and practices that preceded the emergence of Islam. In this study, the author explores some key aspects of Islamic dream theory and interpretation as well as the role and significance of night dreams for contemporary Muslims. In his analysis of the Islamic debates surrounding the role of “true” dreams in historical and contemporary Islamic prophecy, the author specifically addresses the significance of Al-Qaeda and Taliban dream practices and ideology. Dreams of “heaven,” for example, are often instrumental in determining Jihadist suicidal action, and “heavenly” dreams are also evidenced within other contemporary human conflicts such as Israel–Palestine and Kosovo–Serbia. By exploring patterns of dreams within this context, a cross-cultural, psychological, and experiential understanding of the role and significance of such contemporary critical political and personal imagery can be achieved.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781785332227
Publisher: Berghahn Books, Incorporated
Publication date: 04/01/2016
Pages: 178
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.41(d)

About the Author

Iain R. Edgar is a Social Anthropologist at the University of Durham, UK. He is the author of Dreamwork, Anthropology and the Caring Professions (Avebury 1995) and Guide to Imagework: Imagination-based Research Methods (Routledge 2004); and coeditor of the Anthropology of Welfare (Routledge 1998), Learning Fields volume I: Educational Histories of European Social Anthropology (Berghahn 2003) and Learning Fields volume II: Current Policies and Practices in European Social Anthropology Education (Berghahn 2004).

Table of Contents



Foreword: Anthropological scepticism encounters dreamt realities following fieldwork in Pakistan

Dr. Steve Lyon

Ethnographic case studies from Pakistan

Feeding people

Dreaming of the Qur’an

Assumptions of validity and meaningfulness

Conclusion: the justificatory and motivational

Power of dreams


Chapter 1. context and history

Dreams as perceived metaphysical and divinatory knowledge in Islam

Dream Interpretation in Islam

The True dream across cultures

Promised land dreams in Palestine and Kosovo

Significance of night dreams to Muslims in general

Chapter 2. Methodology

Methodological issues in dream work

Methods Used in this Book: An Oversight

Sources studied: primary and secondary


Chapter 3. Istikhara: Islamic dream incubation

Case study from Sarajevo, Bosnia


Chapter 4. Sufism and dreams

Ethnographic study of dreaming in a UK Sufi centre

The sunday evening Zikr       

Shaykh Nazim in Northern Cyprus

Chapter 5. Militant jihadist dreaming in the Middle East and the UK

The patterns and threads running through Jihadist dream interpretation

Their understanding of dreams

Legitimating function

Connection to the Golden Age of Islam

Focus on manifest content of dreams

Dreams interpreted as world is interpreted

Dreams and events related

Dreams, politics and warfare

Dreams of al-Qaeda

Osama bin Laden

Zacarias Moussaoui

Richard Reid

Al-Zarqawi and other Iraqi Martyrs

Dreams of other Jihadists

Pakistani relations

Guantanamo Bay

A dream of a dead Mujahideen

Chapter 6. Dreams of Mullah Omar, Taliban Leader

Discussion and contextualisation

Conclusions to chapters three and four regarding jihadists’ Dream Reports

Chapter 7. Dream Interpretation Resources (dictionaries) in Islam

Features of dream interpretation

Range of sources studied

Ibn Sirin A.D. 653-728 A.H. (2000)

Dreams and their meaning in the old Arab tradition: Yehia Gouda

Dream Interpretation according to the Qur’an and the Sunnah: Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Phillips

  • Sunnah Hadith interpretations
  • Word interpretation
  • Legislative and general dreams

Legislative and general dreams: Authentic Interpretation of the Dreams according to the Qur’an and Sunnah: Ahmeed Farid

The Dreamer’s handbook: sleep etiquette and dream interpretation in the light of the Sunnah: Muhammad Al-Jibaly

Conclusion concerning the principles of Islamic dream interpretation practice

Chapter 8. A Comparison of Islamic Dream Theory and Western Psychological Theories of the Dream


Conclusion: the night dream as the poor man’s prophecy!

Conclusions re Jihadist dream reports

The Imaginative Commonality of Islam

Epilogue: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: Imagination, creativity, and political agency in the inspirational night dream in Islam

Elisabeth Kirtsoglou

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