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Dreaming in Christianity and Islam

Culture, Conflict, and Creativity

Edited and with an Introduction by Kelly Bulkeley, Kate Adams, and Patricia M. Davis

Publication Year: 2009

Dreaming in Christianity and Islam, is the first book to explore dreaming in these religions through original essays. The editors reach a plateau by focusing on how studying dreams reveals new aspects of social and political reality. International scholars document the impact of dreams on sacred texts, mystical experiences, therapeutic practices, and doctrinal controversies.

Published by: Rutgers University Press


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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi-xiii

The sharing of dreams and dream interpretations is a tradition that runs deep within many communities and cultures the world over. Within those communities where dreaming has been most valued, there is a belief that an individual’s dream is like an epistle from God that benefits the entire community. This has been particularly true in contexts where an individual’s sense of social responsibility is the care of the entire community. ...

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pp. 1-13

Throughout history, religion has provided the ideological fuel for a seemingly endless plague of wars, conquests, persecutions, and bloody conflicts. In the current era it is barely possible to read a newspaper or watch a television newscast that does not contain some reference to religiously motivated terrorism or angry tensions between religions. The contemporary world’s two largest and most geopolitically powerful religions, Christianity and Islam, ...

PART ONE: Dreaming in Christianity

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1. Divine Dream Dilemmas: Biblical Visions and Dreams

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pp. 17-31

The biblical traditions frequently mentioned dreams and visions as vital means of human-divine communication, and these traditions form the foundation for understanding Christianity’s approach to dreams. As expressed in the wisdom attributed to the wise King Solomon: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18).1 However, this might lead us to the hasty conclusion that all dreams were understood to come from God. It is often...

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2. Early Christians and Their Dreams

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pp. 32-42

The attitudes of early Christians toward their dreams were spiritually and psychologically complex. Taking together positions of theologians and churchmen, visionaries and martyrs, we can see that dreams were an important but difficult phenomenon. The early Christians were surrounded by views different from their own, in many instances views that directly threatened their religious...

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3. Discerning the Voice of God: Case Studies in Christian History

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pp. 43-56

This chapter presents case studies of three dreams that the dreamers claimed were experiential encounters with God. Throughout Christian history, religious leaders have used discernment to distinguish between dreams that would be accepted as spiritually valid and those that would be rejected. In considering these case studies of dreams from Christian history, this chapter explores the discernment...

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4. Dreaming through the Bible with Luther and Calvin

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pp. 57-70

The two most influential men in the history of Christianity from the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century to the present day are Martin Luther and John Calvin.1 The attitudes and perspectives these two Protestant theologians take toward dreams in the Bible add to our understanding of the role of dreams and dreaming in Christianity.2 In this chapter’s context, dreams are the nightly experiences human...

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5. Dreams and Visions of the Dying

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pp. 71-78

As a Presbyterian minister providing spiritual care services at a hospice, I have heard many dreams that patients have experienced just before dying. This has intrigued me because the eff ect on the patient was always the same—a reduction in fear, a growing acceptance of approaching death, and even a sense of anticipation of what may lie ahead. With my clients’ and their relatives’ permission, I have recorded several of these dreams in writing. ...

PART TWO: Dreaming in Islam

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6. Dreaming in the Life of the Prophet Muhammad

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pp. 81-97

This chapter presents the Prophet Muhammad’s teachings about dreams based on the earliest available sources of information about his life and works. In Islam the Qur’an is the primary source of religious knowledge and authority. The secondary sources of guidance are the sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad, compiled in texts known as hadith books. Two of the compilers of these works were particularly meticulous and sensitive when...

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7. Islamic Dreaming: An Analysis of Its Truthfulness and Influence

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pp. 98-110

The Arabic language has two terms for “dream,” ru’ya and hulm. Some scholars maintain that ru’ya is used for good dreams that a person sees during sleeping, while hulm is used for false dreams that come either from Satan or the human mind.1 Other scholars claim that dreams have no real existence and are therefore not important, with no relevance for human life.2 However, according to the main tenets of Islam, this dismissive idea is not sound, ...

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8. Healing and Dreams in Islam

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pp. 111-122

According to many Muslim scholars, the first revelations came to Muhammad in the form of dreams. Allah (God) used dreams as a direct channel to convey his messages to the Prophet Muhammad (Qur’an).1 Thus, like the verses of the Qur’an, dreams are sacred and should be treated with the utmost respect and seriousness and should not be altered or fabricated; otherwise the consequences, according to the...

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9. Istikhara and Dreams: Learning about the Future through Dreaming

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pp. 123-136

Istikhara is a ritual practice that has been highly valued by Muslims (particularly those in Sufi circles) who desire to live according to the rules of the Islamic religion. In its simplest terms, Istikhara is used when a Muslim is unsure of whether or not to perform an action in waking life. In such cases people frequently ask God to send them a sign concerning the outcome. Then they pray and go to sleep. If they see the color white or green in their dream...

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10. Dream and Spirit in Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyah’s Qitab al-Ruh

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pp. 137-142

This chapter examines the relationship between dreaming and the human spirit in the theological writings of the great medieval scholar Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyah. He discussed many dreams for that purpose in his Book of Spirit (Qitab al-Ruh). Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyah used these dream discussions to prove the existence of the human spirit, to explain its status after death, and...

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11. The Jinn: Companion in the Realm of Dreams and Imagination

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pp. 143-154

Popularized as the wish-granting genie in the story of Aladdin and the magic lamp, the jinn are shape-shifting spirits belonging to the oldest strands in the religious tradition of the Arab world. The jinn were worshiped by some of the Arabs,1 but unlike the pagan gods and goddesses that were eliminated with the coming of Islam, the jinn were incorporated in the Qur’an, with a...

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12. Women and Dream Interpretation in Contemporary Iran

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pp. 155-164

In my experience as a woman growing up in the Islamic Republic of Iran, it has not always been easy for me to find positive and empowering portraits of feminine spiritual energy. In a patriarchal society such as Iran’s, one can clearly observe the unequal treatment of men and women in many areas of life. Beyond that, there is an underlying imbalance of masculine and...

PART THREE: Two Traditions in Dialogue

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13. Books on Dream Interpretation: Artemidorus and Kutbuttinzade

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pp. 167-174

Today we have available to us several documents on the practice of dream interpretation that date back many centuries. The oldest known book on dream interpretation is an Egyptian text known as the Chester Beatty papyrus, housed in the British Museum; it dates back to the thirteenth century B.C.E. Documents on dream interpretation have also been found among...

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14. Conversion Dreams in Christianity and Islam

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pp. 175-187

This chapter addresses the unusual characteristics of dreams that are instrumental in religious conversions, focusing on two cases studies of conversions to Christianity and on two case studies of conversions to Islam. Conversion may be understood as a multistage process involving context, crisis, quest, encounter, interaction, commitment, and consequences.1...

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15. A Comparison of Islamic and Western Psychological Dream Theories

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pp. 188-199

In one essential respect there is an ontological gap between Islamic and most Western psychological theories of the dream, and that is their differing conceptions of the self and of what Western psychology views as the unconscious. The unknown hinterland of the self in Islam and also in Christianity is deemed to be the house of God, the Godhead, from which the voice of the...

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16. The Typical Dreams of Jordanian College Students

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pp. 200-216

In this chapter we look at dream patterns of college students from four countries based on their answers to the typical dreams questionnaire (TDQ).1 Developed for use in a study of the dream patterns of Japanese and U.S. college students in the 1950s and recently extended with a study of Canadian college students, the TDQ is a very simple social scientific...

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17. Dreams of Muslim and Christian Children

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pp. 217-225

The richness of dreams in Christianity and Islam continues to inspire many believers in the contemporary world. As this collection and other works demonstrate, this richness is reflected in the considerable literature on dreams in these religious traditions.1 In addition to studies of dreams throughout history and in scripture, research has explored the dreams of contemporary...

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18. Discussing Dreams in a Prison in Amsterdam

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pp. 226-235

When I started working as a prison chaplain in the Bijlmer prison, the biggest prison of Amsterdam, the second inmate who came to my room was a man who had killed his wife under quite sad circumstances. He came from somewhere in the region of the Mediterranean Sea. He told me his life story as an introduction to our pastoral relationship. At the end of the meeting...

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19. The Ambiguities of Privilege

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pp. 236-248

What, if anything, do dreams and dreaming have to do with humanity’s collective survival or our ongoing and evolving relationship with the Divine? This ancient question becomes increasingly immediate and urgent whenever human circumstances, both individual and communal, are perceived to be even more troubled, unprecedented, and uncertain than “usual.”...

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pp. 249-252

We have reached the conclusion of this book, but we have only begun the process of stimulating Christian and Islamic communities into a greater awareness of the powerful role of dreaming in their own religious traditions and the traditions of other people. Indeed, we believe the Christian-Muslim dialogue on dreams should expand to include Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, ...

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pp. 253-255

We have reached the conclusion of this book, but we have only begun the process of stimulating Christian and Islamic communities into a greater awareness of the powerful role of dreaming in their own religious traditions and the traditions of other people. Indeed, we believe the Christian-Muslim dialogue on dreams should expand to include Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, ...


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pp. 257-263

E-ISBN-13: 9780813548241
E-ISBN-10: 0813548241
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813546094
Print-ISBN-10: 0813546095

Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 10 tables
Publication Year: 2009

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Dreams -- Religious aspects -- Christianity -- Congresses.
  • Dreams -- Religious aspects -- Comparative studies -- Congresses.
  • Dreams -- Religious aspects -- Islam -- Congresses.
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