Dreams and Visions in Islamic Societies

By Lingel, Joshua | International Bulletin of Missionary Research, January 2013 | Go to article overview

Dreams and Visions in Islamic Societies


Lingel, Joshua, International Bulletin of Missionary Research


Dreams and Visions in Islamic Societies.

Edited by Ozgen Felek and Alexander D. Knysh. Albany, N.Y.: SUNY Press, 2012. Pp. xi, 322. $80; paperback $24.95.

Dreams and Visions in Islamic Societies, with fifteen chapters and contributors, makes a helpful contribution to classical Islamic studies and diverse Sufi experiences. The introduction discusses the role of dreams within Muslim communities: "The Prophet is quoted as declaring that with his death 'the glad tidings of prophecy' would cease, whereas 'true dreams' would endure.... One Western scholar says dreams and visions are, 'A form of divine revelation and a chronological successor to the Koran'" (2). In principle, "each good Muslim could expect guidance from God in dreams" (2). This makes the role of dreams all the more enticing for Muslims and for Christian missionaries interested in their use and interpretation in Muslim lives as messages from God.

In her chapter "Dreaming the Truth in the Sira of Ibn Hisham," Sarah Mirza assesses the fifteen distinct dream narratives found in Ibn Hisham's Sira (A.D. 833), the earliest extant biography of Muhammad. Mirza summarizes the dreams' central themes: "the favored nature of the Prophet's lineage, the miraculous protection of the Prophecy, and the Muslim community falling within the Abrahamic line" (15). "All of the dreams are assumed to be prophetic by their hearers and acted on as such" and "are communal experiences that serve to activate the community" (15).

The dreams covered in the book reveal diverse and sometimes contradictory themes: personal piety (46), epistemology (184, 216), sectarian dogma (e. …

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