Dreaming in Christianity and Islam: Culture, Conflict, and Creativity

Dreaming in Christianity and Islam: Culture, Conflict, and Creativity

Dreaming in Christianity and Islam: Culture, Conflict, and Creativity

Dreaming in Christianity and Islam: Culture, Conflict, and Creativity


Throughout history to the present day, religion has ideologically fueled wars, conquests, and persecutions. Christianity and Islam, the world's largest and geopolitically powerful faiths, are often positioned as mortal enemies locked in an apocalyptic "clash of civilizations." Rarely are similarities addressed.

Dreaming in Christianity and Islam, the first book to explore dreaming in these religions through original essays, fills this void. 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.


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. The dream is understood to be a message that reflects the condition of and hope for the community.

Resident in the consciousness of most Americans are these words: “I have a dream.” In what have become the immortal words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we recall, and are called to, the dream of liberty, equality, peace, and human dignity. This dream has been associated with the American Dream, but its inspiring hope goes deeper than the existence of the United States of America. King’s inspiring words, framed around the language of dreaming, emphasized living a better tomorrow. His proclamation of “the dream,” however, was more than making use of dream language as an inspiring metaphor to capture America’s imagination. King was sharing his actual “vision of the night” that came to him as a declaration of hope from the God of his ancestors. He believed in the power of dreaming, and many were inspired to change because they also believed in the transformative power of dreaming.

Yet, even as King was a prophet to America, his voice represented but one of the great traditions of the Abrahamic religions. Within the boundaries of the United States of America during those turbulent days of the 1960s, there was another prophet from a branch of Islam. El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz raised his voice to proclaim the American dream to be a vision of terror, a nightmare that continues to torment the hopeless people of the nation. Shabazz, also known as Malcolm X, was haunted by images that warned the nation to submit to Allah or face the consequences of faithlessness. Through his conversations with the Divine, he became persuaded that the nightmare could be efficacious for inspiring the unity of all human beings the world . . .

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