by Naseer Ahmad Faruqui
The Light (Pakistan), 15th July 1989 Issue (Vol. 66, No. 6, pp. 4–6)
Every human being dreams. But most of those dreams are not worth telling. They are hazy, and are soon forgotten. They are really the doings of the human brain as deep sleep fades into light slumber. They are born of physical causes. They are not real or true.
But some dreams are different. They leave a permanent impact on the mind of the dreamer. They are not forgotten, even until death. The passage of time does not erase their details from one’s memory. These are the true dreams, the real ones. Their origin is spiritual, as opposed to the physical origin of false dreams. Unfortunately, most of the modern mankind have lost their religion. They do not, therefore, believe that there is such a thing as the human spirit. But such people ignore the unanimous evidence of all the religions. Such persons attach no weight to the equally unanimous evidence of all prophets, saints and men of God, that there is in fact a soul within each human body. These men of religion were known and respected for their truthfulness. They were born at different times, in different countries, and were separated from one another by long distances with no means of communication, so that their views were not influenced by one another’s thinking. And what about the revealed books? They are equally unanimous about the existence of the human soul in each human body, the former being the more important of the two, and more permanent. Each human being is himself conscious of the fact that he is something more than his body. That extra-physical thing in him is his soul.
In fact, it is the human soul from which spring the moral and spiritual qualities of man. Shorn of the human soul, man would be no better than animals, which do possess the animal life (which keeps their bodies going until death) but not the soul which is blown by the Great Creator into each human being before he is born. It is because of that soul, which is not given to creatures other than man, that he has superiority over other creatures, which are sometimes physically stronger than man. It is because of the human soul which comes from God that man can acquire the reflection of the divine attributes in himself. That is why the Holy Quran exhorts the faithful to
“(Acquire) Allah’s colour, and who has a better colouring than Allah?” (The Holy Quran, 2:138).
The colour of Allah clearly means the beautiful attributes of Allah. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) also has said:
“Acquire the attributes of Allah.”
Therein lies the greatest honour open to man. Those who deny the existence of the human soul demean man to the level of beasts.
In recent times, the Freudian school of thought has unfortunately come into vogue. According to it, man is no more than an animal in the highest form of evolution. According to this school of thought, all human actions, and even all human thoughts, can be explained with reference to the animal world which is before human eyes, as opposed to the inside of man which is hidden from view. The result of this kind of thinking is that most of the human beings today are no better than animals, for the aim and object of their lives is confined to food, drink and sex. And that is the be all and end all of the life of all animals, too. So, the poison of Freudian philosophy, and the loss of religion, have ruined the moral and spiritual superiority of man over animal, particularly in the West.
Since all known religions were born in the East, there is yet quite a large number of people in the East who believe in their religions. And all religions and men of religion bore testimony to the existence of the human soul, which is the gift of God to man when he was made the vicegerent of God on earth (The Holy Quran, 2:4). The animals possess only the animal life, which keeps their physical body going. Man also possesses the animal life for the sake of his physical body. Death means the end of animal life, both in man and in the animals. But the human soul, on the death of the human body, leaves it for the next world to answer for its faith and deeds to the Great Creator Whose special gift to man was the human soul. Every human being is keen on living forever. That is not possible in this physical world. The fulfilment of the universal desire to live forever is promised in the next world by all religions, but not so satisfactorily as by Islam. Even those who are misguided by the materialistic view of life will soon realise from bitter experience that they are not satisfied with that view. The human soul in each human body will assert itself, sooner or later, to make man turn to the satisfaction of the spiritual needs of the soul to be found at its best in Islam.
The Holy Quran on Dreams:
To turn back to dreams, the true ones inspired by God to a person’s soul cannot be explained except with reference to religion which deals with things spiritual. Unfortunately, religions, other than Islam, due mainly to the loss or to corruption of their Divine Books, do not throw light on the mystery of true dreams. Fortunately, we have in our hands the Divine Book of Islam, the Holy Quran, which is admitted by friend and foe to be free from human interference and corruption, and which is available to us today exactly in the words in which it was revealed. So let us turn to that Sublime Book for guidance on the subject of true dreams.
The relevant verse of the Holy Quran on the subject of true dreams is:
“And it is not vouchsafed to a mortal that Allah should speak to him except by revelation or from behind a veil, or by sending a messenger and revealing by His permission what He pleases. Surely He is High, Wise (The Holy Quran, 42:51).”
An explanation of these three forms of Divine communication with man will be found in footnote 2235 to the above verse in the world-renowned English translation and commentary of the Holy Quran by the late Maulana Muhammad Ali, and on page 203 of the masterly book by the same author entitled, The Religion of Islam. I quote from the latter book as follows:
“The second mode of God’s speaking to man is said to be from behind a veil and this includes dreams….”
Discussing this form of Divine communication with a human being, the learned Maulana, after quoting the Holy Quran (12:43), goes on to say:
“This shows that, according to the Holy Quran, revelation in its lower form (including true dreams) is the common experience of all mankind, of the unbeliever as well as of the believer, of the sinner as well as of the saint.”
The words within brackets in the above quotation are mine. They have been inserted to make the quotation clear to a person who does not get an opportunity to read the whole explanation given in the learned book quoted from.
True dreams are the greatest honour done to man by his Beneficent Creator. They relate mainly to the future. And when they are proved to be true by later events, they help man to understand that there is a Supreme Being Who possesses knowledge of the future, of the unseen, which man does not. They also help man to understand, when the true dreams come in reply to his prayers, that they did not go unheard by the Merciful Providence to Whom he prayed. Thus true dreams create a living faith in a Living God.
The Holy Quran tells us that the gift of interpreting true dreams is given by God to those who deserve it because of their moral and spiritual purity, and because of their leading a pious life of devotion and prayer to God. But if such a gifted person is not known to the readers of this article, they should themselves turn in prayer and devotion to God Who sent the true dream, to seek an understanding of the dream.
But one must remember that man is answerable to his Creator only in respect of his deeds and faith, the complete guidance of which is contained in clear terms in the Holy Quran. Man is not answerable if he fails to understand the real significance of a true dream. So he should live his life according to the clear directions by his Creator, Who alone knows why He has created man and the way by which man can attain to the object of his creation. True dreams are only incidental evidence of the existence of God and His knowledge of the future. That knowledge is not possessed by anyone else unless it is given to him by God.