A Brief World History of Muslim Dreams
AbstractThis essay offers an introductory overview of the history of dream narratives and dream interpretation among various Muslim communities worldwide. The survey ranges from the early Islamic period through to the twentieth century. After examining pre-Islamic traditions and Quranic references to the dream and vision, the essay turns to the elaboration of formal Arabic oneirocritical works, the role of dreams in Sufi theory. Particular attention is paid to the interaction of dreamscapes with physical landscapes and to the motif of the dream in historiographical, poetical, and other artistic works. Positing a “world history” approach to Muslim dreams, the essay not only covers a wide geographical region but also takes up the question of cross-cultural interaction in a variety of settings from the pre-Muslim Mediterranean to India and Spain. Overall, the essay aims to introduce this important and well-documented dimension of Islamic world history to students and a general readership.
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