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Dreams and Visions in the World of Islam

Dreams and Visions in the World of Islam
Elizabeth Sirriyeh

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People in Western societies have long been interested in their dreams and what they mean. However, few non-Muslims in the West are likely to seek interpretation of those dreams to help them make life-changing decisions. In the Islamic world the situation is quite different. Dreaming and the import of visions are here of enormous significance, to the degree that many Muslims believe that in their dreams they are receiving divine guidance: for example, on whether or not to accept a marriage proposal, or a new job opportunity. In her authoritative new book, Elizabeth Sirriyeh offers the first concerted history of the rise of dream interpretation in Islamic culture, from medieval times to the present. Central to the book is the figure of the Prophet Muhammad - seen to represent for Muslims the perfect dreamer, visionary and interpreter of dreams. Less benignly, dreams have been exploited in the propaganda of Islamic militants in Afghanistan, and in apocalyptic visions relating to the 9/11 attacks. This timely volume gives an important, fascinating and overlooked subject the exploration it has long deserved.

Author Info

Elizabeth Sirriyeh is Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Leeds. Her previous books include Sufis and Anti-Sufis: The Defence, Rethinking and Rejection of Sufism in the Modern World (2000) and Sufism: A Guide for the Perplexed (2012).


‘Elizabeth Sirriyeh’s authoritative book on dreams and visions in the Islamic tradition concerns what might be termed “mysticism”, and as such relates to the very heart of the Sufi tradition. It provides a comprehensive and lucid account that commences in the pre-Islamic period and brings readers up to the present era with discussions of the topic within the contemporary Middle East. For students of Sufism and Islamic spirituality this book is indispensible, because it provides a clear account of the potency and significance that dreams and visions have had, and continue to have, in the region.’
Lloyd Ridgeon, Reader in Theology and Religious Studies, University of Glasgow

‘To study the history of Muslim dreaming is to enter an enthralling meta-world in which believers sought authenticity, authority and salvation through their nocturnal encounters with the Prophets and Saints. Elizabeth Sirriyeh is a judicious and expert guide to over twelve centuries of deliberations on the credibility and meaning of dreams. Her book will appeal to anyone interested in this under-studied topic.’ 
Nile Green, Professor of History, UCLA, author of Sufism: A Global History

'The Prophet Muhammad received revelations from God in his dreams and he himself interpreted the dreams of his companions. And after his death, and the end of Qur'anic revelation, Muslims believed that God would continue to reveal himself to them through their dreams. In this fascinating book, Elizabeth Sirriyeh explores the role that dreams and visions played in the religious lives of pre-modern Muslims. She ranges widely: from the earliest biographical sources on the life of the Prophet, through formal manuals for the interpretation of dreams and philosophical treatises on the nature of dreams, to the visionary accounts of Muslim mystics. She devotes special attention to the unexplored dreams of Muslim women. Her analysis is masterful and eminently accessible, and there is much here to delight both the specialist and the general reader.'
John C Lamoreaux, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Southern Methodist University, author of The Early Muslim Tradition of Dream Interpretation

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.

ISBN: 9781780761428
Publication Date: 30 Jan 2015
Number of Pages: 256
Height: 234
Width: 156
Illustrations: 20 integrated bw illustrations

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