We have seen so far that if we take the help of science to understand and interpret dreams, we will go up a blind alley, the main reason being that dreams belong to a spiritual realm, which science has not yet been able to prove. It is only the Holy Quran which tells us about the exact nature of dreams- why they occur, what are their different categories, how they occur and how are we supposed to deal with them so that they do not affect us adversely. No other religion of the world provides us with such in-depth detail about dreams. Islam also teaches us about the significance of dreams and how our dreams can help us to solve the problems pertaining to our day-to-day life.
If there is any subject that comes somewhat closer to the definition of dreams by Islam, then it is Metaphysics, which is a branch of philosophy related to the elementary nature of reality and being. According to Metaphysics, our active mind becomes still while we sleep and our sub-conscious mind becomes active. So the latter communicates with us through dreams and sends us messages which are full of wisdom and knowledge. This is true to some extent yet it does not give us comprehensive information about dreams.
In order to get to the core of dreams we will have to refer to the Holy Quran.
Allah (swt) says in the Holy Quran:
‘It is Allah who takes away souls at the time of their death and those that die not during their sleep. He keeps those (souls) for which He has ordained death and sends the rest for a time appointed. Verily, in this are signs for the people who think’. (TMQ-39:42)
Though this verse has not mentioned dreams in a direct way, yet it has given us a significant clue about how dreams occur. This verse informs us that Allah (swt) withholds the souls of those people whose life-span is over at the time of their death and He withholds the souls of those people whose life-span is not over, at the time of their sleep. The souls for which death has been ordained are withheld permanently and those whose death has not been ordained are sent back into their body, for a fixed time. If we look deeper into the meaning of this verse we find that Allah (swt) holds back the souls of those people whose life span is over. Consequently, such people pass away during their sleep. However, for those whose life span is not yet over, Allah (swt) withholds their souls during their sleep and returns their soul when they wake up. In other words, when a person’s soul is withheld permanently by Allah (swt) he or she loses both his consciousness and his life. The only thing which remains here is the still, lifeless body. However, for those people whose life span is not yet over, their souls are withheld only till they are asleep. Consequently, such people lose only their consciousness but not their life. So by the Will of Allah (swt) they wake up the next morning.
Now this implies that during sleep the soul leaves the body on the Command of Allah (swt). Since the soul has to return to the body, so it is still linked to it in some way. However, it roams freely, while the person is fast asleep, into the world of souls. I do not say in the spiritual world or in some other realm because our soul travels into the world of souls while we sleep. This does not mean that it goes there on a social visit and that all it does there is to meet other souls. It is there to fulfill the Command of Allah (swt) who shows us that this physical world is not the only world that exists. During its travel to the world of souls our soul is shown the dreams which may be from Allah (swt) as a form of glad tidings or good news. I have already discussed earlier in post # 2 (Dreams are consequential), the reason why the good dreams are shown to us from Allah (swt). Since the Satan is always on the prowl, so he tries every trick in the book to weaken our faith and to lead us astray. He, therefore pounces at this opportunity and tries to show our souls scary dreams or nightmares, in order to frighten us. Now coming back to the main point, I would like to give a rational explanation about my claim that our souls travel into the world of souls during our sleep. Many of us might have seen our deceased relatives in our dreams and got some or the other messages from them. Sometimes we see them looking happy and contented whereas at other times we see the in a deplorable condition. When we see them is an unhappy state we often rush to do some virtuous deed such as feeding the poor or giving away money in charity, in the name of our deceased relatives, so that their soul gets the blessings from Allah (swt). Have we ever wondered that how do the departed souls communicate with us in our dreams? Well, definitely they do not enter into our minds and then give us some message because as the above mentioned Quranic verse states, our souls (or sub-conscious mind) is withheld by Allah (swt) while we are fast asleep. The departed souls are able to meet us easily because our own souls travel into their world.
This is how dreams actually occur. This may seem to be indigestible to those who do not have a strong faith in Allah (swt) and in the Unseen. However, this is the truth and it shall prevail over all the other dodgy, varied and confusing explanations offered to us by science.