He told me a year ago: "I saw in a dream, we were playing a soccer game against the Americans. When our team showed up in the field, they were all pilots!" ...
We were at a camp of one of the brother's guards in Qandahar. This brother belonged to the majority of the group. He came close and told me that he saw, in a dream, a tall building in America, and in the same dream he saw Mukhtar teaching them how to play karate. At that point, I was worried that maybe the secret would be revealed if everyone starts seeing it in their dream. So I closed the subject. I told him if he sees another dream, not to tell anybody ...
- Osama bin Laden
When someone tells you not to talk about your dreams, do not listen.
Each of us bears inside a spark of the Divinity. We each carry a small piece of our Creator's vision for us. When we listen to this inner voice and find the courage to share it with others, and when we find the courage to listen to other people's visions without prejudice, we begin to weave the great web of humanity's collective dream. Those who would shut down this process are the ones who would kill our right to dream. They are the enemies of humanity.
On one occasion, only days before the Shah left Iran, Khomeini's minions made the shocking statement that Khomeini's image was on the moon. We all gathered on the roof. I was a child, uninfluenced by the hysteria of politics, and kept asking, Where is the image? Adults from all walks of life gazed at the moon's pockmarked face and everyone started saying, "Yes, there he is. He is on the moon, can you see him?" pointing at the same pimples on the moon's face that have been there for over four billion years. Some even shed tears of joy and bowed and prayed, declaring that God himself sent Khomeini and that is why his image appeared on the moon. - "Living in Hell" by Ghazal Omid
Here is what happens when people allow themselves to be brainwashed by political elites or by the mass media. In extreme cases they can be persuaded to commit atrocities against others, believing that they will gain Paradise as a reward. As Ghazal Omid says in the Introduction, "These brainwashed individuals have been promised Utopia, not recognizing that it was the face of Satan who appeared to them, not promises from the Angel Gabriel."
In the summer of 1963, an American pro-democracy leader named Martin Luther King addressed a quarter of a million freedom activists in the nation's capital. A hundred years earlier, America's bloodiest war had broken the back of the slave regime, but equality under the law still eluded African Americans. He called on activists to demand payment on an old promissory note, and to reject "the tranquilizing drug of gradualism." He warned against bitterness, hatred, and despair. In his famous peroration, he declared: "I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream." Creatively interweaving the language of the Biblical prophets with his own message, he spelled out a vision of a world where the dream of freedom and justice would be fulfilled. No one can say that Dr. King's dream has yet been fully realized in America. But to deny the great strides that have been made since then would be to deny the achievements of brave activists like Dr. King and his followers.
You, too, have a dream. It is uniquely yours, buried within the depths of your soul. And while your dream is unique, you have the chance to share it with other people and to learn of their dreams. This is the kind of dreaming that leads to a world where people speak and listen to one another with respect and without fear.
When I was in my mid-teens, my mother gave me some books on Jewish spirituality and mysticism - called the Kabbalah in Hebrew - which would become an important step in my own spiritual journey. Here, Rabbi Lawrence Kushner draws a parallel between understanding sacred Scripture and understanding a dream:
What I like about this approach is that it calls on us to take our visions seriously - and responsibly. It asks us to be true to our individual visions, but also to seek common ground with the visions of others. It recognizes that absolute truth belongs to the Creator alone, but that the search for truth belongs to all of us together. Muslim activist Irshad Manji draws the following lessons from her Islamic studies:
1. Begin with that most difficult and subtle question of all ... what is the underlying emotional dynamic of the story?
2. Recall our own recent, immediate experiences. Since dreams are often initiated by something that happened only recently, we must ask about yesterday's residue.
3. Isolate and identify the primary elements of the dream text before us. What are the dream's components?
4. Pay especially close attention to the seemingly trivial details and the little discrepancies.
5. We must not allow embarrassment to distract attention from elements that make us uncomfortable.
6. If this Scripture dream is actually ours, then our associations are also relevant. Often, they will be of only personal validity, but at other times they will open new dimensions of understanding as compelling as those of commentators of old.
7. Assume full responsibility for the dream. For "through the dream the man makes the matter his own; it is in his will, and he is responsible for it." [Johannes Pedersen, Israel.] ... We are responsible for the evil impulses of our dreams.
8. The dream can condense opposites into one truth.
9. The many selves, who together comprise the one self, are separate. ... We must therefore be all the parts of our dream.
10. Through the dream/Scripture we slip back to our origins. Through that infinity of meanings we return to the undifferentiated ness of all existence. ... This is the great dream of which each individual dream is a personal manifestation.
- excerpted from "The River of Light" by Lawrence Kushner
After so much exploring, my personal interpretation of the Koran leads me to three recurring messages. First, only God knows fully the truth of anything. Second, God alone can punish unbelievers, which makes sense given that only God knows what true unbelief is. (And considering the Koran's mountain range of moods, it really would take the Almighty to know how it all hangs together.) Human beings must warn against corrupt practices, but that's all we can do to encourage piety. Third, our resulting humility sets us free to ponder God's will - without any obligation to toe a dictated line. "Let there be no compulsion in religion," states a voice in Chapter 2 of the Koran. "Unto you your religion, unto me my religion," echoes another voice in Chapter 109. In between, there's this: "If God had pleased, He would have made you all one people. But He has done otherwise..." Ain't that the truth.
- "The Trouble with Islam Today" by Irshad Manji
The war that was declared on America on September 11, 2001, was a war against dreams. It was a war of brainwashing against inquiry, tyranny against democracy, enslavement against freedom. We won't win this war by force of arms alone. Our most important weapons are the weapons of the spirit - the "soul force" that Dr. King spoke of. Physical tools like the internet are of great value, especially when we use them to reclaim control of our minds and engage in open discussion with one another - here we are wresting our right to dream back away from the propaganda masters who would kill it. But most importatnt, we must reach out to one another in real life. We will win the war against fascism by speaking our dreams to one another face-to-face, and by finding common ground with the dreams of our neighbors. We must find the courage and the humility to go onward, remembering that we ourselves are but the dream of God.