There is always something to learn about in a dream

Many people believe that our dreams have meanings, writes Rym Ghazal

Sigmund Freud placed a great emphasis on interpreting dreams. AFP
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I had a dream. I saw a magnificent white Arabian horse galloping across a meadow, with a tiny rider on its back. As I got a better look, I saw it was a grey tabby cat that looks a lot like one of my cats.

The Muslim sheikh, listening to this dream to interpret it, smiled before commenting. “Certain animals, like cats and horses, are a good omen and are related to service and loyalty,” he said.

Other beasts in dreams are deemed less friendly: a snake indicates an enemy, while a spider or a spider’s web is someone weaving mischief.

Islamic dream interpreters rely on the Quran and Hadith, or narrations, of the Prophet Mohammed to interpret what is dreamt.

The Prophet said that dreams are of three types: some are terrifying things from the Shaytan [devil], some are things that a person is concerned with when he is awake and some are a part of the 46 portions of prophecy.

Some Islamic interpretations include: a key or collection of keys, which relates to money; sugar is related to fear and problems; and salt could refer to wealth or illness.

The sheikh told me that the Muslim world seems to be “obsessed” with two things: dream interpretations and black magic.

Several religious sheikhs have told me that they regularly get someone asking them for help as they have bad dreams and feel they are cursed and under a spell. Often concerns are related to loss or not finding love.

“It can be true, yes, but too many think this when life doesn’t go as they planned. If they hoped to marry and it didn’t happen, it must be because someone put a curse on them out of jealousy,” another sheikh told me when I was doing a story on black magic.

Both these stories have been popular with readers, who write in to get in touch with sheikhs quoted in both the black magic piece and the dream interpretation one.

It is important to know who to ask about your dreams.

According to a fatwa in 2008 from the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments in Abu Dhabi, Islam permits interpretation of dreams so long as it is done by a trusted scholar. The fatwa said it must be accepted that these interpretations are “not definitive” and not to be relied on entirely.

It is not just within the Muslim world, the entire world is fascinated with this mystical realm of dreams. From prophets to philosophers to artists to psychiatrists to researchers, they have all pondered their meaning.

“The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to the unconscious,” said Sigmund Freud, who dedicated a great deal of his psychological work to interpreting dreams.

Some researchers indicate that writing down a dream right after waking up can help you find patterns and can be therapeutic.

Just Google “dream interpretation” and you’ll get books, articles and websites dedicated to this, and even an alphabetical breakdown of what you see in your dreams.

There are many interpretations for everything from “falling teeth” to seeing yourself dead to that odd falling dream and waking up with a jerk.

We all look for meaning and for signs in our life to guide us. Some people turn to astrology, others to tarot cards, and some go to so-called psychics. Some go under hypnosis to find out about their past to better understand their present and their future.

But perhaps some of the answer is already there, in your dreams.

This is beautifully captured in one of my favourite songs – A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes – as sang by Disney’s Cinderella.

So, all you have to do is follow up on your most wonderful dreams and hope for the best.