Militant jihadists are inspired by night dreams, suggests research

June 06, 2008

The inspirational night dream, or ruya, is a fundamental, inspirational and even strategic part of the militant jihadist movement in the Middle East and elsewhere. This is the conclusion of a study of the reported dreams of many of the best-known al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders carried out by Dr Iain Edgar a social anthropologist at Durham University.

Edgar identified four key themes from his research: Speaking at the Cheltenham Science Festival today (Friday 6 June) on the cultural significance of sleeping and dreaming Edgar said: "Islam is probably the largest night dream culture in the world today. The night dream is thought to offer a way to metaphysical and divinatory knowledge, to be a practical alternative and accessible source of inspiration and guidance, to offer clarity concerning action in this world."

Edgar interviewed individuals in the UK, Pakistan, Northern Cyprus and Turkey to identify the key features of the inspirational night dream. He also reviewed transcripts including that of Osama Bin Laden, who has spoken of the night dream in the context of his concern that "the secret [of the 9/11 attacks] would be revealed if everyone starts seeing it in their dreams."

"It has been suggested that dream narratives are cynically adopted for propaganda purposes", says Edgar. "This could of course be the case for some individuals but the range and number of reported narratives I have researched strongly argue against this. Even if reported jihadist dream narratives are fabricated, the fact that Muslims often believe them and are mobilized to jihad partly on their account is of significance".

On the significance of the research Edgar said. "Overall, how Moslems, and people in general, understand their night dreams is a powerful tool in assessing their worldview and implicit key motivations. The understanding of night dreams offers an entrée into the deepest recesses of the self, and the emerging self. There is little doubt that one's lived world-view and unconscious, mythic world-view are predictive of one's sympathies and potential actions."
-end-


Durham University

Related Dreams Articles from Brightsurf:

Word graph analysis confirms that dream report structure varies according to sleep stage
Study by Brazilian and South African researchers is the first to prove, using a graph analysis tool, that REM dream narratives tend to be more complex and connected than reports of non-REM dreams.

Research: COVID-19 is echoed in dreams
Research has shown that the exceptional circumstances brought about by the novel coronavirus have affected the nightmares people have.

COVID-19 infects majority of bad dreams -- study
Researchers crowdsourced dream content from more than 800 people during the sixth week of the COVID-19 lockdown and found many experienced distressed dreams related to the pandemic.

COVID-19 spurs anxious, upsetting dreams
The anxiety, stress and worry brought on by COVID-19 is not limited to daytime hours.

Spider silk inspires new class of functional synthetic polymers
Synthetic polymers have changed the world around us. However, It is hard to finely tune some of their properties, such as the ability to transport ions.

The dreaming brain tunes out the outside world
Scientists from the CNRS and the ENS-PSL in France and Monash University in Australia have shown that the brain suppresses information from the outside world, such as the sound of a conversation, during the sleep phase linked to dreaming.

Bern and Fribourg researchers identify neurons responsible for rapid eye movements/REM during sleep
Why do we move our eyes fast in the paradoxical sleep -- in that sleep phase, in which most dreams take place?

How our dreams prepare us to face our fears
Do bad dreams serve a purpose? Researchers (UNIGE/HUG) analysed the dreams of people and identified which areas of the brain were activated when they experienced fear in their dreams.

Study reveals brain marker for angry dreams
Researchers have identified a pattern of brain activity that reflects anger experienced during dreaming according to a new study carried out on healthy adults and published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

Brain marker for angry dreams
Researchers have identified a pattern of brain activity that predicts anger experienced during dreaming, according to a new study of healthy adults published in JNeurosci.

Read More: Dreams News and Dreams Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.