Dreaming, Islam and the Ahmadiyya Muslims in the UK

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Abstract

The Ahmadi Muslim movement, founded in the nineteenth century by a charismatic leader, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, has been since then one of the most controversial movements within Islam, yet Ahmadis remain the least known of all Muslim communities and in many Islamic countries they have been defined as heretics and subjected to persecution. Despite hostility from other Muslim groups, the Ahmadis have been able to establish resilient communities whose survival depends on the development of bureaucratically sophisticated organizational structures which sustain local communities and incorporate these into an integrated global media network. These structures, however, are ultimately dependent on their charismatic foundations and on the institution of the Ahmadi Khalifat. This paper explores the role played by Ahmadiyya interpretations of dreams in sustaining these structures at personal and community levels. Dreams may lead to personal life-changing events and may also institute new organizational structures and offices in this global new religious movement. For example, the institution of Waqf-e-Nau established by the fourth Ahmadi Khalifa is based on a dream he had for the future of his community. This institution encourages parents to "sacrifice" a child to the cause of Ahmadiyyat, often before the child is born. The children born into Waqf-e-Nau are selected for special training, knowing that their lives are given over to community needs. Parents of such children may not make plans for them as they would for their other children. Examples of dreams and their interpretations as understood within Ahmadiyya Islam are developed from both historical and contemporary ethnographic data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-305
Number of pages13
JournalHistory and Anthropology
Volume21
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2010

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Keywords

  • Ahmadi Muslim
  • Dream Interpretation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Anthropology

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