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Romanov M. Dreaming Hanbalites: Dream-Tales in Prosopographical Dictionaries, in - Dreams and Visions in Islamic Societies. Edited by Özgen Felek and Alexander D. Knysh. State University of New York, 2012. P. 31-50.


In Islam, like in many religious traditions, dreams are part and parcel of spiritual life. For centuries, Muslims have taken their dreams seriously, especially those Muslims who belonged to different mystical trends that found their place under the dome of Islam. Here, however, I address the dreams of the Hanbalites, a group that for decades has been almost unanimously treated by many students of Islam as the very opposite of Sufism. Nevertheless, despite their differences, the two groups share a fascination with dreams and make extensive use of them in their respective narratives. In fact, some local hagiographies show that a number of rural Hanbali shaykhs were treated by their followers as awliya' and miracle workers. Moreover, even normative prosopographical Hanbali sources are not devoid of what a Saudi editor of Tabaqat al-Hanabila called al-khurafat al-sufiyya, "Sufi superstitions." Examples from both hagiographic and normative sources indicate that it is the very nature of relationship between revered shaykhs and their popular following that eventually casts the former as saint guardians of their communities. In other words, being a leader of a popular community, a shaykh of any persuasion is very likely to become a local saint. Dreams seem to be one of the mechanisms of the communal process of sanctification. This might be a reason why not all of the dreams passed the above mentioned editor's test of "orthodoxy", even though they are quite different from those of the Sufis, the alleged archenemies of the hanbalites...

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