In spiritual circles across the world. Both Islāmic and non-Islamic, the ability to connect with supernatural forces, either through visions and dreams. Is herald as a great achievement and a sign of great spiritual station. Both in Buddhism and Tassawuff, spiritual visions and dreams are held in high regard. The right and lawful dreams/visions are accepted and usually the wrong are discredited. However, the negative subtleties of the spiritual world greatly subdues the positives. What this post wishes to address is those people who often use spiritual experiences to lead their religious lives. Setting aside the established sources of Islam and instead making their personal spiritual visions and dreams the main focal point in their lives. Although there is nothing wrong in this. It does have its repercussions for the long-term.
For example, the current generation of spiritual adherents may be clear on a tareeq’s principles and objectives. However, later generations to come will eventually lose sight of the real principles and objectives. Frequent tendencies to use spiritual visions & dreams to address the masses will eventually cloud people’s views. Although there will be clear principles and objectives laid out. – It will end up being left in the books and eventually long forgotten in due course. A person’s private experiences of spirituality should be kept to his own knowledge and to a few others only, not advertise it to the masses, always.
It is a common occurrence that adherents of a Sufi school will have spiritual encounters with religious figures of the past. In some cases even prophets, either in dreams or visions. This is a fact which cannot be denied, at some point through a student’s journey he or she will experience it. When spiritual encounters are made public . The novelty and sanctity of the messages received from a vision or dream loses its appeal. – (For later generations to come, not to mention the current generation). In Islam, there is a strong warning against those who make false claims of spiritual encounters, especially with prophets. Nevertheless, when the frequency of visions and dreams are discussed within Sufi circles and not the former, the warning is lost in among the rest. Humans only remember thing which are often repeated time and again, if visions and dreams are the only assets discussed. Then the deeper warnings established by the sources of Islam against false claimants will be lost.
A previous religious community which has fallen foul to such misdemeanours is the Christian community. In the early days of Christianity there used to be ‘authentic’ Christian spiritual “Sufi” groups, who would publicly claim spiritual encounters with Jesus (a.s). Like many Muslim Sufi groups do now.
Over a period of time this ‘awe and respect’ of the messages received from such spiritual encounters, lost its reverence and became a joke. On television shows across the world we now see the ridicule they play out against prophet Jesus (a.s). Regularly jokes are made by people claiming to have had spiritual experiences with Jesus (a.s), during breakfast, lunch, dinner and bedtime!
The once rightly held principles of the christian Sufi groups has been lost on the current generation of Christians.
All in all, the paths of spiritual endeavours a person takes has to be a balanced approach. A novice has to begin his spiritual journey at the hands of a qualified person. A person who has good knowledge in both the esoteric and exoteric sciences of Islam. – One science cannot be neglected for the other. Those who begin spiritual exercises without a teacher will sooner than later, go astray. Since, even with a spiritual teacher the chances of going astray are present. What to say about those who begin spiritual exercises on their own. Lastly, keep in mind the hidden slippery slopes public mention of dreams and visions.