It takes but a moment when our eyes are closed to call to mind an image of the school we attended. An image forms in our brains right away. But our eyes are closed. When we look at a view for a while and then subsequently close our eyes we can again see that image in our minds when we want to recall it. But again our eyes are closed. Although it is not our eyes that are doing the seeing and although there is no image of a school in front of us, this image still exists in our minds in almost the exact same form. The production of an image in the mind despite the lack of an eye to perceive it is evidence that the perceiver is something different than the eye and something not dependent on matter. It is the “soul” created by our Almighty Lord to be independent of matter and bestowed on human beings by Him that does the perceiving.
Dreams are of great importance to a proper understanding of this subject. Events, space, people, feeling and three-dimensionality are all the same in dreams as they are in this world. So much so that it is almost impossible to be convinced that these are not real when one is dreaming. Everywhere one dreams of is very real, people are real, and events take place in such a vivid way that the dreamer feels excitement in the face of them, and when one runs one actually grows out of breath. One can feel fear while dreaming, strive with all one’s might to escape from danger, or feel alarm in the face of the threat concerned. But while all this rushing around is going on for hours, you are actually lying comfortably in bed with your eyes closed. You are in a perfectly secure environment, and there is no-one trying to catch you, no rain falling and no danger confronting you. Furthermore, an event that seems to last for hours actually took place in your dream in a matter of minutes. And most important of all, these events were all created in your mind.
One important point that needs to be stressed with regard to dreaming is this: You do not have any direct experience of any element of the outside world when dreaming. The world you experience at that moment is generally different from the life you regard as real life. The environment you are in may be different, and the people you meet, even your parents, may be different. Your home and your fears may be different. It is impossible for you to actually see anything because your eyes are closed. But even if they were open the place you are in is not the place you see. The smell of grass you know so well is perfectly clear in a dream. But you are actually asleep on the tenth floor of an apartment block. You have no doubt about it when you eat and taste an apple; indeed, what you are eating may sometimes be a peach, but it tastes like an apple. And, what is more, there is nothing odd about that in that world. However, you are not really eating anything at all as you are asleep lying in bed. This is merely something created in your dream.
One may suffer pain in a dream. So much so that if you slip while you are running over grass you see you have cut your knee. You try to staunch the bleeding and feel the pain from your knee with perfect clarity. Yet no such thing has happened as you lie in bed. You feel the pain in the real sense, but no injury has occurred to your body.
But how is it you feel the pain of an injury that does not actually exist in just the same way as in reality? How is it that, although you are fast asleep, you can enjoy the taste of a delicious apple, and how can you feel fear, excitement and worry in order to escape from danger, despite being asleep in bed, perfectly and in a way identical to normal? How is it that, despite being asleep in your bed at home, you can run for hours over boundless expanses of land? And why are those hours in fact only minutes?
If you are not actually in that environment, then what is the power that shows you these things and causes you to feel them as if they were real?
It is of course our Almighty Lord Who causes you to feel these things in that way and Who keeps the soul under His constant supervision. In the same way that Allah (God) creates a perfectly clear and beautiful world in our minds in this world, so He can very definitely create an equally clear and perfect world in our dreams. There is no doubt that this is very easy for Him.
Our Lord has created the same natural causes for the real world and for dreams: electric signals. The things we think we see actually stem from electric signals, as do those in dreams. Although both have the same cause and although both are created in your minds, you still think that dreams are not real, but that this world is. The fact is, however, that they are essentially the same; both are illusions.
Time is different in dreams. And so is space. The laws of physics are sometimes different. But these are the only things that are real for you when you are dreaming. That being the case, since there is no difference between the way you perceive the world you are perceiving now and the world in your dreams, then this world clearly consists of an image created in your mind. The same physical activities take place in the brain whether you envisage something in your mind, whether you experience it in real life or whether you dream it. You generally think that the factor that gives rise to these activities is an external stimulus, such as light rays. But there is actually no light striking the retina, or no thorn pricking your finger, to give rise to images or sensations when you envisage a thing in your mind or when you dream it.
This makes the following fact perfectly obvious: The way this world is created is the same as dreaming. Therefore, the images you see in this world are created as illusions for you, just as in dreams. You watch events arising in your brain in a world also forming in your brain; you laugh at them, enjoy them or feel excitement at them. But Allah creates them all in your mind. If a person loses the five senses he or she possesses, this colorful, vivid, clear and perfect looking world that we are shown will also disappear, even though the outside world continues to exist. It is therefore impossible to maintain that something we see is the same as the original on the outside. It exists only in a world that Allah “creates for us” in our minds. We can never, ever know whether other people can see it or not, or whether we see the same image as the original on the outside.