A person who wakes up with the voice of the alarm clock while dreaming experiences short-time astonishment. The happiness or sadness he felt, the food he tasted or the smells he sensed in his dream are still so real to him that he is not able to shake the dream’s effect off.
Many philosophers throughout history have sought the true nature of dreams and the relation between dream world and the life of this world. A German philosopher said the following about this subject:
Are we now awake or dreaming? This is no doubt a meaningful question. In fact we have experienced dream situations in which we did ask this question, answered by the conclusion that we were awake and later discovered…. (Hans Reichenbach, Rise of Scientific Philosophy, p. 179)
Descartes made this comment about this subject:
I dream of doing this or that, going here or there; but when I awake I realize that I have done nothing, that I have been nowhere, but have been lying quietly in bed. Who can guarantee that I am not dreaming now, or that even my entire life is not a dream? Resulting from all of these, the reality of the world that I live in is something completely debatable. (Macit Gökberg, History of Philosphy, p. 263)
As a matter of fact, dream world and the life of this world have an important common point. In order to understand this common point, we can give an example: Let’s assume you dreamt up of yourself and when you were asked, “Where do you see?” you answered saying “I see in my brain.” However it is clear that when you give this answer in your dream, there is no real brain around. The body or brain in your dream is completely consisting of an imaginary image. The consciousness, which sees the images in the dream, is most certainly a being “beyond” the brain.
The answer you have supposedly given in your dream, is the real answer given to the question of, “Where do you see?” in the life of this world. As it is known it is not the “eye” that sees, and all images form in the brain. The only task of the eyes and millions of nerve cells connected to the eyes is to communicate a message to the brain in order for the seeing process to be accomplished. If we recall the information we learned in high school; light coming from an object passes through the lenses in the front part of the eye and the image is reflected on the area in the back part, the images that fall onto the layer called the retina are transformed in to electrical current and transferred to the visual cortex in the brain, and the brain turns these signals into three dimensional, meaningful images. It is clear from this information that it is not the eyes that see, but there is also certainly no doubt that it would be very wrong to claim that it is that piece of meat composed of water, proteins and fat molecules that see. From this, it is crystal clear that the piece of meat that we call the brain does not possess a characteristic that could form the consciousness, shortly the being called “me” to watch and interpret the images around. However, there is someone who watches the lightened, colorful world, listens to the sounds of birds and symphonies and smells the roses in his brain. So, whom this consciousness that experiences all the senses without needing eyes, ears or a nose, belong to?
The consciousness in question is by no doubt the soul created by Allah. The soul does not need any eyes to see images or any ears to hear sounds. Furthermore, it does not need any brain to think.
Every person who understands this clear and scientific fact that he deals only with the copies of the three dimensional, colorful, shadowed and lightened Universe in the a few cubic centimeter, dark place in his brain, would realize that he can only see the copies of all of the things seen no matter what he does, and as a result he would think about and appreciate the eternal power of our Almighty Lord, become committed to Him with a deep love and respect, turn to Him and seek refuge in Him.
Consciousness gets sharp in the time of death
To get on by the information above we can say that we can never see the real versions of the things that we claim “we see.” We can only see an image of the material world. The life of this world only consists of the images, which are being perceived by human beings’ soul and they are created in order for human beings to be tested and to make deeds to be accounted for in the Judgment Day. A human being will best understand this during the time of death. Thus the image of the world seen by a human being in his mind will change with death and instead the image of the time of death, the Judgment Day and the Hereafter will be observed. As revealed by Allah, with death the person will awake as he were waking up from sleep, and move to his true and eternal life as moving from his dream to the real world. Allah reveals this fact in one verse:
‘You were heedless of this so We have stripped you of your covering and today your sight is sharp.’ (Surah Qaf, 22)
In a hadith, our Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) drew attention to this great fact by saying, “People are asleep and they wake up with death.” (Imam Gazali, Islam Classics 2, Bedir Publishing, 18 p. 36152).