Islam: Dreams, Image, Truth

In the Qur’an, there is the story of Yusuf, who, by the symbolic power of God, has been granted the ability to interpret dreams. He does so first of all by becoming righteous. It seems to me that the righteous is the one who has removed himself — that is, the imaginary, or the ego — from the interpretation of dreams. Take, for example, Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s commentary on Surah 12: “If [Yusu] was to be of the elect, he must understand and interpret Signs and events aright. The imaginary of the pure sees truths, which those not so endowed cannot understand. […] The righteous man receives disasters and reverses […] with humble devotion [and not] with arrogance, but as an opportunity for doing good, to friends and foes alike. […].”
Thus, it was without arrogance or self-interest that Yusuf, when asked by two prisoners to interpret their dreams, decided first of all to teach them ‘faith.’ On this the aforementioned scholar wrote: “[Yusuf] does not preach a pompous sermon, or claim any credit to himself for placing himself at their service. He is just doing his duty, and the highest good he can do to them is tot each them Faith.” Surah 12:37 reads: “He said: ‘Before any food comes to feed either of you, I will surely reveal the truth and meaning of this [of the dreams] ere it befall you. That is part of the Duty which my Lord hath taught.'”
There are some things worthy of noting about Islam which have not been properly taken up by contemporary Lacanian scholars. First, Islam, more than any other religion, is, as Lacan wanted analysts to be, ‘wary of the image.’ By this I mean that the Qur’an very clearly teaches a consistent doctrine to turn away from the imaginary order (e.g., ego) and to operate at the level of symbolic truth. Second, Islam transmits a duty to its prophets which is a duty to come to know beyond the image the symbolic truth, that is, there is a duty to love the unconscious. Faith is thus the proper alignment of one’s duty with the unconscious truth which anyway propels the truth.

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