An interesting phenomenon has been occurring quite regularly in the Muslim world for several decades now. Tens of thousands, perhaps even millions of Muslims who have no knowledge of the Gospel, who live in countries where there is no preaching of the Good News, and where just being a Christian let alone converting to Christianity can invoke the death sentence, have seen and met a mysterious man in white in their dreams and visions.
These many men and women, after meeting this man, risk all and convert to Christianity. So, who is this man and what is so convincing about what he says that people would leave everything they knew and put themselves in terrible mortal danger?
The four common threads
This man (as I’m sure you’ve guessed) is Jesus. The reports missionaries and others give, say that while the accounts themselves may vary somewhat, they all more or less have the following aspects which they share in common: 1) Jesus appeared to them 2) Jesus tells them to find and speak with a person at a certain time 3) When they follow His instructions, they find the person at exactly the right time and place, and the person presents the Gospel, explaining who Jesus really is 4) The Muslim believes Jesus is the Saviour and Messiah and places their faith in Him, in the process renouncing Islam.
Night of destiny
The reports indicate that the vast majority of these dreams and visions occur during the Islamic month of Ramadan or soon after, especially during what is called the ‘Night of Destiny’ or Laylat al-Qadr. This is the night when Muslims the world over seek Allah for spiritual breakthrough and any other requests they may have. This occurs in the last week of Ramadan.
This night is the number one night of the year when Jesus Himself appears to Muslims in dreams and visions. The Muslims are sincerely searching for God and seeking—as best they can—how to please Him, and Jesus accommodates that request.
What should we make of them?
All these dreams and visions raise an important question: What are Christians to make of the claims of the Muslims who have the dreams?
Considering the account of the conversion of the apostle Paul, there is little reason to doubt such claims. Jesus appeared to Paul in a vison and told him to go to Damascus and wait. Ananias was sent by Jesus to Paul where he explained the Gospel to Paul, and Paul became a follower of Jesus.
Also, there are many more such accounts found throughout Scripture where God chooses to communicate to men and women in dreams and visions.
Questioning the legitimacy
While many Muslims have come to follow Jesus through dreams and visions, Christians have been known to question the legitimacy of these encounters—even though lives are saved and people decide to follow Jesus at great risk to life and limb.
It’s no secret that Muslims, especially of the Shia sect, are quite open to hear God in dreams, so why aren’t so many Christians? Somehow, we’ve forgotten that the Scriptures are full of accounts where God spoke to humans in dreams and visions. In fact, nearly 1/3 of the Old Testament is made up of accounts of dreams and visions. Additionally, many famous biblical stories begin with a dream.
In Scripture we find numerous accounts of those who didn’t know God being spoken to by Him in dreams.
Culture of rationalism
I believe the scepticism towards dreams can be explained in part by a lack of understanding in relation to the work of the Holy Spirit. We’ve been taught to doubt the veracity of Him. Combining this doubt with a culture of rationalism, birthed primarily out of the so-called Enlightenment, meant that it’s harder for us to trust the supernatural. Even though we read about it in the Bible, socialisation in the West has taught us to not believe it is possible today.
There’s also the fact that Islam started with a vision, as did Mormonism and a whole string of cults. Critics wonder how we could evaluate such dreams to know whether they are true or not.
Where the Spirit moves
While Christians have a variety of approaches to dreams and visions, Muslims are open to dreams being revelatory, due to both cultural and religious factors. Dreams of Jesus, then, are taken quite seriously. There are cases of people making up stories about dreams or visions to fit in or to get asylum. But where the Spirit moves, Satan distorts and distracts. He tries to attack and muddle what is real, but his should only cause us to be more discerning, not dismissive. We can rejoice in all that the Lord is doing among the Muslims.
Katelin Staples is from Gladstone, Queensland. By day Katelin is employed as a proofreader. Katelin has a passion for discovering the deep things of God and how they affect the world around us.