Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, saw dreams as a manifestation of unconscious desires and conflicts.
According to Freud, dreams were a way for the unconscious mind to communicate with the conscious mind, and they often revealed the repressed desires and anxieties of the dreamer.
Similarly, in the story of Prophet Yusuf, the dreams that he interpreted for others served as a way for them to understand hidden truths and gain insight into their own lives.
The dreams in his story can be seen as symbols for the unconscious desires and conflicts of the characters, just as in Freud’s interpretation of dreams.
Yusuf was the son of Yaqub (Jacob) and was known for his beauty and integrity. Yusuf was favoured by his father and was given the special gift of interpreting dreams.
As a result, he became a subject of envy and jealousy among his brothers, who threw him down a well and told their father that he had been killed by a wild animal.
‘Consider when Yusuf said to his father, “My dear father, I saw eleven stars, the sun and the moon, all prostrating before me.” 5 Yaqub said, “My dear son, don’t tell your brothers your dream, they will hatch a plot against you, Satan is a sworn enemy of humanity. 6
This dream shows your Lord has chosen you, will teach you interpretations of dreams,a and fulfil His favour on you and the family of Yaqub just as He fulfilled it on your forefathers, Ibrahim and Ishaq. Your Lord is Knowing, Wise.’ [12:4-6].
Yusuf was then taken found and taken to Egypt where he was sold to a wealthy Egyptian named Potiphar. Despite the difficulties he faced, Yusuf maintained his integrity and was eventually appointed as the steward of Potiphar’s household.
However, Potiphar’s wife became infatuated with Yusuf and attempted to seduce him, but he refused and was then falsely accused of a crime and thrown into prison.
While in prison, Yusuf interpreted the dreams of his fellow prisoners, one of whom was a cupbearer to the King, the other a Royal cook. Prophet Yusuf told the one who would survive to remember him to the King when he left.
His prophecies came true; the cook died and the cupbearer left Prison to continue working for the King.
‘My fellow inmates, one of you will serve wine to his master once more; sadly, the other will be crucified, and the birds will peck his head. The matter on which you sought my opinion has already been decided.” 42
Then Yusuf asked the one who he knew would be spared, “Mention me to your master.” However, Satan made him forget to mention him to his master, and so Yusuf lingered in the prison for several years.
43 The King said, “I had a dream of seven fat cows eating seven lean ones, and of seven green ears of grain and seven others all dried up. Counsellors, advise me concerning my dream, if you can interpret dreams.” 44
They replied, “What baffling dreams! We have no expertise in interpreting dreams.” 45 Then the one who had been spared of the two in prison finally remembered Yusuf after a long time, said, “I can tell you how to interpret it, so send me” [41-46].
The former prisoner finally remembered Yusuf’s interpretation of his dream and asked for his assistance. Yusuf was then released from prison and appointed as the minister in charge of the administration of the kingdom’s food supply.
The Well that Prophet Yusuf was thrown down
‘Returning to the prison, he said, “Yusuf, you who tells the truth, advise us concerning seven fat cows eating seven lean, and seven green ears of grain and seven others all dried up, so that I may go back to the people, so they may know.”
Yusuf said, “For seven years you will plant crops as normal, but you will leave what you harvest in the ears, except for a small amount that you will eat. 48 This will be followed by seven years of hardship, during which you will consume all but a little of what you have stored. 49 After that will come a year of rain aplenty, in which people will press grapes for wine’ [47-49].
In the end, Yusuf was reunited with his father and brothers, and they all lived together in Egypt.
The interpretation of dreams played a significant role in the story of Prophet Yusuf, as they were used to foretell events and reveal hidden truths.
Therefore, one could say that the story of Prophet Yusuf and Freud’s interpretation of dreams have some similarities, in that both use dreams as a means of exploring and revealing the unconscious mind.
However, whilst Freud’s deductions were based on psychology and other research, Prophet Yusuf had this gift from none other than the Almighty.
Yusuf was able to predict dreams with only the grace of Allah SWT.