Socrates thought they were the voice of conscience. Iroquois Indians saw them as commands to be followed. Voltaire said they resulted from overeating. Freud defined them as repressed thoughts. Author Robert G. Allen wrote: "The future you see is the future you get", whereas James Allen said "Dreamers are saviours of the world". This is how, what we call Dreams, have been described over time. Dreams, essentially a phenomenon affiliated with sleep, become an idea when awake. Civilisation has advanced on the wings of imagination and innovation. Throughout history, the most advanced nations earned their status by harnessing the intellectual capital and creative potential of the populace. They used this ability to think, imagine and innovate hence creating better societal lives. Ideas are the building blocks of spiritual, social, economic and political reality. The quality of life in a society is a manifestation of its prevailing ideas. The British science fiction writer H.G. Wells asserted: "Human history is in essence the history of ideas". Plato conceptualised a world of ideas of which material reality was a manifestation. We can trace a line of ideas from antiquity to our present day civilisation. The great Athenian philosopher Socrates mentored Plato who in turn mentored Aristotle. The ideas of Hippocrates shaped the practice of medicine, Freud influenced the field of psychology while those of Karl Marx spawned communism. Every invention and advancement of human civilisation, from penicillin to the microchip, sprung from an idea. This is why the Wright brothers flew and Archimedes rushed out of his bathtub yelling Eureka. Benjamin Franklin tied a key to his kite string, whereas an apple falling on Newton's head gave us the first law of motion. Henry Ford's dream of a car for the multitudes transformed the automobile history. Thus in many ways dreams and ideas have and will continue to shape the world. Tragically the Muslim world of today, a slumberland, is bereft of these dreams whereas once it was at its apogee being the guiding light for all of civilisation. The Scottish Orientalist, William Montgomery Watt, points out in his book "The Glory That Was Islam": "When Christian Europe began to show an interest in the discoveries of its 'Saracen' enemies in around 1100 AD, Arab science and philosophy was at its zenith. Europe had to learn everything that there was to be learned from the Arabs, without whom European science and European philosophy would never have been able to develop as they did". The Muslim contribution to civilisation spanned literature (al Biruni, Jahiz, Ibn Qutayba) calligraphy (Ibn Muqla) poetry (Umar Khayam) art and sciences like architecture, astronomy, mathematics (Al Khawarizmi), medicine (Ibn Cenna) physics, chemistry and philosophy (Al Kindi, Al Ghazali, Ibn Rushd). Apart from numerous groundbreaking inventions and theories, these contributions had a more profound dimension. The golden age of Muslim science and philosophy, unlike today, was one of contacts and exchanges between cultures. It was an era of spontaneous borrowings and two-way influence. The 11th-century Iraqi scientist Ibn al-Haytham, known as Alhozen, developed the concept of human vision. Before that the eye was seen merely as an 'optical instrument'. Alhozen's detailed description of ocular anatomy formed the basis for theory of image formation. Ibn al-Nafis, a 13th-century Syrian physician, described the blood movement in the human body. This was a phenomenal break-through in understanding human anatomy and physiology. Abul Qasim al-Zahrawi, a physician from 10th century Muslim Spain, wrote a book that described surgical procedures and gave detailed illustrations of the necessary surgical instruments. Many of these were devised by him. With this detailed illustrative work, surgery became integrated into scientific medicine instead of being a practice left to cuppers and barbers. Arab advancement and forays in navigation, from the Astrolabe and the Compass to the fast sailing ship known as the Caravel, facilitated and made possible the arrival of Europeans in the New World. For 700 years the Arabs ruled Spain and Portugal, the two powers that held a virtual monopoly on exploration in the New World. Michael Hamilton Morgan's "Lost History; the Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers and Artists'', delivers a missing link to the story of an inter-connected world. This is the achievements of Muslim civilisation and its influence on the world. Today we, a dreamless society, have helped the world consciously forget the contributions of an entire civilisation. Solomon was reflecting upon just such a society when he wrote, "Where there is no vision, the people perish." The retrogression of our moral and societal values, decline in intellectual productivity and infrastructural decay can be attributed to an absolute dearth of vision. Islam was once applied in a way to support creativity and tolerance along with diversity of positive thought and behaviour both in societal and individual lives. Mamunur Rasheed summed it up aptly when he said: "Reason and faith can be the same. By fully opening the mind and unleashing human creativity, many wonders, including peace are possible".  For years, we in the Islamic world have been content in eulogising past glories while lamenting about our present predicaments. It is time now to craft solutions to the issues of life that are confronting us.  The ways and means for a better and brighter tomorrow are for those who dream and work to see those dreams come true. It is they and only them who will possess the empires of the future. E-mail: