Caravan of Dreams by Idries Shah

‘Relevant, fruitful and urgent for our present society.’


Available worldwide in all formats – including ebook and audio – on Amazon worldwide. In the USA go to, in the UK, in India You can also order Caravan of Dreams in paperback and hardback from your local bookstore — and in the UK and USA we also recommend; and in Australia and New Zealand Booktopia. ISF also publishes an edition in Spanish, Dari, Farsi.

‘Here we are, all of us: in a dream-caravan, A caravan, but a dream — a dream, but a caravan. And we know which are the dreams. Therein lies the hope.’

Caravan of Dreams was published by Idries Shah as part of his presentation of traditional Sufi ideas for contemporary Western society. Much of the book is devoted to Sufi teaching-stories from the Middle East and Central Asia, such as The Four Men and the Interpreter (from Rumi’s Masnavi), The Magic Horse (from the Arabian Nights), and The Story of Mushkil Gusha, a Persian tale traditionally recited on Thursday nights.

‘The teaching-story was brought to perfection as a communication instrument many thousands of years ago,’ writes Idries Shah in Caravan of Dreams. ‘The fact that it has not developed greatly since then has caused people obsessed by some theories of our current civilisations to regard it as the product of a less enlightened time. They feel that it must surely be little more than a literary curiosity, something fit for children, the projection, perhaps, of infantile desires, a means of enacting a wish-fulfilment. Hardly anything could be further from the truth than such pseudo-philosophical, certainly unscientific, imaginings... So little is known to the academics, the scholars and the intellectuals of this world about these materials, that there is no word in modern languages which has been set aside to describe them. But the teaching-story exists, nevertheless. It is a part of the most priceless heritage of mankind.’

‘[Shah’s] stories are designed to help the mind’s orientation. Their use is effective and people are able to relate to them, because they do indeed enshrine an inner Truth: they embody reality, not a fiction. Thus Sufism can operate as an evocative force via a correct use of these stories.’


‘The action of the genuine Sufi teaching story is “direct and certain” upon the innermost self of the human being and this is true whether or not the said human is prepared to acknowledge that he or she has an innermost self. This attitude to literature brings us into an unfamiliar relation with our own literary heritage. The tales, anecdotes, illustrative recitals, jokes are not meant to be attacked by the intellectual apparatus…’


‘One can read a story or two and be delighted. But the effect does not stop there. These stories adhere, return, seeming somehow to expand after reading into an area beyond outer consciousness… The experience is more than rewarding and impossible to forget.’


‘Like a fabled caravan from another time, this books travels great distances, through all kinds of territory, with diverse elements… Idries Shah’s book re-stimulates the dream, by indicating real possibilities and practical alternatives to our present ways of operation; presenting not idle fantasies but signals from the tradition of known and tested activity.’


‘Witty, engrossing, utterly and appealingly human.’


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