Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Black and white magic of Bahla

BW July 21, 2010

Conversation with a lady Jinn (*) who has occupied herself inside an Omani woman:

Healer/spiritual man from Bahla: “What are you doing inside her?”
Jinn: “I like living in this body!”
Healer: “Why?”
Jinn: “I want Henna… I want gold…I want precious stones!”
Healer: “But, why trouble this woman…why are you doing this to her?”
Jinn: “I want more and if she (the body she had got into) does not give me more gold, I will make her sick – very sick!”
Healer: “You will do nothing of that sort. You will leave – I will make you leave! By God’s will, I will make you leave this body!”

The above is Moalim (healer/spiritual man) Salim bin Mubarak bin Khamis Al Ghafri’s conversation with a female jinn/jinni (a spirit) that had apparently got inside a lady. Moalim Salim was giving Black & White a hint of what he normally faces while dealing with people who claim to be possessed by jinns and the like when he gave us the above conversation extract.

Moalim Salim is a respected man in Bahla, which is home to many myths and legends of magic.
In fat, magic and mystery still surrounds this ancient walled town, which is about 30kms west of Nizwa, the road to Ibri.
Bahla is also home to another type of ‘magical’ creations – pottery. The Omani Bahla potters are known to have magic in their fingers and their creations adorn many a home both in Oman and abroad.
But, a mysterious aura surrounds the walled city because many still believe that magic is still practiced in Bahla. Before we embarked to the city, we asked many Omanis about Bahla and some of them displayed an element of superstition and declined to talk much about it. In fact, stories abound about magic in Bahla. Some of the far-fetched stories include people being bewitched and turned into animals and then enslaved.

Bahla – centre of jinn?

In fact, a recent story of a small Omani girl with recurring fits and a mysterious fire episode in her home cast a spell on us and we went to meet her and her family. We realised why Bahla is still famously known to be a centre of jinn and why many people are led to believe that these spirits still support occult traditions of black magic and alchemy. Fortunately, we did not come across any who practiced this. Instead, we met up with a traditional healer who also helped heal a small girl from the so-called clutches of a jinn.
For this, we travelled to Saiyfam village in Al Ghafat, Bahla. We were ushered into the modest home of Masoud bin Abdullah Suleiman Al Shikely, a septuagenarian, whose granddaughter was reportedly under a jinn’s influence and had frequent episodes of fits and blacking out.
But, 12-year old Huda, who was at the centre of this current jinn story, did not even show any traces of her recent trauma, and was giggling along with her young cousin brothers, as her grandfather and her uncle detailed their recent tryst -- with a semi-malevolent jinn who apparently hurled rock-like stones on their home and also partially burnt the house -- chronologically.
Seated down in the majlis of their very small and now decrepit home, Masoud Al Shikely detailed the jinn attack to their home:

June 1, 2010

My Huda is a physically active and energetic little 12-year old. She has never had any major health problems. But, on this day, she just passed out. She got into an episode of fits and she blacked out. This is the first time ever that she has fallen sick.
Maybe she was weak or ill, we thought and soon forgot about it as she quickly recovered from that episode.
But, in the next four days, Huda continued to have recurring fits and blackouts. Then we began to panic as we really did not know what to do as we did not have any prior experience in confronting such an illness. Then, someone advised us to take Huda to a Moalim (traditional healer) for a reading.
We are also more comfortable meeting with a traditional healer than approaching a modern clinic.
So, the Moalim read for Huda from a bowl of water and a bowl of salt water and advised her to drink the water and bathe in the salt water for the next two days. She soon became okay. But, I guess that was not the end of her problems…it was just the beginning.

6.30pm, June 6, 2010

Huda returned from a Holy Quran reading in the evening and was just settling down when stones came hurtling into our yard. Some smashed through the windows and landed in our sitting room.
We took this in our stride thinking it was someone’s real bad idea of a prank and let it be. But, then it became a regular phenomenon.
The stones were hurled in only after 6pm. So, I spoke to all my neighbours and all of them decided to keep a whole night vigil. But, none of them could find out the source of the stones. They just seemed to be thrown from anywhere and nowhere. Every morning the front yard of our compound would be filled with big-sized rocks and stones. We religiously picked up all the stones and kept them away. But, no one in the household was hurt in this process.
Afraid? No, not really. We were a bit confused because we were not sure what was happening. Were they the handwork of jinns? We don’t know. At that time, the continuous stoning, totally occupied our minds.
The stoning continued for 10 days…

June 12, 2010
But, during this period, Huda was perfectly okay. She did not have any fits or blackouts! But, on this day, around 10am, a fire broke out on one of the two date palm leaves thatched sheds in our yard. It gutted out and we had no clue as to how and why.
Then after sometime, the roof of our building got fire. Later by 3pm, Huda was dozing off when suddenly the room next to where she was sleeping suddenly got fire.
Within minutes, stones again hurtled in through the windows, breaking the glasses.
Huda was unaware of all the havoc at home and peacefully sleeping in the adjacent room; while all of us managed to somehow put out the fire. By this time, the bed, carpets and the AC were totally burnt.

June 18, 2010
The second shed caught fire today. The stones were still being regularly hurled at our home. We, and other neighbours, kept a vigil, but, we could not find anyone.

June 20, 2010
Now, these constant stone throwing episodes and the fire break outs had taken a real toll on us. We were quite disturbed. So, we shifted to one of my son’s home, which is slightly away from this place.
But, Huda’s fits and black outs continued and we had no choice but to take her to Bahla hospital. The doctors there checked her properly and declared her to be perfectly normal. By this time all our relatives and village elders advised us to take her for a Holy reading once again and we approached wise leaders and sheikhs in and around our village. They gave us amulets and reading material.

June 23 to 24, 2010
So, we decided to really pray to the Almighty to help us in this issue. From June 23 evening, all our family members sat down together and read prayers throughout the night, for a two day period. By 24th evening, both the stoning and the random fire break outs stopped. By God’s grace, we are through with this ordeal. Finally we are at peace. Huda had no more blackouts or fits and she has been having peaceful nights since then.

Bahla’s jinns
Masoud has been living in the same home for the last 70 years, but has never ever experienced anything like this. “Of course, I have grown up with stories of jinn and black magic. But, this is my first experience. We all, to a little extent, believe jinns exist, but we do not believe in black magic. We believe in Almighty Allah and we believe in the Holy Quran where there is a mention of jinns. It is believed that they are created for a purpose and so they exist. But, I do not know as to what purpose.
Stories about jinns abound in Bahla. Even if something happens again, we will seek the help of a Moalim. And God is always there.

White over black
Moalim Salim was consulted for Huda’s case and he had helped cure her of her fits and also stopped the fire episodes in Masoud Shikely’s home. He does not reveal what exactly transpired between him and the jinn in these cases, but claimed that not only was the girl cured of her illness, but the fire episodes have also now stopped.
“Black magic cannot win over white (pure) magic,” asserted Moalim Salim, adding that he, with his magic, could break a black magic spell, while a black magician would not be able to break the white magic spell.

Moalim Salim used to be in the military and he left the services in 1970. “I took up the spiritualistic path under the guidance and inspiration of Sheikh Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Ta’abi.
Sheikh Al Ta’abi was a man of great wisdom and a great teacher and preacher of the holy books. From him I learnt about the great Book of Knowledge of Al Ghazali and other similar philosophical books,” Moalim Salim said as we all sat in the majlis of his home in Bahla. The room gently balanced tradition with modernity. There were various spiritual books around, but there were also two computers, a brand new TV set etc.
He explained to us how he started learning and practicing this art from 1970 onwards. In the last 40 years, Moalim Salim has treated, healed and assisted over 5000 people.

Straight from the army into spiritualism
After retiring from the army, this former military man engulfed himself into the world of spiritualism and prayers. He gleaned lot of information from his elder brother who had significant leanings in spiritualism and was also a healer. “I was fascinated by the world of spiritualism. I saw it as an opportunity to seek, learn and help others in need.
Today, I have patients and others in various levels of distress calling me from not only Oman, but also from various countries in the AGCC region.
“Yes, as we live in a modern world today, there are many skeptics of such traditional forms of treatments too. But, as mentioned in our Holy Quran, we believe there are supernatural creatures which occupy a parallel world similar to that of mankind. They exist and they make trouble for some. People who are religious and righteous are seldom in trouble. Live right and you will live well. I do not practice black magic. Unfortunately many believe that it is a shortcut to success, fame, money and even revenge. Good and evil is within us, while we blame the supernatural for all our deeds. It is unfortunate that many learned ones practice black magic and help people harm others.”

Healing and frankincense
Moalim Salim’s healing is based on the holy books and also Al Ghazali books. “I am still learning after 40 years. My only aim is to master the books and become a better human being. I believe in helping people and that is what I am doing. There are various calculations and formulas in place.”

Modus operandi
Moalim Salim’s calculations hinge on two methods: When someone calls him for help or assistance, he checks the time and the planetary positions at that point of time, and he takes it off from there.
Then, in the second way, he looks into the basic details like the name of the caller, his or hers mother’s name and finds out the ailment, its causes and suggests treatment. “When it comes to my healing, I don’t think it is either black or any magic. It is normal treatment based on the holy books and the principles of life underlined in those books. Our elders and wise men have followed these books and by God’s grace till date I have been able to help people recover from the clutches of black magic and the same through the help of the principles of the holy books. I use varieties of frankincense to assist in my treatment.”
His treatment theory revolves around the basic principle that there are 12 stars and out of which seven are functional. By checking on the positions of the planets and stars and the birth sign of the affected person, he is able to ascertain the type of black magic used and the ways to break that spell.
“Jinns or genies are part of our lives. They were created by the smokeless fire by God. There are the good ones and the bad ones. It is all mentioned in the Surah 72 of the Holy Quran,” Moalim Salim noted.

Books of knowledge by Al Ghazali
The books of Al Ghazali are fountains of knowledge. “Only the ones with a brave heart and superior intelligence can read, learn and master it. It is said if you can master it, you can travel faster than light. Anyone and everyone cannot read and understand. You need to have strength of the soul. Only the ones with a brave heart and is inherently true and just can soak in the knowledge and gain from it for the benefit of the mankind, others would just misuse it.
“When you read Al Ghazali book in the right way, you can actually call down the spirits. So you have to be strong enough to handle that sort of power and information. I am a knowledge seeker and my aim is just to learn whatever I can and become a strong person. Nothing more, nothing less; I do not do healing to earn money; I do it because I feel I can. I can undo black magic, but a black magician cannot undo my cure.
My healing is based on positive healing; I understand the jinns and can even talk to them. I don’t see anything magical in it. It is about knowing the life forces that lead us all to living. There are four elements that guide us in this universe: Earth, water, air and fire. The jinns are also of four types basically categorised similarly. These elements are kept in a certain balance in the universe and the body. The variation in this balance ends in natural disasters, and diseases in the body. Black magic is practiced using the same forces of nature and with jinns.”

Hit by a Jinn

But, hasn’t all his trysts with the jinns complicated his life? Has it caused him any ailments, any problems? Did the jinns try to possess him?
Moalim Salim did not have to think for a long time: “One of the most complicated cases I have encountered was a lady suffering from internal bleeding for many months and was totally weak and sick.
“She had gone to many hospitals and clinics and finally someone brought her to me.
(Here I am not saying I can cure in curable diseases and that I am all powerful or magician. I am just relating one of my experiences.) I recognised the jinn that possessed her and tried all means to chase it out. Finally, assisted by many readings, and using Hajahs and Hars (types of amulets), I brought out the jinn that was bleeding her.”
But, the malevolent jinn wouldn’t go easily. “She came out of the body with such a force that she hit me on my side. The lady she possessed fell unconscious. I was totally shaken. But, by Gods grace we all recovered. The lady is also in good health till date.”

Touch the walls

We left Moalim Salim in his own world and got into the afternoon heat of Bahla. Standing outside our car under a sweltering sun, we wondered as to who would have the energy for anything, least of all magic, in the heat.
Someone of us wanted to go by the old tale that if we touch the walls of Bahla, our luck will change – we abandoned this thought because we were not sure whether the ‘change’ would be for the better or worse.

(*) a supernatural creature, which occupies a parallel world to that of mankind.
In Arabic, a jinn (genie, jinni, djinni) is a supernatural creature which occupies a parallel world to that of mankind. The jinn are mentioned frequently in the Holy Quran and there is a surah entitled Surat-al-Jinn. They are usually invisible to humans and the latter do not appear clearly to them. A jinn has the power to travel large distances at extreme speeds and are thought to live in remote areas, mountains, seas, trees, and the air, in their own communities.

Origin of witchcraft in Bahla
Reports note that some 1400 years ago, one of the earliest practitioners of witchcraft was killed by the villagers for practicing wizardry. A fort was built on his grave to prevent his followers from turning it into a shrine. It was after this that his spirit began to appear in the town and it was reported later that he was teaching the craft to youngsters.

By Adarsh Madhavan, Priya Arunkumar, Najib Al Balushi


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