“Your sickness is from you, but you do not perceive it and your remedy is within you, but you do not sense it. You presume you are a small entity, but within you is enfolded the entire Universe. You are indeed the evident book, by whose alphabet the hidden becomes manifest. Therefore you have no need to look beyond yourself. What you seek is within you, if only you reflect.” ~ Ali ibn Talib (a.s)
“When the rationalist in you breaks down, the Jinn come in.” ~ Saying by a friend
What are Jinn? The Islamic scriptures describe them to be made of smokeless fire, an intentional creation by Allah, a mix between air and fire. The Quran and Islamic scholarship deal indeed in manifold ways with the subject. I am approaching the subject from the view point of a naturopath and curious artist, and as somebody who has personally encountered the phenomena of Jinn. Jinn are often explained as a mental presence in times of high psychological stress. Some very clairvoyant people also explain to see Jinn on a regular basis, not only in their inner vision, but as tangible physical manifestions. Usually Jinn are hidden well behind various cognitive veils. Some say Jinn are nature spirits or energies of some sorts. It is interesting how people, also not-so-spiritual types, see Jinn during Ayahuasca sessions and during similar entheogenic states, at least what they describe and paint in Ayahuasa Art looks to me like Jinn.
Typcial sickness created by unkind Jinn are family problems, social discord, mental trouble, serial bad luck, unexplainable pain and various physical maladies whose root seems to be somehow psychosomatic. Jinn can also cause various phenomena that relate to electricity. Sudden and repeated electricity failures and unexplainable, sudden malfunction of electric equipment are always associated to Jinn by Islamic healers. I once underwent a time of extreme stress and experienced simultanously a series of ongoing and repeated electricity related disasters and the only cure I found for this mess was to call a spiritual doctor. It was a disturbing experience, but one that got rid of the phenomena. One friend summarized it like this: “When the rationalist in you breaks down, the Jinn (and the spiritual doctor) come in”. Official Islamic culture struggles in it’s own way with the common phenomena of Jinn, psycho somatic illness, social discord, serial bad luck, various forms of possession and madness. It commonly accepts the existence of Jinn but also keeps the popular imagination under control by demanding a code of “no see no speak”. The engagement with Jinn in the healing arts is an under- and in-between worldly occult activity usually left to various “spiritual paramedics” whose existence is often only tolerated.
“Most representatives of formal Islam say, it is beyond human capability to put their personal will over these forces.”
According to official Islamic interpretations of various schools, healing methods that involve close engagement with Jinn and metaphysical forces are rejected as haram (forbidden). In this view interference with metaphysical phenomena and affairs, in particular mastering them, is declared as being beyond humans. People are only able and allowed to seek help from God and the saints, through prayers and accomplishment of good and pious deeds. Most representatives of formal Islam say, it is beyond human capability to put their personal will over these forces. And most serious Islamic thinkers do not give much credence to the work of Shamanic-Islamic healers and the “spiritual doctors” that come by various names and descriptions. At worst, such healers are persecuted and their work is banned. It is mostly only in traditional, rural and indiginous Islamic culture and society that spiritual healers still enjoy a high status and are respected for their knowledge.
“At the end of their transformation they have special powers and exceptional spiritual abilities that destine them as healers.”
Manijeh Maghsudi, a Cultural Anthropologist from Tehran University, describes in an article (“Two Indigenous Healing Methods among Iranian Turkmen”, in “Shamanism and Islam: Sufism, Healing Rituals and Spirits in the Muslim World”, Edited by: Thierry Zarcone, Angela Hobart) the healing practises of Iranian Turkmen. Here we encounter two distinct types of healers which describe quite beautifully the approach to Jinn in most Islamic cultures. At one pole are the healers called Porkhans, and on the other pole are the healers with their method called Ishan. The Porkhani methods of healing can be described as shamanic. The Porkhani way of healing relies on relations with the Jinn as it’s main feature. The Ishani method of healing however, is based upon practising religious duties such as Sadqa (charitiy), prayers and generally performing good, pious deeds. Performing good and pious deeds is very important to relieve patients from feelings of guilt and to propel positive attitudes and thinking. Ishani healers avoid the Jinn and hold them responsible for all illnesses and calamities through entering the patients and the spheres of humans. They do not believe in direct communication with Jinn. Amongst Ishan healers are further two distinct sub-types. One type went through long religious studies and is knowledgable in the Quran, Hadith, Dhikr and the creation of Talismans. The other group – like Porkhan – tends to be not trained in religious studies, but experience at some stage of their life an inner revolution and crisis, without looking for it. At the end of their transformation they have special powers and exceptional spiritual abilities that destine them as healers. Both groups still have to overcome various hurdles, and usually have to seek a master to further train them in the art of healing and undergo further initiatic trials (see also my post on Exorcism and Sadqa).
“Porkhans usually practise in mountainous areas and villages far from all urban life. Ishan healers are more found in urban areas and small cities.”
Ishan healers avoid any kind of contact with Jinn and see them as harmful creatures. Female healers of the Ishan school strictly avoid touching men, observe physical distance to non-family members and strictly do not accept male patients. They wear their hijabs in such a way that not a single hair can be seen. In contrast female Porkhan healers wear their hijabs in a much more non-strict way, and are not frightened of accepting a male patient. Porkhans usually practise in mountainous areas and villages far from all urban life. Ishan healers are more found in urban areas and small cities.
Ishan receive information about the nature of their patient’s case through reading the Quran, praying, Zikr and dreaming. They go into controlled states of lucid dreaming to receive divine information on the nature of the illness and the cure of their patients through a method commonly known in Islam as Istikhara. Porkhan on the other hand go into the world of the Jinn and communicate directly with them by putting themselves into trance through dance, music, movement, ecstatic prayer, chanting and sometimes also with the aid of entheogenics. Some healers offer sacrifices of chickens and other domesticated animals. Others offer smudge from spices and herbs such as Asfoetida (very smelly) and/or Esfand (Syrian Rue) to apeace Jinn. Or they feed the Jinn with sweets to bring good fortune. All Porkhan style healers are accustomed to close relations with the Jinn and question them about their intention concerning the illness and the patient and press them for information about cures. Sometimes they also threaten Jinn with destruction and punishment. Porkhan healers usually explain that they command legion of Jinn, sometimes Millions of them. Many Porkhan live an outsider life and people keep it often hidden when they call a Porkhan healer for help as it is not accepted by the religious classes. Indeed, the boundaries between “healer” and “sorcerer” are very often very blury indeed and magic wars between practisioners are common.
“The treatments are indeed strangely effective, even though the Jinn part is somewhat scary.”
I have described some practises similar to Porkhan style healing in my article on Exorcism and Sadqa, which discusses the work of one healer in Pakistan. That particular healer blends both Ishan and Porkhan practises in his work. He commands the Jinn through Quran recitals and secret lanugages into submission, and questions the Jinn about their purpose and what they want in return for leaving the patient. He then prescribes a sacrifice in form of a particular piece of meat to attract the Jinn away from the patient. To close the treatment he then prescribes sweets for good fortune, Zikr, Quran verses, prayers and good deeds to the patient. The treatments are indeed strangely effective, even though the Jinn part is somewhat scary and it can pull a patient into deep mental illness if it is not carefully handled. I sure felt very weird when I was putting a goat’s head under my bed to get rid of headaches and serially malfunctioning computers, but eh, somehow it worked.
Identifying the phenomena coming from a strained and distressed mind with “Jinn” and other-worldy messages is in particular a hard nut to swallow for anybody whose senses were formed by secular belief systems and the believe in materialist neurological psychiatry. These rationalist materialist types tend to be oblivious to the fact, that modern sciences of the mind such as Psychology and Psychiatry are themselves off-springs from occult traditions such as Mesmerism (mixing Hypnosis and Magnetism) and that the question of the nature of electricity and electric phenomena is to this day not sufficiently answered. There needs to be more research into these phenomena and while we have to leave the chains of material thinking to take a closer look, we also need to face the sad fact that simpleton occultism and religious obscurantism will not provide us with keys either. Encounters with Jinn and the phenomena they create are indeed not for the faint of heart, but ignorance from both sides will not aid to get closer to the truth of what Jinn really are and what “smokeless fire” is. I see in both the Quran and natural science countless clues to these questions. Religion shall not exclude science, and nor shall science exclude religion. Both can either destroy or aid each other.
“I have come to accept that Jinn have a vital role to fullfil in creation.”
The following is a short description of the journey of a female Ishan Turkmen healer and her healing method. These – in comparison to the drama of Porkhan – simple methods are very effective and reading the Quran, praying, fulfilling religious duties, reciting verses and Zikr have personally never led me down. These are in my experience the ultimate remedies to heal of “the Jinn phenomena”. As such I have come to accept that Jinn have a vital role to fullfil in creation, mainly to remind humanity of Allah, the supreme force.
“Z was a mother of 6 and in her 30s when she had frequent religious dreams and experienced the inner call to become a healer. She was however very insecure how to deal with the situation and felt not well equiped to meet the responsibility put on her by divine calling. “One night I slept, having dreamt that a little girl asked me to cure her. I did not know how to though. I heard a voice saying to me: “Read out the verse “Alam tara kayfa” (Surah Al-Fil) from the Quran. Without knowing how to read the Quran I read out the verse and began from heron the job of healing with this verse”. (x)
This is the verse in full length:
بِسمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحمٰنِ الرَّحيمِ
. أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ فَعَلَ رَبُّكَ بِأَصْحَٰبِ ٱلْفِيلِ
. أَلَمْ يَجْعَلْ كَيْدَهُمْ فِى تَضْلِيلٍ
.وَأَرْسَلَ عَلَيْهِمْ طَيْرًا أَبَابِيلَ
تَرْمِيهِم بِحِجَارَةٍ مِّن سِجِّيلٍ
فَجَعَلَهُمْ كَعَصْفٍ مَّأْكُولٍۭ
Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem
Alam tara kaifa fa’ala rabbuka bi ashaabil feel
Alam yaj’al kai dahum fee tad leel
Wa arsala ‘alaihim tairan abaabeel
Tar meehim bi hi jaaratim min sij jeel
Faja ‘alahum ka’asfim m’akool
Seest thou (Oh Mohammed) not how thy Lord dealt with the Companions of the Elephant?
Did He not make their treacherous plan go astray?
And He sent against them Flocks of Birds,
Striking them with stones of baked clay.
Then did He make them like an empty field of stalks and straw, (of which the corn) has been eaten up.
I want to give credit to Manijeh Maghsudi from whose article “Two Indigenous Healing Methods among Iranian Turkmen” (in “Shamanism and Islam: Sufism, Healing Rituals and Spirits in the Muslim World”, Edited by: Thierry Zarcone, Angela Hobart”) I am quoting in parts of this post. (x)