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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Demonic possession in Islam

Islam has told so many stories about evil spirits that dwell in places such as wastelands, and unclean places like bathrooms. It also told us stories about how those evil demonic spirits posses our bodies and make do things beyond our control.

So what is an evil spirit? In religious definition; an evil spirit (or any spirit) is a creature that “God” created from fire, this creature is invisible to humans, and has super natural abilities. One of those abilities is possessing humans (obviously).

Points of weakness: Evil spirits are claimed to be powerful creatures, but just like any other creature they have weakness points. The most great weakness those evil spirits have is when someone repeats certain verses from the Holly Qur’an, and when praising God’s name when someone feels the presence of an evil spirits.

When do evil spirits possess humans? There are so many scenarios for an evil spirit to possess a human such as when you enter a bathroom (un-clean places) without praising God’s name (Thank God for Jeff the powerful bath cleaner), or when you’re walking in a complete wasteland where all evil spirits dwell, Not believing in God’s existence, urinating or defecating on the holly Qur’an, and lastly when you go to sleep without saying your prayers.

Of course, everything mentioned above is a huge load of nonsense. And of course there is no such thing as evil spirit or demonic possession. And if you’re a religious person, you must be asking yourself, “If it’s nonsense, then why do millions of people believe in it?”

In all my discussion about religion, I find myself returning to the very same argument that sparked the beginning of religion and everything else that we take and take not for granted. The Brain, it is the one organ in our body that makes us know that we exist, our brain naturally needs to ask questions and find answers as part of its natural role to gather information that can best serve us in our every day struggle to survive in our man-made-jungle.

So what does demonic possession has to do with our brain? Well, surely you must’ve gone out in to the dark woods one day, and felt un-easy as if a presence of something watching you and out to get you. The reason you feel fear when walking alone in dark places is the natural reaction of the mind to that kind of place, it is a defense mechanism as if you’re brain is telling you to be careful. Our brain is always keeping us on full alert when we’re in a place that looks like is filled with danger or in a place that a predator could be lurking in the shadows.

Islam exploits our fears of unknown danger, it tells us stories about evil creature that watch us from other worlds waiting for a chance to possess us and control our bodies and brains. And yes Islam benefits a lot from making you feel afraid. For a very simple reason; when we’re feeling week and afraid we wish that there is someone powerful that can take away our fears and make us feel relieved, This is when Islam tells us to turn to a holly delusion to rid ourselves of a fear that Islam itself has planted in our minds, a person who keeps counting on a delusion to put his/her mind at ease, is at risk of losing his/her sanity to that very same delusion.

Counting on an imaginary God to save us from evil spirits is as depending on Spiderman to save us from the green goblin. Neither of them exists, so why are we so afraid? The basic reason for our fear is because of all the stories that we hear from early ages, it’s not any different from when a child learns not to touch hot objects, the experience can be excruciating and prints a trigger in the mind that makes a child afraid of getting near hot objects in the future. In our everyday life we are exposed to graphic violence on television, even at an early age, not to mention that we find ourselves drawn in to watching horror films that has an indirect impact on our way of thinking.

The point is; that our fear of evil spirits does not make them real, as long as we can understand the reason and history behind such an idea, the fear will go away. Islam was not the first ideology to come up with such mythical creatures; they are also mentioned to exist in all other religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, and Hinduism … etc. It seems like using the “demonic possession” propaganda is Islam’s way of making a person dependent on a illusionary God to save him/her from a predator that does not exist in the first place.

Many people of this day and age have wised-up, and decided not to believe in such superstitions yet millions and millions more in 3rd world nations believe in the existence of those creatures, even though they have never seen it or felt it. The fact of the matter is that people who are not willing to probe deep to find answers find themselves accepting superstitions as facts.

There are people suffering from unknown psychological problems that make them act and behave abusively to others or to themselves, thousands of years ago, those psychological illnesses were considered demonic possessions, and were treated by strapping down the sick person and beating them with torture tools as to expel the evil spirit inside them. Since then science has advanced and realized that religion was wrong about demonic possession, as it turns out that the human brain is a very complex thing, and most of the time it confuses between fact and fiction, because there is a very thin line between sanity and insanity.

Living and working in Saudi Arabia for more than five years, has given me a chance to closely observe the fear of that, which does not exist, even though were living in the twenty first century there are millions of people here swapping stories about demonic possessions, a colleague of mine at work is always concerned about his father’s psychological state, he claims that his father is possessed by an evil spirit, that makes him behave hysterically, so instead of taking him to a professional psychologist, he admitted his father to an Imam, naturally the Imam declared that his father is possessed by an evil spirit, and that he would have to expel the evil spirit by using the traditional methods, not only his father’s condition got worse but now he is also beaten up by superstitious person who believes that he has the knowledge of curing people and giving fake hope to them. Taking that in to consideration, my colleague hasn’t learned from that experience and took his father to real doctor; instead he took his friend’s advice and admitted his father again to other Imams.

What it all comes down to in the end is this, that our ignorance and unwillingness to accept science as a fact, and the willingness to accept religion’s mythology is the main reason why we are in danger of hurting ourselves and the people around us. The universe is vast enough and filled with so much mysteries that science may not be able to explain at this point, but that doesn’t mean that it is not capable of finding the answers eventually. Religion was wrong about so many things, it was wrong about the earth’s movement, and believing that physical sickness was caused by demonic possession, Religion was wrong then, and it’s still wrong now, and it will still be wrong in the future.