Tuesday, 29 October 2013 17:03

The GP or the exorcist?

Training

When PISANG was formed 5 years ago, the Muslims in UK refrained from talking openly about jinn possession problems, fearing that they might be ridiculed for believing a medieval concept. Things have now changed and the awareness of jinn related disorder has risen amongst them. As a result, Muslims are more open to discuss their jinn-related disorders and also recommending friends or relatives to seek therapy for suspected jinn-related disorders.

The awareness of jinn-related disorders has brought both relief and discomfort. Many are relieved to find out that there is another explanation to the predicaments they have been suffering in the past. They now believe that they have been suffering from jinn possession and started to look at other forms of therapy. Ruqyah (Quranic incantation) is one form of therapy for jinn-possession. The rush to find the "cure" to jinn-possession has caused an increase in the number of people learning and offering ruqyah.

However, the increase in people offering ruqyah has also raised concerns about the quality of ruqyah therapy being offered. Some jumped into offering ruqyah therapy after a short weekend course with little or no supervised training. Some would jumped into offering poor quality ruqyah simply to make quick money out of vulnerable clients. Someone can claim to be a "raqi" (a term commonly used in the UK to refer to someone who reads ruqyah) when in fact he or she is simply a "qari" (reciter of Quran). The term "muallij" (therapist) is a better term to refer to people who delivers Quranic Therapy. Muallij implies that the person is delivering therapeutic remedy. "Muallij" and "Islamic Medical Treatment Practitioner" are terms commonly used to refer to those offering Islamic Medical Treatment or Quranic Therapy in South-East Asian countries e.g. Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore.

Ruqyah is a good diagnostic tool for jinn-possession and reading a set of Quranic verses on someone with jinn-possession can trigger a reaction. Vulnerable clients will consider the person to be a raqi simply because he or she is able to "awaken" the jinn. What vulnerable clients fail to see is whether the raqi is equipped with sufficient knowledge to deliver therapeutic benefit to get the client out of their predicament. An ignorant "raqi" checking for jinn-possesion can be likened to an ignorant person who pokes a wasp nest with a stick to check if there is any wasp. They are not equipped with sufficient knowledge to deal with the situation after the wasps (or jinn) become apparent. As a result, there have been cases where clients mental health ended up being worse after treatment by ignorant raqis.

Some ignorant raqis have also been discouraging clients to seek medical help from the GPs or even advising clients to stop taking medication. This can be very dangerous and there are evidences to support this concern. Other concerns include dangerous exorcism methods.

The medical profession has now recognised that the awareness of jinn-possession has increased significantly. They have been trying to get those who believe to have jinn-possession to seek help from their GPs/psychiatrists. For example, the Royal College of Psychiatrists had issued leaflets for Muslims (click here for for more information). However, most Muslims are not aware of the initiative. Muslims with jinn-possession and have been in and out of hospitals, taken all sorts of medications and western psychotherapy will never be convinced by the leaflet if they experience improvement after undergoing Quranic Therapy.

In brief, we have to address the following issues:

  • Muslims are more aware of jinn-related disorders
  • Muslims who are convinced that they have jinn-related disorders will seek Islamic-inspired therapy
  • The increase in ill-equipped people offering therapy for jinn-related disorders pose a great danger to the vulnerable public
  • Muslims perceive Modern medicine as being ineffective for the treatment of jinn-related disorders

A way forward is for the British government to follow the footsteps of the Malaysian Government. The Malaysian government passed the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Act last year. Islamic Medical Treatment (with ruqyah as the basis for treatment) is one of the recognised alternative therapy or medical treatment. Under the Act, all practitioners are required by law to register and abide the conditions and guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health Malaysia. This will make it easier for the authorities to monitor the practitioners. It will also increase the quality of Islamic Medical Treatment through research and compliance, and protect the public from unscrupulous practitioners.

The Act has also prompted Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences, in collaboration with Darussyifa , to offer diploma course on Islamic Medical Treatment. Darussyifa is the most respected, oldest and largest Islamic Medical Treatment organisation in Malaysia. The course will hopefully create a new breed of Quranic Therapists who can bridge modern medicine with Islamic Medical Treatment / Quranic Therapy. This is far cry from UK instant raqis.

Rather than discouraging the Muslims from seeking Quranic Therapy, the NHS should look seriously into Quranic Therapy with the aim of offerering the services under NHS. This will be effective in removing unscrupulous raqis who endanger the public.