x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

There is nothing light about the dark art of black magic

A religious sheikh once told me that the Muslim world seems to be obsessed with two things: dream interpretations and black magic.

A religious sheikh once told me that the Muslim world seems to be obsessed with two things: dream interpretations and black magic.

Regularly there are stories released by police in the UAE of them busting scam artists pretending to be “sorcerers” or “witches”. These raids are usually accompanied by photos of large stocks of potions and strange tools.

The anti-economic crime unit at Dubai Police said last year that about 80 per cent of the victims duped out of cash were Arab women and nearly all of them were looking for love. They either wanted to cast a spell on a man so he would fall in love with them, or a spell on another woman to stay away from a particular man. More than anything else, these are acts of desperation by these poor women.

Religious authorities in the UAE also told me they regularly get frantic calls from the public related to Jinn or “black magic”, with worries a spell has been cast on them. The complaints are usually related to depressing issues, like calling to say they feel someone put a spell against them getting pregnant, or cast against them finding the “right person”, and marriage and so on.

The topic of black magic came up this month when lawyers and a member of the Federal National Council said that a 1983 law that considers sorcerers con artists was insufficient. They called for the law to be amended to allow harsher punishment. Currently those found guilty could be sentenced to three years in prison.

I completely agree that harsher sentences should be applied as I know some victims of these schemes.

I did some investigative reporting on black magic many years ago, when I met with supposed sorcerers and witches in Morocco and Oman. I also sat with some people who were reported to be “the best magicians” and listened to their stories. I was told then that the Omani magic was older and “stronger” than magic practised elsewhere, and I recall how my friends warned me against sitting with these people at the risk of getting spells cast on me. Friends gave me small copies of the Quran, and one even gave me a tiny Bible, to stuff in my pockets before they let me go ahead and do this story.

As an animal activist, I call tell you it was quite horrible to be near these black magicians, as there is a lot of animal abuse and ritual killing involved in the casting of their spells.

I felt they should be arrested just based on the amount of suffering they inflicted on small creatures like birds, cats, and lizards as part of a casting ritual.

The negative energy in those rooms was so thick, you could cut it with a knife. Some were abusive of the Quran, ripping its pages before using these torn fragments in a brew. Two of them said they used the assistance of Jinn, and another said they used the devil.

They also used herbs and drug-like substances to cause certain effects in their victims and those who seek their help. It is like entering a laboratory of twists and turns, with haunting chants that are creepier than any spell. Some people I interviewed swore that the magic did work, and they did get what they wanted out of it. The fact someone would go that far to cast a malign spell is more telling about the state of their soul than it is about the target of the spell.

Hamdallah, thankfully, there are verses from the Quran that should be recited as protection against black magic, the evil eye, and generally anything bad or negative.

I remember talking to the authorities in the different cities where there are many known sorcerers and witches, and they told me that every time they arrested someone, a new one would come in their place.

They blamed the people who keep on seeking them out, as these scam artists will show up only if there is demand for their services.

The best advice was given to me by the same sheikh who told me about the obsessions. “Just believe in Allah, believe in yourself, and after each test in life, there is a break, just wait for it. For if you don’t believe in positive outcomes, they will never come to you.”

rghazal@thenational.ae

Twitter:@Arabianmau