Parapsychological phenomena

Abbas Raza writes of Stephen Braude’s book “The gold leaf lady and other parapsychological investigations.”

Fascinating, of course. Still, my Sufi shaikh always taught me that though many “normal” people were capable of such things through no effort of their own, they were child’s play for the spiritual masters.

Many are attracted to Sufism for levitation, prophecy, healing powers, etc, but for seekers these must never be the goals. In fact, for true seekers, they are usually distractions: they are often hijabat-e-noorani (light-based veils that veil the seeker God), and due to human beings’ inherent fascination with the paranormal and with power over others, they create issues of the ego that disrupt the seeker’s progress.

6 thoughts on “Parapsychological phenomena”

  1. Being a Muslim, The powers of Prophecy, healing and the rest are normally associated with very pious Prophets. I would never believe a Sufi has the powers to prophesies, heal or levitate.

    Nice blog btw. I happened along it by chance.

  2. Welcome, Reza. Actually foreseeing the future (which is what prophecy with a small p means), faith healing, levitation etc are not uncommon – among people of all faiths and none. The greatest thing is nearness to Allah; these things are not all that unusual or rare. No Islamic text claims that such powers are limited to the Prophets.

    For instance Umar (RA) was not a prophet, but, far away, he saw the army being attacked from behind the mountain. And this isn’t that unusual either. Most of us think we are limited by the 5 senses, but a lot of fairly “impious” people can miraculously know things by what we call ESP, and non-medical faith healing is quite common. Human beings have pretty extensive powers, though they vary from person to person.

  3. Well I wasnt referring to ESP. I believe our dreams are a sign of sometimes things to come and sometimes signs from God. But to say one knows the future 100% of the time as a prophecy is different.

    Non medical healing that you refer to might be the reason why a poor humble person thinking another can heal him/her is actually healed by the power of belief alone. There is a term for it and is called Placebo. It is used as a test technique in drug studies all across the world with people given Placebo drugs and actual drugs. Surprisingly there have been cases where Placebo’s worked better than actual drugs because patient belived they could be healed by it.

    The powers might not be limited to Prophets, your right. But the power to see the future is not any mortal man’s forte`. That is something we as muslims do know. A glimpse or a glimmer here and there true, but no 100% fortelling.

    Btw. I will add you to my blogroll.. If you don’t mind. Feel free and more than welcome to hop down to mine and leave your footprints as well. See you around.

  4. An interesting discussion, Reza.

    However: in order to establish that a person is, e.g., healed by the placebo effect or by the special power God has given the ‘healer’ (and all power is from God alone, needless to say, whether it’s from drugs or persons or from placebo!) one would have to marshal evidence in those cases AGAINST what the actual effect was. The placebo effect actually brings evidence in favour of a person’s self-healing powers (also, may I add, granted by God to human beings).

    Attempts to distinguish between powers that a person has from the Power of God is, essentially, alien to a Sufi mindset. To me, all power is from God and I feel no need to mentally divest a person/force of nature/ta’veez etc from that power. I’m generally quite aware of how in the “majaz” we have power (granted by God), and in the Real, nothing has any power at all and all is “dead.” So I feel that the discussion is at cross-purposes and goes into technicalities of what is “100% fortunetelling” and what is “somewhat fortunetelling.”

    If we were true non-believers in the “power” of people etc we would never ask anyone for help. And no one I know is in that state. You wouldn’t apply for jobs, or work, or use medicines, or read a book for knowledge if you really didn’t believe in the means God has created. We live in the God-created world of “asbaab” (means): causes and means do not negate the “First Cause.”

    (The word “prophecy” is not the same as Prophethood, btw. A person can be a “prophet” but not a Prophet of God–that is an office, not a characteristic.)

    “Ghaib” is what is hidden to everyone but God. But God can show “the hidden” to anyone He wishes–and only God can show the hidden–and so it is never fully hidden, as you might know via your true dreams etc.

  5. Good discussion. I want to add.
    True that nobody has 100% fortune-telling ability
    True that Only God is Aalim-ul-ghaib and even prophets with capital P are not except what God lets them know
    True that Sufis, and some such God-fearing persons in other faiths also have some limited approach to some’prophacies’

    The difference between a true prophet’s vision, prophacy etc. and those of the non-prophets is that the Prophet is 100% sure of what he is seeing even if it is dream (Ibrahim AS’s dream)
    I therefore differentiate between “wahy” which is with true prophets only (100% sure coming from Allah SWT)
    and Kashf, karamat etc. (also from Allah SWT but not 100% and sometimes only “ishara” etc.
    So it is true that “Kashf” is commonly experienced by sufies of high order and they do not advertise, in fact like Shabana says they conceal such powers.
    This is also true that sometimes “ishara” is experienced by ordinary sinful persons like myself, who is unconvinced of sufi-ism (although I know about Koonj)

  6. Mega-sinful people like myself are, of course, never sure of anything. Still I would never imagine my state to be similar to those of awliya such as Hz Nizamuddin Awliya, or Hz Khwaja Ghareeb Nawaz, or Hz Usman Hujweiri – people like the great shaikh who said confidently “hunooz Dilli door ast” (Dilli is still far away).

    Sufism is what illuminates our entire history from Prophethood on, worldwide. Sadly, Wahhabi thought and Islamism have reduced our spiritual ambitions and expectations about what God, the al-Wahhab, is fully capable of granting.

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