Wednesday, December 07, 2005


The Baron at Gates of Vienna has an absolutely fascinating discussion of Sheikh Syed Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, best known as the man Daniel Pearl was attempting to interview when he was kidnapped and then murdered. But the Sheikh is also the Islamic authority figure for a large Islamic community right here in the U.S.

This is a must read investigative article about the Sheikh and his influence. Of course what interested me the most in what the Baron reports is the Sheikh's foray into what he calls "Quranic Psychiatry":
Book 1, Ultimate Fraud of Freudists contains results of a research and demonstration project done at the Psychiatric Research Institute, Saudi Arabia – and U.S.A Research Centers since 1977. In front of researchers from eight countries, El Sheikh Syed Mubarik Ali Shah Jilani, Vice Chancellor of International Quranic Open University, demonstrated the affects of chapters and lines from Holy Quran in healing some “incurable” mental and physical diseases. Since a large number of patients have been healed by the qualified practitioner of Quranic Psychiatry (QOU), this book gives theoretical and practical explanations of causes and remedies of many “incurable” diseases.
El Sheikh Jilani was declared Imam of Quranic Sciences in a meeting of physicians and researchers in Taif. Afterwards, Dr. Rushdee Mahmood was inspired to write a long poem in Arabic extolling the extraordinary title and honor bestowed upon his eminence El Sheikh Syed Mubarik Ali Shah Jilani, Hashmi, Wal Husseini.

Book 2 Psychiatry The Ultimate Betrayal by Bruce Wiseman carries the following declaration: “This publication has been made possible in (an effort aimed at) freeing mankind from the damaging practices of psychiatry and restoring human rights and dignity to psychiatry’s victims.” This is an abridged version being printed with the permission of the author and the Citizen Commission on Human Rights. Book 1 and book 2 compliment each other. Quranic Psychiatry scientifically proves that healing for some incurable mental (and other) diseases lie outside the ken of so-called psychiatry. Bruce Wiseman also proved it his way with statements acknowledging that many diseases are not due to physical cause-thus supporting the fact that man has non-physical aspect (the soul) that often requires specialized treatment.

The reader will find that these two books are meant to warn and save mankind from the worlds most cruel profession, and the worst kind of murdering mechanism which leaves patients neither alive nor dead. (Emphasis mine)

Wow! The world's cruelest profession?

I guess we are even then, since I consider Islam the modern world's cruelest--and most barbaric--religion. But I digress.

Here is an excerpt from the Sheikh's book on psychiatry:
In a Qur'anic Psychiatry clinic, a therapist carries out certain tests to determine the main cause of mental disorders. He or she is trained to use a thread of a particular length. This is given to the patient who holds it for some time. It is then measured very carefully. The Qur'anic therapist reads certain prayers, blows on the thread, and measures the thread again. The thread will either increase, decrease, or stay the same in length. If no change is registered, or course this means the disorder has a physical cause. If it has increased by a good length, this is due to the influence of a non-human agent. If it has decreased in length, this is due to sorcery. If it has increased length but not very much, this the effect of the evil eye. For each change, a special prescription is applied. One may also use the footprint test in the same manner as above.

In the history of pseudo-psychiatry, such psychiatrists have never been able to heal one suffering from schizophrenia, epileptic fits, seizures, psychosis, or neurosis. They are more criminal than murderers who at least kill once and for all.

People in the West know about all of these things, but have no power against them. Only a qualified Qur'anic psychiatrist can treat and save mankind. Many stories have been woven around such people as Uri Geller, a classic example of one suffering from jinn possession. His case is quite common in the East. However, in the name of "research," his promoter, Professor John Taylor, uses this fraud to obtain grants and other moneys for further study. I met the professor myself, in London University, and told him the reality of the case, but he was not interested for the above reason.

The reader can appreciate, I'm sure, the amount of scientific rigor that the Sheikh imparts to his theory. What struck me was how similar his writing was to what I have read in medieval textbooks of medicine that offer primitive explanations about the mental disorders that were observed at the time. The sheikh's explanation of jinns and satanic forces as the etiology of mental illness is surprisingly similar to the thinking in the early Middle Ages. Since the 7th century and the rise of Mohammed, in fact, little original work in medicine--or psychiatry-- was produced in the Arab world because the Koran was seen as the authority for all knowledge. No schools for higher learning existed unless they taught the Koran. This is still the case over thirteen hundred years later.

Here is an article discussing Roman Catholic doctrine toward mental illness in the Middle Ages:
Although mental illnesses, like physical ailments, were often construed as products of demonic influence during the Middle Ages, they were also given partial material explanation. As psychiatrist Jerome Kroll has suggested, "Mental . . . illnesses were attributed as much to overwork, overeating, and overindulgence in sexual activity as to climactic conditions, magic spells, and demonic possession" (1973, p. 281). However, such illnesses were still viewed as products of sin; counsel provided by priests, repentance, and even exorcism were considered the most efficacious remedies. Penitential literature, voluminously produced during this period, played a large role in mental healing. These works discussed a wide variety of indiscretions and prescribed specific acts of penance.
Sacramental practices also facilitated a sense of mental wellness. Extreme unction (called "anointing of the sick" in antiquity and renamed this after the Second Vatican Council), was often administered to those deemed at the end of their lives and was meant to allay anxieties and to help to prepare for death. Although on rare occasions this sacrament was said to restore physical health, according to the Council of Trent its primary impetus was to strengthen "the soul of the sick person by exciting in him great confidence in divine mercy." It aided the person to more easily bear "the miseries and pains of his illnesses" and to resist "the temptations of the devil" (O'Connell, 1986, pp. 114-115). Thus, as with physical wellness, medieval mental health was subsumed under a more vital notion of spiritual well-being.

Catholics nowadays tend to reject psychiatric disorders as a consequences of sin or a manifestation of evil. Islam and Islamic "scholars" remain mired in the early days of the religion's founding, with little interest in allowing in new ideas or the scientific method to its thought processes. At one time the disciples of Mohammed may have been incrementally "more humane" than their counterparts in early medieval times when it came to treating the mentally ill, but it can hardly be considered in any way "humane" to deprive patients of the benefits of science and to reject the incredible advances in the understanding and treatment of the mentally ill that have transpired in the last hundred years particularly.

Western medicine --particularly psychiatry--are far from perfect; and its theories and treatments have at times been abusive and counterproductive; but at least it has not been totally stagnant for centuries.

So-called "Quranic" Psychiatry is neither humane nor "scientific" as the Sheikh proclaims; and as this earlier post demonstrates. It is simply another abuse of psychiatry perpetrated by religious fanatics and anti-science zealots.

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