The American mission in Afghanistan has not succeeded as expected. That’s an understatement. And Afghanistan isn’t the only place marred by failure. In Iraq, just last week, twin suicide bombings killed 32 and wounded 110. Iranian backed factions still cause havoc in Iraq. In Afghanistan we all witnessed last week’s tragedies. All this instability is about more than Islamic fundamentalism. That part of the world is known for Muslim militancy, but the historic legacy of witchcraft may be an even more destabilizing influence. Babylon, centered in today’s Iraq, was the historic center of Mesopotamian idolatry more than 4,000 years ago. It was the cradle of earth’s witchcraft. Similarly, Afghanistan has a history of witchcraft and black magic curses. I have ministered to many Afghan emigres. They came to me as a Christian exorcist for help to break curses on their lives that their Muslim Imams, spiritual leaders, couldn’t cancel. Everywhere one goes in Afghanistan, especially in the countryside, fortune tellers operate. They often locate at Islamic shrines, such as the Hazra Ali Shrine, and even at the entrances to Muslim mosques.
All cross the Middle East psychics offer advice on a larger scale larger than in America. In Saudi Arabia divination is considered sorcery and is punishable by death. But in Afghanistan people constantly see to get rid of “jinns,” the Muslim word for demons or devils. These devils are believed to be intermediary beings with the will to choose good and evil. When evil they are under the control of Iblis (Satan). They can even shape shift as animals. Witches are known as “Jinn catchers.”
To get rid of their jinns, people wear amulets, perform animal sacrifices, and even seek out Islamic exorcists. Imams are called upon regularly to use supposedly magical quotations from the Koran to heal illnesses, acquire power, and bring good luck. They read dice, cards, palm leaves, and coffee grounds to ward off evil spirits. In next door Pakistan, astrologers have their own TV show. The leader of Pakistan, Afghanistan’s neighbor, is said to sacrifice a black goat every day to protect himself from black magic.
To expel a jinn, sorcerers in Afghanistan advise a diet of bread and black pepper along with sleeping on the ground. Some even bury themselves in earthen mounds.
Here’s the real spiritual issue Americans have faced in Iraq. Our military arrived with the idea that politics and guns could solve the country’s problems. Non-westernized Afghans see all difficulties as spiritual matters. The Taliban and their ilk have emphasized a worldview of supernaturalism, of Allah and jinns, and that is one reason we’re in the mess we’re in over there. It isn’t the Taliban who have won, the jinns have.