By day he is a BlackBerry-wielding computer analyst, but by night he destroys evil spirits using the Koran. Meet Mazlan Hakim, one of the new generation of Malaysia’s bomoh or witchdoctors.
A belief in the supernatural is widespread in Malaysia, but the practice has a different twist in the country where meddling with the occult is banned under Islam.
Mazlan Hakim is one of a new breed of bomoh who are educated, plugged-in to the modern world, and base their ghostbusting and healing on Islamic precepts instead of animist or otherworldly techniques.
The 56-year-old has been a bomoh for 30 years and unlike his non-Islamic counterparts who say they use demons known as jinn to do their bidding, he unleashes verses of the Koran to heal the sick and drive out evil spirits.
Mazlan looks like a typical executive as he sips a latte and checks e-mails on his cellphone. but his conversation is anything but routine.
“There are two types of jinn, the Muslim and the non-Muslim jinn,” he says. “The worst is the Muslim jinn as the other jinn come out of the body when I read passages from the Koran, but the Muslim jinn are immune to the Koran so I have to use my telekinetic abilities to pull the demon out.”
Mazlan says he has seen spirits since he was 15, but it was only after studying under religious scholars that he sharpened his mental powers and mastered telekinesis, which he claims to demonstrate by moving ping pong balls.
As he closes his eyes and his face scrunches in concentration, one white ping pong ball on the table somehow starts to tremble before moving slowly towards the other.
“This is not a parlor trick, I use my mind to chase out the spirits that have possessed people, this and the Koran give me success,” he says. “I have an almost 100 percent success rate and most of my clients are rid of the spirits or curses that plague them.”
Such claims would seem to be at odds with Islam, and the religious authorities in Malaysia who are notorious for their hardline enforcement of moral and spiritual rules.
Islamic bomoh are tolerated and even approved of, as an alternative to old-style black magic practitioners who still do a brisk trade with their concoctions and incantations. Magazines are filled with ads for “love potions” and elixirs to “stop wandering spouses” and “get even with the neighbors.”
Occult researcher Azizah Ariffin says Malays have long practiced the dark arts, originally derived from animist practices.
“Black magic has been a part of Malay life for many centuries as the village bomoh still held on to animist beliefs and rites of earlier religions to cure people,” she says. “Upon the arrival of Islam, the imam took care of the people’s spiritual welfare.”
“It was not until the 1980s that the Islamization of the bomoh began, and only recently have many witchdoctors begun using Koranic verses to cure people instead of rituals,” she says.
Azizah says old-style techniques like burning aromatic resin to summon the jinn and commune with spirits, and brewing up magical medicines, are now less in favor.
“The Islamic bomoh are the ones who use the Koranic verses and they do no harm but help to cure ailments and remove black magic spells. It is the bomoh who don’t use the Koran that are of concern because only some do good while others are the real black magic practitioners using animist rituals,” she says.
Cleric Mohammad Tamyes Abdul Wahid says although black magic is against Islam, it is widely used in Malaysia by those intent on controlling spouses or cheating others out of their possessions.
“We must differentiate between bomoh who use the words of the Koran and try to help heal people using these holy verses and phrases, compared to those who try to seek the help of jinn and ghosts to gain favor,” he says.
One example is Haron Din, a senior figure in the Islamic party PAS, who is one of the best-known bomoh and yet still part of the religious establishment. Three decades ago he opened a clinic outside Kuala Lumpur where he and a group of faith healers exorcise demons and spirits using Koranic verses, and hundreds still flock there every day.
A long line of people on Sunday snaked across the sand of Miami Beach, Florida, as dozens of travelers from Latin America waited their turn at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination booth. Sweating under the afternoon sun, visitors checked into an online system — no proof of residence required — and soon after received a free, single-dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and a vaccination card. People had come from all over Latin America — Ecuador, El Salvador, Venezuela — where the vaccine rollout has been slow and hampered by supply shortages. “In my country, [COVID-19] is getting out of hand and there’s
‘COVERT’ ACTIVITY: The High Court ruled against a Chinese-born Australian former adviser to a state lawmaker, who allegedly advanced ‘policy goals of a foreign principal’ A Chinese-born Australian political adviser yesterday lost his challenge in Australia’s highest court against laws banning covert foreign interference in domestic politics. John Zhang (張智森) also lost his Australian High Court challenge in a unanimous decision of seven judges to the validity of search warrants executed by police at his Sydney home and offices last year as part of an investigation into illegal foreign interference on behalf of China. Zhang was an adviser to New South Wales Lawmaker Shaoquett Moselmane, whose membership in the opposition Labor Party was suspended after he was also the target of police raids. The raids in June last
A man was left stranded on a glass-bottomed suspension bridge in northeastern China after sudden gale-force winds shattered the transparent panels around him. The man was on the 100m-high bridge at Piyan Mountain in Longjing city, when it was hit by sudden strong weather, the local tourism department said. TRAPPED Gusts of up to 150kph blew out several glass panels, trapping the tourist until he could be rescued by firefighters, police, and forestry and tourism personnel more than half an hour later. Photographs shared on social media showed the man clinging to the side of the bridge, surrounded by gaping holes where the
Scores of dead bodies have been found floating down the Ganges River in eastern India as the country battles a ferocious surge in COVID-19 infections. Authorities on Tuesday said that they have not yet determined the cause of death. Health officials working through Monday night retrieved 71 bodies, officials in Bihar state said. Images on social media of the bodies floating in the river prompted outrage and speculation that they died from COVID-19. Authorities performed post mortems on Tuesday, but said that they could not confirm the cause of death due to the decomposition of the bodies. More corpses were found floating in