The Rapid Healing of the Sufi Dervishes
By Ron Iverson
On July 1, 1999, Jamal Hussein, a theoretical physics professor at Aman University in Jordan, entered a radiological facility in Cleveland, Ohio, to be studied by a room full of skeptical psychologists and medical doctors as he inserted a rusty 25 cm. skewer through both of his cheeks (Hall, Don, Hussein, White, & Hostoffer, 2001). Professor Hussein is the director of the Paramann Programe Laboratories in Amman, which coordinates the efforts of 84 scientists, primarily from the Middle East and Eastern Europe, who study various paranormal/spiritual phenomena. He has also been a member of a mystical Sufi school known as Tariga Casnazaniyya for 24 years, beginning when he was a teenager in Iraq. The Casnazaniyya sect is known for performing feats of rapid wound healing after deliberately caused bodily damage (DCBD) (Dossey, 1998). Although Dr. Hussein had observed and studied this phenomenon prior to this demonstration in Cleveland, he had never performed it himself, and had no prior training or preparation. He had received permission and instructions in a trance/dream to engage in the Cleveland study from his Master, Shaikh Muhammad al-Casnazani, with whom Dr. Hussein had had no face-to-face contact since leaving Iraq ten years ago (Jamal Hussein, personal communication, August 24, 2002).
Although he told me that he was initially terrified, Dr. Hussein successfully inserted the skewer, where it remained for 35 minutes (when performed in the Middle East, the maximum is normally two minutes) while the scientists performed a number of traditional radiological, immunological and EEG evaluations, and ran an electronic random event generator. Dr. Hussein reported that there was no pain associated with the procedure, although he was able to experience pain in other parts of his body. There was a loss of only about eight drops of blood following the removal of the skewer. The left facial puncture healed completely within two minutes; and the exit wound on the right cheek was three-quarters healed after eight hours, and completely healed in another two hours. There were no scars or alterations in the facial hair patterns after the healing. Except for the initial anxiety at the beginning of the experiment, Dr. Hussein exhibited normal, non-distressed behavior during the procedure and during the healing period afterward, walking from room to room to perform the measurements, and conversing normally with the researchers.
Dr. Hussein’s self-report and the objective measures indicated that he was not in a specific religious, meditative, hypnotic or altered state of conscious, and the researchers have been unable to find physiological or psychological causes for the phenomenon. It is said by the dervishes that the califa of the sect transmits the ability to perform rapid healing to the disciple through an initiatory handshake upon entering the Sufi school. The dervishes assert, and Dr. Hussein’s laboratories have observed, that they can successfully perform these DCBD feats on the bodies of others who are not part of the sect, including children, which lends support for the explanation that the abilities are transferred from one individual to another. The transference of the DCBD ability suggests the possibility of distant intentionality and nonlocal healing. It not only brings into question our assumption that all healing is essentially intra-personal, but also challenges the very basis of the materialistic worldview that has dominated western science since Descartes.
Dossey, L. (1998). Deliberately Caused Bodily Damage. Alternative Therapies, 4(5), 11-16, 103-111.
Hall, H., Don, N. S., Hussein, J. N., White, E., & Hostoffer, R. (2001). The scientific study of unusual rapid wound healing: A case report. Advances in Mind-Body Medicine, 17(3), 203-213.
Ronald Lloyd Iverson, Ph.D., served as assistant editor and layout design for Habibi from 1992 to 2002, and continues to assist in the production of The Best of Habibi. He has Bachelors degrees in Sociology (Pomona College) and Religious Studies (UCSB), a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology (Cal Poly), and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology (Pacifica Graduate Institute). He worked for 25 years as a child custody mediator and evaluator with the Superior Court in Santa Barbara, and is currently a psychotherapist in private practice. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.