Saturday, January 16, 2016

Superstitious Muslim Women

“Then the crew cast lots to see which of them had offended the gods and caused the terrible storm….”Jonah 1:7a

Shakila, an uneducated Afghan young mother, told me the story of a fifteen year old girl whose mother repeatedly told her to turn down the TV because she was trying to read the Qur’an but her daughter refused. Then the girl grabbed the Qur’an and threw it on the floor. Immediately her face turned into the image of a monkey. She was taken to the hospital and has been there one year. Shakila truly believes these kinds of stories which spread like wildfire throughout her community. They aren’t questioned for verification and have an effective way of creating fear and bondage.

When Aida came to my home for tea she was bothered that I had two yellow silk roses in a vase which she interpreted as a bad omen. Then the cushions on the couch were not sitting at the right angle. Immediately she placed them at the “right” angle. Many Muslim women have relayed ominous dreams to me of seeing black cloth or of someone who lost a tooth, etc. and are convinced that someone in their family is about to die. Nasrin had an ominous dream about me and was so worried that she warned me. I decided to take spiritual authority over the dream and said, “Nasrin, your dream is not from God. I rebuke that dream in the name of Jesus.” Fatima informed me that when someone writes to you using red ink it means that person hates you. Najibi insisted repeatedly that I must finish the whole glass of orange juice she served me. I drank half of it. When I was ready to leave her place she got frantic about it. Finally I asked her why? “Because if you don’t that means something bad will happen to your husband,” she explained with fear in her voice. “Well, I don’t believe that, Najibi,” I answered and intentionally declined to drink the rest so as not to reinforce her superstitious belief.

We need to listen to our friends relay their superstitions because behind them all is fear. Making fun and shrugging them off will not help. To us they are silly superstitions but to them they are fearful realities. Superstitious Muslim women, whether educated or illiterate, will often wear charms for protection, believe in the evil eye and omens, and engage in folk religion activities and visit intermediaries to predict their future or interpret dreams. Mona, from Morocco, shared with me how she had believed in many superstitions before she made a decision to follow Jesus. Her life was controlled by fear of upsetting Satan or jinn and believed in things like she must do the laundry on Tuesdays or otherwise something bad would happen. It took her a long time after accepting Christ to understand such beliefs were superstitions and she did not need to be controlled by them. My friend, Zahra, was addicted to reading tarrot cards in order to alleviate her fears. Praise God she has been set free and has put her faith in Jesus Christ. When Amina shared her testimony at her baptism she titled her story, "From Superstition to Christ." I found it interesting that she did not title it, "From Islam to Christ."

Sadly many Muslim women, and even followers of Jesus not grounded in Scripture, are caught in a web of superstition. They are drawn to the stories of Jesus having authority over Satan and all his demons and every evil power. Offer to pray for your friend’s fear. Only the Savior, Jesus Christ, can uproot our superstitions and fears, assure us of His unconditional love, and give us peace and freedom.

Dear heavenly Father, I need wisdom to know how to respond to my Muslim friend when I hear of her superstitions. In Jesus’ name, Amen.