Hazrat Fatima in shamanism
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author: Raif Esmerović
Hazrat Fatima, the daughter of the prophet Muhammad, besides her husband Ali Ibn Talib known among the Bosnian people as hazrat Alija, is a mystical figure and a cult character in shamanism, but also inseparable segment of folk medicine and tradition, where she is a spiritual mother and protector to all stravarke. We are lead to this conclusion by numerous examples from the practice, the most noticeable one is found in one of her names which is Fatima Ana or “Fatima Mother”, from the Turkish word anna or mother. Namely, every time a Turkish woman-shaman i.e. ocakli-kadin pours molten lead in a vessel with water she says: “This is not my hand, this is the hand of Fatima Ana!” alluding that she is only the medium or instrument through which the healing power of the prophets daughter will flow.
Similar ritual practice exists in the tradition of Bosnian stravarke. At the very beginning, before the exorcist formulas and prayers are uttered above the vessel with water, with a quiet voice the stravarka utters this formula: “My dear Hazrat Fatima, my dear mother, tell your father Muhammad...”. The meaning of this magical sentence is actually a desire for supernatural intermediation, with the goal of securing the necessary support from god in order to heal successfully: stravarka asks Hazrat Fatima, which she calls her mother, who in turn will ask Muhammad and he will ask Allah.Lucky hand
Writing about the tradition of the Bosnian people, Antun Hangi in his chapter about folk medicine touched on the healing motif of the hand, he recorded: “Woman (stravarka), which is known for her knowledge of exorcism and rituals of lead melting, and especially if she is sevapli, of a lucky hand, is very respected since she can do a lot of things if god wills it, from annulling negative effects of evil eyes, cure the frightened, and also she can marry a girl or a boy
Researching shamanistic tradition of curing among the Bosnian folk, especially the ritual aspects of the cult “hand that cures” I noticed that they are familiar in numerous aspects. For example, in the exorcist formula which stravarke use to cure a diseased stomach, they say: “Come on, Hazrat Fatima, you bring your pen and with it
...”. Without a doubt in this magical request, most reliably defined is the role of the prophet’s daughter who is called upon for help.
Instrument of healing is still the hand but this time it holds the most representative prop-symbol of the shamanistic cult of healing and that is a chicken’s feather, which can also be a bird’s. The motif of a feather was used by all cultures connected to worship of nature and its forces, from the Indians, Maya, Inca all up to the ancient Egyptians. Furthermore, feather like silver is dedicated to the moon, to the female deity and embodiment of the Grand Mother, whose substitute in monotheism became the virgin Mary, Hazret Fatima and sometimes Hawa or Eve.
In a formula for curing recorded in Velika Kladuša, at the very end, an interesting verse is mentioned which literally says: “as light as a feather as clear as silver...”
which probably best represents the role and symbolism of the feather in the shamanistic cult of healing. It is quite evident that before the advent of monotheism; in the religion of our Illyrian forefathers, the cult of healing under the patronage of the Grand Mother was well developed, which is a logical sequence under the immediate influence of matriarchy. Women were and still are the best keepers of folk tradition, old language and customs, especially the ones dedicated to healing and magic, which is a result of an old practice of matriarchy in our region. Still today, through old traditions, shorter and longer forms of magical formulas, one can find and hear a lot of old words and phrases which are a priceless linguistic treasure.
Examples of the dominant role of the spiritual mother of healing do not end there. During the banishment of the red wind (Erizipel) stravark, while burning oakum on the body of the diseased, repeats: Salamaikum, Hazrat Fatima!
What are you doing?
Burning, burning, to burn!
Nine, eight, seven, ....
In abbreviated form of the name i.e. Fata she is often mentioned in basma against snake bite such as: Fata, Fata kissed gold,
in gold more gold!
At times a mother which washed the face of a spellbound child would utter: I’m not washing dreams and worry
but evil eyes and insomnia,
with one hand I and with the other Hazrat Fatima,
Hidden meaning of this ritual is obviously located in the undefined statement which hand represents which mother and probably with that one wanted to confuse and scare evil with the arcane strength of the indescribable parental love and care, in front of which it must recoil.
Another interesting aspect from folk tradition in which the prophylactic role of the prophet’s daughter is emphasized, is evident in the example of borrowing a garden seed for sowing. Namely, when a housewife gives as a gift a seed from the garden she utters: To you Hazrat Fatima gave a name and to me a seed!
She does this as a precautionary measure so that she may have yields (crop) in her garden.Saint with three roses
Fatima is often the name of famous stravarke, it was recorded that the name was often given out of love to a daughter, who was an only child. Among the folk it is believed that women with this name often give birth to boys which is obviously alluding to Hasan and Husein, the sons of Hazrat Fatima. From the now deceased stravarka, Fatima D. I once heard that the most powerful amulets for curing are created by Imam’s named Hasan, which can be connected to the story above.
Hazrat Fatima herself in folk tradition of BiH is tied to fortune telling using bean beads, where it is claimed that she used to practice this mantic discipline. This is why before divination the Bosnian diviner gathers 41 bean beads in her hand and holding them in front of her mouth she utters in a low voice the first verse of the Qur’an, and in the end she offers the prayer to Hazrat Fatima’s soul. Allegedly, with this she blesses the bean beads and strengthens them, placing them under the direction of a higher force so that it can correctly show someone’s destiny, since as they claim: “beans are never wrong, only the one using them
During the period when I visited local stravarke often with the desire to gather as much information about their work as possible, I met Alija K. now deceased, she told me about her unusual meeting with Hazrat Fatima. According to her she dreamt of her one night and she described her as “an extremely beautiful young woman, with large dark eyes and white face, which was adorned with a white scarf which had three roses tied to it”.
Allegedly, she was told in that dream that she should continue the practice of curing her mother, a wise woman which was literate during the beginning of the twentieth century in a conservative society such as Bosnia. What was especially interesting in her presentation was a love recipe for having your husband come back to you, in this formula the main protagonists are Hazrat Fatima and her husband Ali, and their connection with the holiest plant for the Bosnian people – sedefil (Ruta graveolens – rue).Hand of Hazrat Fatima
Although the origin of the most famous amulet in Islam, the so called “Hand of Hazrat Fatima (Fatima’s hand)” , is older than Islam itself, also of Judaism and Christianity, and dates back to the ancient gods whose depictions showed them with a raised right hand, signifying divine authority and power, legends about the origin are an ideal depiction how through time of the human civilization, religion never lost its primary purpose of inspiring man and of giving his life a purpose.
According to an Arabic tradition, when Hazrat Fatima found out of her husband’s infidelity, she was so distraught and in tears that she burned her palm and fingers while mixing a hot mixture of sugar and almonds. She placed her injured hand on her chest, close to her heart and breathing deeply she said: “Dear Allah, give me strength to keep calm and peaceful, protect me and help me, I trust only you
!”. As the legend continues these sincere words of an emotionally and physically hurt woman who was humiliated touched Allah that he immediately blessed her hand (berekat) and from then on the motif of her hand has become the most popular and famous amulet across the Middle and Central East and even further.
The hand of Hazrat Fatima is especially beloved among Arabian women which carry it around their necks believing that it will bring them good luck, love, fertility and keep their marriage. Men carry this amulet so that “their paths open up” i.e. so that they can achieve success and prosperity on journeys, in business, commerce, exams, ... Both sexes carry the hand of Hazrat Fatima because of its apotropaic meaning – it protects them from spellbound eyes, magic and evil spirits.
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Fatima and Ali
It is known that individual symbols are universal and irreplaceable in the history of human spirituality and one of them is the hand that represents true power of creation and spiritual strength. Certain anthropologists believe that the origin of this amulet dates back to the oldest known cultures and should be sought in the raised hand of the Phoenician god of fertility Baal or in the depictions of certain Egyptian deities, where such a position demonstrates supernatural and royal affiliation. Divine motive of a raised hand was present among Assyrian where there was a common prayer “nish kati” – “raising of the hand”, while for example in the Egyptian text “Book of doors” on the alabaster sarcophagus of Seti I in the museum of Sir John Soane it is written “Large hand” it signifies supreme authority over the sky and earth.
I probably won’t exaggerate if I state that the amulet known as Fatima’s hand is the most popular one in southern Africa where it is used as a universal symbol of protection against evil eyes, which is after all a part of the folklore according to which the motif of an opened palm has an absolute domination over such forms of evil. Almost all present magical ornament across Morocco, Algeria and Tunis is a symbol of a hand painted with henna on the entrance to a house or a wall of the house. When constructed for women then Fatima’s hand must be made out of silver, while in other opportunities it can be created on wood, metal, shells or added as an addition to the amulet created out of chapters of the Qur’an. In Algeria and Iran it is believed that Fatima’s hand has the power to protect from crocks and generally negative people. It is usually made out of the following seven metals, which in astrology are connected to the seven planets: gold, silver, copper, iron, zinc, lead and tin.
In Egypt amulets made out of turquoise in the form of an eye or hand have, according to belief, prophylactic characteristics to protect a human against evil eyes, and how deeply rooted this belief is in everyday life can perhaps be best witnessed by scenes across Cairo, or across Egypt where we can see these amulets on the entrance door to a house or rear-view mirrors inside cars. Fatima’s hand is often called Khamsa, which signifies number 5, otherwise a holly number in Shiite tradition, where the five fingers represent five members of the holly family: Muhammad, Fatima, Ali, Hasan and Husein. Namely, while the focus among the Sunnis is only on Muhammad, among the Shiite, Alawites and other Islamic directions, respect is given to all of the above. (1)
It is very interesting to note that individual lands of the Maghreb have in their national features (a flag or crest) magical symbols which signify power and protection such as the pentagram sign on the flag of Morocco. Crest of Algeria adopted in 1976 has in its middle, underneath the rising sun the hand of Hazrat Fatima (2). In both lands Fatima’s hand is connected to prophylactic statements such as: “Five in your eyes!”, “Five on you!”, “Five in the face of my enemies!”, etc.Hazrat Fatima as a cult symbol
It is necessary to emphasize that the popularity of Fatima in the Islamic world is actually a phenomena if we remember how dominant the historical marginalization of women among the Arabs, Persians and Jews has been. (3) Probably the first and most important reason is hidden in the fact that prophet Muhammad had seven children out of which only Fatima lived longer than him, and in accordance he showed her the most affection. (4) About Muhammad’s love for Fatima, Hazrat Aisha says: “Prophet rose in front of Fatima, he would welcome her, kiss her and offered her his sear. When he would enter her room she would rise to meet him, she would take his hand, welcome him and kissed him and she would offer her seat to him. She entered his room when he was on his death bed, he still welcomed her and kissed her.” (Buhari & Muslim).
Although Fatima is a cult symbol and the manifestation of female spiritual energy in shamanism with her indispensably appears Ali Ibn Talib, her husband, through whom the tradition of transmission of Islam to people was preserved. He also represents a cult character and is given mystical powers. Bosnian tradition claims that Hazrat Ali was born on second august and that day in BiH is called Aliđun (Aligun : from the Turkish word gun which means day). Fatima and Ali are often the main protagonists in numerous magical formulas such as this: “Hazrat Fatima plants flowers, Hazrat Ali encloses the garden…” In another formula which is uttered when planting vegetables it is said: “Hazrat Ali plants the garden, what did he plant – may it all sprout! Veledalin amin”. In both examples this holly couple is directly tied to vegetation and nature itself which undoubtedly alludes to the cult of fertility which has undergone reforms with the advent of Christianity and Islam, obviously a substitute for the divine couple Vidasus and goddess Thana was obtained in Fatima and her husband Ali.
Names Hazrat Fatima and Ali as marital partners, are present in love magic, despite the evident condemnation of magic work in Islam, numerous people are liberal about spells which are meant to preserve a marriage and a family. In Bosnia for example they’re not considered negative, instead they’re seen as necessary so that, usually the wife, can avert her husband from his mistress and save the family (children) in the process. It appears that other Islamic states have similar views. A wife in Malaysia which wants to prevent her husband from cheating with other women, she would make love to him on a Thursday night and after coitus she would use her middle finger of her right hand to rub her vagina and collect some sperm and vaginal fluid, which she will place inside a drink which she will then offer to her husband or lover. As soon as she dips her forefinger in the drink she utters: “E, mani, jangan kau menyukai yang lain kecuali diriku sendiri seperti selama ini, saya sajalah yang dipujinya sama seperti Ali di hadapan Fatima, berkah kun fayakun.”
In Iran and Turkey there are numerous legends about Ali, successor to Muhammad, and the most famous one was where he was familiar with and proficient in occult knowledge. To his son’s Hasan and Husein, when they were children, he created an amulet which they carried around their neck with the goal of protecting them against evil eyes. Fatima and Ali are attributed with a prophetic gift, she allegedly could interpret bean beads and he knew how to interpret figures in coffee grounds. This is probably the reason why we find their names in fal-basma i.e. formulas which are uttered before divination. Note(1) It is a horrifying fact that in Saudi Arabia, where Wahhabism rules, or more accurately a twisted version of Islam, out of which the forces of ISIS and Al Qaida sprung up; in such a society carrying amulets was pronounced as blasphemous and superstitious, and such an act is usually punished by traditional public execution where the accused people get their heads cut off by sabres.(2) In Sudan, Fatima’s hand is a ubiquitous graphical symbol which can be seen on official forms of the government and police.(3) Primitivism and barbarism that is present in Saudi Arabia is a product of a grotesque monarchy, which besides an artificial creation of Israel, represents the source of all evil in the Middle east. An interesting data is that both bloodthirsty and inhumane dictatorships have been put into place by the colonial superpower the UK with the goal of twisting and degrading the entire Islam as a religion and to destabilise the Middle East for a long period of time. Do not forget that the root of terrorism, besides in Saudi Arabia and Israel, has been created by Mossad and Israeli nationalists with the goal of endangering the Arabian and Persian peoples which are a majority. Of course, with the selfless help from the US, which donates annually millions of dollars to Israel all the while the US now has 50 million people who are registered as living on the boarder of poverty. It is absurd that to the American government 4.5 million lives of the Jews in Israel can be more important than their own citizens which pay tax regularly. In the end a question can be posed as to how the American people can allow that the money, which should improve their living standards, can go to the militaristic government of Israel and towards the realisation of the plan of killing the Palestinian people. How bloodthirsty people the Jews really are, their primary purpose is a genocide doctrine which has been murdering the Palestinian people for centuries, can be best seen by the fact that whenever a fire breaks out in Israel, it turns out that they don’t have Canadair planes for extinguishing the flames, and they plead for help to other countries. Of course, despite this fact they gladly display the possession of the newest fighter planes and tanks which they use gladly to kill and massacre the Palestinian people, destroying their homes in the process. I believe that it is not necessary to further elaborate on what type of people they are and what they enjoy. They’re not for peace and they’ll never be. Jewish dogma is that only they have the privileged status of a victim and that the suffering of other people is not important in comparison to them, and in accordance to this no one should criticise them even if they killed half of the world’s population. However, we should all be aware that the Jews are far from victims, they’re executioners and killers. And they should be called as such.(4) It is a historical fact that Islam gradually managed to ban the inhumane practice of the Arabs of killing female children, which spurred poverty and the inability of offering dowries, but because of the traditional antagonism towards women, Islam didn’t succeed in bringing equality between men and women. Today’s Muslims across Middle East don’t see anything wrong in dressing like the westerners and in using all the benefits of the western civilization, but regardless of that fact, according to their hypocritical stance, Muslim women should dress as if they were in the middle ages.
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Secret of the transfer of knowledge about healing
Healing tradition where a dominant position is healed by the hearth is present in shamanism of the peoples of Central Asia and Turkey in rituals of healing with fire, lead or wax melting, as well as utilisation of the ashes from the hearth. It is interesting how the mysterious healer Lokman, known in Bosnian folk tales, specifically the one where he has the power to communicate with plants through snake ashes, is mentioned as a third cult figure in Islamic-Shamanistic cult of healing. It is claimed that he spread the cult of healing using his hands, and perhaps the most interesting fact is that the 31st chapter of the Qur'an carries his name (Arabic Luqman), which could be a coincidence, or not.
In numerous Sufi circles that practice is visible and is presented as hereditary skill which stems from the Prophet himself. Namely, as it is believed in Sufism, at one point a mysterious voice from the fire spoke to Muhammad (s.a.v.s.) and gave him directions on how he can cure people using ash from the fire mixed with some water. The prophet listened to the voice and from that day on, he healed numerous diseased people but over the years he got tired and transferred that gift of healing to his daughter Hazrat Fatima holding her hand (often called Fatima al-Zahra or Bibi Fatima) (5).Initiation into Fatima’s cult
Initiation into the cult of healing always occurs in such a way that a certain (chosen) person dreams of Hazrat Fatima, which then states her thoughts and gives her the necessary knowledge and power. As soon as that person awakes it “feels” and “knows” that it can help other people, knowingly becoming the catalyst of divine power. Here, as we may conclude, a larger accent is placed on the healing powers themselves and not on props or ritual movements since, for example, most of the Turkish odžaklija repeat the following formula in most of their rituals: “This is not my hand…”
According to which definition Fatima herself chooses her future healers is still unknown, but an example of one case hints that with true desire and will that gift can be consciously attracted. One female healer, odžaklija, which is known as “Fatima’s servant” told her story about the initiation, which is allowed to be published and shared: “I had my first calling by Fatimah (a.s) about 14 years ago, but I was at the time not educated in anything to do with Islam nor Shamanism nor Sufism. Indeed, I was in my own way an atheist, believing only in rationality. That I was thinking so often about Fatimah I put down to some historical books I had read and which had fascinated me. Still, I had to think about Fatimah all the time for many months but then I forgot. Then my life took a turn into chaos and I had serious calamaties hitting me. A bad relationship, abuse, the loss of my home, financial ruin and bad health. It was then, in utter desperation, that I remembered Fatimah and I called out for her in a dream and she came, and after shouting at me for abandoning her she gave me her hand and I was set on the path I am on now. And I recovered everyhing I lost with her aid.”
Handing the knowledge (power) of healing to her successors is recorded in Bosnian tradition where an old stravarka holding her props gives them as a gift to one of the household inhabitants with the words: “Here you go, daughter in law, you continue, I can no longer do it!”. Namely, as I heard from several old ladies which practiced the ritual of lead melting, due to old age and disease or physical inability, stravarka would lose the will, but also the strength to perform the ritual and heal successfully, therefore she stops her work transferring her secret of healing to another, younger person. Sometimes the process of choosing and transmission of healing powers is successful and sometimes it is not, since if the stravarka doesn’t choose wisely who could serve as her substitute, the supernatural powers which facilitate healing usually subside and disappear.
According to my knowledge the surest sign that transfer was successful is evident if the person is successful in growing plants, especially flowers, but also vegetables in the garden. Anyway, all rituals of initiation into healing, among all peoples from Balkan, are closely tied to the ritual which involves a plant or trees. It is also logical since the healing ability is supported by spiritual elements in nature whether they’re called faeries, or some specific religious person such as Hazrat Fatima.
What is especially fascinating with such healing practice is the fact that the house in which a successful stravarka lives is well off and prosperous, since such a person attracts people and money. Besides prosperity, a person with knowledge of healing summons and spreads positive energy, therefore around its house grass, herbs and trees grow exuberantly and the flowers have a more intensive smell and colour, which is in and of itself a product of shamanistic practice of connecting man with nature.
However, although initiation into spiritual healing can come by means of Hazrat Fatima through a dream, it also arrives through transfer from generation to generation, by an older healer giving way to a younger one. But, in the end, it is necessary to mention another version of transfer, the initiation of Hazrat Fatima herself into spiritual medicine which can be heard from the tribes in east Turkmenistan. They confirm, in a subtle way, that the gift of healing is always of a supernatural nature and it doesn’t come easy for the one receiving it, a sacrifice is usually required: “The daughter of the prophet sat in the shadow of a tree when a yellow bird descended from heaven and stopped on one branch of this tree. The branch became dry immediately. Not long afterwards the bird left the tree and the shadow of it’s wings covered the legs of Bibi Fatimah and she became sick for seven days. Since no one was able to cure her, the Prophet asked God for help. Then, 40 perfect men were send by Allah to cure her. Coming from the heavens, seven among these forty reached the earth, alighting near a mausoleum. They put up a banner in the house of Bibi Fatimah who made some circumambulations around it and then recovered her health.”(6)Note(5) I noticed that the name Bibi (Fatima) is mostly used in Pakistan, Bangladesh and among the Muslims of India. The name Bibi itself can be found in the beliefs of Bosnian gypsies and it is an abbreviation of Bibija – the greatest female deity. Bibi has a dualistic character and is the manifestation of plague. Gypsies consider her to be their protector, according to legends in the ancient past she saved them from the plague in Egypt. Bibi in the language of gypsies has a few meanings: plague, weasel, daughter in law. Bibi (aunt) is the mother of the god, she walks in rags, with a stick and is followed by a dog. At early dawn, while the gypsies are sleeping, she passes through their village and chases away the disease from them. /Some beliefs of nomad gypsies/ GZM, Sarajevo 1958.(6) Tierry Zarcone, “Shamanism and Islam” .
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Hazrat Fatima in shamanism