Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Reciting the Koran to heal schizophrenia

This past week-end, Ian and I took an EasyJet flight to Marrakech, Morocco, a city three hours away by air. I wish I were there in the swinging sixties - no, actually no need, as I'm sure the city, the old part, the Medina, hasn't changed a bit. The hippies are mostly gone, of course, but occasionally  you spot young tourists in jeans and a certain knitted stripey head gear that was a cross between a cap and a voluminous beret to cover your dreads.

When I go on these trips, I'm always hoping to find material for my blog. I usually do, which is serendipity, or what Carl Jung calls synchronicity. But, what were my chances in Marrakech, a city where I don't know the language (the Arabic one, at least) or the culture?  Amazing, as it happened.

The second day we were there, Ian and I hired a local guide through the hotel. Ali took us on a walking tour of the Medina, to places that we wouldn't normally see as a tourist because the labrynthine streets make it notoriously difficult to find your way back to your hotel. We got deeper and deeper into the ancient heart of the town, stopping at one point to look at an old caravan hotel, where the owners slept upstairs and the animals stayed in the courtyard below. At one point, Ali pulled us aside to explain that we were passing a special hospital. He pointed to a low doorway framed by beautiful, but crumbling Moroccan tiles. The door was open and there was a sign posted in Arabic announcing the hours that the clinic was open.

"Here in Morocco," Ali said, "we sometimes put our faith more in old practices than in modern medicine. This is a place where mentally disturbed people come and they are encouraged to recite the Qur'an. It's all about belief, but people get cured." He pointed to another doorway to the left of the clinic. And that's where they do, how do you call it?" He pretended to have a wound and started to suck the blood out. "Blood letting," I said.  I edged closer to the door of the clinic, and sure enough, a man was sitting on a bench in the tiny room, reciting the Qur'an.

When I got back to the hotel, I looked up the following Internet explanation. According to this writer, not surprisingly, it's the special vibration of the words of the Qur'an, that intrinsically heal.

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