Islamic Faith Healing in Indonesia

Source: The New York Times

Antonio Zambardino considers himself to be neither religious nor superstitious, but when he stumbled across an exorcism while photographing in a remote area of Indonesia he was compelled to find out more about what he had witnessed.

The exorcism, he learned, was part of an Islamic healing practice that in Indonesia also involves prayer, acupuncture, herbal remedies, cupping, chanting and hypnotherapy. Islamic healing — called al Tibb-el-Nabawi in Arabic — is based on passages from the Quran and precepts developed from the eighth century through the Middle Ages, a time when medicine in Islamic countries was more advanced than in Europe. It is often the only medical care available in remote poor areas, where it sometimes exists alongside, or is mixed with, animist beliefs. Many wealthy and educated families in cities also seek out practitioners for exorcisms.


Mr. Zambardino, 34, examined the growing popularity of the practice, particularly in Jakarta, where the number of registered clinics using these techniques has skyrocketed. It has become a very big business, with herbal remedies sold widely and attracting patients from throughout the Muslim world.

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