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Warning: This article is not for the faint hearts.

When I was in Uni, one of my friends who had come to Mombasa for the first time to study, confessed to me about something. He told me of how he was warned of the Mombasa ladies. That sometimes you may be lured by a very beautiful lady only to find out she is a jinn (genie) lol. Well, I couldn’t agree to the statement but neither could I deny it. I very well knew how the upcountry folks tend to be scared whenever they visit Mombasa for the first time. The stories spread and so does the stereotype.

See Mombasa is by the sea which makes it natural that jinns will be more attracted to this part of the town. They love oceans and seas and that is basically their home. Nonetheless, culture and traditions of the ancestors of this area was such that, while some wanted to be as far away from the whole jinn issue, some went to the far extents of hunting them down and using them for witchcraft and personal agendas. Some were just victims while some sought them. And one other fact about Jinns is that they can be inherited in the family which led to generations after generations being innocently possessed.

Now for the scared-chicken me, fate has made it for me such that I have witnessed exorcism more than 5 times. The first time was when I was around 11 to 12 years old in primary school when one of the Muslim girls suddenly got possessed. It was an exam day so you can imagine half the excitement of postponement of my exam at the same time, fear and sympathy for the girl. The school I was in was a Christian school so the Christian teachers together with the director took their bibles and off they started the prayers. The doors to the room were closed and so were the windows so we couldn’t see anything inside. For almost one hour, we could their loud prayers, some commotion inside, more volume and more volume again until that door finally opened. Before I could understand what exactly was happening, my IRE teacher summoned the few Muslims in the school asking for those who could recite qur’an. Apparently, everyone was looking at me; the 12 year old me to go do exorcism to a fellow kid. Right now, thinking about it, I realize how much danger our teacher put us into. Nonetheless, we still went. The girl’s brother, my teacher and I. Upon entering, the Christian teachers left with the look like, “she is all yours.”

The girl didn’t have her head scarf on. Her long hair was so messed up. She was pacing around the room like it was her ego that had taken over; walking arrogantly across like a boss. So I started reciting surat Yasin. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know what surah was to be read but I still went on with the surah with her brother and my teacher following along. The girl was laughing at us, mocking us, insulting us; we were being useless. She wasn’t feeling anything. And for once I felt how really small I was. By the time I was done with Yasin and there was no improvement, I remembered surat Jinn and this is when things started getting wild. She was yelling, screaming in pain. I was shaking now, my hands too cold. There was nothing heroic about this; just shudders of fear. After some verses, she was holding my knees. Don’t even ask me how she got there but she was; holding my knees begging me to read louder because, “He is there. I can see him” pointing somewhere above our heads. It was terrifying and my knees wobbled. I almost thought i’d either pee on myself or faint in the process. She then quieted down. My teacher rushed to give her a glass of water and check if she recognizes herself and the people around. Somehow, with time, I was able to get over it but that was never the end of the exorcism sessions I had to attend.

In uni, one of my mates had the same issue and time to time we would have to do the exorcism on her despite knowing that it should be done by experts only. But then within the past few days, I came across far worse case scenarios I had never seen.

In Islam, (for those who don’t know about this) we have our traditional medicine and treatments called ruqya, and despite this being the original and the best medical way to deal with ailments especially the complicated unexplainable ones, we always tend to keep this to be the last option. Ruqya is commonly known for treatment of witchcraft, exorcism, hasad and 3ayn (disastrous envy) but also for normal ailments that could do just good with some herbals and holy treatment.This is the place you go when no scan is telling what is wrong with you. When you see the doctor and he has to call a mini-meeting to discuss what could be wrong with you and they just end up giving you speculations. This is the place you go when doctors and people ask you, “maybe it’s all in your head? Maybe you are just imagining being sick.” This is the place you go when you have lost hope and finally realize only religious treatment will help you.

My sister and I entered the room which was somewhat full with other Muslim ladies. We went to the front rows, sat quietly waiting just like the rest. When the sheikh finally started reciting, slowly I could hear voices behind me and beside me. Someone was crying, almost wimping, another was laughing in a mock. The one in front of me started stretching her hands, moving her head vigorously from left to right, beside us was another who was now groaning like a lion. Right behind me, the young lady was twisting and turning in pain. And I was there, right at the middle of it all, all seeming like a zombie apocalypse horror movie and everyone was getting infected and I was definitely the next. The screams were getting into my head, the cries, the shouts and my hands were already getting cold. Half the time I was holding my sister’s hand and the other half I was hugging myself, head bowed down. I didn’t want to look but hearing the voices only is way worse. So I get glimpsing around me and it was like someone was trying to drown me. My head being shoved in cold water, pulled out, before being shoved right back. There is a lot of sympathy, empathy, confusion and chaos. I almost walked out right at the middle of it because there you are and you see people having literal fights with the unseen. Someone is twisting like she has no bones, another is groaning like she is about to puke, another is shouting, ‘sitokii!!’ (leave me alone) or ‘uskut’ (Keep quiet!), another is half-crying half-laughing, another is holding her head while crying out in pain, another is screaming like a banshee while another is moving about intensely like she is dancing some zumba.

For the first time I was so scared of my own self, too tensed up because you don’t even have an idea what is wrong with you or even what is your situation exactly. I kept checking on my sister and whenever she’d just move a bit i’d get worried until after confirmation that she is okay. I was trying too to not bulge even an inch because my own restlessness was making me worry. So I wanted to convince myself that nothing is wrong and that nothing is wrong with my sister. But then keeping still is almost impossible too. When the one in front started reacting we had to move back a little bit, when the one behind was writhing in pain on the floor, we had to move forward again. I was terrified, shocked and perhaps it was too much for me to see several people ache loudly like that all at once. By the second day end of it all, a lady was still crying while talking in arabic, “Khaliny. Khaliny anta lasta 3unuky” (Leave me! Leave me you are not my neck) while struggling with her neck like she was being strangled. And that’s when I had had enough. I broke down.

I cried at the difficulty of the situation. At how hard it can be for someone to be their own enemy. At how your ailment is something inside you and you can barely do anything about it. I cried at how we really take it lightly how much these people suffer. But then this is way worse than malaria or even diabetics. This is someone inside you who was sent on a mission to destroy you. Someone who is trying to steal your identity, your happiness, your comfort and worst of all, you are the only one who can see it. Someone who can totally take control of your soul, make you do things or harm yourself and others without even knowing it. This is perhaps one of the biggest tests anyone can have. And even while watching the emotional mess, I wanted to disappear right into the wall beside me. It’s not a sight for someone with empathy issues or even crying-an-entire-bucket issues. I believe that the victims are very strong people and I just hope Allah makes it easy for them and pays them abundantly for their patience.

Perhaps this is why we keep being told that whenever we feel we are in difficult situations, we should look at those in worse scenarios than us and thank God anyway. Nonetheless, the religion has always been complete. We have to take these things seriously and recite the duas for the morning and evening sessions. We have to protect ourselves and our children. We have to teach them the duas before going into the washrooms and after, before eating and after, before leaving home and after…We have to ask for Allah’s protection when going to the beaches and new places. We have to read and listen to qur’an more often but more importantly, we have to listen to the ruqya verses more often. Trust me, it is worth it. The way people talk of possessed victims like it is an ordinary and ‘normal’ thing, is quite underrated. They suffer and they need our support, love and care. They need you now more than ever. They need your sincere prayers.

Besides all these dark spirits (which is mostly not everyone’s fault), Mombasa is a beautiful place of it’s own kind. Stereotyping generalizes it way more than it really is. The victims are sick and trust me, they do not like it just like you. Do not be afraid of them or stigmatize them. God is surely for us all.

To end this, below is a ruqya video that is good for you. Make time to listen to the video at least once everyday and let your family listen too. You can always download more videos and audios from the internet. https://youtu.be/oEgZT9cJ4lY (This is different from the one below)

May Allah have mercy on us, protect us and our families from all evil. Ameen.