SANAA - Believing that some people have extraordinary powers, Yemenis are turning to witchcraft to solve medical and personal problems, amid chaos in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula nation.
I read the Qur'an to them and order them to obey my commands, Sheikh Mohamed, who openly deals with magic matter, told OnIslam.net.
Mohamed is one of many people, who claim to be versed in the black art to counteract a spell or bad eye.
Those Sheikhs, as called in Yemen, are frequented by Yemenis, who believe they have access to some sort of Godly knowledge of realms inaccessible or invisible to common people.
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And although many would dismiss such claims, they are against all odds often chillingly real.
Although not a practitioner of the dark art per se, Sheikh Mohamed says he treats people possessed by Jinns or upon whom a spell had been cast.
Depending on how powerful the Jinn is it will take me longer to cast him out of the person, he said.
Belief in jinn is enshrined in Arab and Muslim cosmology, with numerous mentions of them in the Noble Qur'an.
Unlike in the Western tradition of ghosts, jinn are not the lost souls of the dead but beings who lead parallel lives to humans, whom they sometimes tempt into sinful ways.
Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab Peninsula.
Nearly a quarter of Yemen's 28 million population -- about seven million people -- are now in dire need of food.
Yemen has been hit by chaos triggered by protests for the ouster of long-standing president Ali Abdullah Saleh and the rise of militants in southern provinces.
The World Food Programme lists Yemen as the 11th most food-insecure country in the world.
Hassan al-Amrani is one of those who sought the help of Sheikh Mohammed after running into bad luck.
Everything I was doing for over a year failed, Hassan, who works at the Sanaa governor's office, told OnIslam.net.
Every endeavor, every single move I would make either on my personal or work life just ended up all twisted.
I knew something was wrong so I went to the Sheikh. He is very well known in my village, he said.
Hassan says his trouble started after coming across an antique which foreign art dealer wanted to purchase.
I was only the middle-man but my commission amounted to tens of thousands of dollars, he recalled.
The women -the owner of the piece - tried on several occasion to steal my commission, finding one excuse after another not to pay me and my friend.
Hassan recalls that the woman reluctantly agreed to pay him money after threats of reporting the issue to the police.
The money was then handed to yet another middleman and safely deposited within the governor's safe in Sana'a where I knew no one could touch it, he said.
But Hassan could not get his money as attempts to open up the safe failed one after another.
We even called a specialist and he could not make a dent into the thing, Hassan said.
People started to be spooked suspecting other forces were at work. This is when I sought the Sheikh's help.
According to Hassan, the sheikh was addressed by the Jinn saying that he was ordered to prevent him from touching the money.
My heart was pounding so hard in my chest it filled the room with might thumps, Hassan recalled.
My friend was frozen, reciting the Qur'an and clutching his pocket Qur'an so tight his knuckles turned white.
Hassan says that the sheikh went on with his effort to break the spell.
This is when the Sheikh admitted he was being blackmailed by the old lady.
Hassan says he was asked by the sheikh to go to a waterfall in Ibb where he should bathe for three conservative days to break the spell.
When asked what happened to the old lady after that, Hassan said he learned she had died from a stroke soon after he retrieve his money.
We all know that whoever plays with Jinns will have to pay the ultimate price, he said.
Such stories are common in Yemen.There is much more in Yemen than meet the eye when it comes to the occult as the millennia old civilization hides many tales and many books which are said to open up one's eye to other realms.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net