Hussain Abdel Rahman was only seventeen when he one day met a man who had suffered from a psychological disorder since the age of seven. Hussain read the Koran’s Fatiha verse over the man’s body and the man was instantly cured. The second time Hussain tried this, it was with a woman who had lost the ability to speak due to a strong electric shock. Again, it worked and the woman was cured, leaving Hussain certain that he had the ability to perform Koranic healing.
Hussain says he learned the basics of Koranic healing from his grandfather, who worked as a healer for many years in their village in rural Aleppo. Hussain considers this ability to be a gift from God, and he practices other disciplines to strengthen this ability, such as emptying himself to receive God’s will and word, reading and reciting the Koran and remaining committed to the highest ethics in his own behavior. Hussain also has knowledge of white magic, one of the dignities bestowed by God upon Sheikh Ahmad al-Rifai, who had the ability to heal with a single blow of a sword or knife when the situation made it necessary, such as in cases of facial palsy.
“I’ve healed a number of so-called incurable diseases, such as cancer, burns and psychological illnesses, in addition to dealing with possession, the evil eye and lifting all sorts of curses, which can come from black magic, red magic or blue magic. And the people I’ve healed have come from all sorts of religious and sectarian backgrounds.”
More than once, says Hussain, he has been physically assaulted by patients who were possessed by djinn. Cases of possession, he explains, happen when people have strayed too far from God’s path and stopped praying and remembering their God.
Hussain performs his healing rituals by reading Koranic verses, particularly the Fatiha and Ayat al-Kursi (the Chair Verse), then performing masah, an Islamic form of ritual cleansing. He has his patients drink water over which he has performed prayers, and he also does special readings of the Koran designated for particular purposes, before having his patients eat dates and certain prescribed herbs.
“There is no one who has come to me and not been cured,” says Hussain, “provided they have faith in the treatment and are ready to surrender their fate to God.”
There are many who have raised objections to Hussain’s work, saying that it is akin to black sorcery or that it is make-believe, the most vocal of these proponents belonging to the country’s security apparatus and the concerned authorities. Some have even accused him of dealing with djinn himself, unable to understand how Hussain could possibly know many private details about his patients without having met them before. Others objected to his work simply because it made Hussain so popular and well-known among people of the area, with some opposition coming from disgruntled religious figures.
Hussain says that he receives no financial compensation for his services, though he will accept symbolic gifts, such as rosaries, mishwak sticks, perfume and sometimes clothing. He earns his income as a shepherd, insisting that he is a simple man and as generous with his guests as he is with his patients.
Most of the problems his female patients come to him with have to do with the ways they are treated by their husbands. Sometimes they have sexual problems, or will come to him in hopes that he may find a way to make a union possible with their intended groom; when the families stand in the way of the marriage. Hussain says he was able to facilitate quite a number of marriages, and also intervened successfully between spouses in conflict. He managed to help some couples out financially, always advising them to remember to worship their God and preserve their faith.
Young people would come to him seeking to attract money or women to their lives, asking him to create particular talismans and charms for these purposes. Hussain would always refuse such cases, telling them the only thing they had to do was find their way back to God.
In the course of his work as a Koranic healer, Hussain moved among a number of different countries, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq, where he was imprisoned under the regime of Saddam Hussain as he had grown too popular, and the Iraqi security apparatus were afraid he might choose to spearhead an opposition party against the regime. He was sentenced to twenty years in prison, but was released after one year and three months when a general pardon was issued. He was then remanded into the custody of the Syrian state and incarcerated in two different detention facilities, the Palestine Branch, and then in Deir ez-Zor Branch.
Hussain used all his time in prison to deepen his worship and his faith, ministering to other prisoners and performing Koranic healing. While in prison in Iraq, he met sixty-five Syrian detainees.
“Despite my suffering in Syrian prisons,” says Hussain, “I still love Syria. It’s the country of peace and security, which we have now sadly lost.”