Faki, the Koran healer

Darfur, Sudan – June 2012

Traditional medicine in Darfur, Sudan, is clearly linked with religion. The Islamic principles and, specifically, the Koran verses are always present in any ritual. The healers, called Fakis in Arabic, are well recognized by their respective communities and nearly everyone in Darfur has paid a visit to a Faki at some point in their lives.
This spiritual knowledge is passed on from generation to generation, although not anyone can do it: only those men who know, by heart, all the secrets the Koran contains.
Since immemorial time, a majority of the Darfur’s communities have relied on this traditional healing for many purposes: protecting against threats, bringing luck, warding away evil spirits, curing diseases, and even giving love to those who seek it.
There are different forms of these traditional practices. This includes inhaling smoke, eating medicinal plants, drinking ink or wearing the Hijab, an amulet made with goat leather.
While not all Darfuris believe in the traditional healing practices of the fakis, and some Muslim communities believe the practice is inconsistent with Islam, for many Darfuris who seek faki remedies, their beliefs about the power of the services transcend their social status, their educational background and the cultural backlash of those who frown on the practice. For these Darfuris, it is simply a matter of hope—hope of the parents who want to bring some protection to their newborn child or hope that they can protect themselves from harm so they may continue to provide for their families.

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