I ran a search the other day to see if any recent news stories had cropped up mentioning Sheikh Mubarik Ali Gilani. Those familiar with this blog know him as the founder of the militant group Jamaat ul-Fuqra and its front organization Muslims of the Americas, among others. A mysterious figure, he is the man Daniel Pearl was investigating when he was kidnapped and subsequently beheaded in Pakistan. Connected to Pakistani intelligence, Gilani maintains a significant network inside the US. In my recent news search, I discovered a story from the Economist (December 23,2006 issue) that was just really, really strange. Aside from its peculiarity, it also goes a good ways toward explaining the off-beat beliefs of this secretive and mystical Sufi "cleric".
The special report, entitled "Jinn: Born of Fire", is an account by a correspondent who traveled to Somalia and Afghanistan to explore the depth of a peculiar set of beliefs held in some circles of Islam in metaphysical beings called "jinn". According to the Koran, jinn are parallel beings, created by Allah from smokeless fire. The descriptions of jinn in the article seem to be comparable to how some demonic activity might be described in Christendom, but it also seems to go way beyond that. Gilani only gets a brief mention:
Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani, a Pakistani cleric connected with a jihadist group, Jamaat al-Fuqra, has given warning to America that its missiles will be misdirected by jinn.And, that's just one theory. The article discusses a number of different views regarding jinn. It really is one of the strangest things I've ever read. You'll have to read the whole thing to really see what I'm talking about.
But, keeping with Gilani's thoughts on the matter, he has talked about jinn before. Actually, here is where the Economist mention came from - an excerpt from his interview with CBS featured on 60 Minutes II in 2002:
Gilani says that he is used to being a suspect whenever there is a terrorist act against the U.S. He wanted to talk about what he sees as the most serious threat to the world, why bad things happen in America, including acts of terrorism. These bad things, he says, are caused by invisible forces.Riiiiiiiight. Sounds like Gilani's been hitting the hookah a little too hard. Gilani's particular brand of Islam is regarded as more of a fringe cult by most mainline Muslims. His claims of metaphysical powers give his Sufism a rather New Age flair. It can be quite entertaining to read his writings. What is dangerous about him is that he actually has quite a few followers, and devoted ones at that, and his friends are what we would call...well, terrorists.
“There are beings who are not visible to you,” he says. “But they inhabit this earth. And they are damaging, causing psychotic diseases, fits, epilepsies. And controlling the agents, controlling the human beings.”
Gilani says he can control those evil forces. He says that he is not a threat to the U.S., but could be its salvation. To understand why, he points to an American television show “The X-Files.” He says the mind control and evil influence that aliens wield over human beings in the program is much like the power of the invisible forces he believes in.
“What is an X-file? Most of things - could have happened or will happen,” Gilani said. “Human beings can be made to do things against their will. They can be made to commit crimes. They can made to go and kill people. You know? And all your missiles, all your rockets, space ships go up. And electronics, they can be
damaged, influenced, and misdirected through the agencies of gin [or jinn] beings.”
Muslims all over the world also believe in these invisible evil forces that are described in the Koran. The sheik feels that these forces are a much bigger threat to the U.S. than terrorism. He says the United States should thank him for passing on his message about the invisible world instead of accusing him of terrorism.
As for believing in "jinn" and their dark influence - his followers aren't the only ones. Follow the link below to read the full story on "jinn" and discover a whole 'nother subculture of Islam you probably never knew existed.
Economist - Jinn: Born of Fire
The Economist article was also reprinted online by a Somali news outlet called GaroweOnline.com.
CBS - 60 Minutes II - Sheik Gilani
Dr. Sanity - Quranic Psychiatry
[Hat tip to Pajamas Media for the link!]