YouTube, the most popular video-sharing website, is undoubtedly one of the most entertaining websites on the Internet. It has content on almost every topic under the Sun: Sports, Science, Philosophy, Politics and pretty much everything else. One can spend hours on the website and yet not get bored of it.
Despite spending a great deal of time on YouTube, however, there was one genre that I had not yet discovered thus far. That region of YouTube, I don’t quite know what to call it, I propose the name for the sake of simplicity ‘Jinn YouTube’ (Jinn YT).
I came across Jinn YT through this India Today ‘fact-check’. The report states, “India Today has confirmed that the video is not of forcible conversion but of exorcism. A Muslim exorcist is performing some ritual to expel “Hindu jinn” supposedly from a “possessed Muslim woman”.”
After a brief discussion with colleagues, I learnt that it’s not a one-off video. There are scores of such videos, in fact, where Pirs, from Pakistan mostly, ‘exorcise jinns’ from apparently possessed people. If you believe Taher Shah was the worst thing to have come out of Pakistan on YouTube, this will definitely change your mind.
One such person, pir Azmat Nawaz Patriata Shareef, even has a verified YouTube channel where he has shared dozens of videos where he is seen exorcising ‘Hindu’ and ‘Christian’ jinns. In one such video titled “500 powerfull hindu jinn Hazri”, a delirious young woman can be seen being subjected to the pir’s unique method of ‘treatment’.
From the video, I gained a basic idea about the taxonomic categories of Jinns. They are categorized on the basis of religion, they can be Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and even Muslims. Then, there is ‘jinna’ and ‘jinni’, presumably male and female jinns.
The pir’s binary categorization of jinns on the basis of gender is likely to offend postmodernist feminists at Universities who haven’t yet had the opportunity to educate jinns about the social nature of gender. Some of them will definitely be triggered by the fact that the pir isn’t aware that there are an infinite number of genders and simply assumed the gender of the jinn which is a micro-aggression and could have triggered the jinn.
The pir also asks the girl if Hindus are honest or dishonest to which the girl promptly replies that Hindus are dishonest. Despite the apparent micro-aggression, the jinn appears to be remarkably well mannered and obeys the pir completely.
Ultimately, the girl reveals that the jinn was sent by Kali Maata, the Hindu Goddess Kali. She had been praying to the Goddess for three weeks. Ultimately, the Jinn requests the pir that he be converted to Islam after which the pir makes the girl recite the Kalma and converts he/it/her to Islam. In the end, after being converted to Islam, the girl loses her consciousness at which point the video ends.
It’s not just one jinn that the man has converted to Islam. In another video titled “Hindu Jinn Accepts Islam at Patriata Shareef, Alhamdulillah”, another jinn suffers the same fate. This jinn appeared to be more aggressive and not like the whiny one in the previous video. He screams and rants but obediently admits that he is a ‘Kaafir’ and begs the pir to be converted to Islam. The pir in the wish grants it its wish.
It peaked my curiosity and upon visiting the website mentioned in the video, I realized that he is not the Pakistani version of Kamaal R Khan but appears to be widely respected in the community.
His website reveals that he is based out of Pakistan and contains a whole lot of misinformation which reveals that the country is still stuck in the medieval ages despite the great advances made in the fields of psychiatry and psychology. He lists depression, anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) as symptoms common to “Magic, Evil Eye and Jinn Possession”. He also claims traumatic phenomena such as infertility and miscarriages as such symptoms.
As one can see, these are all very natural occurrences that are much better explained with basic common sense. At one point, one of the symptoms listed for Jinn possession is “Being violated sexually by a jinn”.
Pir Azmat Nawaz is not the only such man on YouTube. There is another one, Abdullah Baba Welfare Trust, based out of Karachi, Pakistan. This one promises a ‘Free Umrah Tickets Giveaway’ if you subscribe to their YouTube channel.
In the video, the ‘Baba’ threatens the ‘100 years old scary Hindu jinn’ and intimidates it for the entire length of the video.
There appears to be one where the video claims it was recorded in Wadala, Mumbai. The process was pretty similar to the ones shown in the Pakistani videos where a man wearing a skull cap is seen talking with a man who is apparently possessed by a ‘jinn’. Apparently, the jinn in this one was earlier a Hindu but converted to Islam at some point. For a jinn, this one was remarkably well behaved as well.
In related news, 36% of Pakistani adolescents are reported to be suffering from anxiety and depression. 14.3% of young students are reported to be suffering from Bipolar disorders as compared to the global average of 2.4%. Prevalence of Schizophrenia and substance abuse disorders is high as well. As per one report in a leading Pakistani daily, around 50 million Pakistanis are suffering from common mental disorders. To make matters worse, there are only a few hundred mental health care professionals to deal with the menace.
The problem is hardly surprising considering the fact that Pakistan is a country prone to terrorism. Terrorism can have devastating effects on the country’s population including their mental health. Apart from that, the genetic risks posed by parental consanguinity may contribute to the distressing levels of mental health issues as well.
Jinn YT, I discovered today, has a lot of content and the jinns in most of them are Hindus and to a much lesser extent, Christians. While there’s nothing to suggest that there’s any evidence for the existence of Jinns (Duh!), there appears to be plenty for religious bigotry, entrenched mental health issues and a toxic mixture of the two. In the absence of adequate infrastructure to deal with its mental health problems, Pakistan appears to be relying on such dubious pirs to solve its psychological issues. On the face of it, it appears that they are aggravating the issue enormously instead of offering any solutions.
It would also appear that these tactics of exorcising “Hindu jinns” where the “Hindu jinn” often says it has been converted to Islam, might be used for forcible conversion. The atrocities faced by Hindus in Pakistan is quite well known. And given the stereotypes prevalent in Pakistani society where even Jinns are categorized as Hindus and Christians and depicted as evil which stems from Islamic fundamentalism, it’s hardly any surprise.
Imran Khan, nicknamed Taliban Khan, may boast of ‘Naya Pakistan’ but this Naya Pakistan appears to be as entrenched in religious bigotry as it has been since its conception.