Accepted Paper:

Healing powers of Koranic recitation: roqya revival in the context of modernity  


Josep Lluís Mateo Dieste (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

Paper short abstract:

Quranic recitation for healing purposes (roqya) has experienced a recent revival in both Muslim countries and Europe, through Koranic healers or Koranic reproduction in new audio formats. The case allows us to observe the effect of the voice and recited text over the bodies of the possessed and the geniuses who own them.

Paper long abstract:

The roqya is a technique of Koranic recitation that some Muslims use for healing purposes and the resolution of distress attributed to various causes (evil eye, magic, or the action of genius or jnun).

This technique dates back to the times of Prophet Muhammad, but we can say that there is a revival of the same from the 1980's both in Muslim countries and among Muslims living in Europe. From my fieldwork on these rituals in Barcelona and northern Morocco, I will present some key aspects of the mechanisms that allow the human voice exert effect on the bodies of the sick and possessed.

In the ritual, healers and patients enter into communication with non-humans, in particular, with the jnun, which react to various techniques focusing on the senses (hearing, smell, touch). The novelty of recent years is that new music playback media (CDs, mp3, etc.) are also being used by Muslims to reproduce Koranic recitation, and apply it for healing purposes. Even the fqih-s may attend several cases at once using recorded roqya, or perform transnational exorcisms with a mobile phone.

On the one hand, we assist to the extension of roqya through the mass consume culture, but on the other, exorcisms are still in the hands of specialists who require an encounter with the patient to adapt the recitation to each specific situation.

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