A really interesting thing happened the other day as I skimmed through a Temporal Lobe Epilepsy group on Facebook. This closed group is protective of their privacy. I have seen them kick out writers trying to get information for books or articles. I never repeat anything I see posted there for that reason, until now.
Usually the posts have to do with medication questions or memes about how this person or that one hates having epilepsy. On occasion, I will answer a question about my past medication use. Mostly, though, I look at what people are discussing and move on. But this time I saw a bold statement on a colored background informing the group that seizures were actually caused by Jinn.
I have rarely read as much vitriol expressed on Facebook as I did in some of the responses to that statement. People had their hair on fire. They assumed the person, a member of the group with what appeared to be Middle Eastern name, was mocking them. Up to that point, the posts were mostly about Keppra or questions about side effects. And then this statement. Wow.
The response to him was so intense that I became curious and decided to do a little research. The statement about the Jinn means nothing unless you know the definition. I started with Wikipedia. (Hey, no judgement here, we all check it from time to time.)
Jinn (Arabic: الجن, al-jinn), also romanized as djinn or anglicized as genies (with the more broad meaning of spirits or demons, depending on source) are supernatural creatures in early Arabian and later Islamic mythology and theology.
Modern belief in the Jinn persists to this day in places such as Egypt, Iceland, Arabia, Western Europe, etc. There are Youtube videos of Jinn possession in Moslem countries. According to a common belief, soothsayers and poets got their inspirations from the jinn. However, jinn were also feared and thought to be responsible for various diseases and mental illnesses.
A scientific study found that as many as 48 percent of those who experience sleep paralysis in Egypt believe it to be an assault by the Jinn. Almost all of these sleep paralysis sufferers (95%) would recite verses from the Quran during sleep paralysis to prevent future “Jinn attacks”. In addition, some (9%) would increase their daily Islamic prayer (salah) to get rid of these attacks by Jinn. Sleep paralysis is generally associated with great fear in Egypt, especially if believed to be supernatural in origin.”
The more I looked, the more I found on the relationship between the Jinn and neurological disease in the countries and religions mentioned above. These entities, described as smokeless fire, are usually portrayed as monsters or scary creatures that drive men mad. People in Muslim societies have traditionally associated mental illness and neurological disease, particularly epilepsy, with an attack from the Jinn.
The paper Possession by ‘Jinn’ as a cause of epilepsy (Saraa): A study from Saudi Arabia, published by Live Science, explains the relationship between neurology and demonic attacks. “Jinn possession is still believed to be a cause of epilepsy in Saudi society, even among fairly well-educated people”.
My curiosity had me following associated links to demonic causes of illness in Christianity, Budhhism, and Judaism. But it doesn’t stop there. The ancient Romans and Greeks had their beliefs on the nature of epilepsy, its causes, and its cures.
So here’s the point to all of this. First, the man who wrote that message was not making fun of those of us with epilepsy. He probably believed what he wrote. He may even have epilepsy. We don’t know. And the point of that is we all should be a little less condemning and a little more open to the fact that not everyone has the same spiritual or scientific orientation.
The second point is that I found the information fascinating. Do I believe in the Jinn? No. But, I find it interesting that we all have this disease that has inspired so much mythology and misinformation for the past five or six thousand years.
Who knows, at some point all this myth and history may come in handy. Nothing is ever lost. To borrow a quote from Ben Hur, open your mind because “the world is more than we know.”