Quite a number of superstitions to invalidate

Quite a number of superstitions to invalidate

Reviewing the incidents of “hodja with jinn,” I thought it were the jinn, talismans and spell superstitions which were abundant in our beautiful country. 

It was not… 

The most popular superstitions were on family, funerals and health, according to the superstition statistics map of Turkey issued by the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) based upon data collected by provincial offices. 

Roughly, superstitions are widespread tales in the public. They are not mentioned in the Quran and were never in the life of the Prophet Mohammad. They are wrong beliefs that have found their way into religion, thus they are deviations from the reality of Islam.  

In order to not be caught in the swirl of structures such as the Fethullahist Terrorist organization (FETÖ), the public must absolutely be enlightened on superstitions. Investigations into religious communities are bound to fail without the leg of fighting against superstitions. 

The Diyanet survey is very important in that sense. At least we have a superstitions list on hand that we can proceed from. 

I came across it at the latest edition of the Ilahiyat Academy magazine, a bi-yearly scientific publication. The cover story in its latest edition was “Alienation and Piety.” 

I recommend it to whoever is interested; they should find one and keep it on hand for reference. 

The data on superstition collected by Diyanet was referred to in the article of Prof. Cağfer Karadaş from Uludağ University’s Theology Department. He has focused on superstitions as a tool to alienate people from religion. It was an article on the reasons for the emergence of these superstitions, and how believers would be made more aware. 

A breakdown of superstitions categorized by the directorate was included in the article. There are 1,380 superstitions known to exist in total. Out of them, 335 are on family, 319 on funerals, 272 on health, 170 on various worships, 78 on cemeteries, 49 on hıdrellez traditions, 39 on luck, 17 on house visits, nine on spells and soothsaying, nine on jinn and angels, eight on aşure (Noah’s pudding), seven on halal and haram, six on talismans and two on solar eclipses. 

This is indeed an interesting breakdown. The number of superstitions on fortune telling, talismans, jinn and luck were pretty lower than I thought. Karadaş put this note below the Diyanet statistics. 

Superstitions are not unique to Islam and the Eastern world. It is not only the oriental mind that generates these. On the contrary, most of the superstitions are passed on to Muslim societies from ancient religions and beliefs. Also, there are many superstitions still existing today in the West. 

Considering numbers 13 and 17 as unlucky, believing that a donkey is a deterrent against the mafia, the lucky charm of the horseshoe and the bad luck believed to have been brought about by a black cat or considering the hoot of the owl as a bad omen are examples of these. 

The pieces of cloth tied to trees near the tomb of “Telli Baba” in Istanbul’s Sarıyer district and the coins at the Balıklı Göl in southeastern Şanlıurfa are adequate to depict how vivid and settled certain superstitions are in Turkey. 

One would find abundant people tying pieces of cloth in tomb tree branches to become pregnant, or those who would build mini cribs, or others who would visit tombs to get cured from a disease. 

All of them stand before us as a reality of religious life, but they have no association with true religion. 

Unless these made up beliefs are cleansed from the mind and culture of the people, it is difficult to be saved from the trap of superstitious, self-fulfilling religious clowns. 

Diyanet and the Ilahiyat Academy magazine made a good start. I hope it would continue; the lion’s share of the duty falls on the shoulders of the theology community.