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How to shoo off a Jordanian jinn

Doctors and CEOs are among those "possessed" who seek exorcist Mohammed al-Yafawi's help.

ZARQA, Jordan — It’s midnight in the slums just outside of Amman, and Mohammed al-Yafawi has a local man pinned to the ground. His sidekick, a local mosque leader named Imam Imad Adawi, shouts Quranic verse into the trapped man’s ear.

“He is stronger than four or five persons right now,” puffs Yafawi, who must use all his weight to keep the man down.

The struggling man hasn’t been coerced into this ritual. He believes he has been possessed by a jinn, a type of supernatural being that has been forged from a smokeless fire and the likes of which has existed since before the creation of mankind, according to the Quran.

Yafawi is an exorcist, called upon to liberate humans who, like the man (who asked not to be named) lying prostrate beneath Yafawi, have fallen victim to malignant jinns.

After a 40-minute struggle, during which the jinn threatens to possess other people in the room, the exorcism team manages to weaken the unseen presence with Quranic scripture, finally convincing it to leave the man’s body.

“For now, she has left. These are very strong words from the Holy Quran,” says Yafawi, moments after the jinn’s apparent departure.

Despite modernization in the Middle East, many people still turn to men like Yafawi to solve their problems. A self-styled fortune teller who claims he also has the ability to communicate with jinns, his list of clients includes doctors, CEOs and government officials.

Many, if not most, Jordanians cast a sideways glance at those who claim to have Yafawi’s abilities. They tend to be viewed as crooks and con men, which is often the case. Last month, two Jordanian exorcists were charged with molesting a 15-year-old girl in front of her family while they allegedly cleansed the house of a jinn.

For those who do believe, Yafawi is one of Amman’s trusted arrafs, Arabic for “knower.” While locals and foreigners come to him for fortune telling, the mainstay of his business is jinn exorcisms.

Yafawi says jinns are “like electricity, you can’t see them, but you can feel them.”

And they are not necessarily something to fear. “They are like human beings. Some are good, some are bad, and some are sometimes good, sometimes bad, exactly like human beings,” Yafawi says.

There are tales of good jinns who play with children, and bad ones who create problems with electrical equipment, hide odds and ends throughout the house, or, in some cases, possess people.

The Zarqa man’s case was a textbook encounter with an ill-behaved jinn, Yafawi says. The jinn, a female named Johyna, took a fancy to the man, and, as a bad jinn sometimes does, she took up residence inside his body. A jealous creature, she began creating problems with his wife.

Even more problematic, the possessed man said, she sometimes caused him to lose track of his finances during major business transactions. On the eve of the exorcism, his business partners forced him to sign over the deed to a parcel of his family’s land because of $280,000 that was unaccounted for in his company’s books.