Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, November 19th, 2017

Superstition Rules Societies

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Superstition Rules Societies

Superstition holds strong sway in human societies. People show tendency in myth and legend. They believe in baseless and deceptive statements. Superstitions have continued from primitive societies up to now. In the past, the masses were highly superstitious and tended to misconstrue an event. In modern societies, superstitions have reduced remarkably but did not come to an end.
Many kinds of superstitions rule human societies. Superstition has no rational basis and it is often in conflict with religious tenets, too. Despite being contrary to religious principles, many superstitions have been brushed with the color of sanctity. For example, some baseless issues are attributed to religion, mainly in traditional societies, to gain the approval of the masses. Take Afghanistan, a number of individuals, who lack rudimentary knowledge about religion except for some, read the palm of the masses or write talisman to forecast their future or ameliorate their life affairs. In Afghanistan, women are more superstitious than men since they most often refer to talisman-writers while encountering a minor problem in their life and spend a great amount of money in this way.
Superstition prevails strongly in Afghanistan, especially in remote areas. I do remember when scores of women visited a pilgrim in Ghazni province to have their diseases cured. They believed that they were afflicted by magic or fairy and genie infiltrated their souls. There are many people who meet mullahs or go to pilgrims to have their illness cured rather than going to doctor. In pilgrims they seek miracles. It is worth saying that many graves of simple individuals, who were well-reputed in the society, have turned to public pilgrims. Those who are afflicted, sacrifice animals in those graves to have their problems resolved. Even when women dream good things, they construe their dreams as good luck and hope that their problems will be ended soon.
Superstitions are different from one province to another in Afghanistan. Generally speaking, when a person takes a trip, members of their family throw water after them to wish them safe trip. Mostly, taking trip on Fridays is deemed sinister. Moreover, seeing a fox on the way to trip is blessing; whereas seeing a hare is ominous, visiting a patient on Wednesday is not a right thing, etc.  
After all, Afghan officials who are expected to be open-minded are also superstitious. Afghans will remember when number 39 changed into a controversial issue among MPs and everyone refused to sit on the chair that was numbered 39. In Herat province, no one tends to live in a block which is numbered 39 or drive a car with the same plate number. This number is considered an infamy and dishonor. This superstition has reportedly caused a serious financial harm to the government since people do not buy the blocks with number 39.
It is believed that superstition is a social issue and will affect society and culture. The masses will fall prey to superstitions and mythology. In a superstitious community, culture and social norms will also be based on superstitions and people have to obey it. In other words, superstition will affect culture similar to traditional custom – which dominated our culture to a great extent. Mixing culture with superstition will lead to horrible consequences. As it was mentioned before, people will visit pilgrims and pay for talisman for their cure rather than visiting doctors and spending in the right way.
Worst of all, a number of women resort to talisman and magical power to harm their opponents, next-door neighbors, etc. or create dislike between spouses and discord within families. Whether this work or not, some women are suspicious of the evil intention of their neighbors, mother-in-law, daughter-in-law, and so on. In case of feeling ill, they simply think that someone has harmed them through magical power or talisman. Hence, superstition creates discord between families.
To view the history, superstition ruled human societies centuries ago. Natural disasters were interpreted as the wrath of nature and people sacrificed either human beings or animals to subside the nature’s wrath. For demanding rain from deity, people also sacrificed animals. In Arab peninsula, a cow was burnt alive for demanding rain. When the cow rained and mooed with her burnt body, it was likened to flash and lightening and believed that it would rain. Moreover, kings also capitalized on society’s simplicity and introduced themselves as God’s caliph. When kings were cruel, it was said that it was people’s sin and they had to atone for their sin under cruel kings.
Superstition is most likely to have reduced but not ended. We encounter many kinds of superstitions in our daily life. I believe that older women are more superstitious, especially in Afghanistan, than others. They lived in earlier past and the past superstitions were handed down to them. Now they convey the same frames of mind to their grandchildren.

Human societies have to campaign against superstitions which have no rational or logical bases. Individuals have to ponder over it and realize that there is no relation between their fate and objects. Indeed, objects do not have the power to harm them but if they believe in this issue, it will affect them psychologically.

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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