Category Archives: Falbin

Arab Shah: Natural Afghan Mystic

The fortune-teller of Kabul is yet another tremendous long read from The Guardian about an Afghan natural mystic called Arab Shah, who people consult for a variety of reasons including whether they should emigrate from the war-torn country east to Australia or west to Europe? The author, May Jeong, asks the seminal question: for centuries mystics have channelled the hopes and fears of Afghans. With the nation in turmoil, their services are as popular as ever. But can they survive the latest crackdown by religious hardliners? She explores Afghanistan’s tense and complicated relationship with Islam. Here is a further extract from her most excellent must read piece: Shah is a fortune-teller – a falbin, a taweez naweez mulla, a djinn hunter – who belongs to a long tradition of men who practise magic said to predate Islam. Spirit mediums inhabit the interstices between the old and the new: in one neighbourhood in old Kabul, a row of falbin fortune-tellers sit receiving visitors just outside a modern medical clinic, to serve those who want to cover all bases. These men – and the occasional woman – are living manifestations of Afghanistan’s complicated Continue reading