Jinns, ghosts, and the Koran

Yesterday in class, we were talking about superstitions. Our textbook had a few examples of stories from tabloid newspapers for the students to read. Then we had a discussion on the same topic.

The tabloid stories weren't the most outrageous I'd ever heard. They were your run-of-the-mill, 'Unsolved Mysteries'-type thing. You know, a woman communicating with her dead husband, people being abducted by aliens, and a cow who could cure people's ailments by licking them. Nothing too sensational, but (in my opinion, at least) clearly not entirely true.

So I was surprised when my students, during the discussion, expressed an almost complete lack of skepticism for these stories. I've spent enough time in this culture to realize that in general, it's more mystical than our skeptical American one, but they were more believing than I would have expected.

The first story in particular sparked a heated religious debate, of all things. One of my students, Mohammed, told the class how his wife was visited by her dead grandmother in a dream and was told she would have a daughter (and she did!). Another student chimed in with a similar story. Then Osama decided to bring religion into it. He said that in the Koran, it says there are "aalumein," or "more than one world." So obviously, there can be ghosts and aliens. Other students took issue with his interpretation and started arguing that there were just two worlds, and the other world was that of the jinns.

Fortunately, I was able to calm things down before they got too out of control. Next thing I knew, we were talking about a Japanese cartoon from the 1980s. A much safer subject, I'm sure you'll agree.

The slide of danger

The softer side of King Abdullah