Syncretic Forms of Spiritual Healing Practices Among the Muslim Gurage of Southwestern Ethiopia

G. Jai Kishan, Akmel Mohammed


At the time when Islam was propagated into the Sabat Bet Gurage, the second and third generations of the Abret shrine had been accommodated some elements of the traditional belief system and they adopted it into the frame of Sufi Islam. The main focus of this paper is to examine the processes how the indigenous healing practices were accommodated into the frame of Sufi Islam and the mechanisms applied for the persistency of the spiritual healing power of the leaders of Abret shrine. The religious leaders of the Abret shrine have been claiming that they have an extraordinary power to cure diseases which were previously believed to be healed only through performing traditional ritual rites. They claim that they had received baraka (blessing of the Prophet) that ensued from the common genealogical line descended to the Qurayyish tribe of the prophet Mohammed. And, it is believed the baraka that the Abret leaders possess has caused for the sacredness of the earth sample and spring water around the shrine that are used for healing purposes.  Thus, this paper underscores the processes of the Islamization of indigenous healing practices and how ritually sanctified diseases were defined under the frame of Sufi Islam.

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