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The Reluctant Healer: An Amil and an Anthropologist

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In lieu of an abstract, I give a brief extract from the paper I will present – based on a chapter from my forthcoming book Affliction: Health, Disease, Poverty (Fordham University Press, October, 2014)

It is interesting for me that Hafiz Mian and I both made deep connection with each other (I think) because a certain skepticism regarding our experiences – mine with anthropology, his with amiliyat haunts our lives. This is not simply an opposition between theoretical formulations that are systematic and implicit ways of living, but a struggle over what gives wajud to the stories we have heard and the experiences of suffering that have deeply moved us? As Webb Keane (2013) recently notes, the ontological commitments we make carry ethical implications. For Hafiz Mian his mode of caring for the world involves deep doubts about the status of the knowledge that he is compelled to use. He is well aware of the Islamic ideas of kufr ( not accepting Islam or covering that acceptance) and shirk (idolatry) and ever watchful of his own practice in terms of the sins of idolatry or of denial of the truths of Islam. He is acutely aware of the  fine line between nuri ilm (the knowledge on the side of light) and kala ilm (knowledge on the side of darkness. Yet he has received his amiliyat from Guru Maharaj; has been taught that there is evil in the world and that in order to cure people, he will have to experience the darkness of evil that has been put into the world. He experiences amilyat as a burden.  

  • Reception follows in Brooks Commons, 1st Floor



Event Date: 
Friday, 18 April 2014 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Veena Das
Speaker Title: 
Krieger-Eisenhower Professor, Department of Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University