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July 15, 1988

Light in the Afternoon

Author Affiliations

Irvine, Calif

Irvine, Calif

JAMA. 1988;260(3):393. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03410030109041

There was a remarkable stillness in the mosque. It did not seem possible that more than 200 people were there, seated on the floor in orderly rows, each waiting patiently for his or her special moment with the healer. A woman who looked as if she had been crying shuffled slowly forward. As she confided her story, the white-robed man with the piercing gaze leaned toward her, listening intently, and then touched her head, actually grasping it with one hand while he gently brushed her face with a peacock feather. He addressed a few words to her—words that I could not hear; he blew toward her three times; he handed her some herbs folded in a square of paper. Apparently this marked the end of the encounter, for she stood up, whispering her thanks, and another woman took her place.

Again the healer leaned forward and focused intently on his