Fake Fakirs: The Business Of Beliefs

Afroza Zaman Anni

25 January, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Fake Fakirs: The 
Business Of Beliefs

According to a report published in ‘bdnews24’, one of the leading online portals in our country, a garment worker was raped by a so-called fakir who claimed to have the power to cure her illness. The incident goes like this - she was suffering from severe stomach pain for several days. After sharing her problem with her aunt Jabeda Begum, she suggested her to meet Fakir Abdul Malik who runs his business in Azimpur area of the capital and has a repute of doing all sorts of treatments. When they finally met him, the girl got raped by the fraud while her aunt was asked to wait in another room. This is just one instance wherein many other such incidents, mostly done by fraud people in the disguise of ‘Fakir’, are happening on a regular basis in different corners of our country as people, in general, have some kind of blind belief towards the fakirs who are capitalizing on the emotions and faiths of cross-sections of people (people belonging to backward section to be particular).   

To put it in plain words, fakirs are generally regarded as holy men in our country who are thought to have miraculous power. They also claim to have mysterious knowledge on all subjects concerning life. So, they come up with panacea and present themselves as someone who is capable of curing all kinds of diseases and washing away all sorts of hassles from people’s lives. No matter what the problem is – from having complications in conceiving babies to wiping out financial crisis from life – they are always ready to offer you the best possible remedy depending on the type of your problem and ability.

However the fakirs deceive people in different ways. The widely practiced one, especially in the country areas, is the one that promises to cure someone who is possessed by some spirit. Often people living in the rural areas mistake mental illness for spirit possession and consequently they go to fakirs who resort to different kinds of farcical activities like beating the patient with broomstick and chaining him/her with shackles with a view to recuperating the patient. However the whole process is simply nothing but an eyewash because the patient never gets cured in this way. The second kind claims to have the power and medical knowledge to prescribe medicines for all kinds of diseases. For instance- people having paralyzed people in the family are seen standing in long queue in front of fakir’s house in hope of proper medication. In such cases the fakirs provide just water after blabbering different mantras to the patient or even some fakirs (such as ‘biri baba’) provide biri (cigarette) as a medicine. Can you imagine how ludicrous does it sound or feel - someone who is paralyzed can be recuperated by means of cigarette!


Well, these fakirs are making easy money cashing on the emotions and helplessness of mass people. And they are doing it in the broad daylight despite the presence of law enforcement agency members. Actually they are being able to run their business in this way because they generally have their own followers and protectors who help them do these activities.

Now the question comes – how are they cheating people despite the fact that their ways are wrong and non-scientific. The first and foremost reason is blind belief. Many people in the rural areas are still very much susceptible to prejudices and traditional practices. As the fakirs are conducting their activities for years, the villagers have normally developed a belief that they (fakirs) have some magical powers. So, they keep coming for their help. Even sometime lack of adequate religious knowledge leads them to put their faith on them (fakirs). Another reason is that people living in the rural areas who are less educated and did not get the opportunity to polish their conscience are easily trapped by those followers of fakirs.

Under such circumstances what could be the possible way out of this superstitious situation? The key lies in knowledge and enlightenment. Firstly, mass people should be made aware of the vagueness of such claims by fakirs and in the meantime the victims or the prospective victims also need to rethink whether they want to squander their hard-earned money for something fake without investigating the credibility of the processes that the fakirs adopt. Last but not least, the government has also a role to play in this regard. It is the responsibility of the law enforcement agencies to find out such fraud fakirs and bring them to book for playing with people’s beliefs and emotions.