An interesting piece appeared on Reuters yesterday, detailing how the fortunes of Afghani soothsayers have fluctuated since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
The fortune tellers, whose presence in the country dates back to the days of Alexander the Great, were banned under the Taliban but have rekindled their activities in recent years. Methods include palm reading and dice reading, and practitioners peddle their services outside mosques and shrines. Their main customers are said to be older women seeking family advice.
Business may be booming, but now religious elders are fighting back against the soothsayers, who they say are dangerous charlatans. Dozens were recently cleared from the area surrounding the Hazrat Ali shrine in northern Afghanistan, with the shrine's head, Qari Mohammad Qasim, stating "Islam does not permit the practice of fleecing simple people".
Mohammad Ihsan Seaqal, Imam of a Kabul mosque, expanded on Islamic objections to soothsayers: "Fortune telling is not permitted in Islamic law. It has been mentioned clearly [in the Korann] that this is against Islamic values. Fortune tellers are misusing the sacred religion for their personal advantage."
However, there may be on opening for these Afghani mediums. Malulawi Qari Mohammad Qasim, prayer leader at the Hazrat Ali shrine, explained that while "Forecasting and foretelling is against Islam", if the soothsayers "recite the Koranic words for the good of people without doing business, it is alright in Islam."