Of the strictly empirical concepts of ‘power’ recognised by ordinary Muslims, herbs stand out as one of the major kinds.
Dreams and visions are examples of a genus of ‘force’ that falls on the borderline between the empirical and trans-empirical worlds. They function in a strongly motivating way in most Muslim cultures. Muhammad’s first receiving of revelation came in a dream or vision, during sleep.
Divination by dream interpretation is a ubiquitous practice in popular Islam, often concentrated into science of interpretation, as , such as, in the Sudan. In Afghan Turkistan, the bakhshi will spend a night sleeping in the house of his patient – the dream he then receives during the night enables him to diagnose the patient’s ailment and to select the proper therapy.
Dreams sought to communicating with the dead. Visitational dreams are common throughout the Muslim world and may feature dead relatives, saints, jinn, angels or other spiritual beings.
Many saints’ shrines established as the direct result of dreams. Such a saint considered present as a shaykh muashir – that is, he has revealed himself to a holy man in a dream, indicating his wish venerated in a particular place.
A vast inventory of various kinds of ‘power’ fills the trans-empirical – though this-worldly – sphere of folk-islamic thought. They are udah (from ‘to protect’), hijab (from ‘to shield like a curtain’), hirz (from ‘to guard against evil’), nafra (from ‘to flee’), wadh (from ‘to make distince’), or tamima (from ‘to be complete’).
The Seal of the Seven Covenants of Suleiman is a favourite amulet among Middle-Eastern Muslims, and found on sale in the market-places of such cities as Amman, Beirut and Cairo. Amultes containing the names of Muhammad, the names of the archangels Gabriel, Michael, Azrael and Israfel, the cal to prayer and verses from the Qur’an are also worn to make sure there is safety from the disease and harm.
In Iran, dua’s (amulets) composed of occult words and symbols, interspersed with sacred oaths and Qur’anic verses, and are usually written in ink on long, narrow strips of paper by a jadoogar. Known in Afghanistan as taawidh, amulets are commonly woven into the wearer’s clothing.
Curses are a species of ‘power’ recognized in the give and take of community life. In certain situations, living saints attributed with supernatural power have used the threat of cursing as a sanction against internal clan warfare.
Vow-making is one major way in which ordinary Muslims relate to saints, usually making their vows at the site of a saint’s tomb at auspicious times. Then the saint is morally obliged to fulfil his part of the bargain in meeting the request or want of that person.
Augury comprises the art of divination by omens. A common belief among Arabs is that by simply uttering the name of disasters, or diseases, a person can provoke them into reality.
The evil eye seen as a powerful ‘force’ and appears as a significant factor in ordinary Muslims’ views of causality.
Another kind of ‘power’ is concentrated in the ritual act of dhikr, or ‘remembering’ God.
Divination seen as a powerful ‘force’, giving access to the future. The stars consulted in some communities when crops are sown.
Magic and sorcery recognized as potent ‘forces’ in the folk-Islamic world. Its power used by certain people and feared by many.
There are some ‘powers’ which are not only trans-empirical, but also other-worldly, such as, holy books.
Fate viewed as an almost ultimate ‘force’ in the Muslim world. There is no redress against fate, before which a human being is silent.