Possession cults like the zar phenomenon occurs in many parts of the Muslim world. Attention’s focused on establishing a give-and-take relationship between patient and possessing spirit.
It would seem that the zar ritual provides more for the participants than simply a spiritual experience. Various special-coloured costumes worn to please the zar spirits – and their human models.
There are various motivations behind zar ceremonies as there are varieties in the acting out of the obsession, or the ‘untying’ of the waswasa, almost appearing to take the form of a dramatized dream.
Exorcism of the spirits possessing Muslim women in their zar rituals by a Christian missionary bent solely on power encounter would leave a large gap in the social and psychological make-up of the women’s world. Sensitivity to the unspoken needs beneath the surface of the zar ritual will aid the Christian missionary both in addressing the demonic in the Muslim woman’s world, and in providing meaningful alternative expressions for her social, psychological and spiritual longings.