I’ve recently come across this phenomenon of performing “faal”.  A “faal” is performed when wishing to predict future events, or to see whether a given situation or issue will be beneficial and/or what problems may arise.

I’ve come across the use of this “faal” in terms of marriage although its application and use isn’t restricted to just matrimonial issues. For the purpose of marriage, its often used to decipher on the suitability of a prospective spouse and on the character of his/her immediate family members, such as the mother, father, and siblings.

An example of this:

My family is looking for a girl for my marriage. They are meeting a family these days for this purpose. We took out a faal from Quran. First time we did not get the answer and 2nd time faal turned out to be very good. The approximate translation of the verse was that “it is good for your wealth and for your lives if you understand (or if you think)” (i dont remember the last part of the vesre). Now it looks like there can be some complications in this match and it can happen that this marriage might not be possible. I am a little worried after taking out the faal and finding it as compulsory for me to marry that girl as the faal came out very good. However, there are some issues in my mind as well due to which I am not very comfirtable in marraying that girl. Please help me that what should I do? InshaAllah Allah Ta’ala will reward you for helping me…. [Tuesday, June 29th 2004]

Taken from AskImam.org

I’m not ENTIRELY sure on how its done exactly, but from the little I know I’m assuming the following is how its performed. Keeping the issue in mind that the person wishes to perform faal on, a learned person, usually an alim, or an Imam, (randomly) open the Qur’an and whichever page/verse one stops at that is took as a “sign” and it is then interpretated in light of the issue at hand.

 Its a common practise amongst some people of Pakistani descent, and supposedly a few in Iran. However in Iran a “Divane Hafez” is used inplace of the Quran. The following is an example of this:

I read your column religiously. It’s fun to listen into what amounts to private gossip. But it’s your wise and comforting words that elevates it to real lessons in life. I’ve been in the U.S. almost 32 years now. I came here to go to college and eventually made America my home. I have few regrets. But I do miss a lot of things about our culture.

One thing I really miss is picking up a Divane Hafez and doing a faal. When I came to this country I didn’t expect to be here for the rest of my life and therefore I didn’t bring a Divane Hafez with me from Iran. Friends and family ask me what I want from Iran and I always forget to ask for it.

Do you have Divane Hafez? Can I ask for a faal and your interpretation of the verses? I will make a wish. Keep up the excellent work.

Yours truly,

Vahid

Dear Vahid,

I hear you about not packing for a life time! But fortunately there are Iranian bookshops online and in many cities. You will find a link to one such bookshop on this site.

I do have a Divan-e Hafez edited by Mohammad Ghazvini and Dr. Ghassem Ghani which is to my knowledge the best Farsi edition of Hafez. I have just opened it in your name. I will give you the first two verses, then the shahed or witness verse, and finally my interpretation of the faal:

maa bedin dar na pay-e heshmat-o jaah aamadehim
az bad-e hadesseh injaa be panaah aamadehim
rah roye manzel-e eshghim-o ze sar had-e adam
taa be eghleem-e vojood inhameh raah aamadehim

(We have come to this gate not seeking wealth or fame
we have come here seeking refuge from the misfortune of events
we are the seekers of the house of love and we have come far
from the boarders of nothingness till we reach the land of being)

The shahed or witness verse is:

fatvaa-ye pir moghan daaram-o gholeest ghadeem
keh haraam ast mey aanjaa keh na yaar ast nadeem

I know by authority of wise old man of Moghan and from old sayings
that it is forbidden to drink your wine where there is no friend or beloved

This is an amazing faal coming for someone who has lived so long away from home! You should find the poem and read it in its entirety. Here is how I interpret it. It is a positive one. It suggests that you have come from nothingness of pre-existence to the plenitude of your life now.

But it also stresses that you are a seeker of truth and the immaterial. Khaje Hafez Shirazi seems to be telling you that you should share your cup of wine. So the plenitude that you have reached will be complete once it is shared.

be omid-e movafagheeyat-e shomaa,

Kobra Khanom

Its also suppposedly performed by a group of people referred to as “Gharri” – who are Muslims of African origin. Info here

From what I have read, the practise of this faal is dismissed, and is viewed similarly to fortune telling activities. I dont believe such practises have any basis, the use of omens and wishing to predict the future borders on shirk IMO. There are books on “faal” regarding how to interpret verses, much like “dream interpretation” books you can get:

Question: As salaam alaykum wa rahmatullahe wa barakatahu, I would like to know about the books “Faal nama and Khwaab nama”, do you think it is right in accordance to Quran and Sunnat to seek guidance from faal nama? And if yes, is it reliable? what about khawaab nam? is it reliable? I mean things have been generalised in the book, like if you saw clouds it mean this etc? Do you know maybe from hadith or from pious people what are the signs of accepted Haj?

Answer: Dear sir,These are not authentic books,If your heart says my hajj is accepted inshallah it is accepted.

Obviously its quite a good business for those who have a well established reputation, with plenty of people using their services:

Around eight palmists-cum-astrologers-cum-aamils maintain open air offices on the pedestrian bridge near Empress Market. One of them, Muhammad Aslam, claims to be the most adept in his art. However, he was at a loss when asked about the average number of clients he receives daily. “It is hawai rozi,” he explained.

These practitioners cater to the lower classes and as such charge nominal rates; Rs 3 for tota faal, Rs 8 for oracle through books, Rs 10 for English faal, Rs 11 for Quranic faal, Rs 25 for specific questions, Rs 15 for hisab abjad, Rs 25 for hisab rimmel, and around Rs 100 for ammals. He says the tota faal is just “a test of the mind”, so the prediction could be right or wrong.

The trick of the trade of all the practitioners is to tell their client that he is in dire circumstances and only they can save him. They have a following among people from all walks of life and members of the moneyed class can be seen coming to one palmist who sits near the mazar of Abdullah Shah Ghazi in Clifton.

The usual questions asked are about one’s personality, travel, marriage, love life, financial success or a raise. The less usual ones are about success in examinations, health, etc.

But I was wondering if anyone else has come across this phenomenon? What do you make of it? And I wonder where such practises started from?