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Our Haunted House!

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By Naseer A. Tahir, MD

I had returned to a job in Rochester, NY after working in New Jersey for a year or so.

We had just moved into a new house about a month ago. One day as I walked into the house my wife said, “We have ghosts in our house.”

I stopped walking, stunned; my wife is not prone to exaggeration and would not say anything like this unless it was serious. She must have experienced something strange. As Muslims, we did not believe in the “ghosts” like commonly believed by many people of other faiths. The Holy Quran talks about Jinn and Devil but not ghosts. We do have a firm belief in souls and spirits. We all have one. The Holy Quran describes that the soul is severed permanently from the physical body after death, never to return back to this world in any shape or form.

“I hear footsteps upstairs and in the basement. I see shadows hurrying upstairs,” my wife continued to explain.

“Perhaps these are sounds of wind blowing?” I suggested, knowing very well she was not going to buy it. She looked very scared and my half hearted explanation did not give her any consolation. As she explained her experience in greater detail, showing me that somebody had rushed from our two story foyer into the kitchen area and then taken the staircase into the basement. As I tried new explanations, to console her, I felt some fear in my heart also and noted that I was becoming perplexed myself.

“Ask your daughter, if you do not believe me, she heard the footsteps too.” She said, “And she has also seen the shadows a few times.”

I decided to stop talking and went to my study. As I was checking my email, I heard some calculated foot steps and then a brisk walk, as if someone was walking in the basement. I rushed downstairs, two flights of stairs, but no one was there.

I looked for anything that could have made the noise: a mouse, a bird, or a squirrel. Nothing was seen in our otherwise clean and orderly basement. My wife has the habit of keeping our house in an exceptionally clean and organized fashion, even the basement. With regular cleaning, vacuuming, and spraying, finding a bug or a mouse in the basement was out of question.
“I have not heard anything before today!” I said to myself, trying to solve the puzzle, but I was still perplexed.  I could not help it.

“I am going to Wegman’s for groceries,” my wife said closing the garage door as she went out. I had finished checking my emails, and decided not to let “ghosts” bother my relaxation time as I sat down to watch CNN. I began to doze in my chair and was startled awake by a sound of someone going upstairs. I got up and went upstairs immediately. My daughter was in her room ironing her clothes.

“Did you hear someone walking upstairs?” I asked her.

“No!” she answered, while taking the headphones off her ears.

I came down and went back to CNN headlines.

Over the next few days, we did not hear any more footsteps, nor did my wife see any more shadows. Then one day she heard the noises again. After few days I too started to hear the noises and even saw shadows and silhouettes of human figures moving and going upstairs and downstairs, but never directly, always in peripheral field of vision. If I sensed a shadow to the side and turned to look at it directly, it would not be there, and that felt strange.
At least I was never sure, did I see something or only imagined it?

I could not reach a conviction if it was make belief or something real was going on. I never had a solid proof of presence of ghosts, and it remained to be nothing more than strange experiences.

Over the next few months, it happened sporadically, not only to us but at times to others visiting us as well. Once, my wife and her friend were having a cup of tea sitting in kitchen, around a dining table. Her friend suddenly said to my wife, “someone just went past the bathroom to the garage?” My wife politely told her that other than the two of them, no one else was home.

And just like that, it went on for a while.

We all had similar experiences several times. Only difference being, we started hearing sounds in the walls also. As Muslims we did not believe in the existence of the ghosts. We talked about it at the dinner table, but could not come up with any explanation, but always believing: There must be a natural explanation for all this!

It was a rainy night, it had just stopped raining and now there was a dull. I was sleepy and tired after a rough day at work.

We had been in this house for five months.  The on going suspense was taking a toll on our nerves.

I went to my bedroom turned the lights off and as I was pulling the curtains I noted, it was pitch dark outside.

My wife had told me that she is checking on our granddaughter in the other bedroom, and had decided to sleep in the baby’s room.

I was alone in my bed.

I was afraid that even though I am tired, I may have a sleepless night.

But, to my surprise, soon, I was sound asleep.  It seemed like a dream. I felt a big black shadow of a cloud pass over my face.

I suddenly woke up. I was sweaty and my heart was fluttering fast.  In a state of uncertainty and shock I jumped from my bed and turned the lights on. I saw the “ghost” as it flew from one end of the room to the other with wings flapping and making noises.

It was a bat. Jet black! And over a foot long wing-to-wing while flying, but sitting on the edge of the chair, looked like a small mouse.

I got a towel from the bathroom and threw it at the bat, caught it and trapped it in a plastic bag. We called the pest control and they took care of the problem.

How did the bat come into the bedroom? Pest control expert told me that the bats can squeeze through a very small opening, as small as a pencil. The bats droppings were found in the basement as well as in the attic.

The conclusions were that the bats entered the attic through small openings where the walls meet the roof, and went down to basement through the walls. They entered the bed room from the tiny opening where we had dropped lights in the ceiling.

For prevention of future entry of bats, they put a fine mesh of wire at places where the lights were in the ceiling in the bed room, and closed all the holes in the basement.

Once the bats were gone, we never heard noises, and never saw shadows of human figures.

Why were we seeing the shadows? I have thought about it several times and came to following conclusions:

We were hearing the bats noises, as they flew and moved in the walls and the basement. The human brain is a wonderful organ. It fills the gaps as needed for the continuum of the event created in the brain by noises. When the data does not exist our brain manufactures it. We heard the sounds, and the brain created corresponding images and refined the sounds for us as needed to quench the thirst of curiosity.

Magicians rely on the brain’s tendency to perceive objects as continuing in the expected direction. This tendency explains magicians’ success in fooling people with well-known tricks using strings, ropes, rings, spoons and dollar bills. For instance, research by Martinez-Conde and Macknik have shown that when you see a magician toss a coin up and down in one hand and then fake a coin throw to the other hand, spectators actually “see” the nonexistent coin flying from one hand to the other. This trick works well only when the spectator sees the coin actually being tossed up and down prior to the fake throw. Without that setup, the spectator is more likely to notice that the coin was not actually thrown from one hand to the other.

“Performing magic makes you keenly aware of how fallible peoples’ perceptions are,” notes Anthony Barnhart. He’s a professional magician and a doctoral student in cognitive psychology at Arizona State University in Tempe. By fallible, he means capable of being wrong. “So much of what you think you’re perceiving, you’re really misperceiving,” he says. That’s because your previous experiences drive so many of your perceptions. You expect things to proceed as they have in the past.

Based upon our past experience, if a particular sound is associated with a particular image, the brain will fabricate it. And that is how we were looking at shadows. Our brain was fooling us.

Thank God! We still don’t believe in ghosts.

Posted by on August 18, 2013. Filed under Psychology,Science. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

14 Responses to Our Haunted House!

  1. leila

    August 18, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    thanks for sharing your heart thumping thriller story. My co-worker was at a bed and breakfast at an old farm house just recently and she said she experienced ghosts. She’s a mature educated lady who doesn’t fall for ghosts and goblins , but she insisted that she really experienced ghosts similar to what you describe in your story. I had to laugh and asked if she was drinking, so now I have to ease her mind with your story the poor thing.

  2. NASEER TAHIR

    August 19, 2013 at 5:07 am

    It was a strange experience for me and my family. I can understand how those without firm faith and believing in superstitions can be an easy victims of the “ghost” phenomenon.

  3. Njay

    August 19, 2013 at 5:45 am

    Very nice story…but why do you say that ‘as Muslims, we don’t believe in ghosts’. As far as I know the existence of Jinnat is clearly described in Quran, and from many Ahadith as well stories from the Companions of prophets, we know that good and bad Jinnat do exist and even interact with humans.

  4. Zia Shah

    August 19, 2013 at 5:56 am

    There are several mentions of Jinns in the Holy Quran and actually a chapter is titled Jinn. But, the devil is in the detail. Who are the Jinns?
    Khalifatul Masih II, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mehmood Ahmed, who led the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community from 1914-1965, gave several reasons why Jinns are not the demons or the ghosts of popular imagination, in his commentary of Sura Hijr, the fifteenth chapter of the Holy Quran. I will mention only two here for the sake of example.
    He says that Jinns in the Holy Quran mean foreigners or aliens, for example, we read in the Holy Quran, “And of the Jinn were some who worked under him (Solomon), by the command of his Lord. … They made for him what he desired; palaces and statues, and basins like reservoirs, and large cooking vessels fixed in their places.” (Al Quran 34:13-14) When we try to find out, who were these Jinns that built palaces for the Prophet Solomon, we find in the Bible that he had asked foreign kings to send him engineers for this purpose. In the same chapter we read, “Solomon took a census of all the foreigners residing in Israel, after the census his father David had taken; and they were found to be 153,600. He assigned 70,000 of them to be carriers and 80,000 to be stonecutters in the hills, with 3,600 foremen over them to keep the people working.”
    In Hadith we find mention that Jinns also believed in the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, but, when we try to understand these Hadith in the light of the Quran, we have no choice, but to understand Jinns to be some hidden groups of men, who did not reveal their identity for different considerations. For example, in the Holy Quran we read, “Say, ‘O mankind! truly I am a Messenger to you all from Allah.” (Al Quran 7:159 ) Khalifatul Masih II argues that if Jinns were a separate species, different from the humans the Holy Quran should have said, “Say, ‘O mankind and Jinns! truly I am a Messenger to you all from Allah.” So, many a use of the term Jinn in the Quran is for humans of one description or the other.
    Jinn according to the Islamic tradition may also mean bacteria, which may cause disease or even archaebacteria, which emerged at least 3.5 billion years ago and live in environments that resemble conditions existing when the earth was young, which may have role in evolution of life on our planet, but, that is a subject for another day.
    References from the Bible
    Chronicles 2:7-14, New International Version.
    Chronicles 2:17-18, New International Version.

  5. Njay

    August 19, 2013 at 8:17 am

    I totally agree@ Zia Shah. However, this is one of many interpretations of the word Jinn. Khalifatul Massih II promoted this concept of Jinn to avoid superstitious concepts becoming common among the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, but he never denied the existence of Jinn as a phenomenon that is beyond human understanding. Khalifatul Massih Rabah once narrated an incident that happened to him. He tells that one day when he was laying down, he felt someone holding his feet tightly, but he couldn’t see anyone. He said:’if you are a bad Jinn, then let me tell you that I’m not afraid of you..but if you are a good one, then you may keep holding my feet’.I will try to find this and post it here..but meanwhile you can listen to Huzoor’s answer to the question if ghosts/Jinn exist. He explains very clearly that these concepts are discouraged, but one cannot deny the existence of Jinn as “ghosts”. He also mentions that Jinnaat are not an important subject to us…so I believe he doesn’t mean bacteria, alien or any other foreign object as they certainly are important :)
    Enjoy!
    http://www.askislam.org/science_and_technology/paranormal_phenomena/question_139.html

  6. Wasim A. Khan

    August 19, 2013 at 8:20 am

    I have never come accross such things in my life. I do hear lots of stories about it and seen houses people that they are hounted but never any till I am 69 years old. These things happens out of fear mostly.

  7. shoeb

    August 19, 2013 at 8:51 am

    i have seen Jinns 4 times..in Paranormal Activity part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4

  8. Rafiq A. Tschannen

    August 19, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Shoeb: Can you elaborate?

  9. Amtul Q Farhat

    August 19, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Jinn literally means anything which has the connotation of concealment, invisibility, seclusion and remoteness. Therefore many things (including bacteria and viruses) can be classified as Jinn.

    http://www.alislam.org/library/books/revelation/part_5_section_3.html

  10. Amtul Q Farhat

    August 19, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Many words which have above qualities are derived from Jinn.
    For example:
    Jaan for snake, Jenine for Fetus, Majnoon for Possessed one, Jannah for concealed land and many others.

  11. Amtul Q Farhat

    August 19, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    One can watch the answer at 36:15 minutes of the following video:

    http://www.alislam.org/v/1018.html

  12. patrick gordon

    September 1, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    i was wondering for ifo in regards to muslim haunting as my next door niebour is muslim and a spirit is bothering his wife ….she is the only one that hears or see’s her …it seems to be female…is there something i can tell him to do or???
    don’t know how strong his faith is but i would like to help….
    please forgive my ignorance of the muslim faith as i am christian or spelling…

  13. Ghulam Sarwar

    September 1, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    The word Jinn carries a meaning of hidden or concealed. Khalifat u Al Masih Thani (Rz.a) is perfectly right in saying that Jinn are foreign, alien people. I read the Quran and this meaning never fails me at any place. In the chapter named “Jinn” in Quran, there was group of foreigners (Most likely Christians or Jews from Afghanistan) had come to Madinah.
    The prophet Muhammad s.a.w.s. went out of city to meet them at night in complete privacy. He preached to them and they believed in the prophet s.a.w.s.

    Many Jinn (foreign technicians) were serving in Palestine under contract in the name of King Sulaiman. They were making big pots and buildings and fountains. It is not possible that a pot be made and no one would see who was making it. They were all humans.
    The Khalifat u AlMasih Thani (rz.a.) has made it abundantly clear in his book “Sair e Roohani” that Jinn were same as other men. They were living in caves. When Adam a.s. preached to move out of caves and live in open area, some men did not like to do that. They opposed Adam a.s. There was a conflict.¬¬ They were the Jinn.
    The Quran issues a challenge to every one to bring a like of the Quran and to take help from all local as well as foreigners beside Allah to produce a like of the Quran.
    I have experienced that if we translate the word Jinn of the Quran as a foreigner or alien (expatriate), it fits very well and the meaning becomes very clear.
    Now two related incidents:
    In Quran it is stated that when king Soloman a.s. died, he was standing, supported by his stick. (He kept on standing for long time). When a white ant (deemak) ate away his stick, King Soloman fell down. The Jinn were very upset (that they did not know king had died). The Jinn said amongst themselves, “had they the knowledge of the unseen (Ghaib), they would not have suffered so much.. (I have approximately described the incident).
    In this incident, Jinn are mentioned. It is not possible that the king may have died and his body was left standing for many days… and there was no funeral etc. The only explanation I could arrive at is as follows:
    There were Jinn working in the kingdom under contract in the name of King Soloman. They were getting good wages. Haikal Sulaimani was also under construction and it was not fully built. The foreign workers (Jinn) had earned enough money and wanted to return to their homes. But they could not do that due the contract with the life of King Soloman (a.s.).
    The king died. It appears that official notification (Gazette) about Kings death was not issued. So the Jinn had to keep on working against their will for long time.
    Another one:
    I was the duty officer of the day on board a ship in an Arab country. The ship was to be docked for repairs but it had the LOG (Speed instrument) installed at bottom of ship. Ship could not be docked unless that Log was removed. To remove the Log, divers had to go under the ship to remove it. A wireless signal was made to the Diving Section to do the job. I did not know about that signal.
    After working hours, at about 2:00 p.m. I saw much activity in harbor. There were a few boats with men in special outfit in the harbor. The men looked like Jinn with their headgear (goggles) and coats and flappers. At 2:30 p.m. two divers came up to me in that full gear, presented me the Log and asked for receipt. I looked at them and asked them who were they.
    One of them replied, “ Sir, I am Abdul Ghafoor of Sargodha (Pakistan)”. The other one replied, “I am Mohsin from Sudan.” They were both foreigners, looking much like the Jinn. And I was more convinced about those Jinn who were diving in service of King Soloman and making special fittings under water.

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