In Islamic Iran prayer sellers' trade is booming

Mon Jun 28, 2010 6:25am EDT
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TEHRAN (Reuters Life!) - In Islamic Iran where clerics rule, unofficial "prayer sellers," who promise to intercede with the divine to solve all manner of life's problems, are seeing their business boom.

Backstreet spiritual guides like YaAli are tolerated by the authorities and increasingly sought after by Iranians seeking help from on high.

"People from all walks of life -- mostly young women -- come here asking for prayers that can solve their problems," says YaAli sitting on a chair in a crumbly old alley in Tehran.

Stroking his white beard, YaAli -- a nickname he has been given by his customers -- explains how each prayer must be used in its own specific way.

"There are lots of methods depending on the problems. Some prayers (written on a piece of paper) should be burned and some should be put in a bowl of water. You should follow the instructions."

According to Islam, prayers have a divine source and make a spiritual connection between God and his servants. Those who have the right religious knowledge can write prayers for others to help them obtain better results.

Regular customer Mahoor says YaAli helped her shake off a stalker. "I didn't see him any more after YaAli gave me the prayers," says the 26-year-old nurse.

Mahoor and several of her friends come to YaAli believing his prayers will change their destiny and stop bad things happening to them.

"This time I want prayers that will make my boyfriend marry me. He says he doesn't have enough money to start a new life," Mahoor says of her reluctant beau.   Continued...