PUTRAJAYA, Oct 11 — Behind its veneer of modernity and state-of-the-art technology, a hospital in the administrative capital of Putrajaya gave in to the supernatural when it resorted to engaging Islamic spiritual healers to cleanse itself of alleged “hauntings” last week.
Hospital Putrajaya’s administration had over the weekend invited some 40 Islamic healers from renowned Bangi-based Darussyifa’ for a “memagar” (bordering) ritual to ostensibly repel a supernatural presence, after complaints from its staff over the last two years.
The ritual was confirmed by staff members who spoke of seeing men in white kopiah (skullcaps) sprinkling water around the hospital in the purported ritual.
Security staff also spoke of seeing small mounds of white and black powder in corners of the hospital, admitting that they were baffled by them.
Darussyifa’ is the foremost centre in the nation for Islamic healing—faith healing with the use of Quranic verses and rituals—led by renowned religious scholar Datuk Dr Haron Din, who is also the deputy spiritual leader of Islamist party PAS.
A religious healer with Darussyifa’, who wished to remain anonymous, explained that a typical indoor “healing” session would entail prayers, chanting of zikir (supplications), and the recital of verses from the Quran.
Holy water over which healers have recited the Yasin ― the 36th chapter in Quran that is commonly used by the Malay community as a panacea of sorts ― will then be sprinkled while circling the “troubled” spots counter-clockwise, mimicking the tawaf ritual done by Muslim pilgrims during their hajj in Mecca.
“We just show our methods, the administration will then do it themselves,” said the religious healer, noting that they recommend the “bordering” ritual be done for at least three consecutive days.
“We also recommend doing it after the asar prayers, and before the maghrib prayers,” he added, referring to the two Muslim prayer times which usually fall at afternoon and at the beginning of sunset.
The white and black powder also turned out to be salt and black pepper, used optionally by religious healers outdoors as a “weapon” to “injure” the offending spirits.
In Malay folklore, before the advent of modern medicine, malevolent “makhluk halus” (fairies, or “unseen beings”) such as djinn (genies) were often blamed for ailments that were then treated using exorcisms.
When contacted, the administration of Hospital Putrajaya refused to comment on the spiritual cleansing session, but admitted Darussyifa and Haron’s attendance.
Although Darussyifa’ is a non-profit entity and offers its services for free, the hospital refused to comment whether it spent any of its funds on food or transport for the 40-odd healers, or whether any donations were made to the centre.
It is understood that it was not the first time such a ritual was held, and it was requested by the top figures in administration themselves.
Most hospital staff polled by The Malay Mail Online on Wednesday refused to identify themselves due to the hospital’s strict policy against talking to the media, but most of them seemed nonchalant about any “hauntings”.
“Oh well, it’s common for hospitals to be haunted,” said a 34-year-old nurse who called herself Nisa. She admitted, however, that she did not know anybody who has been “teased” by ghosts, a sentiment shared by other nurses polled.
But the nurses related stories told to them about others working the night-shift, who have heard strange noises and seen apparitions, especially in the hospital’s ten wards that are spread over four floors.
Another place believed to be “haunted” was the on-call block on the fifth floor, where on-call medical or house officers sleep when they must stay the night, but no doctors could confirm with The Malay Mail Online of any sightings.
A common story told by nurses and doctors, sometimes to tease new intakes, is about an apparition of a seemingly beautiful lady in long black hair seen in the newly-built National Cancer Institute (IKN) beside the hospital whom the staff have dubbed “Shasha”.
“Shasha” was supposedly seen roaming outside the institute and along its corridors in either white or yellow dresses, which are coincidentally the colours of the building’s walls outside.
It was said that the number of staff complaints have increased after the construction of IKN, which commenced on September 2010.
Equipped with 252 beds, the institute was completed in August this year, and is expected to start operations with 400 staff members this month.
Located on an 11-hectare site in Precinct 7 here, the 341-bed Hospital Putrajaya offers services including surgery, paediatric, orthopaedic, and alternative medicine treatments to VIPs from the administrative capital and citizens from surrounding areas.
Malaysia’s bureaucracy is powered by around 1.4 million pre-dominantly Malay workers, and some 80,000 of them live in Putrajaya.