A Sufi holy man decided to take a leap of faith and really test his ability to perform miracles by killing a person in front of a crowd and bringing him back from the dead. Instead, he managed to just do the first part.
According to a local Pakistani newspaper, the holy man (called a pir in Sufism) was extremely popular and widely believed to have the ability to perform wide-ranging miracles because of his connection to God. Over the course of five years, the man gained a massive following in rural areas around Pakistan. Thankfully, he had not gone so far as to believe he could bring people back from the dead until recently.
According to the paper, on a nondescript Tuesday this month, the man, identified as Muhammad Sabir, suddenly announced that he could “breathe life back into a dead man.” Rather than, you know, finding an already dead person and bringing him or her back, Sabir decided that he would kill an already living person and then perform the unnecessary miracle on-demand. He also said that it couldn’t be just any person; there were a few conditions.
According to witnesses, Sabir said that the person he would bring back must be a man, must be married, and must have children. In other words, Sabir wanted a person who had as much to lose as possible if the holy man could not bring him back. Despite the risks, a 40-year-old true believer named Muhammad Niaz volunteered. He fit the bill: He was both married and had six children he took care of by working in a local factory.
The next day, Sabir tied the man up to a table in front of a large crowd and cut his throat. Someone — perhaps the only person in the room to recognize how insane this was — called the police. Unfortunately, by the time they arrived, Niaz was very clearly dead. According to witnesses, Sabir had whispered some words near Niaz’s body and then, recognizing that he had just murdered a person in front of dozens of witnesses, pragmatically attempted to flee the scene.
He didn’t get far before the crowd caught up to him and held him down until police arrested him.
Despite the fact that Niaz now left a widow and six children behind, his sister seemed unfazed by his untimely death. She too was a believer in Sabir — apparently, still so.
“Why should I mourn when I know that my brother is in heaven?” she told The Express Tribune. “He will be rewarded for his services for the spiritual leader in afterlife.”
Sabir has been rewarded with prison and a court date for the murder he committed.
Sufism is a branch of Islam which focuses on mysticism and an inward-looking philosophy of spiritual growth through personal reflection. While it traces its origins to the teachings of Muhammad, some scholars believe Sufism is much more ancient, pre-dating organized religion itself.
Worshipers often gravitate towards charismatic spiritual leaders who hold “spiritual sessions” and perform miracles. It is from this legacy that Sabir built his following and convinced adherents that he could perform even the biggest miracles.
While it is rare for a spiritual leader to murder a person in order to perform a miracle on them, the idea of bringing people back from the dead by communicating with God is not exclusively a Muslim concept. Christianity has often toyed with the idea that powerful spiritual leaders could revive long-dead believers. Jesus Christ himself was said to have performed this miracle, resurrecting a man named Lazarus after he had been dead for four days.
In the Catholic tradition, several saints are said to have also had this ability, as well. By one count, St. Vincent Ferrer alone raised 28 people from the dead in his lifetime. No word on whether he was the one responsible for killing them in the first place.