This is a photo that few people would guess was taken in Afghanistan. Via MastaBaba, it’s a shaman in Mazar:

Afghan shaman

C’mon! Take a drink of whatever folk remedy he has mixed up in his red flower watering can! It will make you potent-better-fertile-hairier-hairless-attractive or something else entirely.

All joking aside, pre-Islamic religious/folk traditions still exist alongside Islam throughout Central Asia and much of the Muslim world. Sometimes harmoniously, sometimes less so. I recall an anecdote, from some forgotten place, of a young Wahhabi-trained Uyghur (I think) preacher deciding to go to war with the local shaman. But the local people did not see how the shaman folk remedies, blessings and ceremonies were un-Islamic. It’s like telling a Christian that the Christmas tree is a pre-Christian pagan symbol (which it is) and expecting them to toss it out immediately.

Anyways, I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m no anthropologist. If you are interested in shamanism in Afghanistan (and apparently shaman is an inaccurate term borrowed from some Siberians) then I suggest reading these academic articles:

Sidky, Muhammad Humayun. ‘Malang, Sufis, and Mystics: An Ethnographic and Historical Study of Shamanism in Afghanistan’, Asian Folklore Studies, Vol. 49, No. 2 (1990), 275-301. Link!

Micheline Centlivres, Pierre Centlivres and Mark Slobin. ‘A Muslim Shaman of Afghan Turkestan’, Ethnology, Vol. 10, No. 2 (Apr., 1971), pp. 160-173. Download PDF.