The Journal of Religion and Health releases new research this spring asking the all-important question, can prayer by Muslim religious authorities cure warts? With the publication of “Therapeutic Effects of Islamic Intercessory Prayer on Warts” by Turkish academic, government and medical researchers Evren Hoşrik, Aydın E. Cüceloğlu and Seval Erpolat, can we learn the answer?
This colorful research involved three groups of 15 people living in Ankara, Turkey, each of them infected with warts. An excerpt from the published research article explains what happened to the three groups:
The procedure followed for each group is as follows:
Group-1: The Imam and each participant sat face to face in the mosque and the Imam whispered the verse (79) of Az-Zukhruf sura of the Quran (“What! Have they settled some plan [among themselves]? But, we settle things, too”). He also begged the God for the recovery of the participants’ warts. This verse of the Quran was chosen by the Imam, since it was traditionally used for treatment of warts.
Group-2: Group-2 differed from Group-1 in that the Imam pretended as if he was reciting the verse of the Quran, but in reality, he did not utter any prayers.
Control Group: Participants did not get any intervention.
So what are the results, you may ask? Did the prayed-for group lose their warts? According to the researchers, no statistically significant difference between the groups could be observed. And sadly, warty sufferers, this conclusion of insignificance has dubious meaning. For one thing, the researchers realized during their research that they didn’t have enough research subjects to compare three groups with sufficient statistical power. Also, the experiment was not double-blinded: the Muslim cleric involved in the research knew when he was whispering actual prayers meant to cure warts and when he was whispering gibberish. Given the ability of various mammals to read verbal and non-verbal cues, it’s possible that Group 2 meaningfully interpreted the sighs and eye-rolls of an Imam playing pretend for science.
Otherwise, the scientific method of this research inspires a pronounced, inflamed, and itchy confidence. Is more research needed?