This is Dahesh Speaking to You
This article appeared in Al-Usboo‘ Al-‘Arabi magazine (Arabic week magazine), issue 263, June 22, 1964.
“I wonder what people will say about me after I am gone?
Some will shower my name with curses and resentment.
Others will repeat my mention with sanctity and kindness.
Deep sighs will emerge from the hearts and chests,
Some are of joy and happiness while others are chokes beckoning death.
As to myself, it is sufficient to say that I will be facing judgment in front of my Maker.”
What person thinks of life and the afterlife and expects others to remember him with either curses or praise? Were the deeds he had accomplished in his lifetime warrant people to be divided over his legacy? Did he go beyond the normal parameters of an individual who is described during his life and after his death as a “human being?”
I guess bad things were not attributed to a human being the way they were attributed to the author of these words. An entire government stood against him—with all of its resources: its first President, its legislative and executive powers, its officers, and by its press. They all led the campaign against him and told people to stone this man; attribute all improprieties to him; accompany his name with curses and cusswords; make him an outcast in your society, because he is the agent of the devil…People reacted to his news and said that he is a magician, charlatan, and hypnotist—who stole the money and minds of people and drove them to destruction. The society ridiculed any individual that followed and believed in him.
This is an old story that dates 20 years back to 1944. Since then, public opinion and the image they had formed in their minds of him has not changed. If you were to ask anyone about him, he would sarcastically respond with whatever improper stories he remembers and then ask without much interest: “I wonder, whatever happened to him? They say that he had been killed in Tehran (Azerbaidjan) and that the government exiled him a long time ago and forbade him from coming back…this man is long gone and his tricks were exposed to the public.”
However, those who knew him well and consider themselves close to him do admit that he has powers to perform supernatural phenomena and tell you of their admiration of his manners, humanity, and principles. They also tell you of his innocence in all the things attributed to him. At the end of their conversation, they make you promise not to publish anything they have said and to keep it a secret, for they are embarrassed and afraid to speak truthfully and to attribute any good opinion about him thinking that people will consider them to be his followers and would be chastised—same way they previously chastised others. As to him, he knows this and says: “I do excuse them, because no matter how important a person becomes, weakness is a human trait. Perhaps he distanced himself from people because people distanced themselves from him.
Where is Dahesh, the legend? Who is he? How does he live? Who are the Daheshists? What is behind his supernatural phenomena? If he is not a regular human being, why doesn’t he perform miracles so that people would believe in his Spiritual Powers? Why doesn’t he make them believe in him so that he can control their minds and remove the imprint of the evil image people had formed in their minds? The intent of our investigation of Dr. Dahesh was not to seek him justice or to call for the belief in him, but rather to conduct an objective investigation with him and about him. For the first time, he will talk to you in order to: explain his principles; clarify the reasons behind the campaign against him; state his varied opinions; familiarize you with his way of life; and the secrets of his unusual powers. Some of the Daheshists will provide information about him and the reasons that led them to believe openly in Daheshism.
Who is Dahesh?
He is a Lebanese Protestant Christian that was born in Jerusalem in 1912 [actually, it is 1909] and grew up in the Al-Musaitbeh quarter of Beirut and his real name is Saleem El-Ashi. His father, Moussa El-Ashi, was a very religious and righteous man who died in 1920 leaving behind a wife, four daughters, and a son. The family was very poor and the circumstances due to the harshness of World War I made life even more difficult and to the point where his mother had no choice but to place him in an orphanage. Saleem spent several months at the orphanage where he learned to read and write. This period was the only formal education he had ever received.
Dr. Farid Abu-Suleiman tells us: “the powers of Saleem were demonstrated at an early age. His childhood friends got used to seeing him, while playing marbles, put his hands over the marbles and have them disappear. At the age of ten, he managed to recreate a book from ashes—a book that his uncle had burnt so that Saleem would not strain his sickly health in excessive reading.” His fame grew in the neighborhood and people talked with amazement about his spiritual powers. Saleem continued to read books in order to compensate for lost schooling years. Reading was his only preoccupation.
Saleem traveled through European and Middle-Eastern countries and in 1930, he received an honorary doctorate degree from the “Sage Institute” in Paris. However, according to Daheshists, his spiritual powers did not take a clear and powerful form until the beginning of 1942. In that particular year, many believed in Daheshism beginning with Youssef El-Hajj, followed by Halim Dammous, Dr. Farid Abu-Suleiman, George Haddad and his wife Marie Hadad, Joseph Hajjar, and the Nu’aimeh family. Also, many believed in his powers without becoming Daheshists. Everyone admits that the powers of Dr. Dahesh are supernatural. Dr. Farid Abu-Suleiman says: “I believe that Dr. Dahesh is beyond the level of a human being. He performs miracles and supernatural phenomena. His powers transgress science and natural laws. There is no one in the entire world that has powers like his and that his presence in Lebanon is a great human event and a grace like no other.”
Dr. Farid Abu-Suleiman became acquainted with Dr. Dahesh in 1942 through Youssef El-Hajj. He is considered to be a great believer in Daheshism and in Dr. Dahesh. He is the closest to him. He says: during the period that Dr. Dahesh was subjected to persecution, he and many Daheshists were pressured and harassed by the Lebanese Authorities. In 1944, he was given a choice between keeping his government job that paid him 3,000 LL (Lebanese Lira) a month by abandoning Dahesh or lose it. At that time he had said to those who gave him the choice that he is willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of his beliefs. Dr. Abu-Suleiman remembers every single news bit about Dr. Dahesh and records it in a special journal. He is also the go between Dr. Dahesh and the people.
Dr. George Khabsa has been a Daheshist since 1942 as well. He was introduced to Dr. Dahesh by the late Halim Dammous. He was impressed with Dr. Dahesh from the first instance and believed in his unusual spiritual powers just after he had witnessed one miracle. His view of Dr. Dahesh differs to a certain extent from that of Dr. Fareed Abu-Suleiman. He says about him: “Dr. Dahesh is human just like anyone else and differs only in the special spiritual powers that he exhibits and use in order to accomplish a certain purpose—demonstrating the powers of the Spirit and the invisible. Not even once that Dr. Dahesh had used his powers for any materialistic or financial gain. His principles, like most other principles, have their opponents and proponents…even until now, they have not spread on a wide scale because our world is materialistic and people think in a materialistic way. At this time and age, materialism had dominated everything and spirituality had taken the back seat.” In Dr. Khabsa’s opinion, Dr. Dahesh distanced himself from people because he didn’t wish to honor the materialistic requests of many, because “his powers should not be used except for spiritual purposes.” Join Dr. Khabsa and Dr. Abu-Seleiman as we enter the sanctuary of Dr. Dahesh in order to discover Daheshism.
As you enter the residence of Dr. Dahesh, you would think you are visiting a museum. The oil paintings hanging on the walls are the first to attract your attention. Many small masterpieces are distributed on tables, corners, and the walls. You enter his study first and rest for a little while waiting for one of his followers to announce that Dr. Dahesh is waiting for you. A long walkway leads you to the living room where a mid-sized gentleman greets you with unlimited sincerity and kindness and asks you to take a seat. All the talk about him created an image of him in your mind and you stare in his face trying to detect certain elements of cruelty and evil. His face is round and slightly on the dark side and inspires in you trust and good nature. His face attributes are proportional with wide black eyes, high forehead, white cheeks, and a thin moustache. You discover little by little that he is not different from other people and his legend is just that, a legend. Your wondering is eliminated when you hear him welcome you again with a calm soft voice. You feel as if he is nervous a little about your company, just like a child that feels shy while being in the presence of an adult audience that he doesn’t know. He is seated straight and answers your questions calmly without getting emotional, or one of the Daheshists present may answer for him…Please, go ahead and ask.”
“My powers are gifted and not a science”
Many of the most used phrases by Dr. Dahesh are: God, Spirit, matter, Judgment Day, religion, retribution, punishment, immortality of the soul, Spiritual Sessions.
Dahesh: “We are in the age of materialism, machines, and inventions where the human faith in Spiritual values has weakened and materialism became their first priority. During a Spiritual Session, you are assured that the power of the Spirit surpasses that of matter, because it is eternal and that there is retribution and punishment. For example; during a Spiritual Session, the Spirit can: transmute this glass ashtray into gold and remains so indefinitely; return to you something that you have lost a long time ago and in any place; convert a regular piece of paper to currency of the 100 L.L. denomination; to transport you from your current location to another location—even abroad and in the same condition; bring to you any person or object you wish; and with a word answers all of your demands and desires.”
Dr. Dahesh assures us that these miracles occur only to show that his Spiritual Powers are not man-made. “My powers are gifted and not a science and the miracles take place without my control.” The Spiritual Sessions are means and not an end and their purpose is to demonstrate to the individual the superiority of the soul and in affirming its immortality, to lead him to the belief in retribution and punishment, drive him to self-improvement, and to follow righteous principles. As Dr. Dahesh says: Daheshism does not contradict other religions at all, for it strengthens the Christian in his Christianity and the Muslim in his Islam. The teachings of Daheshism are a model for any individual who wishes to follow firm Spiritual values, because Daheshists say: “If God is a spring, then religions are His streams.”
Many of the miracles that Dr. Dahesh performs take place during Spiritual Sessions. If you desire to attend a Spiritual Session, you must draw on a piece of paper a five-edged star and write inside its five edges six Arabic characters. Then you must write: “By the Name of God and the Guiding and Beloved Prophet to grant me a Spiritual Session;” sign your name on the paper and date it; fold it in a specific way and then burn it (this is known as the Ramz). You must repeat this process for 30 days and then you are called to attend a Spiritual Session where you can witness the “miracles.”
Dr. Khabsa: “I practice medicine since the age of 35 and I only believe in tangible things. In 1930, while studying medicine in Paris, I lost a little diary that I used to record some daily notes on and looked for it to no avail. In 1942, I met Dr. Dahesh and attended my first Spiritual Session, where I requested the return of my lost diary. He said to me: put your hand into mine and as soon as I did, the same diary appeared in my hand. I have examined it and remains in my possession until this day.”
Dr. Abu-Suleiman: “ Listen to this story. Dr. Dahesh and I once visited friends. As we arrived, I saw him run up the stairs ahead of me and then pass through the door at the end of the staircase. I followed him and attempted to pass through the door, however, I banged my head. So, I rang the bell and after two minutes someone opened the door and said to me: we were sitting and all of a sudden we saw Dr. Dahesh standing in our midst without seeing him come through from any of the doors. I learned then that the outside door was locked when Dr. Dahesh passed through it and I attempted to pass through it as well. Dr. Abu-Suleiman digressed by saying: “Dr. Dahesh can pass through locked doors—as we have seen many times. He also has six heavenly Personalities and can all be present in one location or in six different locations.”
About the phenomenon of Dr. Dahesh’s Personalities, Halim Dammous, expressed to World of the Spirit—an Egyptian magazine, the following: “…and this phenomenon is unusual in its category and I am writing it exactly as it happened on May 6, 1944, so that the reader can study it with care and accuracy: “On the evening of that day, I was sitting next to Mr. Youssef El-Hajj, the owner of Al-Anwar, a magazine out of publication, when Dr. Dahesh pointed to us the need to write a sacred “Ramz” and to burn it in the same room we are in—the room where Spiritual Sessions have taken place. We did exactly what was asked of us and as soon as we finished burning the sacred “Ramz” to ashes, there was a knock on the door of the room and one of the Personalities of Dr. Dahesh entered the room and greeted us and was wearing the same clothing as Dr. Dahesh. The door of the adjacent room opened and another Personality entered wearing different clothing. Then there was a knock on the bathroom door across from the bedroom and a third Personality appeared wearing different clothing from the other two Personalities. A second later, we noticed a ghost near the dining room approaching our room little by little and turned out to be a fourth Personality wearing a striped pajama.
“Finally, a fifth Personality appeared in front of us coming from the interior section of the house and was wearing a suit different from all the other Personalities…These Personalities formed a semi-circle and each chatted with his identical twin about a variety of lofty Spiritual matters that has finer and stronger ties to this Daheshist mission. We were listening in awe, seeing in amazement, and our hearts fearful of the things we were seeing, touching, and hearing. By God, how can we deny such truths, miracles, and supernatural events while they are all real phenomena occurring right in front of us! As to the founder of Daheshism himself, he was sitting in his chair next to his wood desk looking at his Personalities and smiling…after twenty minutes, the five Personalities stood-up and bid us farewell while shaking our hands.”
The late Halim Dammous was one of the great believers in Dahesh and his teachings. He had many writings and composed a countless number of poems about Daheshism. He would record the details of the events he had witnessed in a book called “Daheshist Chronicles.” He corresponded with World of the Spirit magazine and conveyed to it information about Dr. Dahesh and his miracles. He once published in this magazine the phenomenon of transporting a rosary from Karbala (a holy city in modern day Iraq) during a Spiritual Session for Sheik Mounir ‘Usayran. In other Spiritual Sessions, the attorney Edward Noon requested to have the water turn into aged wine; in other occasions, Dr. Dahesh predicted the death of Khalil Ma’tooq; he knew the personal thoughts of Sabri Hamadeh [Head of the Lebanese Parliament] and a physical sample of what he was thinking of materialized. The sample was composed of five golden dinars of an old age and were brought to him as a physical proof of the gold crates that Sabri Hamadeh thought of being hidden during the World War I somewhere in Akkar’s mounts (in Lebanon).
“We Believe in Reincarnation”
Before being anything else, Daheshism is a spiritual idea and its adherents believe in reincarnation. Dahesh says: “reincarnation” is a Divine act of mercy and without it, humanity would have perished and there wouldn’t have been a just Divine Power. It is hard for the individual to control all of his inclinations and desires, such as: lust, love of money, arrogance, lying, etc… A human being is reincarnated relative to his actions. Those who are born with diseases and disabilities are born in this condition because of the improper and evil deeds that they have committed in a previous life. As an example: what is the fault of a child who is born blind? He would not have been born blind unless he led himself to be born blind relative to his actions in a previous life.
Dr. Khabsa: Everything is attributed to the influence of the soul. Even physical diseases are caused by psychological states—even cancer itself!
Dr. Abu-Suleiman: The proof of this would be individuals from the same genetic structure—such as, siblings, yet some are exposed to diseases while others are not. The reason for this is a psychological state and not physical. The diseased individual is diseased relative to his actions.
Dr. Dahesh: The Bible itself mentions something about reincarnation (Matthew). When Christ healed a sinner, he said to her: your sins are forgiven. Isn’t this an indicator that her sins were the cause of her sickness?
“Hypnosis is an International Lie”
In the opinion of Dr. Dahesh, hypnosis is a deception and a lie. No one in this world can influence another. The hypnotist and his subject have pre-agreed upon words used for questioning and responding. Also, what is referred to by “telepathy” does not exist at all. Perhaps the opinion of Dr. Dahesh is puzzling, because many individuals think of the spiritual phenomena that he and his followers call supernatural, are nothing but some sort of a visual influence that makes the viewer imagine the occurrence of these phenomena.
In order for Dr. Dahesh to validate that his actions have no relationship to hypnosis, he said to me: “I will perform a simple experiment.” He stood up and brought a small piece of white paper and he also pulled from his pocket a currency bill from the 5 L.L. denomination, cut the white piece of paper to the dimension of the currency bill, folded it carefully, and said to me: “put it in your hand.” So, I took the folded paper, examined it, and then I placed it in my left palm and then closed my hand on it. Then he said: “write your name on another paper and burn it.” So, I wrote my name and burnt the paper in the ashtray placed in front of me, while my hand still closed on the other paper. Then he brought a magazine and placed it on my left hand for a second and said: “transfer the paper to your right hand” and I did. Then he said to me: “open your hand” and when I did, I saw the white paper had transformed into a currency bill from the 5 L.L. denomination folded in the same form and size as the blank paper and on it, it has the same name that I wrote on the paper that I had burnt. The other 5 L.L. that he originally pulled from his pocket remained on the table. I did not attempt to explain this incident in any way and I did not seek answers for the conversion of plain paper to a currency bill. Dr. Dahesh told me: “keep it, because through this you’ll be able to attend a Spiritual Session.” I took the folded 5 L.L. with my name written on it and kept it.
Why did “all hell broke loose” over Dahesh?
Hypnotic influence, magic, charlatanism, spiritual power…perhaps the inability of the people to understand the true nature of Dr. Dahesh is what led the authorities, during the time of the first [Lebanese] President, to pursue him legally. Perhaps the story of persecution and the rumors that accompanied it made people think of him negatively and accuse him of “ruining the country and creating havoc.” What does Dahesh say about all this? “I have never violated any laws and the reason for the vendetta of Bechara El-Khoury, the authorities, and some people against me was because his sister-in-law, Mrs. Marie Hadad, had embraced Daheshism along with her husband, children, and son-in-law after witnessing a Spiritual Session. Bechara El-Khoury and his wife attempted to convince Mrs. Marie Hadad to renounce her new belief and she responded by saying that the Lebanese constitution guarantees her the freedom of religion and that she is free to embrace any belief she wishes.
“When Bechara El-Khoury realized that all efforts to convince her had failed, he first sponsored a bill, that if enacted, would have forbidden the holding of Spiritual Sessions in Lebanon, however, the Parliament rejected the bill after a fierce debate. The second day, loyalist newspapers reported that the bill was defeated because Dr. Dahesh controlled the minds of the Parliament Members and that his continued presence constitutes a danger to the country (because he can control the minds of people). After a while, Iskandar Riashi and Mounir Taqey El-Deen visited me in order to ask me about my opinion on the subject. I told them that a bill is being prepared and will be sent to the Parliament and will be defeated. They couldn’t get any incriminating evidence on me and the authorities couldn’t find a legal venue to pursue. Instead, they have sent thugs to assassinate me, however, I had received Spiritual Assistance and their attempt on my life has failed. Then I was arrested.”
Halim Dammous wrote the following on May 9, 1948 about that period in the Syrian Republic Newspaper: “ I am now under the skies of Damascus where I am soon departing to another friendly country seeking asylum so that I can defend the Daheshist cause and its founder…Lately, they have arrested in Beirut a group of fellow Daheshists, including the brother-in-law of the President, Mr. George Hadad, and his son-in-law, Mr. Joseph Hajjar, the famous Aleppo intellectual, and Dr. Farid Abu-Suleiman. They couldn’t find Mrs. Marie Hadad at the “Mission’s Mansion” and they are aggressively looking for her and others depending on the orders they have received from the head of the State. This is the sixth time they have deployed their violent tactics without a cause.”
When newspapers refused to publish any responses by Daheshists of the accusations against them, they have resorted to publishing Black Books directed against Sheikh Bechara and his regime. In 1952, Marie Hadad, published in “Al-Nahda” newspaper her Daheshist Memoirs. In the April 2nd issue of that year, she said the following: “To all Lebanese citizens: you should bring to justice your traitor President, who stole your money, usurped your rights, attacked your laws, and ignored your constitution…Because he committed acts that require penalty: he turned the innocent Dr. Dahesh into an outcast after stripping him from his nationality; he was the cause of our greatest calamity, specifically, the death of our daughter Magda—the victim, where he will pay the price blood for blood, so that he can sense the extent of the sorrow and deep pain that filled our lives and until we die…; he used the laws to his benefit and the benefit of his family.”
Magda…Why Did She Commit Suicide?
The story that people chatted most about at that time was the story of Magda Hadad, the daughter of Marie and George Hadad, who embraced Daheshism as well and according to people, she committed suicide because of Dahesh. Dahesh tells us the story as follows: “Magda was very agitated by the attempts of Bechara El-Khoury to fight me. When she had realized that her parents and brother-in-law were put in jail because of their faith in Daheshism, she decided to take revenge from Bechara El-Khoury and thought of assassinating him. I was then in Aleppo, expelled from Lebanon, when Dr. Khabsa sent me a message informing me with Magda’s intentions. So, I sent her a message saying that if she followed through with her plan, she wouldn’t be a Daheshist; that Bechara’s arm will soon be broken; and that he will be thrown out of power in a very humiliating way. However, her deteriorating mental state stemming from the conflict created by her desire to assassinate Bechara and my forbidding her from doing it, drove her to commit suicide using the same gun that she had intended to kill Bechara El-Khoury with.”
Dahesh of Today
How does Dahesh live today? What does he do? How does he spend his time? He tells you: “just like other people. I spend my time greeting friends and Daheshists, reading and writing, visiting friends, and quite often, accompanying my niece to the movies.” Your amazement peaks when he invites you to visit his library passing through from one reception area to another, as if being in one of the palaces of A Thousand and One Nights, full of artistic masterpieces and a refined taste in décor. He directs you to his library where the books are distributed all over his large home: “I have 40,000 volumes of French, English, and Arabic books. I also have 600 different collections of old and current, local and foreign magazines and newspapers. Many volumes are complete collections of all issues since the first issue published. I also have a contract with 300 European and American bookstores to provide me with the latest and pricey books…the price of this book is 5,000 L.L..” He pulls the book from a cabinet and looks through it with admiration and happiness. “This collection is that of Sukarno [President of Indonesia]. I have acquired this encyclopedia with a great deal of difficulty after I had declared in newspapers my intention to buy it and because public libraries do not posses such collections…you’ll find in my library whatever books and magazines that you need.”
If you ask Dr. Dahesh how he provides for his living, he would answer you: “from the proceeds of the books that I have published.”
He bids you farewell in the same fashion he welcomed you in with a smile and a gentle phrase and conveys to you his desire to meet with you again and in a Spiritual Session.