*Click here if you haven't heard Mike's reversion story.
John: Hi Mike. How are you?
Mike: Well, I've just had my cardiac pacemaker replaced and I now have to use a C-pap machine to help me breathe when I'm asleep, but apart from that...
John: ...you're fine?
Mike: I guess so. I can still get around. I thank God for what I can do; I could be much, much worse. The main problem I have is tiredness, lack of energy. Strange how it comes on when there are dishes to be washed...!
John: Yeah, right! What's on the agenda work-wise, then?
Mike: I'm still working on my book on the Essex case with John Triplow. Completing the last few chapters has been a painstakingly slow process, but we're nearly there. The problem is that the case is still on-going, so we could still be adding chapter after chapter, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Neil, Mark and Chris came to visit us recently, and it was good to see them again.
John: Are they three of the principal witnesses?
Mike: Yes. Their collective experiences could fill a library.
John: What else are you working on at the minute?
Mike: I'm still working on a history of the Jinn; a race of creatures Muslims believe were created after the angels but before humankind. Their activities have been documented since the dawn of history. They are invisible to us, but they are very, very real. Some of the Jinn are good and are happy to co-exist happily with humans, but many of them are vindictive and deceptive. The latter type revel in tormenting and teasing humans.
John: Are they mentioned in the Qur'an?
Mike: Yes. There's a common misconception that Satan is a "fallen angel" or "demon". He isn't. You can actually work out from the Bible indirectly and the Qur'an explicitly that Satan - or Shaitan, as Muslims call him - is a Jinni.
John: Do people ever criticise you for believing in the Devil?
Mike: Do you mean do they think I'm nuts? Of course. The problem is that the Shaitan of Islam is nothing like the stereotypical Devil of Christianity. The Shaitan of Islam is a much more believable. There are over two billion Christians in the world as well as over one and a half billion Muslims. The vast majority believe in Satan or Shaitan, as do the adherents of many other religions, so its not as if I'm in a minority. The flak tends to come from the usual suspects; local skeptics and, recently, some rather vicious mouthpieces in New York who seem to think they have the religious status of prophets and the intellectual powers of Einstein. The truth is they're bonkers. You could fit their entire membership into a garden shed, but they're the only ones who allegedly have "the truth". Bonkers, bonkers, bonkers. Apparently I'm now going to Hell because I don't share their views about, uh, Hell, amongst other things. Weird...
John: Have any researchers suggested that your perception that all paranormal phenomena are related to the Jinn is too simplistic...that's it's a "one size fits all" solution that is just too convenient?
Mike: No one has ever said that to my face, but I know some think that way. Instead of saying, "You know how you believe the Jinn do this or that...?" they'll say, "You know how you believe the Jinn or whatever they are do this or that...?" They'll drop subtle hints like that which indicate they aren't sure my view is correct. The truth is they don't need to, because I fully understand that people may not share my views on Jinn theory, and that's okay. They don't need to be tactful, although I appreciate their good intentions.
John: Don't minority opinions go down well in the world of paranormal research, then?
Mike: Jinn theory is not a minority view. It is shared by over one and a half billion people on this planet. All I've done is to express it as a explanation for paranormal phenomena as well as believe in it as part of my faith as a Muslim. And I'm not the only one. A growing number of Muslims are openly suggesting that the Jinn are responsible for a wide range of paranormal phenomena, including apparitions, cryptids and UFOs. The more one studies Jinn theory the more sense it makes as a comprehensive explanation for what non-Muslims call "the supernatural".
John: Is Jinn Theory perfectly compatible with conservative Islamic theology?
Mike: Yes, and I wouldn't promulgate it if it wasn't. I'm not a minority-sect Muslim. I'm mainstream. Innovation against the accepted teachings of Islam as found in the Qur'an and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) is a serious error in our religion. You can't be a Muslim if you don't accept those two sources of information as authentic, so if an aspect of Jinn Theory is incompatible with the teachings of my faith, then that aspect of Jinn Theory goes out of the window, plain and simple.
John: Couldn't that be interpreted as nothing more that blind faith in your religion?
Mike: Maybe by some non-Muslims, but it all comes down to who or what you trust. I have no doubts about the trustworthiness of the Qur'an and the teachings of its Prophets (PBUT), and there wouldn't be much point in me being a Muslim otherwise. The fact that Jinn Theory fits so perfectly with the teachings of my faith only convinces me more that the teachings of my faith are authentic.
I don't think its blind faith, then, but a faith which is compatible with everything I see around me, including what years of research have told me about the nature of paranormal phenomena.
John: Have any of your Muslim teachers ever tried to dissuade you from your research?
Mike: Absolutely not! Research is encouraged in Islam more than any other religion I know. We are urged to study history, theology, hermeneutics...Islam is not a faith of ignorance. That's why if you watch the debates on YouTube between Muslim and Christian scholars of equal calibre the Muslim scholars nearly always win hands-down. I'm not being arrogant; its just a fact. Its easier for a Muslim to prove his faith from the Bible than it is for a Christian.
John: Don't you respect other religions then, like Christianity and Judaism?
Mike: Of course I do. I have great respect for them, but every Jew, Christian and Muslim is aware of the fact that there are substantial doctrinal, theological and eschatological differences between our faiths. That's just the way it is. We can disagree with each other, but at the same time be respectful in our disagreement. We can all learn by engaging in cordial dialogue.
John: After your book on the Jinn is finished, what's next?
Mike: I'm seriously thinking of writing a purely theological-cum-historical book. I'm fascinated by the radical differences in the way Christians and Muslims believe Jesus' life on earth ended. Christians believe he was crucified, Muslims believe he wasn't. Both sides claim that they can defend their own stance from both Biblical and non-Biblical sources. I'm considering writing a book analysing all the available evidence and demonstrating that the Christian view that Jesus (PBUH) was crucified is a historical impossibility.
John: The Christians are going to just love you for that...
Mike: I don't want to upset Christians, but if Jesus (PBUH) wasn't crucified then they need to be aware of the fact, otherwise their entire faith is based upon a lie.
John: They're never going to accept that though, are they?
Mike: It depends on two things; how open-minded they are, and how well I present the evidence. I know that many Christians will never accept that the crucifixion of Jesus (PBUH) never happened, because their entire faith is based upon the premise that it did.
John: And that's definitely going to be your next project?
Mike: I can't be absolutely certain, but its a strong possibility.
John: Why is so much of what you write controversial? Is it deliberate?
Mike: No. Understandable, but not deliberate. I'm an investigative journalist, and there isn't much point investigating something which has already been solved and put to bed. When you investigate historical mysteries, its inevitable that much of the time you'll uncover new evidence that forces you to reach unorthodox conclusions. Now, if there are others who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, and promoting an orthodox view of history, they aren't going to be happy when someone comes along and says, "It ain't necessarily so". You can't help but precipitate a degree of controversy when you work on this field and do what I do. I don't enjoy annoying people, but I'm certainly not going to keep quiet just because some guy in Boise, Idaho gets his long-johns in a twist because I don't subscribe to his particular brand of religion, or whatever.
John: Do you think you'll simply swap one set of critics for another, then?
Mike: Some I'll leave behind. I'll also collect new ones who are more interested in religion than the paranormal. Some will follow me and criticise me whatever I write, because its me they don't like. I can live with that.
John: As always, thanks for your time, Mike
Mike: No problem.