An Exploration of Near Death Experiences in Iranian Muslim CPR Survivors

Vivid near death experiences and accounts of a group of Iranian CPR survivors.

A recent paper by researcher Hadi Khoshab and company offers intriguing insights regarding near death experiences (NDEs) among Iranian Muslim cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) survivors. With Iran’s cultural and religious tapestry as a backdrop, the paper takes a qualitative hermeneutic phenomenological approach to describing the narratives of eight CPR survivors and their brushes with mortality.

Their accounts paint a vivid picture of profound and subjective encounters at the threshold of life and death, such as “pleasing experiences along with flying and seeing light”—a sense of lightness, as well as engaging in flight and being drawn towards a radiant source.

The paper encapsulates the ambiguity and indescribable beauty reported by the survivors, painting a poignant picture of experiences that transcend the ordinary. Metaphysical claims aside, the report offers valuable insights into the subjective experiences of these individuals near death. However, a critical lens invites scrutiny of certain unproven elements within the authors’ language, with a particular emphasis on the implicit claims related to the existence and then separation of the soul during CPR. The acceptance of participants’ claims without exhaustive investigation warrants careful examination, especially when it comes to assertions of having seen everything during their CPR.

Clarity and Life Review

Survivors vividly describe a complete awareness of events during CPR, attributing this heightened perception to the separation of the soul from the body. The participants recount watching and remembering the resuscitation efforts with remarkable clarity, suggesting a detached observation that challenges conventional notions of consciousness. Of particular note is the recurring theme of “reviewing life and memories in a religious context.” Participants recall their entire lives with remarkable precision, often in conjunction with religious elements such as encounters with Qur’anic verses. These reflections add a layer of spiritual depth to the narratives and indicate the significance of the religious background of these experiences. 

The discussion on the participants’ readiness for death and their diminished fear of it, seems to imply a universality to the fear of death being uniquely Iranian. The framing of death as a taboo in Iranian culture raises questions about the interpretation of cultural nuances—what is meant by “taboo” in this context, and how does it align with the experiences of individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds?

Religion in Iran: The Numbers

A recent survey of 50,000 Iranians has found that nearly half of respondents said they were no longer religious. The survey, which was published in June by Netherlands-based Group for Analyzing and Measuring Attitudes in Iran (GAMAAN), gathered information on the religious views of Iranian men and women over the age of 19, with approximately 90 percent of respondents reporting that they lived in Iran.

Religions in Iran. Source: https://gamaan.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/GAMAAN-Iran-Religion-Survey-2020-English.pdf

According to the country’s last census, taken in 2016, around 99.5 percent of the population is Muslim. The survey found that 32.2 percent of respondents identified as Shi’ite Muslim, while more than 22 percent did not identify with any religion, 8.8 percent reported being atheist, 7.7 percent said they were Zoroastrian and the remaining 29.2 percent represented several other groups including agnostics, Sunni Muslims, Sufis, Humanists, Christians, Baha’is and Jews. And while 78 percent of Iranians taking part in the survey said they believed in God, almost 47 percent said they had gone from being religious to non-religious.

The unique contribution of the study lies in its cultural and religious context, offering a lens into the experiences of Iranian Muslim CPR survivors. It is within this intersection of cultural, religious, and universal elements that the study becomes a valuable addition to the ongoing dialogue on the nature of consciousness. The paper beckons us to navigate the boundaries of near-death experiences with a discerning eye. The narratives of Iranian Muslim CPR survivors provide a mosaic of insights helping the authors to thread these insights to that of Westerners. 

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