Every day, hundreds of tourists and devotees visit a shrine in Shivapur, a small village about 180 km east of Mumbai, in India, to witness a controversial “miracle” known as the Levitating Stone of Shivapur.
The Shrine of Qamar Ali Darvesh, a Muslim Sufi Saint who lived about 700 years ago, features an ancient stone that reportedly weighs 154lbs (90kg). Lifting this stone off the ground would normally require a lot of strength, but according to believers in the Levitating Stone miracle, it’s possible for a set number of men to lift it up over their heads with only their index fingers, but only after shouting Qamar Ali Darvesh’s name. This phenomenon has fascinated Indian Muslims for centuries, but many believe it’s nothing more than a gimmick.
The Levitating Stone of Shivapur is closely tied to sufi Qamar Ali Darvesh. He was born in a family of middle-class Muslims whose men were very proud of their physical strength and spent most of their time training in a gymnasium. Qamar Ali was different from the other men in his family. He became a disciple of a Sufi Pir (great teacher) who lived near his home when he was only 6-years-old, and spent most of his time meditating and fasting.
Legend has it that Qamar Ali was a compassionate boy who attracted devotees with his magical healing powers, but he was always mocked by the other boys, because he was never interested in physical activities. He died in his late years, but legend has it that as he lay on his death bed, the Sufi saint cursed one of the heavy stones that local men used for training in order to prove that spiritual power was greater than brute strength. He requested that the stone be placed near his grave and reportedly said:
“If eleven men place their right index fingers under the stone and then jointly call my name, I will cause it to rise higher than their heads. Otherwise, neither by themselves nor together will they be able to move it more than two feet off the ground.”