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Magic + Mathematics:
Meeting The Human Clock Of Iraqi Kurdistan

Salam Handani
In the Iraqi Kurdish town of Sayed Sadiq, there is a man who’s famous for telling the time without ever consulting a clock. He can also perform other mathematical feats. NIQASH went to test his skills.
1.02.2018  |  Halabja
The "human clock" never looks at his watch.

He has not used a watch of any kind for over 25 years but if anyone asks him the time, Rizkar Ibrahim Hama Amin can give the asker the accurate time.

That is why locals in Iraqi Kurdistan call the 42-year-old the “clock of Sayed Sadiq”, the latter being the district where he lives, east of the Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah.

“That’s my son, and he is going to call me now,” Amin said, pointing to the right. “The call is coming from that direction,” he exclaimed.

“Every day about 150 people ask me the time and I answer them all,” says Amin, even though he has no idea where he gets this talent from. Amin is a construction worker with minimal schooling.

When NIQASH visited Amin, he was also asked to give the times in various different countries, including Turkey, Iran, the US and the UK. He got every single one right.

Amin’s measuring talents go beyond telling time. He can also estimate weights and distances. He will tell you that it takes six hours to walk the 45 kilometres between Sayed Sadiq and Banjaween and eight hours to walk from Sulaymaniyah to Sayed Sadiq.  

Amin is well known in the city. Even his local MP, Khalaf Ahmad, has heard of him and says Amin is usually correct when it comes to time telling.

Amin’s boss, who wished to be known only as Omar, says his employee certainly has some quirks. “In just one day he emptied a whole cement truck by himself without apparently getting tired,” Omar, who owns a business selling materials for construction, told NIQASH. “I have heard him answering questions about what the time is for years now and there is not one single instance I can recall when he got it wrong.”

Amin says that he barely sleeps at night and that he spends a lot of time thinking about numbers. “If a person tells me the date of his birth I can tell him immediately how many hours and minutes he has been alive for,” Amin boasts.

NIQASH’s correspondent tested Amin on this, using a calculator to confirm his answers were correct: They were.

However, it was impossible to know if Amin was joking about the last talent he talked about. He says he can tell when and who is going to call him on his mobile phone. Experts in mobile phone technology say it is impossible to sense telephone signals arriving. But Amin insists that he can.

“That’s my son, and he is going to call me now,” Amin said, pointing to the right. “The call is coming from that direction,” he exclaimed.

His mobile phone then rang. He answered the call and, showing the caller ID on the phone’s screen, he told NIQASH that the caller was his son. It wasn’t possible to verify this, or to work out where the call was coming from. 

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