Jinn Possession in Islam

Dear reader, before we explore this topic in detail, please remember the fundamentals of Tawheed; that Islam seeks to eradicate superstitious beliefs. Hence, we should not permit superstitious notions to gain traction via Ruqyah. Many other websites promote these ideas amongst people especially those selling Ruqyah 'services'. Rarely will you see on those websites, both sides of the evidences provided.

We would also like to make two concepts clear from the outset.

  • Firstly, the Quran clearly tells us that Shaytaan's powers are limited to 'misguiding' mankind and is not capable of 'possession'.
  • And secondly, there is no undisputed Hadith of anyone ever being possessed in the two primary authentic books, Bukahri and Muslim.

We will now explore this matter in detail.

What are the evidences for Jinn Possession?

When requested to provide evidence from the Quran and Sunnah regarding Jinn possession, individuals may become defensive due to strongly ingrained cultural beliefs. Unfortunately, this can result in emotionally charged arguments, with people employing quotes such as the one below from Ibn Taymiyyah to forestall questioning of Jinn possession and to label those who do so as deviants.

For example, Ibn Taymiyyah wrote:
"It is proven in the Quran and Sunnah (prophetic teachings), and by the consensus of Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jama'ah (main body of Muslims who are united upon the sunnah), and by real-life events. No one disputes this apart from the M'utazilah (a deviant sect)"

Before delving into various opinions on the topic, it is important to clarify that the term "Jinn entering humans" used by some websites is very different from the term Jinn 'possession'. We will revisit this later but it is essential to keep this distinction in mind.

Evidence in Islam

1. The most robust level of evidence for any issue in Islam is the clear and explicit verses of the Quran.
2. The second level of evidence in Islam are verses from the Quran that are not explicit but hint at, or are interpreted to refer to the topic at hand.
3. The third level of evidence are Hadiths from the Prophet (saws) and his companions.
4. The fourth level are opinions and interpretations of scholars.

The power of Shaytaan?

The verses in the Quran make it apparent that Allah (swt) granted Shaytaan the opportunity to mislead Adam and his descendants. However, the verses also make it clear that Shaytaan will not possess or control them. Instead, he will employ tricks from all directions and his maximum power will be to whisper into the hearts of mankind.

See Surah Al-A'raf (Chapter 7) Verses 12 - 18:
11.We created you, then We shaped you, then We said to the angels, 'Bow down before Adam;' so they bowed down, except for Satan; he was not of those who bowed down.
12. He said, 'What prevented you from bowing down when I have commanded you?' He said, 'I am better than he; You created me from fire, and You created him from mud.'
13. He said, 'Get down from it! It is not for you to act arrogantly in it. Get out! You are one of the lowly!'
14. He said, 'Give me respite, until the Day they are resurrected.'
15. He said, 'You are of those given respite.'
16. He said, 'Because you have lured me, I will waylay them on Your straight path.
17. Then I will come at them from before them, and from behind them, and from their right, and from their left; and you will not find most of them appreciative.'
18. He said, 'Get out of it, despised and vanquished. Whoever among them follows you - I will fill up Hell with you all.

As you can see from verse 17 above, Shaytaan is only given the power to misguide. And this is further affirmed in the verse below from Surah Ibrahim.

See Surah Ibrahim (Chapter 14) Verse 22:
And will say the Shaitaan, when has been decided the matter, 'Indeed, Allah promised you a promise (of) truth. And I promised you, but I betrayed you. But not had I over you any authority except that I invited you, and you responded to me. So (do) not blame me, but blame yourselves. Not (can) I (be) your helper and not you (can) (be) my helper. Indeed, I deny [of what] your association of me (with Allah) from before. Indeed, the wrongdoers, for them (is) a punishment painful.'

If we were to accept that Shaytaan has the ability to control and make individuals commit heinous crimes such as theft, murder, and rape, then people could simply use the excuse that Shaytaan made them do it to escape punishment. However, there is no record in the early Islamic books of such incidents where people were overcome by Jinn and committed crimes, and judges allowed it as the work of Shaytaan.

The Quran is crystal clear on this matter. The maximum protection Allah (swt) advises us to seek from Shaytaan is protection from his whispers, not his possession or control over us, or speaking through us. Even those who believe in possession advise reciting specific Quranic verses, such as Surah An-Nas, verse 114, for protection.

Surah An-Nas (Chapter 114):
Say: I seek refuge with the Lord and Cherisher of Mankind,
The King (or Ruler) of Mankind,
The God (or judge) of Mankind.
From the mischief of the Whisperer (of Evil), who withdraws (after his whisper),
(The same) who whispers into the hearts of Mankind,
Among Jinns and among men.

However as you can see, even this Surah does not mention possession, but only whispers. Therefore, it begs the question, why recite it if one is possessed? Where in the Quran is the Surah about seeking protection from possession?

Hadith concerning Surah Baqarah

Below is the main verse from the Quran that those who believe in possession put forward as proof. But a brief look at it from the Prophet (saw) and his Companions show that none of them understood it to mean that people were being possessed when it was revealed.

Surah Al-Baqarah (Chapter 2) Verse 275:
Those who swallow usury cannot rise up save as he ariseth whom the devil hath prostrated by (his) touch. That is because they say: Trade is just like usury; whereas Allah permitted trading and forbade usury. Then whoever - comes to him (the) admonition from His Lord and he refrained, then for him what (has) passed, and his case (is) with Allah, and whoever repeated then those (are the) companions (of) the Fire, they in it will abide forever.

Below we will look at some Hadith regarding this verse. Narrated by Aisha: When the Verses of Surat-al-Baqara regarding usury (i.e. Riba) were revealed, Allah's Messenger (saw) recited them before the people and then he prohibited the trade of alcoholic liquors. [Sahih al-Bukhari 4540]
Narrated by Ibn Mas'ud: The Messenger of Allah (saw) cursed the one who consumed Riba, and the one who charged it, those who witnessed it, and the one who recorded it. [Jami' at-Tirmidhi 1206]

So far, we can see that neither the Prophet (saw) nor his Companions mentioned anything about Jinn possession when this verse of Surah Baqarah was revealed. And amongst the Companions, those who may have consumed Riba, none of them sought treatment or questioned that they may be possessed upon hearing this verse.

Again, as mentioned before, the Quran is crystal clear on the matter of possession. Stating that Shaytaans power is limited to whispers and is not capable of possesssion.

Furthermore, there is no Hadith of anyone ever being possessed in Islam in the two primary authentic books, Bukahri and Muslim.

This is staggering considering that such an important subject makes no mention in these two major collections of Hadith books.

However, some people bring forward narrations from other books which are not so authentic, as well as statements of scholars to support their beliefs. Nevertheless, these beliefs lack any real strength in Islam. Man-made Hadith, can be authentic, weak or fabricated. And the opinions of scholars can be prone to error. These do not overwite the words of Allah (swt) ie the Quran. But the words of Allah (swt) in the Quran do overwrite man-made errors and opinions.

Scholarly opinions regarding Jinn possession


One of the most commonly quoted 'evidences' regarding the existence of Jinn possession, comes from the 13th century scholar Al-Qurtubi. It is important to mention that Al-Qurtubi lived approximately 600 after years after the Prophet (saw). So it is not considered 1st, 2nd or even 3rd generation evidence.

In his Tafseer of Surah Baqarah. [Al-Jami' Al-Kabir, vol. 3, p. 355]. Al-Qurtubi points us to the following Ayah in the Quran and suggests it as proof for the idea of Jinn possession.
Those who swallow usury cannot rise up save as he ariseth whom the devil hath prostrated by (his) touch. That is because they say: Trade is just like usury; whereas Allah permitted trading and forbade usury. Then whoever - comes to him (the) admonition from His Lord and he refrained, then for him what (has) passed, and his case (is) with Allah, and whoever repeated then those (are the) companions (of) the Fire, they in it will abide forever. [Al-Baqarah: 275]

Remember, the question being asked is: can Jinn possess humans in this life on Earth? And pay close attention to what was quoted.

Al-Qurtubi says:
"This Ayah (verse) is proof that those people are wrong who deny that epilepsy is not caused by the jinn and claim that its causes are only physical, and that the Shaytan does not enter people or cause madness."
[Al-Jami' Al-Kabir, vol. 3, p. 355]

Firstly and most importantly, this verse is referring to events on the Day of Judgment. Therefore it is not actually answering the exact question, instead an analogy is being offered. Many exceptional supernatural events will occur on the Day of Judgement, this does not mean they occur in this life.

Secondly, the subject matter of the verse itself, is 'Riba' (Usury), not Jinn possession. It serves as a warning to those who would consume / take part in it. And as mentioned above, when this verse was revealed, it was perhaps the perfect time for the Prophet (saw) or his companions to ask about Jinn possession. Yet nothing is narrated in regards to Jinn possession. Only a scholars opinion many hundreds of years later.

Superstition amongst Islamic scholars

It is important to emphasise that we respect our classical scholars for the effort they put in to preserving the religion and also, the perspectives they offered. However, in an attempt to maintain orthodoxy, or following 'the Salaf' i.e classical scholars, one must be able to distinguish between opinions and proof. Just because a 'classical' scholar of Islam gives an opinion on a subject matter, it does not make it obligatory on everyone to believe it. And if one disagrees, it does not mean they are misguided.

Scholars opinions alone cannot be used as primary proof in Islam. Indeed, it is known that many superstitions and false beliefs were held by Islamic scholars in the past, due to the environment and time they lived in. And some of these superstitions are still being propagated today in the name of Quran and Sunnah and Salaf!

Superstitious beliefs such as:
- The Earth being flat
- Geo-centrism (the sun orbiting the Earth)
- Believing in Mermaids
- Epilepsy being caused by Jinn possession
- Humans and Jinns getting married and having children

The above is a just a brief list of the kind of prominent superstitions that existed at the times of many of the classical scholars. Infact many classical scholars were convinced that epilepsy was 100% Jinn possession. But throughout the ages as medical science has progressed and epilepsy is better understood, Islamic scholars have changed their opinions.

Al-Qurtubi for example, was known to believe the Earth was flat and he heavily defended this idea, as did many other scholars of his time. Consider the Verse below:
And the earth We have spread out (like a carpet); set thereon mountains firm and immovable; and produced therein all kinds of things in due balance.Surah Al-Hijr (Chapter 15) Verse 19

Al-Qurtubi says:
"This verse, is a response to whom claim that earth is like a ball. Muslims and People of the Book say that earth is flat and stationary. The only movement of the earth is when it's hit by an earthquake."
[Al-Jami' li Ahkam]

As you can see Al-Qurtubi suggested Muslims should believe the Earth was flat and offers the above verse as a response to those who claim the Earth is round. And some scholars continue to promote these ideas today. (See the video below).

And these tend to be the same scholars that promote the idea of Jinn possession, in order to be 'classical' etc.

Difference of opinion?

Dear reader, if the issue was limited to just a minor difference of opinion, where some scholars believed that if someone is under some evil influence you should simply recite some Quran to help them - one would say let the issue be / don't worry etc.

However the scholars that promote this view of Jinn possession did not stop there and really went to some very extreme views.

Ibn Taymiyyah is regarded as a champion for promoting the view of Jinn possession.

Ibn Taymiyyah says:
"It is proven in the Quran and Sunnah (prophetic teachings), and by the consensus of Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jama'ah (main body of Muslims who are united upon the Sunnah), and by real-life events. No one disputes this apart from the M'utazilah (a deviant sect)"

As you can see from the above quote, Ibn Taymiyyah regarded anyone who disagreed with him on this issue as being a deviant or 'Mutazilah'.

But many of these scholars often held extreme views that one could argue made the Mutazilah views look modest.

For example many of these scholars justify the extreme beating of a person to exorcise a Jinn.

Ibn Taymiyyah states:
"So I took a stick and beat him with it around the base of his neck until my hands weakened from the beating. Those gathered had no doubt he was going to die from that beating."

[Zaad al-Ma'aad (4/63 of the 1424 Risaalah printing)]

Similarly, Ibn Qudamah (551 AH) states:
"And his body may be beaten with blows that would fell a camel, but the epileptic does not feel them at all"

[The Islamic Journal Vol5 - Sayyid Rami al Rifai]

Consider that Allah (swt) asks you to seek refuge in him from Shaytaan. But clearly this was not sufficient for these scholars, so they decided to physically beat people up?!

Ibn Taymiyyah continues in his opinion by suggesting is ok to 'use' Jinn.
If a person uses the Jinn for activities that are permissible and he also orders them to do what is obligatory for them and prevents them from what is prohibited for them, then he is similar to a king that behaves in the same manner.
[Majmoo al-Fatawa, vol. 11, 307].

He also believed that Jinn could make women pregnant!
Ibn Taymiyyah said: "Humans and Jinn have gotten married and have had children; this has happened often and is well-known."
[Majmoo al-Fatawa, vol 19: p 39]

And it was not only Ibn Taymiyyah that held these types of views but other classical scholars too, such as Imam Suyuti in [Laqat al-Marjan fi Ahkam al-Jann by Suyuti]. As these were the kind of ideas that were prevalent in the past. However, clearly they were superstitions - there are no hospitals which have reported Jinn babies!

Some people have contacted us to say that perhaps we are mistaken regarding Ibn Taymiyyah, so below we present the original text in context so you can be sure for yourself.

Ibn Taymiyyah page


So as we can see the scholars who accept these ideas and promote them in our societies, really open up Muslims to physical and sexual abuse and also, ridicule by non-Muslims.

Despite the above claims by these scholars, many other prominent classical scholars such as Ibn Hazm and Imam Al-Tahawi and others - resolutely rejected all these kind of superstitions.

Ibn Hazm says in his Rasail that we believe in Jinn. They enter our bodies and whisper things to us - there is Ijmaa of Ahlus-Sunnah on this. However there is no evidence from the Quran and Sunnah, that Jinn can control human beings and speak with their tongues.

Ibn Hazm wrote 1,000 years ago:

Ibn Hazm page

['Rasail Ibn Hazm', 3/228].

"As for the devil speaking with the tongue of an epileptic person: these are all tricks of those who do Ruqya. And this phenomenon only makes sense in the minds of the weak and elderly. We hear the epileptic person moving his tongue and speaking in his own words, so how can it be said that the devil has taken possession of his tongue? This is mere confusion! But what the devil does is related to the soul and it is just whispers, as Allah said: 'Whispers [evil] into the breasts of mankind' [114:5], And: 'Satan threw some (vanity) into his desire.' [22:52]. So this - and only this - is what the devil is capable of. But as for the devil speaking with the tongue of someone, then that's an ancient [myth], insanity and a clear case of [mental] madness. We seek refuge with God from believing in superstitions."

Note, there used to be a technical dispute between the scholars of Ahlus-Sunnah regarding Jinn 'entering' human beings, not 'possessing' them. Some of the Mutazilah used to say it was not possible for a Jinn to enter a human being. But we believe as Ahlus-Sunnah, yes Jinn can enter humans - but only to whisper to them, as is the job of Shaytaan. But that is very different to saying they can 'possess' and control people.

Imaam Al-Tahawi (835) who is a classical scholar of Aqeeda (belief), is also known to have rejected the idea of Jinn possession. Al-Tahawi's commentary on previously cited Hadiths in 'Mushkil al-Athaar' resolutely puts it that the influence of the Jinn on humans is limited to the power of suggestion through waswasah (whispers). He says, "The only thing people were commanded to do is seek protection from the Devil against the power (sultan) he has over them which is waswasah (whispers) that incite an adoration for evil and a dislike of good."

Concluding remarks

I hope the above clarifies the issue of Jinn possession for you. If not, please feel free to bring a case of 'real' demonic possession to me - I will perform Ruqyah for it, free of charge - just to disprove this claim.

And I leave you with the words of Ibn Hazm:
We seek refuge with God from believing in superstitions

Raaqi Br. Yasin Sharif.

Further information on Jinn Possession

The above page has been written in general terms by Raaqi Br. Yasin. If you wish a more technical and scholarly discussion on the subject you can do so by visiting the link below.
Jinn possessions, exorcists, and all that jazz! Part 1 – Mohammed Nizami

Reacting to hearing the Quran

Please bear in mind that a reaction to a Ruqyah / Quranic recitation is not proof that you have been afflicted by Jinn, Sihr (magic), Evil eye etc. There is not a single authentic Hadith where the Prophet (saw) or his companions recited Quran over someone to prove that they were magically affected or possessed by Jinn.

Please see below videos on Ruqyah by Tawheed Project, to help you further.

What are the evidences for Jinn Possession?

About Raaqis

We advise you that today there are many Raaqis who make money from reciting by giving undue significance, to the abilities of the magician. We would encourage you to read the Ruqyah myths page first, so you can protect yourself from being taken advantage of. We hope our site will provide some context on the current alleged epidemic of Sihr of separation, being fuelled by the Ruqyah business.

Magicians & overstated powers

Many Muslims unfortunately are quick to attribute great power to Magicians of paranormal ability, unfortunately confusing their abilities with the miraculous events that were exclusive to the realm of noble Prophets, such as Sulaiman (as).

It states in the Quran: My Lord! Forgive me and bestow on me a kingdom such as shall not belong to anybody after me . [Surah 38 verse 35]

But listening to a Ruqyah talk by some Raaqis today and they might have you believe that suddenly the laws of physics and natural science that Allah (swt) set in place, can all go into suspension - and everything becomes about the ability of Jinns and magicians.

Please see the video below where the power of magicians is discussed with Br. Yasin Sharif.

Simply consider, if these magicians were as immensely powerful as some claim, why do they not simply kill whoever they wish at any given time? Surely it would nullify the need of guns, bombs and nuclear weapons? One could simply hire a few magicians to defeat ones enemies. For example, some African countries claim to have some very accomplished magicians and at times, the government hires them to win the world cup! To curse the opposite team and grant their team success, yet none of those teams have ever won the world cup. We would encourage you to research the James Randi foundation which offers a million dollars to anyone who can demonstrate any kind of paranormal activity and this challenge is still standing since 1968.

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