What is Ruqyah?

page from the Quran

Ruqyah is a vast subject and covers many topics such as Sihr (Magic) Masaha (Possession) and Ayn (Evil Eye). We have presented a basic outline in regards to what is Ruqyah and how it is related to us via the Sunnah. Ruqyah is the treatment relayed to us by the Prophet Muhammad (saw) for afflictions such as Sihr (Magic) Masaha (Possession) and Ayn (Evil Eye).

To translate Ruqyah as 'incantation' may bring to mind connotations of magic and sorcery which are forbidden in Islam. To use the term "By spiritual means" may not convey the meaning in full. [See Ismail L.Faruq's Translation].

The meaning most relevant to us when asking what is Ruqyah, is that Ruqyah is when a person recites part of the Quran such as Al-Fatihah, or makes supplication using words transmitted from the authentic Hadith of the Prophet (saw) [Ref. Fath-ul-Majid]

In brief, Ruqyah is a Quranic therapy for issues pertaining to the heart, mind and soul.

It was narrated that A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: When the Messenger of Allah (saw) was ill, he would recite al-Mu'awidhatayn (surahs of Al-Falaq and An-Nas) over himself and spit dryly. When his pain grew intense, I recited over him and wiped him with his own hand, seeking its blessing. [Bukhari]

With regard to the du'aa' that is prescribed for the Muslim to say if he wants to recite Ruqyah for himself or for someone else, there are many such du'aa's, most common are Al-Fatihah and Al-Mu'awidhatayn.

The du'aa's that have been narrated in the Sunnah include the following: It was narrated that Ibn 'Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "The Prophet (saw) used to seek Refuge with Allah for Al-Hasan and Al-Husain and say: 'Your forefather (i.e. Abraham (pbuh)) used to seek Refuge with Allah for Ishmael and Isaac by reciting the following: 'O Allah! I seek Refuge with Your Perfect Words from every devil and from poisonous pests and from every evil, harmful, envious eye'" [Bukhari 3371]

Seeking Treatment

The du'aa's that have been narrated in the Sunnah include the following: It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: "The Messenger of Allah said: 'Whoever relieves a Muslim of some worldly distress, Allah will relieve him of some of the distress of the Day of Resurrection, .... Sahih Muslim 6250

Jabir reported Allah's Messenger (saw) prohibited incantation. Then the people of Amr b. Hazm came to Allah's Messenger (saw) and said: We know an incantation which we use for curing the sting of the scorpion but you have prohibited it. They recited (the words of incantation) before him, whereupon he said: I do not see any harm (in it), so he who amongst you is competent to do good to his brother should do that. Sahih Muslim 5456

Hadith regarding not seeking Ruqyah

Many people seem to be under the impression that it is better not to seek a cure which is incorrect. With regard to the hadith narrated by Muslim, according to which the Prophet (saw) described the seventy thousand of this Ummah who will enter Paradise without being brought to account or punished, and in which it says: "They are those who did not recite Ruqyah or ask for Ruqyah to be done, and they did not believe in bad omens and they put their trust in their Lord " - the phrase "they did not recite Ruqyah " is the words of the narrator, not of the Prophet (saw). Hence Al-Bukhari narrated this hadith and did not mention this phrase. Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: "These people are praised because they did not ask anyone to recite Ruqyah for them, and Ruqyah is a type of du'aa', so they did not ask others to pray for them. The phrase "and they did not recite Ruqyah " which is mentioned in the hadith is a mistake (on the part of the narrator), for their Ruqyah for themselves and for others is a good deed. The Prophet (saw) recited Ruqyah for himself and for others but he did not ask anyone to recite Ruqyah for him. His reciting Ruqyah for himself and others was like his making du'aa' for himself and others; this is something that is enjoined, for all the prophets asked of Allah and prayed to Him, as Allah tells us in the stories of Adam, Ibraheem, Musa. " (Majmu' al-Fatawa, 1/182)

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said: "This phrase is inserted in the hadith, but it is a mistake on the part of some of the narrators." (Hadi al-Arwah, 1/89)

Types of Ruqyah

There are some important conditions that must be satisfied in a ruqyah to make it permissible. They were summarized by Ibn Hajar :

"There is a consensus among the 'ulama that Ruqyah are permissible when they satisfy three conditions:

1 - To be with Allah's words or His names and attributes
2 - To be in Arabic or of an intelligible meaning
3 - And to believe that they do not have effect by themselves but by Allah (swt)." Fath ul Bari 10/240

In what follows, we discuss each of these conditions:

1. Must Be with Allah's Words, Names, or Attributes
As we will see below, all forms of Ruqyah reported in the Sunnah satisfy this condition. They either consist of specific portions of the Quran, such as al-Fatiha or Ayat ul-Kursiy, or contain a praise of Allah (swt) and an invocation of His help and protection.

2. Must Be with Clearly Understood Words
This is an important condition that must be satisfied in order to eliminate any magic factors from the ruqyah.

3. Believing That the True Benefit Is from Allah (swt)
Similar to our earlier discussion of medicines, one must always believe that the true and ultimate protector is Allah (swt) alone, and that Ruqyah and medications are means that He created and He controls as He wills. Thus trust must be put in Him and not in the means that He created. Allah (swt) commands His Messenger (saw): So seek refuge with Allah (only); verily, it is He who is all-Hearer, all-Seer. (Al Ghafir 40:56).

Ruqyah from the Sunnah

Various forms of supplications for prevention or healing, some of which may be classified as Ruqyah, have been presented in this site. In what follows, we include some more, or refer to earlier ones, as the discussion warrants.

Ruqyah with Allah's Name

It was narrated from Abu Sa’eed that Jibra’il came to the Prophet (saw) and said: “O Muhammad, you are ill. He said: ‘Yes.’ He said: Bismillahi arqika, min kulli shay’in yu’dhika, min sharri kulli nafsin aw ‘aynin aw hasidin. Allahu yashfika, bismillahi arqika (In the Name of Allah I perform Ruqyah for you, from everything that is harming you, from the evil of every soul or envious eye, may Allah heal you. In the Name of Allah I perform Ruqyah for you). Sunan Ibn Majah 3523

Ruqyah with Allah's Book

'Aishah (RA) reported that Allah's Messenger (saw) came into her house and saw with her a woman who was treating her with ruqyah. He told her: 'Treat her (only) with Allah's Book.' Recorded by Ibn Hibban; verified to be authentic by al-Albani in as-Sahihah no. 1931. In what follows, we present Ruqyah with specific Surahs or ayat as is recorded in the Sunnah.

1. Ruqyah with al-Fatiha

Abu Sa'id al-Khudri and Ibn Abbas (RA) reported that a number of the Prophet's (saw) companions were on a journey. They stopped one night by the dwellings of a (non Muslim) bedouin tribe, who refused to host them and give them food. The chief of that tribe was then stung (by a snake or scorpion). His people tried everything possible to treat him but to no avail. One of them suggested to seek help from the travellers. When they came to them, one of them said, "By Allah, I can perform ruqyah; but you have refused to host us. So I would not perform the ruqyah until you pledge to give us an offering." They agreed to give them a flock of thirty sheep and the companion started blowing (with light spit) on the stung man's sting and reading al-Fatiha. He was immediately cured, like one who was tied and then set free. He stood and walked as if nothing happened to him and they gave them their pledged offering. Some of the companions said, "Let us divide this flock among us." Others said, "No, you may not take any pay for reading Allah's Book! Let us not divide the goats until we reach the Prophet (saw), tell him what happened and see what he commands us."When they reached al-Madinah, they came to the Prophet (saw) and told him what happened. He said (approvingly):'How did you know that it (al-Fatiha) is a ruqyah? You have done well! And indeed, the best thing to be paid for is Allah's Book*. So, divide it among you; and allot a share for me.' [Al Bukhari, Muslim.]

Charging money for Ruqyah

It's amazing to see the new breed of internet Raaqis using the above hadith to charge for Ruqyah. Note how they twist the hadith in their favour, yet you go to them for allegedly being sincere in religion.
How is it possible to conclude from the above hadith, that you can charge a Muslim for Ruqyah when it is specifically referring to charging a non-Muslim. This is either a lack of sincerity or a lack of knowldge and in many cases both. So a simple test would be to call your Raaqi up and ask them for the evidence for charging a "Muslim". If they quote the above hadith - you need not talk any further with them. Such Raaqis should be avoided, they simply take advantage of the vulnerable.

2. Ruqyah with al-Muawwidhat

As explained earlier, al-Muawwidhat are the last three Surahs of the Quran. The last two of them carry a clear meaning of ruqyah, and are presented here. Surat ul-Ikhlas (112) does not carry such meaning in an explicit manner, but contains concise and strong words of praise for Allah (swt), making it an important introduction to the succeeding two Surahs: (Say, "I seek refuge with the Lord of daybreak, from the evil of what he created, and from the evil of darkness when it settles, and from the evil of the blowers in knots, and from the evil of an envier when he envies.") 113 (Say, "I seek refuge with the Lord of the people, the King of the people, the God of the people, from the evil of a retreating whisperer, who whispers (evil) in the breasts of the people, (whether he is) from among jinns or the people.") 114.

Narrated 'Aisha: The Prophet (saw), during his fatal ailment used to blow (on his hands and pass them) over his body while reciting the Mu'auwidhat (Surat-an-Nas and Surat-al-Falaq). When his disease got aggravated, I used to recite them for him and blow (on his hands) and let him pass his hands over his body because of its blessing. (Ma`mar asked Ibn Shihab: How did he use to do Nafth? He said: He used to blow on his hands and then pass them over his face.) Sahih al-Bukhari 5751

3. Ruqyah with Ayat ul-Kursi

Ubayy Bin Ka'b narrated that he had a harvest of dates. He noticed that it shrunk every day, and decided to watch it at night. He did and noticed a beast that looked like a boy who attained puberty. He gave him salam, and it responded to him with salam.

He asked it, "Are you human or jinn" It replied, "Jinn." He told it, "Show me your hand." It showed him its hand, and he saw that it looked like a dog's, with fur like that of a dog covering it. He exclaimed, "Is this how jinn are like!?" It then told him, "All jinns know that there is no one among them stronger than me." He asked it, "What brought you here?" It replied, "We have been informed that you like to give charity, so we came to get some of your food." He asked it, "What would protect us from you?" It replied, "This ayah from Surat ul-Baqarah: (Allahu la ilaha illa huwa Al-Hayy ul-Qayyum,) (2/255) - whoever says it in the evening will be protected from us until the morning, and whoever says it in the morning will be protected from us until the evening." In the morning, Ubayy came to Allah's Messenger (saw) and told him of that incident. He told him, 'The evil one has said the truth!' Recorded by An-Nasai.

Charging for Ruqyah

From the hadith relating that a companion of the Prophet (saw) performed Ruqyah on a Arab tribal chief and was paid for it - many people justify being paid for Ruqyah. Whilst this is acceptable it is also important to note from the same hadith that the chief was healed first. And only then did he pay the companion. However we find many people charging each time they see a patient whether they are cured or not.

For those who propose charging for each session regardless of a cure we say this creates a conflict of interest. One could well ask are they really interested in the cure of the patient. Because if they cured the patient first time around, their income is reduced. Therefore why cure someone during the first visit, when they could charge them for 3 times or more!

Others drag out charging a person for their time and effort for recited water or herbs etc. We advise its best to agree to a charge beforehand. And only if a person is cured then payment is due. If they are not, then no payment should be due. As we doubt very much the desert chief would have paid anything if he was not cured. If however a person feels a genuine effort was made by the Raaqi then they can donate whatever is easy for them.

Epilepsy and Ruqyah

Narrated 'Ata bin Abi Rabah: Ibn `Abbas said to me, "Shall I show you a woman of the people of Paradise?" I said, "Yes." He said, "This black lady came to the Prophet (saw) and said, 'I get attacks of epilepsy and my body becomes uncovered; please invoke Allah for me.' The Prophet (saw) said (to her), 'If you wish, be patient and you will have (enter) Paradise; and if you wish, I will invoke Allah to cure you.' She said, 'I will remain patient,' and added, 'but I become uncovered, so please invoke Allah for me that I may not become uncovered.' So he invoked Allah for her." Narrated 'Ata: That he had seen Um Zafar, the tall black lady, at (holding) the curtain of the Ka`ba Sahih al-Bukhari 5652

The above a hadith is referring to medical epilepsy, we cannot imagine the Prophet (saw) leaving a woman possessed by Shaytaan and telling her to have patience. If the Prophet (saw) had prayed for her it would have been classed as a miracle like praying for a blind person to see etc, instead he advised her to be patient with her condition. This is in no way related to epilepsy that is caused by the shayateen possessing a person, which is obligatory to treat, according to the principles of repelling oppression and aiding the oppressed.

Mental Health

In some communities due to a lack of education, many people who are suffering mental health issues are unfortunately diagnosed as possessed. Please see our Ruqyah myths section where we challenge many of the common myths being promoted in this field. For many people faith is an important part of their life and if it is ignored, some people end up in crisis as observed by a famous psychologist.

Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) who was a Swiss psychiatrist, an influential thinker and the founder of Analytical Psychology, states: "I have frequently seen people become neurotic when they content themselves with inadequate or wrong answers to the questions of life ." (Jung, [1961] 1989:140)
"The majority of my patients consisted not of believers but of those who had lost their faith." (Jung, [1961] 1989:140)

Strong magic / Sihr & stubborn Jinn

Q. I have been to a few Raaqis and they have tried to help me but to no avail and they have said it is due to strong magic or stubborn Jinn ?

Please see our 'Ruqyah Myths' page for further details as many of the claims made by Raaqis are baseless