Exorcism in Islam

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The 72nd chapter of the Qur'an entitled Al-Jinn (The Jinn), as well as the heading and introductory bismillah of the next chapter entitled al-Muzzammil (The Enshrouded One).

Exorcism in Islam is called 'aza'im IPA: ['aza'im]).[1] Ruqya (Arabic: رقيةIPA: [ruqya]) on the other hand summons jinn and demons by invoking the names of God, and to command them to abandon their mischiefs[2] and is thought to repair damage believed caused by jinn possession, witchcraft (shir) or the evil eye.[citation needed] Exorcisms today are part of a wider body of contemporary Islamic alternative medicine[3] called "prophetic medicine".

Islamic religious context[edit]

Belief in Jinns, and other supernatural beings, is a requirement of Muslims. Jinn is an Arabic collective noun deriving from the Semitic root jnn (Arabic: جَنّ / جُنّ, jann), whose primary meaning is "to hide".[4][5]:68[6]:193:341 Some authors interpret the word to mean, literally, "beings that are concealed from the senses". Such creatures are believed to inhabit desolate, dingy, dark places where they are feared. Jinn exist invisibly amongst humans, only detectable with the sixth sense. The jinn are subtile creatures created from smokeless fire (fire and air) thought to be able to possess animate and inanimate objects. Unlike demons, they are not necessarily evil, but own a capacity of free-will.[7]

Reasons for possession[edit]

Possession is not caused by Satan,[8] who is said to be just a tempter, whispering evil suggestions into humans heart, but, even though not mentioned in canonical scriptures, according to folklore by jinn, who can enter a human body physically or haunting them mentally. A possession by a jinn can happen for various reasons. Ibn Taymiyyah explained a Jinn could sometimes haunt an individual, because the person could (even unintentionally) harm the jinn; urinating or throwing hot water on it, or even killing a related jinn without even realizing it.[9][better source needed] In this case the jinn will try to take revenge on the person. Another cause for jinn possession is when a jinn falls in love with a human and thereupon the jinn possesses the human.[10][better source needed] Some women have told of their experiences with jinn possession; where the jinn tried to have sexual intercourse from inside their bodies.[11][better source needed] Thirdly, it occurs when a jinn is evil and simply wants to harm a human for no specific reason, it will possess that person, if it gets the opportunity, while the human is in a very emotional state or unconsciousness.[10][better source needed] Jinn may also haunt someone in service of a sorcerer.[7]

Signs of possession[edit]

In Islamic belief, there are different signs of possession for example:[10][better source needed]

  • Procrastination in doing good acts or praying
  • Constant laziness
  • Recurring aggression
  • Loss of senses while awake
  • Constant headaches
  • Recurring nightmares
  • Laughing while asleep
  • Sleepwalking

In case of a "complete control" by the Jinn, the possessed surrender to the Jinn and the persons consciousness is subverted by it. Such a jinn is indeed absolutely evil and thereupon the acts of the person are going to be evil as well. The person will obey the commands of the jinn at anytime. In a "constant possession" the person will not act without a command by the jinn.[citation needed]

According to reports of individuals who have claimed to be possessed, they've asserted that during the jinn possession their spiritual abilities, like the sixth sense, had increased.[11] Possession can also cause physical damage, such as inexplicable bruising or marks appearing spontaneously.[12]


Recited formulas, referred to as Ruqyah are used to expel the Jinn from the body.[citation needed]

In a typical Islamic exorcism the treated person lies down while a white-gloved therapist places a hand on their head while reciting verses from the Quran.[13]

Specific verses from the Quran are recited, which glorify God (e.g. The Throne Verse (Arabic: آية الكرسي Ayatul Kursi) and invoke his help. In some cases the adhan (call for daily prayers) is also read, believed to have the effect of repelling non-angelic unseen beings or the jinn.[citation needed]

The Islamic prophet Muhammad taught his followers to read the last three suras from the Quran, Surat al-Ikhlas (The Fidelity), Surat al-Falaq (The Dawn) and Surat an-Nas (Mankind).[citation needed][14][need quotation to verify]

Islamic exorcists[edit]

Those who are permitted to perform exorcisms typically have other careers but possess the ability to exorcise.[need quotation to verify] Any hafiz of the Quran can be an exorcist. He must perform ablution in preparation, should be in a clean state, and recite the Throne verse and other verses

Exorcism and Islamic Law[edit]

Prohibited techniques[15] often utilize shirk, which is found in practices that prepare amulets or talismans. This is prohibited because shirk is the sin of practicing idolatry or polytheism i.e. the deification or worship of anyone or anything besides the singular God. Many times Qur'anic verses are added throughout the recitation when using these objects in order to 'mask' their shirk. However, God believes he has provided sufficient cures in executing an exorcism, therefore exorcists should not have to rely on methods involving shirk.[15] Additionally, individuals seeking exorcism should avoid magicians or soothsayers because these magical practices go against Islamic Law.[citation needed]

Hadith of the 70,000 who do not ask for ruqya and will not be brought to account[edit]

A hadith recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari, 8:76:479 states: "Seventy thousand people of my followers will enter Paradise without accounts, and they are those who do not practice Ar-Ruqya and do not see an evil omen in things, and put their trust in their Lord." Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, a scholar, commented on this hadith, stating: “That is because these people will enter Paradise without being called to account because of the perfection of their Tawheed, therefore he described them as people who did not ask others to perform ruqyah for them. Hence he said "and they put their trust in their Lord." Because of their complete trust in their Lord, their contentment with Him, their faith in Him, their being pleased with Him and their seeking their needs from Him, they do not ask people for anything, be it ruqyah or anything else, and they are not influenced by omens and superstitions that could prevent them from doing what they want to do, because superstition detracts from and weakens Tawheed".[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gerda Sengers Women and Demons: Cultic Healing in Islamic Egypt BRILL, 2003 ISBN 9789004127715 p. 50
  2. ^ Travis Zadeh Commanding Demons and Jinn: The Sorcerer in Early Islamic Thought,” in No Tapping around Philology: A Festschrift in Honor of Wheeler McIntosh Thackston Jr.’s 70th Birthday, ed. Alireza Korangy and Dan Sheffield (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2014), 131–60
  3. ^ Hall, Helen (2018-04-17). "Exorcism – how does it work and why is it on the rise?". The Conversation. Retrieved 2018-09-10. Beliefs and rituals which could appropriately be labelled exorcism are found in almost all cultures and faith traditions, but in the West are encountered most frequently within Christian or Islamic settings.
  4. ^ Quran 51:56–56
  5. ^ al-Ṭabarī, Muḥammad ibn Ayyūb. Tuḥfat al-gharā’ib. I.
  6. ^ Rāzī, Abū al-Futūḥ. Tafsīr-e rawḥ al-jenān va rūḥ al-janān.
  7. ^ a b Joseph P. Laycock Spirit Possession around the World: Possession, Communion, and Demon Expulsion across Cultures ABC-CLIO 2015 ISBN 978-1-610-69590-9 page 166
  8. ^ N. Ahmadi Iranian Islam: The Concept of the Individual Springer 1998 ISBN 978-0-230-37349-5 page 79
  9. ^ ʻUmar Sulaymān Ashqar The World of the Jinn and Devils Islamic Books 1998 page 204
  10. ^ a b c Moiz Ansari Islam And the Paranormal: What Does Islam Says About the Supernatural in the Light of Qur'an, Sunnah And Hadith iUniverse 2006 ISBN 978-0-595-37885-2 page 55
  11. ^ a b Kelly Bulkeley, Kate Adams, Patricia M. Davis Dreaming in Christianity and Islam: Culture, Conflict, and CreativityRutgers University Press 2009 ISBN 978-0-813-54610-0 page 148
  12. ^ G. Hussein Rassool Islamic Counselling: An Introduction to Theory and Practice Routledge 2015 ISBN 978-1-317-44125-0 page 58
  13. ^ Staff (14 May 2012). "Belgium court charges six people in deadly exorcism of Muslim woman". Al Arabiya.
  14. ^ Josef W. Meri Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia Routledge 2005 ISBN 978-1-135-45596-5 page 496
  15. ^ a b "Chapter 4: Other Beliefs and Practices". Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project. 2012-08-09. Archived from the original on 2018-08-08. Retrieved 2018-08-08. Islamic tradition also holds that Muslims should rely on God alone to keep them safe from sorcery and malicious spirits rather than resorting to talismans, which are charms or amulets bearing symbols or precious stones believed to have magical powers, or other means of protection.
  16. ^ al-Jawziyya, Ibn Qayyim. Zad al-Ma'ad [Provisions of the Hereafter]. pp. 1/475.

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