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Belief in Jinn

Belief in Jinn

Belief in Jinn

Jinn are a very hot topic. Are Jinn real or an illusion or fairy tales? They are definitely not an illusion or creatures from fairy tales. Belief in Jinn, as Muslims, is part of our faith.

How do we know Jinn exist when we cannot see them? Our senses do not enable us to assess the existence of Jinn to us, as they are invisible. Sometimes they do show themselves, but not to everyone and not all the time. So we can’t take Jinn to the lab to decide they are real, or see them, take photos or touch them. Therefore we know about them through the Quran and authentic narrations in the Sunnah.

We have to believe in Jinn because Allah Almighty mentioned Jinn in the Quran around 40 times in 11 surahs.  There’s even a dedicated surah in the Quran called Surat al-Jinn, so believing in the existence of Jinn is a clear part of our faith.

Meaning of Jinn

In English sometimes Jinn are translated as ghosts. However, Jinn are not ghosts. Ghosts are a completely different concept, as ghosts are defined as the spirits of the deceased, but Jinn are a separate creation from human beings.

The word Jinn itself means something invisible or hidden. It has the same root letters that form the word Jannah, which is also hidden. Thus we cannot see Jinn, or Jannah (paradise) and Jannah meaning garden is also screened behind trees so you cannot see what is behind them, so it has a hidden quality. Mental illness in Arabic is called junoon, because one’s mental state is hidden inside one’s head.

Jinn in the Quran and Sunnah

As Allah Almighty has clearly mentioned that He created Jinn, we believe in them. In Surat ad-Dhariyat, Allah Almighty says wa ma qalaqtu Jinna wal insa illal yabudun:

  وَمَا خَلَقۡتُ ٱلۡجِنَّ وَٱلۡإِنسَ إِلَّا لِیَعۡبُدُونِ

 ‘I have not created the Jinn and the humans but to worship Me.’  [51:56]

In Surat ar-Rahman, Allah Almighty says:

وَخَلَقَ ٱلْجَآنَّ مِن مَّارِجٍۢ مِّن نَّارٍۢ

And He created the Jinn from a smokeless flame of fire. [55:15]

يَـٰمَعْشَرَ ٱلْجِنِّ وَٱلْإِنسِ إِنِ ٱسْتَطَعْتُمْ أَن تَنفُذُوا۟ مِنْ أَقْطَارِ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ فَٱنفُذُوا۟ ۚ لَا تَنفُذُونَ إِلَّا بِسُلْطَـٰنٍۢ

O company of jinn and mankind, if you are able to pass beyond the regions of the heavens and the earth, then pass. You will not pass except by authority [from Allah]. [55:33]

In Surat al-Ahqaf, Allah Almighty mentioned that a group of Jinn came to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) whilst he was praying, and they listened to his recitation and they believed in Him.

In the Sunnah we also have many authentic narrations regarding the meeting between Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and Jinn. It’s been mentioned in 6 authentic narrations that that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) met the Jinn. In one of these narrations for instance, ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) accompanied the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and was told to sit in a specific place and not go beyond it. He was told to stay there and wait for the Prophet (peace be upon him) to return, who went to visit the Jinn, recited the Quran to them and answered their questions. Many of them therefore believed in him (peace be upon him) and became Muslim.  

Are Jinn held accountable for their actions?

As Allah Almighty stated in the Quran, Jinn, like us, have free will and therefore among them there are righteous Jinn and evil Jinn and all shades in between. The Quran states:

وَّاَنَّا مِنَّا الصّٰلِحُوْنَ وَمِنَّا دُوْنَ ذٰلِكَۗ كُنَّا طَرَاۤىِٕقَ قِدَدًاۙ

Among us are those who are righteous and those who are less so. We have been of different factions. [72:11]

Whenever Allah says, ‘O You who believe…’ and establishes commands, He is addressing both Jinn and mankind. Like us, He has given them intellect. Therefore they are beings that have the ability to learn and educate, and have choices and will.  Among them are Jinn who pray with us, who recite the Quran, and perform other obligations, such as Hajj, like us.

وَلَقَدْ ذَرَأْنَا لِجَهَنَّمَ كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الْجِنِّ وَالْإِنسِ ۖ لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ لَّا يَفْقَهُونَ بِهَا وَلَهُمْ أَعْيُنٌ لَّا يُبْصِرُونَ بِهَا وَلَهُمْ آذَانٌ لَّا يَسْمَعُونَ بِهَا ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ كَالْأَنْعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْغَافِلُونَ ﴿179﴾

Certainly We have winnowed out for hell many of the Jinn and humans: they have hearts with which they do not understand, they have eyes with which they do not see, they have ears with which they do not hear. They are like cattle; indeed, they are more astray. It is they who are the heedless. (7:179)

Types of Jinn and their power

Allah Almighty has also given Jinn special power. Of course, there are different kinds of Jinn. Some are giants, known as ifreet, or maradat al shayateen who are mentioned in the hadith that the shayateen are locked up in Ramadan. Not all are chained up during Ramadan – only the giants. There are others who are lesser than them.

Iblis is the father of Jinn, like Adam is the father of mankind. He did not start off as an evil being, but later became evil. Anyone who is evil can be called Shaytan, though he may be from the Jinn or he may be human. In the Quranic context, most of the time Shaytan is referring to Jinn, but sometimes you can see Allah Almighty has used this term to address the evil from humans.

The Jinn are different sizes, and also have different powers, and different beliefs – some are believers, disbelievers, or agnostics, etc. Therefore there are some Christian Jinn, who believed in previous prophets, and Jewish Jinn from then.

“O company of jinn and mankind, did there not come to you messengers from among you, relating to you My verses and warning you of the meeting of this Day of yours?” They will say, “We bear witness against ourselves”; and the worldly life had deluded them, and they will bear witness against themselves that they were disbelievers. [6:130]

Allah Almighty created mankind, or Adam (may Allah be pleased with him), from clay, from dust and then clay, and He blew into him and then he became a human. Allah Almighty created Jinn from the flames of fire. This is why when someone is angry, Shaytan is blowing at him and so man is recommended to do wudu to extinguish the fire of his anger – indeed one becomes heated literally and metaphorically when one is angry.

The Jinn don’t generally show themselves to humans, but some Companions did see them. They have the ability to appear in different shapes because in the hadith, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) mentioned there are three types of Jinn:

  1. Those that have wings and fly in the air. Not all the Jinn can fly, and again we know this from the hadith that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) mentioned narrated in ibn Hibban, at-Tabarani, Al-Mustadrak alaa al-Sahihain of Imam Hakim and others.
  2. Those that take the form of snakes and dogs.
  3. Those who travel and those who are residents. 

In the story of Suleman (peace be upon him), the messenger of Allah Almighty, we see that Allah Almighty gave Suleman (peace be upon him) power of over the Jinn and he could speak with them. They did a lot of work for him – craftwork and building, as they have special powers. Nevertheless it’s not our business to know what they do or what they don’t do. We are not to be questioned about them, but we have to believe in them.

They (the Jinn) made for him (Suleman) whatever he wanted – palaces, statues, basins as large as water troughs, fixed cauldrons.” (34:13)

They have families and they have offspring, as Allah Almighty stated in Surat al Kahf, which means they do marry and they do have children.

And [mention] when We said to the angels, “Prostrate to Adam,” and they prostrated, except for Iblees. He was of the Jinn and departed from the command of his Lord. Then will you take him and his descendants as allies other than Me while they are enemies to you? Wretched it is for the wrongdoers as an exchange. [18:50]

The Arabs believed in Jinn, even before Islam. There were many well-known stories in Arab culture, particularly about those who had close relations with Jinn, which led to evil. When Islam was revealed, people even accused Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) of having connections with Jinn, who were teaching him, but this is definitely not true.

Allah created Jinn before he even created Adam (peace be upon him). As you know from the sequences of the verses from the Quran, Shaytan was first, then Allah Almighty created Adam (peace be upon him) after. When he asked Shaytan, Iblis, to prostrate to Adam (peace be upon him) as a form of obedience to Allah Almighty, not as a form of obedience to Adam (peace be upon him), Iblis refused and this is where all the disobedience started and the struggle between Shaytan and mankind began.

What do we need to know about Jinn?

Jinn can take different shapes, such as the shape of a cat, a man, a bird. They are mostly invisible, but can become visible. If they are visible they take the shape of a snake, or an animal. If you killed the animal, they would die. This is what happened to one of the Companions, who killed a snake and then Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) warned Muslims that some Jinn take the shape of snake so they should warn the animals before they kill them, so they can leave the animal body.

On 6 occasions the Prophet (peace be upon him) met the Jinn, and he spent one night with them, as mentioned in Sahih Bukhari, called Laylatal Jinn, the Night of the Jinn. The Companions were searching for Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) but they couldn’t find him, and they became afraid something had happened to him. They waited till Fajr and then he (peace be upon him) returned and told them that he had spent the whole night with some Jinn. They listened to his recitation and asked questions.

The big question here is where we can seek their support. Some people claim that if you have lost something, they have connections with Jinn, and can return it to you. This is nonsense but it takes place in Muslim and non-Muslim countries.

Prohibition of sorcery

Before Islam, Jinn were sought for sorcery, but after Islam came, sorcery and fortune telling was prohibited. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that it is kufr (disbelief) to consult a clairvoyant. The severity of this is shown in the fact that the salah of anyone who approaches a clairvoyant will not be accepted for 40 days. This draws a clear line between what is allowed and what is not allowed so that people rely on Allah and the revelation and nothing else. It also means that we should have nothing to do with the Jinn – we simply have to believe in them, and know they are there, that’s it.

Where do Jinn live?

The Jinn tend to reside in deserted places, which is why when you go to deserted places you should always say Aoodhubillahi minash Shaytanir rajeem, bismillah hir Rahman ar Raheem. These places include toilets. That is why we recite a dua before entering the toilet: aoodhubillahi minal khubthi wal khabaaith, to seek protection from the evil of the male and female Jinn who may be in the bathroom.

The Jinn inhabit a different realm from us and have a different kingdom which has some overlap with our world. Some of the Jinn used to pray in the mosque of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and attend his knowledge circles. These were the righteous ones.

Can Shaytan harm people?

Probably one of the questions which people ask all the time is whether it is possible for Jinn to physically harm humans? It does happen, rarely. For instance, there was a Companion who killed a snake, and then Jinn came and killed him as revenge. Then Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) warned them not to kill a snake quickly but give it a warning, and then if it does not respond and leave, then you can kill it.  Such occurrences are extremely rare.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“When night falls (or when it is evening), stop your children from going out, for the devils spread out at that time. But when an hour of the night has passed, release them and close the doors and mention Allah’s Name, for Satan does not open a closed door. Tie the mouth of your waterskin and mention Allah’s Name; cover your containers and utensils and mention Allah’s Name. Cover them even by placing something across it, and extinguish your lamps.” [Bukhari]

Can Jinn control humans?

A common question is can Jinn control humans? Can they force them to do things?  The Quran stated very clearly, in Surat al-Hijr, that they cannot control humans. Allah Almighty recounts this in the conversation which took place between Himself and Iblis:

إِنَّ عِبَادِی لَیۡسَ لَكَ عَلَیۡهِمۡ سُلۡطَـٰنٌ إِلَّا مَنِ ٱتَّبَعَكَ مِنَ ٱلۡغَاوِینَ

Surely, you shall have no power over My true servants, except those misguided ones who choose to follow you. [15:42]

This shows that those who decide to follow Iblis, will give Shaytan control over themselves, by allowing him to guide them. But those who decide not to follow him, and cling to the word of Allah Almighty, His revelation, His Prophet (peace be upon him) cannot be controlled against their will. As long as one is connected to Allah Almighty, and is strong in their imaan, they will not be controlled by the whispers of Shaytan. As Allah stated in Surat Araf:

وَإِمَّا يَنزَغَنَّكَ مِنَ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنِ نَزْغٌۭ فَٱسْتَعِذْ بِٱللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

And if an evil suggestion comes to you from Satan, then seek refuge in Allah. Indeed, He is Hearing and Knowing. [7:200}

Therefore, when you seek refuge in Allah Almighty, Shaytan cannot do anything to you, even though Allah Almighty has given him supernatural powers and invisibility, as Allah Almighty is the Lord of justice, and equipped us with a protection mechanism – imaan and the Quran. These protect us  Shaytan and his whispers.

Allah Almighty with His ultimate mercy has assigned qareen for every human – a companion from Jinn and a companion from angels. Each one of us has an angel telling us what we should do on the right, and a Jinn telling us what to do on the left. The choice is ours. This is from authentic narrations from Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Following the footsteps of Shaytan

وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا۟ خُطُوَ ٰتِ ٱلشَّیۡطَـٰنِۚ إِنَّهُۥ لَكُمۡ عَدُوࣱّ مُّبِینٌ

And (do) not follow (the) footsteps (of) the Shaytan. Indeed, he (is) to you an enemy clear. [2:168]

Allah Almighty stated in the Quran many times that we should not follow the footsteps of the Shaytan, which shows that Shaytan is in front of us, leaving footsteps behind him. He is the one who is leading the way, and we decide to follow or not. Shaytan cannot control you.

Can Shaytan possess humans?

One of the other questions people ask is whether it’s possible for Jinn to possess humans. This idea of possession has an industry around it – it is big business! There are different opinions on this. In summary, there is a very strong opinion from many Muslim scholars, including ibn Taymiyyah but not all Salafi schools, that it is possible for Jinn to enter the body of a human and control it. Other scholars disagree and say that Jinn can only do as Allah Almighty stated in the Quran – whisper and incite humans to evil, but they remain physically outside them.

Ironically, both opinions they use the same verses to prove the case.

ٱلَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ ٱلرِّبَوٰا۟ لَا يَقُومُونَ إِلَّا كَمَا يَقُومُ ٱلَّذِى يَتَخَبَّطُهُ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنُ مِنَ ٱلْمَسِّ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَالُوٓا۟ إِنَّمَا ٱلْبَيْعُ مِثْلُ ٱلرِّبَوٰا۟ ۗ وَأَحَلَّ ٱللَّهُ ٱلْبَيْعَ وَحَرَّمَ ٱلرِّبَوٰا۟ ۚ فَمَن جَآءَهُۥ مَوْعِظَةٌۭ مِّن رَّبِّهِۦ فَٱنتَهَىٰ فَلَهُۥ مَا سَلَفَ وَأَمْرُهُۥٓ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ ۖ وَمَنْ عَادَ فَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ أَصْحَـٰبُ ٱلنَّارِ ۖ هُمْ فِيهَا خَـٰلِدُونَ ٢٧٥

“Those who benefit from interest shall be raised like those who have been driven to madness by the touch of the Devil; this is because they say: “Trade is like interest” while God has permitted trade and forbidden interest. Hence those who have received the admonition from their Lord and desist, may keep their previous gains, their case being entrusted to God; but those who revert shall be the inhabitants of the fire and abide therein forever.” (2:275)

The word used in this ayah is muss which means to touch, so the question is whether the Shaytan touched the body literally or not. Touching is not the same as entering. It is an external action. Therefore scholars who say Shaytan cannot possess you argue that he only whispers and it is up to people to act upon or not.

Other scholars say the Shaytan can possess the human body and cite many real life examples to support this. However, how does one know that the Shaytan is actually possessing someone’s body? For instance, if a lady suddenly starts speaking in a different language in a strange voice, has she been possessed by the Shaytan? She might be taken to someone to have the Shaytan exorcised from her. Unfortunately, this can lead to abuse. There have been many cases of physical and sexual abuse under the guise of exorcism. This is very sad and distressing. Unfortunately, these women have suffered at the hands of deceitful men who have preyed on their vulnerability due to their family’s inability to comprehend has happened to them. This is absolutely abhorrent and haram. This has also taken place in Christian communities.

How do we define or explain this phenomenon? I’m not denying that such cases happen, where fantastical phenomenena occur, and I’ve witnessed some myself, but can we attribute them to Shaytan or is something else going on? It is common in many Muslim communities across the globe, from Arab countries to the Indian sub-continent and beyond, that people jump to the conclusion that someone acting strangely has been possessed by a Jinn. Many, many shuyukh also believe this to be the case. However many of these cases are due to schizophrenia and mental illness.

There was one case where a man said his wife had started speaking French. He went to a shaykh and told him his wife was possessed by Shaytan and was speaking French. The shaykh asked him if he spoke French, but the man said no. They took her to a psychiatrist, who diagnosed her and treated her and she became normal. She had been suffering from a mental illness.

Ultimately it is hotly disputed whether possession can take place or not and in many cases, the issue is an undiagnosed mental condition.  

Don’t automatically conclude that every failure is from Jinn

We have to apply a scientific approach first and not be under the illusion that everything that goes wrong has been caused by Jinn or that everything happening in your life is controlled by Jinn. Some people are very paranoid in this regard. They will blame everything, even a failed exam, or failed marriage, or not finding a spouse on Jinn and black magic.

I’m not saying there’s no such thing as sihr (black magic). But not every failure in life is caused by Jinn or black magic. It is easy to blame them for our failures, but we should take the scientific approach. I’m not denying the existence of Jinn – they definitely exist and they certainly have supernatural abilities – but it is wrong to think that they are after you all the time.

Jinn may have super powers, but Allah Almighty has protected us with the super power of the Quran and the revelation.  So, let’s not underestimate this and overestimate the power of the Jinn.

If you keep convincing yourself about something, it becomes reality. So if you think everything is being caused by a Jinn, then you will always feel haunted by the Shaytan. Instead, say Allah Almighty is my protector and say Allah Almighty is my defender and Allah Almighty is my refuge. And that’s it. Inshallah nothing can harm you.

Our relationship with righteous Jinn

Our relationship with the righteous Jinn is like any relationship with any righteous people, so we make dua for all righteous worshippers of Allah in our salah when we say salam alayna wa ibadallahis saliheen sending our salutation and salam to all righteous people across the globe and going back in history – not just the humans but also the Jinn. We make dua for them and they make dua for us. Apart from that, we should not seek them out and they don’t approach us.

We should be careful when pouring boiling water that we say bismillah before we pour it, so we do not inadvertently harm and Jinn.

Protection that Allah Almighty has given us

In the authentic narration, whoever recites Surat al-Baqarah in his house will be protected from Shaytan entering their house.

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللهِ بن مسعود قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ اقْرَءُوا سُورَةَ الْبَقَرَةِ فِي بُيُوتِكُمْ فَإِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ لَا يَدْخُلُ بَيْتًا تُقْرَأُ فِيهِ سُورَةُ الْبَقَرَةِ

Recite Surat al-Baqarah in your houses, for Satan does not enter a house in which Surat al-Baqarah is recited.  [Shu’ab al-Imaan]

Abu Hurayrah reported the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ لَا تَجْعَلُوا بُيُوتَكُمْ مَقَابِرَ إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ يَنْفِرُ مِنْ الْبَيْتِ الَّذِي تُقْرَأُ فِيهِ سُورَةُ الْبَقَرَةِ

“Do not turn your houses into graveyards. Verily, Satan flees from the house in which Surat al-Baqarah is recited.” [Muslim]

“Indeed Allah wrote a book two thousand years before He created the heavens and the earth. He sent down two Verses from that book which he ended Surah Al Baqarah with [Verse: 285 and 286]. If these two verses are recited for three nights in a home, no Shaytan shall come near it.” [Tirmidhi]

Therefore my recommendation, especially to anyone suffering from some whispers of the Shaytan, is to keep playing Surat al-Baqarah every three days in your house. Inshallah it will keep your house safe from any Shaytan, and all harm. If you cannot recite the whole of Surat al-Baqarah you can play it. In addition, ensure you pray your salah on time, keep up your daily dhikr and wird. Also recite the ayat al kursi as Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) mentioned every night you recite it, Shaytan will not come near you.

Shaykh Haytham Tamim –  Al Manaar New Muslim Group 1st November 2022

Transcribed by S Jawaid

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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.