Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

MUHARRAM - SAFAR 1424 H
MARCH 2004
Volume 17-03 No : 207

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Muslim Perspectives


The Exorcist!

The Exorcist!

Muslims in large numbers are resorting to Exorcism sessions. Mohammed Hanif Lakdawala tracks down Muslims who run to professional Exorcists with the hope that they will rid them of the jinns and the devil!

 

Bano, 21, is a semi-educated Bengali girl who lives in Mumbai. She used to work as a domestic help before her parents announced her marriage to her cousin. She was dumb-founded. She stopped talking to her family members, almost confined herself to her room and gradually adopted violent behavior. She would burst into tears suddenly, speak foul words in a strange mix of languages and break dishes.

Fearing that the jinn had possessed her, her mother took her to an exorcist, a middle age man who confirmed that the girl was indeed possessed. In order to rid her of the jinn, a session of exorcism was arranged. At the peak of the session, when Bano got exhausted after gyrating for one-and-a-half hours, the exorcist asked her to come next day.

Zaitun, 29, was suspected to be possessed after her marriage, to a violent addict. She attends session of exorcism every now and again. She is also very fond of visiting the shrines of saints, especially those of Abdul Rehman Shah Baba,and Haji Ali. At the former's shrine, she participates in an exorcism session with dozens of other possessed women for hours and hours. At these sessions, she is usually accompanied by her 38-year-old friend, Khadija, who has never thought of getting married because she is the only earning member of her family.

Exorcism session is held in a dimly lit hall at the exorcist's house, and begins with a session of a zikr of the Qadri order (recitation of the name of Almighty Allah and verses praising the Holy Prophet (Pbuh). Before being brought to the session, Bano was asked to take a bath and wear good, clean clothes (preferably a favourite outfit of her) and heavy perfume.

Saeeda 21, newly- wed started getting seizures just three months after the marriage.Her husband took her to a exorcist. She was instructed to wear make-up, her wedding dress and jewellery before attending an exorcism session. Exorcists can be divided into two categories: professional and non-professionals. The second group, which comprises a minority among the exorcists, is religious and are mystic persons who are deep into meditation. They use certain Quranic verses to exorcize someone.

The professional exorcists often use violent ways. Saeeda was forced to inhale chilli smoke. Others in her group were given severe thrashing or branding their skin with a hot iron. A number of victims have reportedly died during these exorcism sessions, and others are said to have been criminally assaulted by exorcists, but even then people continue to contact such exorcists.

Popular exorcists charge fees according to the financial status of the family of the possessed. Exorcism also breaks the barrier of religion. Some Muslim exorcists claim to have mastered the art through a non-Muslim, particularly a Hindu teacher. Similarly, many Muslims contact Hindu/Christian exorcists to rid them of the jinn.

Some sufis do not ascribe to the idea and see it as a practice of weaker souls. "Human beings as Ashraful Makhlooqat (the best of creations) and are more powerful than jinns, therefore, they cannot be possessed by them," says Faqir Mohammad Hasan who runs spiritual healing center at south Mumbai, adding that it is the demons of suppressed feelings and emotions which are perceived to be possession by jinns.

According to the Islamic conception of the world of created spiritual beings, the only possible source, which could be involved in spirit-possession of humans, could be the jinn. This is the view held by the quite a few Sunni Scholars. However, there are Muslim scholars, philosophers and scholastic theologians who have questioned the possibility of possession. Some have denied this possibility altogether, while others have offered different explanations for the phenomenon of madness and epilepsy.

Among the many statements from outstanding classical scholars confirming the reality of possession is that of Imam Ahmad. 'Abdullah reported that when he asked his father, Ahmad bin Hanbal, "There are some people who claim that the jinnee cannot enter the body of a human," his father replied, "O my dear son, they are lying; for that is one (jinnee) speaking with his tongue. "In Eedaah ad-Dilaalah fee 'Umoom ar-Risaalah ,Ibn Taymeeyah expressed the position of the majority of the Muslim scholars, stating, "The existence of the jinn is an established fact, according to the Book (i.e. the Qur'an), the Sunnah and the agreement of the early scholars.

From the Qur'an the most commonly quoted support for jinn-possession is the following verse: "Those who devour interest rise up like one stumbling from Satan's touch." Qur'an, 2:275

Al-Qurtubee commented on this verse in his exegesis, saying, "This verse contains proof of the incorrectness of those who deny possession (sara') by way of the jinn, claiming that it is the result of natural causes, as well as those who claim that Satan does not enter human nor does he touch them." Ibn Katheer's view on the interpretation of the verse was as follows: "That is, they rise up from their graves on the Day of Judgment unbalanced like an insane person in a fit of madness. His fumbling around under Satan's touch means that he will rise up unbalanced.

The verse most commonly quoted by those who deny the possibility of spirit-possession is the following:

"And Satan will say when the matter is decided, 'It was Allah who gave you a truthful promise. I too promised you, but I broke my promise to you. I had no authority over you except to call you, but you answered my call...'" Qur'aan 14:22

Fakhruddeen ar-Raazee made the following comment in his Qur'anic exegesis of this verse, "This is unambiguous and unequivocal evidence that Satan does not have the ability to possess, kill or harm (humans)."

Fakhruddeen ar-Raazee was of the opinion that the "madness" (takhabbut) mentioned in the verse (Qur'an, 2:275) was not directly from Satan, but from his touch (mass) by way of harming whisperings, which, in turn, cause convulsions and subsequent madness (sara'). He adds that "By not being courageous enough to withstand the mental pressure, the person goes mad, just as the cowardly are driven mad by vacant locations".

Among modern scholars following the approach of ar-Raazee and others towards the jinn, al-Ghazali has presented an interpretation of the hadeeth of Safiyyah in which she quoted the Prophet (Pbuh) as saying, "Verily, the devil flows in the bloodstream of Aadam's descendants." He claims this is not the actual occupying of the human body, but refers to demonic whispering (waswasah).

Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic Scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada while giving opinion on the issue suggested that, "If you find any Muslim scholar who could treat this condition, you should surely approach him; otherwise, you may try treating him by the following ta`widhat or protective supplications:

1- Read surat al-Fatiha, ayat al-kursi, and the three last surahs of the Qur'an (Ikhlas, falaq and an-nas), and blow into your hands and wipe over his body three times.

2- Read supplications such as the following:

Allahumma inni a'dhudhu bika min hamazati shayateen, wa a'dhudhu bika rabbi an yahdrun (O Allah, I seek refuge in You from whispering of devils and their presence around him)

As'alu allah al'zeem rabbal 'arsha al 'thzeem an yashfiyahi seven times (I ask Allah, Lord of the Mighty Throne, to cure him)

3- Finally, recite Qur'an always around him or play a recorded Qur'an continuously.

May Allah protect us all against the whisperings of devils."

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