Black Magic! Jinn Possession! These are terms which spontaneously roll off people’s tongues when countering supernatural or unexplainable situations. Muslims (especially those from more traditional cultures) can be quick to attribute mental illness to Jinn possession. It is indeed possible for Jinn to possess humans, but it must be known that this is extremely rare. In the vast majority of cases, mental health illnesses are natural and not the result of Jinn. Therefore, we must avoid jumping to the conclusion that everyone with a mental illness is possessed.
Certain mental illnesses such as depression and hysteria can influence our thinking patterns and can make us see the very worst in a situation and jump to conclusions. Muslims with depression often become caught up in the idea that they are possessed or someone has done black magic on them and end up neglecting methods of treatment which would cure their depression. Likewise, hysterical disorders exemplify physical symptoms based on psychological causes resulting in similar symptoms to possession e.g. a rape victim will develop paralysed legs for the fear of being raped. Jumping to conclusions about black magic and jinn possession will cause more trouble than good and waste time in seeking the right treatment that will actually help a person.
It is best to rule out other possibilities before worrying about Sihr. You should always start from the basis that you are not possessed and that your illness is a natural phenomenon. If you start always from this foundation and pursue the relevant treatments then your illness will most certainly be cured. Being consumed with thoughts of possession is very distressing and will only serve to make you feel worse. The same approach that you would take with a physical illness is to be taken with mental health: approach it from both a medical and religious perspective. Do not abandon one for the other. This is the teaching of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and of the Qur’an. The Propeht (peace be upon him) said:
“Strive to pursue that which will benefit you and seek refuge with Allah, and do not feel helpless.”
In order to understand and handle jinn possession, black magic or even evil eye, we must be aware of what they are and their realities. Only a handful of people such as ignorant philosophers, doctors or those who have no knowledge of jinns deny their existence. Majority of people believe in jinns but their beliefs vary depending on their culture, individual nature and level of knowledge. Many believe jinns can be seen and can take the form of animals such as snakes, dogs, cats etc. They can even take the shape of a human, though their feet remain in the form of a goat. Others claim that the jinn’s kryptonite is wolves. Apparently wolves have the power to overcome jinns and that jinns fear them. Jinns also have the ability to live for thousands of years and know the unseen. Some of these claims may be true whilst others may not be. These beliefs need to be weighed up against the Quran and Sunnah in order to identify what is acceptable and what is not. Firstly, we need to realise what Jinns are. Jinns are creatures of Allah created before mankind from smokeless flame of fire.
“And the jinn: He created from a smokeless flame of fire.”
They have some characteristics similar to humans such as thinking, reflecting and reproducing, but due to their origins they are hidden from human sight. They have the ability to possess a human body, inflicting pain and suffering such as psychological and nervous diseases (insanity, depression, anxiety, tension, and epilepsy), personality disorder, physical sickness, hallucinations etc as the Prophet S.A.W said:
“The Shaytaan flows through the son of Adam like his blood.”
(Bukhari and Muslim)
There were other cases to prove jinns can possess a human body. It is reported that the Prophet met a boy who was possessed. So the he began saying, “Come out, O enemy of Allah. Come out, O enemy of Allah” after which the boy healed and became normal (Ibn Majah no.3548).
However, it is not easy for a jinn to possess a human body and cause physical harm because he will be exposing himself to punishment by means of the Quran. Even when they take form of other creatures, they are subjected to the same rules which apply to that creature. So if a jinn takes the form of a snake and you kill it, then he will be killed, as mentioned in several ahadith of the prophet in Bukhari and Muslim. For this reason jinns won’t harm humans unless they are positive that he/she is negligent in remembering Allah and is far away from deen. Still, we must remember that there aren’t any hard and fast rules about how or why jinns possess or harm humans and cases may differ from another. Some examples of why jinns may harm humans may be: simply because the jinn is bad and wants to wrongfully harm humans, for no purpose, just as normal foolish humans would. It could be (and there have been cases) that a jinn falls in love with a human and desires him/her so the jinn possesses him/her. Sometimes jinns would punish humans as a consequence of their actions i.e. a person may cause trouble to a jinn unintentionally by falling on him, throwing something at him, urinating on him etc, so the jinn punishes him more than he deserves.
Witchcraft and sorcery are also common ways to manipulate jinns into afflicting harm on people, especially in our Asian community. There is no denying that regions such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh dwell heavily in the art of black magic. So, what is black magic? In a nutshell, it is the use of negative energy and powers, summoning devils and shayateen (plural of shaytan) by evil minded people who are dedicated to harm or deprive others from living peaceful lives through sickening means. Black magicians would generally summon evil spirits by performing sacrificial rituals of humans or animals, depending on the severity of the magic. Once they acquire control over the spirit they are able to cause chaos in any aspect of people’s lives whether it is wealth, career, unexplainable health problems, family problems/tensions, mental illnesses, marriage problems, abnormal behaviour and in extreme cases; death. They experience an evil kind satisfaction at the expense of others hardship. Such horrid people are generally driven towards this sickening act due to jealousy, greed, selfishness, negativity and the inability to acknowledge other’s happiness and growth. This really is a huge problem in our society and unfortunately it has escalated in the last few years. The worst thing about it is that the main suspects are usually relatives, close friends, associates and even siblings (This is not always the case, but generally in Asian communities this is how it is). There are serious consequences for those who dwell in black magic such as coming out of the fold of Islam as the Prophet S.A.W mentioned:
“He is not of us, the one who sees evil omens, or the one the one whose behalf they are seen, or the one who practices soothsaying, or the one on whose behalf it is practiced; or the one who practices sorcery, or the one for whom sorcery is done.”