Evidence for Jinn Possession from Qur'an and Sunnah
Evidence for spirit-possession can be found in both the Qur’aan and the Sunnah. From the Qur’aan 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’aan, 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.” Aboo Ja‘far ibn Jareer said the following in his commentary on the verse, “He (i.e. Allaah), whose praise is great, said to those who deal in interest: He whom we have so described in this life will rise up in the next life from his grave like one stumbling from Satan’s touch rises up. He meant that Satan drives him insane in this life. He is one whom Satan causes to stumble, and he overpowers and knocks him down by the touch – that is madness.” 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. Ibn Abee Haatim reported that Ibn ‘Abbaas said, ‘One who devours interest will be resurrected on the Day of Judgment insane in a suffocating fit of madness.’ ‘Awf ibn Maalik, Sa‘eed ibn Jubayr, as-Suddee ar-Rabee‘ ibn Anas, Muqaatil ibn Hayyaa and Qataadah.
In a treatise on this subject, Ibn Taymeeyah stated the following, “Although some Mu‘tazilees, like al-Jubbaa’ee and Aboo Bakr ar-Raazee, erroneously rejected the possibility that jinn enter the bodies of madmen, they did not deny the existence of jinn, because the former is less evident than the latter. Thus al-Ash‘aree mentioned among the doctrines of orthodox Muslims (Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jamaa‘ah) that they believed that the jinn entered the bodies of madmen, as stated by the Almighty in the verse, ‘Those who devour interest rise up like one stumbling from Satan’s touch.’
Evidence from the Sunnah
In the authentic texts of the Sunnah there are a number of traditions which indicate that the jinn may and do enter the body. Some of these hadeeths are rather general, while others are quite specific. The most widely quoted of the general texts is one in which the Prophet () was reported by his wife, Safiyyah, to have said: “Verily, Satan flows in the bloodstream of Aadam’s descendents.” According to the Sunnee scholars who use this hadeeth as evidence, it clearly indicates that Satan – and by extension the jinn – is able to invade human body and permeate its various parts, similar to the way blood circulates within the limbs.
Ya’laa ibn Murrah said: “I saw the Allaah’s Messenger () do three things which no one before or after me saw. I went with him on a trip. On the way we passed by a woman sitting at the roadside with a young boy. She called out, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, this boy is afflicted with a trial, and from him we have also been afflicted with a trial. I do not know how many times per day he is seized with fits.’ He said, ‘Give him to me.’ So she lifted him up to the Prophet (). He then placed the boy between himself and the middle of the saddle, opened the boy’s mouth and blew in it three times, says, ‘In the name of Allaah; I am the slave of Allaah. Get out, enemy of Allaah!’ Then he gave the boy back to her and said, ‘Meet us on our return at this same place and inform us how he has faired.’ We then went. On our return, we found her in the same place with three sheep. When he said to her, ‘How has your son faired?’ she replied, ‘By the One who sent you with the truth, we have not detected anything [unusual] in his behaviour up to this time…’”
This authentic narration - and others which are weaker but still strong enough to be used as supportive evidence – portrays the Prophet () apparently commanding an entity within this boy seized by fits of “madness” to leave. If there was nothing really possessing this boy, it would mean that the Prophet () was involved in folly and deception. Since he knew that his actions would be imitated by his followers, he would not engage in such deviation. The idea of him being deceitful is totally inconsistent with the Islâmic concept of prophethood and its responsibilities – that of clarity and guidance. Consequently, the vast majority of orthodox Muslim scholars conclude that such narrations confirm the concept of diabolic possession of humans.
The Mu‘tazilee judge, Abdul-Jabbaar Al-Hamadhaanee,was reported to have rationally argued in favor of spirit-possession. He said:
If what we have proven concerning the fineness and delicacy of their (i.e. the jinn’s) bodies and that they are gaseous is correct, there is nothing to prevent them from entering our bodies, just as air and shifting breath – which is the soul – enters our bodies by penetration and rarefaction. And that does not lead to the [impossible] combination of two substances in a single location, because they only combine by being adjacent to each other and not by one occupying the place of the other. They penetrate our bodies the way thin bodies enter crevices. If it is said that the entrance of jinn into our body orifices would necessitate the orifices being torn apart or the dismemberment of the devils – because whenever bodies enter narrow locations the penetrating body is always broken – then it may be said that the breaking of the penetrating body would occur if the penetrating body is dense like iron or wood. As for a gaseous penetrating body, this would not be the case. [Therefore], it may be similarly said of devils that they are not dismembered by entering human bodies, because they will either completely penetrate as one body or partially penetrate as one cohesive whole without being torn apart.