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IslamQA: Can jinns possess human beings?

Assalamualaikum I'd like to know what we know about Jinns from the Quraan and the authentic hadiths. Can they possess human beings?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The Quran refers to jinn possession in a few places, for example:

Those who swallow usury will not rise, except as someone driven mad by Satan's touch. That is because they say, “Commerce is like usury.” But God has permitted commerce, and has forbidden usury. Whoever, on receiving advice from his Lord, refrains, may keep his past earnings, and his case rests with God. But whoever resumes—these are the dwellers of the Fire, wherein they will abide forever. (The Quran, verse 2:275)

And also:

Do they not think? There is no madness in their friend. He is but a plain warner. (Verse 7:184)

The above verse uses the sentence mā bi-hi min jinna (literally: “there are no jinns with him / possessing him”). Whether this literally refers to jinn possession or it is just using a common idiom for “madness” we cannot tell.

The Quran tells us that Satan has no power over humans:

And Satan will say, when the issue is settled, “God has promised you the promise of truth, and I promised you, but I failed you. I had no power/authority over you, except that I called you, and you answered me. So do not blame me, but blame yourselves. I cannot come to your aid, nor can you come to my aid. I reject your associating with me in the past. The wrongdoers will have a torment most painful.” (Verse 14:22)

And also:

[God speaking to Satan] “Over My servants you have no power/authority, except for the sinners who follow you.”

So it appears that jinns have only power when a person opens themselves to them by abandoning God’s obedience and remembrance.

The idea that jinn can simply possess a good person and turn them mad has no support in the Quran or authentic hadith. They only have power over those who open their hearts to them by completely turning away from God.

Some hadiths mention jinns interacting with the physical world, as in a hadith of Abu Huraira that mentions a “devil” being seen at the mosque. But I’m highly skeptical of those hadiths because they are not widely transmitted. The Quran also mentions jinns doing physical work for Prophet Sulayman , but that appears to have been an exception made especially for him. The Quran never mentions anywhere else that jinns can interact with the physical world, and there is no widely transmitted hadith that supports such a notion.

Also note that there is very little support for the Islamic practice of ruqya (a kind of exorcism) when done for jinn possession, as discussed in the following article. The most authentic hadith on ruqya says Muslims will not use it: Is ruqya part of Islam? A study of the hadiths on ruqya using probability theory

And God knows best.
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