Answered by Shaykh Gibril Haddad
Question: I was listening to the “Stories of the Companions” by a certain popular Islamic personality and he clearly stated that there is no such thing as exorcism in Islam and that it is impossible for the jinn and devils to possess or control humans. He said that this is all “rubbish” and not acceptable in Islam. Can you please clarify to me and others the view of Sunni Islam on exorcism? What do the Sunni Scholars say about exorcism?
Answer: Wa `alaykum as-Salam wa rahmatullah,
This materialistic outlook is in fact an old Mu`tazili claim which al-Zamakhshari circulated in his Tafsir on Surat al-Baqara 2:275 and which was rejected by Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama`a such as Ibn al-Munayyir in al-Intisaf (his critique of al-Zamakhshari’s Kashshaf), al-Qurtubi in his Tafsir, al-Biqa`i in his, al-Qasimi in his, just as they rejected the Mu`tazila’s denial of the reality of sihr, and the Aya is clear enough, as is the hadith in Sahih Muslim that shaytan runs in the blood of human beings and many hadiths on waswasa. Ibn al-Munayyir said something to the effect that the claim that it is “rubbish” is itself one such case of satanic influence.
Source: Salih al-Ghamidi, al-masa’il al-i`tizaliyya fi Tafsir al-kashshaf lil-Zamakhshari fi daw’i ma warada fi Kitab al-intisaf li-Ibn al-Munayyir (620-683) (Ha’il: dar al-Andalus, 1418) p. 264-267.
There have been rebuttals of the errors of these certain popular personalities on this specific issue in the Saudi press and the internet, and a book was also published in critique of their poor adab toward the Companions of the Prophet (upon him and them blessings and peace) in their talks on Sira. But it is enough to hear them speak five minutes to realize that their style is closer to mass video culture and populism rather than scrupulous scholarship that painstakingly discriminates between haqq and batil.
This is a matter of religion, so we should be careful who we take our religion from, just as the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, advised us.