Ruling on the so-called science of summoning spirits – Shaykh Ibn Baaz
A speech by His Eminence published in the local and Islamic newspapers in 1395 A.H
All praise be to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah, his family, his Companions, and those who follow his guidance.
The so-called science of summoning spirits is widespread among many people including writers and others. They claim that they summon the souls of the dead through a method invented by those who practice such jugglery. They further claim that they ask such souls about the dead, whether they are in bliss or torture, as well as other such affairs as they may think the dead know about.
I have investigated the issue thoroughly to find that it is a false science and a satanic jugglery that aims at corrupting beliefs and morals, confusing Muslims, and claiming to know the Ghayb (the Unseen) in many respects.
Therefore, I considered it proper to write a brief note to clarify the truth, advise the Ummah, and ward off confusion. Undoubtedly, this issue, as any other issue, should be referred to the Qur’an and the Sunnah so that we might verify what they or one of them verify and reject what they or one of them rejects. In this regard, Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says: O you who believe! Obey Allâh and obey the Messenger (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allâh and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم), if you believe in Allâh and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination.
With regards to soul-related issues, they have to do with matters relating to the Ghayb, the truth about which is exclusively known by Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He). It is impermissible to discuss them unless substantiated by a Shar`y (Islamic legal) evidence. Allah (Exalted be He) says: “(He Alone is) the All-Knower of the Ghaib (Unseen), and He reveals to none His Ghaib (Unseen).” Except to a Messenger (from mankind) whom He has chosen (He informs him of unseen as much as He likes), and then He makes a band of watching guards (angels) to march before him and behind him. Allah (Glorified be He) also says in Surah Al-Naml: Say: “None in the heavens and the earth knows the Ghaib (Unseen) except Allâh”
Scholars differed regarding what is intended by the Ruh (the Spirit) in the Ayah (Qur’anic verse) in Surah Al-Isra’ that reads: And they ask you (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم) concerning the Rûh (the spirit); Say: “The Rûh (the spirit) is one of the things, the knowledge of which is only with my Lord. And of knowledge, you (mankind) have been given only a little.” Some scholars view that it refers to the soul that is in the bodies. Accordingly, the Ayah indicates that the soul is a divine secret unknown to humankind and no one can know about it except what Allah tells. Thus, it is something that is known exclusively to Allah who concealed it from creatures. The Qur’an and authentically reported Hadiths indicate that the souls of the dead survive after the death of bodies. The following Ayah indicates the same fact: It is Allâh Who takes away the souls at the time of their death, and those that die not during their sleep. He keeps those (souls) for which He has ordained death and sends the rest for a term appointed. It is also authentically reported that on the Day of Badr, the Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered that the corpses of twenty-four leaders of Quraysh should be thrown into one of the dirty dry wells of Badr. (It is a habit of the Prophet, peace be upon him, that whenever he conquered some people, he used to stay at the battlefield for three nights). So, on the third day of the Battle of Badr, he ordered that his she-camel be saddled, then he set out, and his Companions followed him saying among themselves, ‘Definitely, he (peace be upon him) is proceeding for some great purpose.’ When he (peace be upon him) halted at the edge of the well, he addressed the corpses of the Quraishi infidels by their names and their fathers’ names, ‘O so-and-so, son of so-and-so, and O so-and-so, son of so-and-so!Would it have pleased you if you had obeyed Allah and His Messenger? We have found true what your Lord promised us. Have you too found true what your Lord promised you?’ `Umar said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! You are speaking to bodies that have no souls!’ The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, ‘By Him in Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, you do not hear what I say better than they do, but they cannot answer.’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) is authentically reported to have said: The deceased person hears the footsteps of those who escort him to his final destination after they leave him.
The great scholar Ibn Al-Qayyim (may Allah be merciful to him) said: “The Salaf (righteous predecessors) are unanimously in agreement with that, and they believed, according to many transmitted reports, that a dead person recognizes the visit of a living person and becomes cheerful about it.”
Furthermore, Ibn Al-Qayyim recorded that Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) gave an interpretation of the Ayah that reads: It is Allâh Who takes away the souls at the time of their death, and those that die not during their sleep. He keeps those (souls) for which He has ordained death and sends the rest for a term appointed.
He said: “I was told that the souls of both the living and the dead meet while sleeping and ask each other questions. However, Allah maintains the souls of the dead and sends the souls of the living back to their bodies.”
Ibn Al-Qayyim (may Allah be merciful to him) commented, saying: “The meeting between the souls of the living and the dead is proven by the fact that a living person might see in his dream a dead person and ask him about things not known by the former for which the latter gives an answer that might correspond with the real fact.”
This is the view held by the Salaf that the souls of the dead survive until a time known only to Allah. However, it is not authentically reported that they communicate with the living people at any time other than that of sleeping.
Claims of jugglers that they have the ability to summon the soul of any dead person they like, talk to, and ask it questions are all false. Actually, such are false claims that have no textual or rational grounds. Rather, Allah Alone is the One Who knows about and disposes of souls. He Alone is the One capable of returning them to bodies whenever He so wills. In fact, He Alone is the One who disposes of His Kingdom and no one can interfere with His Plan. However, those who claim otherwise are those who claim to know things they are totally ignorant about and deliberately lie to people regarding the news they report about souls,which they spread either in order to earn money, to prove themselves able to do things they actually cannot do or to confuse people and thus corrupt their religion and `Aqidah (creed).
In addition, souls summoned by such jugglers are souls of devils they make use of after worshipping and obeying the commands of such devils. The latter do what the former asks and thus deceive people and impersonate the claimed dead people.
Allah (Exalted be He) says in this regard: And so We have appointed for every Prophet enemies – Shayâtîn (devils) among mankind and jinn, inspiring one another with adorned speech as a delusion (or by way of deception). If your Lord had so willed, they would not have done it; so leave them alone with their fabrications. (Tafsîr Qurtubi) (And this is in order) that the hearts of those who disbelieve in the Hereafter may incline to such (deceit), and that they may remain pleased with it, and that they may commit what they are committing (all kinds of sins and evil deeds).
He (Exalted be He) also says: And on the Day when He will gather them (all) together (and say): “O you assembly of jinn! Many did you mislead of men,” and their Auliyâ’ (friends and helpers) amongst men will say: “Our Lord! We benefited one from the other, but now we have reached our appointed term which You did appoint for us.” He will say: “The Fire be your dwelling-place, you will dwell therein forever, except as Allâh may will. Certainly your Lord is All-Wise, All-Knowing.”
Scholars of Tafsir (exegesis of the meanings of the Qur’an) say that Jinn benefit from humans in the sense that the latter worship them through sacrificing, vowing for and supplicating to them. On the other hand, humans benefit from Jinn in the sense that the latter fulfill the requests which the former ask of them. In return, they tell them about things that only the Jinn may get to know from remote places, or about things they overhear, or merely about lies, which happens in most cases. Supposing that such people do not offer acts of worship for the souls they summon, even then such a practice may not be considered permissible. This is because merely asking devils, soothsayers, jugglers, and diviners is impermissible. Believing what they say is more unlawful and sinful and even falls under disbelief. In this regard, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Anyone who visits a diviner and asks him about anything, his Salahs (Prayers) extending to forty nights will not be accepted. It is also reported in Musnad Ahmad and the Sunan (Hadith compilations classified by jurisprudential themes) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Anyone who resorts to a diviner and believes in what he says has disbelieved in what was revealed to Muhammad (peace be upon him).
So many Hadiths and traditions were related in this regard. Undoubtedly, the so-called summoned souls are included under those things prohibited by the Prophet (peace be upon him), as they are of the same kind of souls of devils used by diviners and jugglers and thus have the same ruling. They may not be summoned or believed. In fact, such are all prohibited, abhorred, and false practices based on the above-quoted Hadiths and traditions to this effect. This is also because the statements they report from such souls are included under knowledge of the Ghayb. Allah (Glorified be He) says: Say: “None in the heavens and the earth knows the Ghaib (Unseen) except Allâh”
Such souls might also belong to the devils who used to accompany the dead people, while they were alive, whose souls are summoned. Thus, they may tell some events that had passed to the dead person while alive. Therefore, they may neither be summoned, asked, nor believed as substantiated by the above-quoted evidence. Actually, those people summon no more than devils and Jinn and make use of them in return for acts of worship, which should not be offered to anyone except Allah. Thus, such people commit major Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship that takes the Muslim out of Islam). We seek refuge with Allah.
The Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta’ in the Saudi House of Fatwa issued a Fatwa on Hypnotism included under summoning spirits, which states:
“Hypnotism is a kind of fortune-telling or magic whereby the hypnotist uses the Jinn to overpower the subject and then speak through his tongue and give him strength to do things by means of controlling his faculties. This is true if the Jinni is sincere to the hypnotist and obeys him in return for the things by means of which the hypnotist draws close to him. So, the Jinni makes the subject obey the commands of the hypnotist and helps him do things he is asked by the hypnotist to do. Thus, it is impermissible to use hypnotism in finding out stolen objects or lost thingsor in treating diseases or doing anything. Rather, it is an act of Shirk, for the reasons stated above and because it implies relying on other than Allah in things beyond ordinary means which Allah has made accessible for His creatures and permitted them to use.”
End of quote.
Among scholars who disclosed the truth about such false claims is Dr. Muhammad Muhammad Husayn in his book “Modern Spirituality, Truth and Objectives.” He was one of those deceived by such jugglery for a while but Allah guided him to truth to uncover the falsehood of such claims after he had gone deeply into them and found them no more than superstitions and jugglery. He stated that those who practice summoning spirits make use of a variety of methods. Beginners use a small cup to receive them therein. Others make use of the basket method on whose edge a pen is fastened to write answers to the questions of questioners. However, others depend on an intermediary such as in the case of Hypnotism.
He added that he has doubts about those who claim to summon spirits and that they are supported by certain sponsors in view of the huge propaganda made for them. Therefore, many newspapers and magazines that have never been active in any spiritual or hereafter-related fields hurried to be updated with them and publish their claims. Such magazines have never called to religion or belief in Allah. He also added that they concern themselves with reviving the Pharaonic and other pre-Islamic ideologies. Moreover, he added that those who promote these ideas are people who lost a dear person, and thus try to console themselves through fancies. In this regard, the most famous person who promoted such an idea is Mr. Oliver Lodge who lost his son in World War I. The same applies to the founder of Spiritualism movement in Egypt Ahmad FahmyAbul-Khayr whose long awaited son died in 1937.
Dr. Muhammad Muhammad Husayn stated that he practiced such a false practice starting with the method of cup and table, which he found them unpersuasive. He ended up using the method of an intermediary and tried to watch the so-called embodiment of souls or hear their direct voice that they deem the evidence of the truthfulness of their claims. Neither he nor others were successful because this cannot be materialized in the actual fact. Rather, they are no more than exact deceptions based on secret skillful tricks that aim at destroying religions.
Universal destructive Zionism is not far away this. When the man came to realize the truth about such false ideas and to lose confidence in them, he forsook them and decided to make clear the truth to people. He began to say that those deviated people work hard to extract deep-rooted faith and `Aqidah out of people’s hearts and plunge them into a confusing mix of doubts and illusions. Those who claim to summon spirits describe the Messengers of Allah (peace be upon them) as no more than spiritual intermediaries as claimed by their leader Arthur Findlay in his book “On the Edge of the Ether.” Speaking about prophets, the author describes them as high class intermediaries, and their miracles as no more than spiritual phenomena as those that happen in the room where spirits are summoned.
Dr. Husayn further said: “If they fail to summon a spirit, they will say that the intermediary is unsuccessful or tired, that attendants are incompatible or that among attendants are dubious or challenging people.”
Among their false claims is their claim that Jibril (Gabriel, peace be upon him) attends and blesses their sessions (may Allah damn them). This was a brief outline of the ideas of Dr. Muhammad Muhammad Husayn on the subject.
According to what we mentioned above as well as the opinion of the Committee and Dr. Muhammad Muhammad Husayn on Hypnotism, it becomes clear how false are the claims of those who allege that they talk to souls, including summoning the souls of the dead and asking them what they would like to know. It also becomes clear that all these are satanic acts and jugglery falling under acts warned against by the Prophet (peace be upon him), such as consulting diviners, soothsayers, augurs and the like. It is thus obligatory on officials in Muslim states to ban and eliminate such falsehood and prescribe deterrent penalties against those indulgent in them. It is also obligatory on editors-in-chief of Muslim newspapers not to publish such falsehood which might defame their newspapers. Rather, they have to criticize and refute it and warn people against the traps, deceptions and illusions of devils from among both human and Jinn. Indeed, Allah says the truth and guides to the straight path. We ask Him to reform the states of Muslims, grant them clear understanding of the religion, and protect them against the deception of criminals and the illusions of the friends of devils. Indeed, He is the Patron, Capable of all things. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad.