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Last Updated: 2009/11/24
Summary of question
Can a soul or Jinn bother a human being?
Can a soul or Jinn bother and annoy anyone?
Concise answer

We know very little about Jinns, but hadiths say that Jinns are responsible for their acts and have different beliefs, some are obedient towards Allah while others are not, the same as humans. Although Jinns are not clever, they do possess the power of doing extraordinary things in very little time.

The way souls act is one of the most mysterious issues that human knowledge has not been able unfold until today. According to hadiths the soul, unlike the body, is utterly immaterial and bears none of the features of matter. Therefore it can stay connected to this world after death and be aware of what takes place here.

Although it's generally accepted that Jinns can bother humans but we must remember that firstly: there are good and bad Jinns and the conventional picture of Jinns that most people have in mind that suggests they are cruel and wicked creatures which only know how to cause people problems, is not true. Secondly: Human beings can be protected from them and the actions of the wicked ones.

The belief that stray and bad souls can cause problems and bother people and that they can affect what takes place in this world is nothing more than a myth, and there are no logical or theological reasons or reliable experiences that can support this theory.  

Detailed Answer

In order to answer this question we need to pay attention to some points:

1- The essence of the Jinn and the soul

In Arabic the word jinn means being covered and hidden. This word has been mentioned several times in the Quran and there is a surah in the Quran that describes this hidden creature. According to other surahs of the Quran, Jinns are created from fire[1] or a mixture of fire[2]. This creature has been gifted with intellect, freedom of choice and owing to it's physique, it is hidden from humans in regular circumstances. It is mokallaf[3] (responsible for its actions) like us human beings, will be resurrected in the next world, may or may not obey Allah, and can also be a believer or infidel.[4] Those of them who are believers were at the service of the imams (as) and consider human believers and Shias as their brothers.[5]

The way the soul functions is one of the most mysterious issues that science today has not been able to reveal  and has caused scientists to present different theories; it is said that there are almost a thousand different opinions and theories about the true nature and quality of the soul and the issues pertaining to it.[6]

The Quran stresses on the fact that humans cannot truly understand the soul and that they know very little about it: "And they ask you [O, Messenger!] regarding man's soul. Say:" Knowledge about the soul is only with my Creator and Nurturer; and of this knowledge you [mankind] have been given only a little."[7]

According to the verses of the Quran and hadiths the human soul is an immaterial, living, knowing, capable and free being that is referred to by terms such as "intellectual self" or "spirit".[8] This creature is not limited by time or place.[9] Therefore after death it can stay connected to this world and know what takes place in it.

The connection between the soul and the body is a “managing” one, meaning that it is the soul that originally possesses life and the body gains life only when it is connected to the soul, and when it is disconnected at the time of death, the body loses it’s life and starts to deteriorate while the soul stays alive.[10][11]

2- The abilities of Jinns and souls: Although Jinns are not very clever and smart but they do possess great physical power, for example they can do many extraordinary things in very little time, like transporting very heavy objects from one place to another. In the Quran, when an "Ifrit" of the Jinns claims that he is able to bring "Bilqays’s" throne (Bilqayse was the queen and ruler of the land of Saba’) to the presence of Prophet Suleiman in a very short time[12], the prophet does not deny what he claims[13] and this can be considered evidence that proves that Jinns do possess power to do extraordinary actions.

Regarding whether or not Jinns can bother humans or not, "Sheikh Mofid" says in his book "Irshad": "It has been narrated from Ibn Abbas that when Prophet Muhammad was leaving the city of Madina at night to fight against the tribe of "Bani Mustalaq", they came to a very scary and arduous valley. The angel Jibrail informed the prophet that there was a group of Jinns waiting in the middle of the valley to bother them and cause problems".[14] This story shows that even the believers and righteous people may be bothered by some Jinns. Although the existence of Jinns and that there are good and bad ones among them that can do extraordinary things is an accepted belief, but the truth of the matter is that there has been a lot of exaggeration, lies and myths made up about these creatures, giving rise to a false perception of them.  For example, it is falsely said that if one pours a bowl of hot water, they will burn down several houses. These beliefs are totally unacceptable and do not make sense in any way.[15] Add to above that there are ways one can protect oneself from their potential threats and dangers.

About the power and potential of the human soul it must be said that because it is immaterial, it can go anywhere and isnt limited by things like time, the same way neither windows nor clouds can avoid the sun's rays from lighting up a place.[16] It has been pointed out in hadiths and verses from the Quran that the human soul can find out what takes place in this world after one’s death and that he will be able to visit his family every now and then depending on the persons righteousness.[17]  This is of course regarding the souls of believers that do have some freedom as hadiths tell us, as for the souls of infidels and disbelievers and those who are oppressors and have dark and cruel souls, they will be locked up in a land called "barahoot" and will not enjoy the freedom of going anywhere.

Therefore the theory that dark and cruel souls cause people problems, bother them and determine whether or not one is successful, which is literally a way of determining their fate, is a false one, and there is no evidence that can back it. Because they neither have the time to try to change what will take place[18], neither has Allah (swt) endowed them with such power, for he is the only one who determines what is to happen for all.

For more information you can refer to these sources:

1-Badruddin bin Abdillah al-Shabliyy, Gharae’b wa Aja’ibul-Jinn, translated by Ibrahim Muhammad al-Jamal.

2- Alirezea Rijali, Jinn va Sheytan.

3- Makarem Shirazi, Owde Arvah.

4- Naser Makarem Shirazi, Ertabat ba Arvah.

You can also refer to these Questions on this website:

1- Shaytan, an angel or jinn? Question 100 (website 857).

2- The abilities of Shaytan and Jinns, question 138 (website: 883).

[1]Hejr, 27:""والجانَّ خلقناه من قبلُ من نارالسموم While the jinns, we had created earlier from smokeless fire.

2] Rahman, 15: " وخلق الجان من مارج من نار " And the Jinn He created from a blazing fire

[3] Hijr:29-42; Jinn:11-15.

[4] Qamuse Quran, under the word جن

[5] See: (Aya Jinniyan Musalman va gheyre Musalman darand?) Are there Muslims and non-Muslims amongst the Jinns?; Muhammadi ReyShahri, Mizanul-Hikmah, vol. 2, pg.11, hadith 2658; Usule Kafi, vol. 2, (kitabul-hujjah), the chapter on the coming of jinns to the imams and asking them religious questions, pg. 243, hadith 4. It must be reminded that 7 other hadiths about jinns have been narrated in this book; Sheikh Abbas Qumi, Safinatul-Bihar, vol. 1, “babul-jim ba’dahul-nun”, pg. 673; Misbah Yazdi, Ma’arefe Quran, pg. 316.

[6] See: Makarem Shirazi, Panjah Darse Usule Aqa’ed Baraye Javanan.

[7] Isra, 85. " وَ یَسْئَلُونَکَ عَنِ الرُّوحِ قُلِ الرُّوحُ مِنْ أَمْرِ رَبِّی وَ ما أُوتیتُمْ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ إِلاَّ قَلیلا "

[8] When we speak of the relationship between the soul and body and the impacts each have on each other, the term “spirit” is used, and when we speak of spiritual things that take place apart from the body, the term “soul” is used.

[9] With help from: The activities of the soul during sleep and unconsciousness, Question 1524 (website: 1895).

[10] See: translation of Al-Mizan, vol. 19, pg. 344.

[11] With help from: Awareness of the soul after death, Question 991 (website: 1059).

[12] Naml:30-40.

[13] Abdullah Javadi Amoli, Tafsire Mozou’i, vol. 1, pg.119.

[14] Sheikh Mofid, Irshad, pg. 399, quoted by tebyan website.

[15] Naser Makarem Shirazi, Tafsir Nemouneh, vol. 25, pg. 155 and 156 (with alteration).

[16] For further information, see: Summoning souls by the hypocrites, Question 650 (website 1050).

[17] Majlisi, Biharul-Anwar, vol. 6, pg. 268; also, for further information refer to: The awareness of the soul after death, Question 991 (website: 1059).

[18] Naser Makarem Shirazi, Ertebate ba Arvah, pg. 162.

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