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Last Updated: 2011/10/29
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How is the communication of spirits with people on earth?
I have a question about the spirits’ communication with the people of the earth. Although it is a complicated and lengthy question, I request you to send me an answer to it. The question is as under: It is said that the spirits of the martyrs or the descendants of the Imams (a.s.) communicate with some people on our planet earth. As far as I know, the communication is said to have been established with individuals from certain families. When we have asked about the reason behind this communication, it has been said that since these families were good-doers (pious) and they suffered a lot difficulties in their lives, the spirits communicated with them to help them. That is to say, after much invocation and supplication, they have been able to communicate with the people of the earth. They say that they are seven spirits of seven martyrs from a single family. They also say that all the infallibles visit them. I do not know how far these stories are true. It is said that they have also something to prove that such a communication has taken place. The main question which I would like to ask is how we should react in response to such stories? Secondly, what is the Islamic law about this issue? Even if such a communication presumably takes place, how can we make sure that whatever is said by the spirits is true? It is said that the spirits communicate with some people on earth to guide them in the right path but there exist some problems in their sayings. That is to say, there is dichotomy and contradiction in their utterances. How can one make sure that they are telling the truth?
Concise answer

The Possibility of Communicating with the Spirits

It is said that one way to obtain information from other worlds is to make contact with spirits.

Take note of the following in this regards;

A – Such contact is acceptable as a reality, since Islamic sources have confirmed this in many cases. For example, we can reference the contact and words of Prophet Mohammad (s) with the souls of the unbelievers who were killed in the Battle of Badr [1] . Also there are references in his contact with the souls of believers in the cemetery of Baqi in Medina [2] and also to Imam Ali’s (a) contact with spirits . [3]

B – When a dead person’s spirit is summoned it does not necessarily appear immaterially. The spirit may appear in the senses of the person who has summoned it; he may feel it through inspiration and hear some words from the spirit. The spirit does not really appear in an independent or physical sense. [4]

C – We cannot give credence to the words heard from spirits or Jinns, or to the prediction astrologists make. Therefore we cannot believe anyone who claims to have had contact with spirits . [5]

D – Although many of those who claim to have communicated with the world of spirits tell a lie or are faced with some sort of fantasy and imagination, according to some researches it has been proved that contacting spirits is possible. Some have experienced this communication and learnt or realized truths as a result of it. [6]

General Rule to Verify the Truth

The general rule to realize is that the real messages from spirits should not contradict with the basic principles of divine religions and the words of the Prophets (a). Thus, to differentiate authentic messages from the inauthentic ones, we should first know the religious laws and instructions of the Holy Prophet (s) and Infallible (a) Imams. Then, through having these messages evaluated and measured by divine religions particularly Islam, we can then decide on their authenticity and correctness.

The messages sent from the spirits (assuming that the contact is correct and the messages are really from good spirits) bring no obligations upon us, because Islam has specified for people what is necessary to do and not to do. There is no need for spirits to give us instruction in these regards. We can use their instructions only when we make sure of their purity and the correctness of the contact. Such certainty is very difficult to achieve. Therefore many messages received in this way should be disregarded. [7]

[1] - Biharal Anwar Page 254, Ahval Al barzakh va Al ghabr va AL azab

[2] - Biharal Anwar Volume 22 Page 254, wasiat end ghorb va azab

[3] - Man la Yahdharhol faqih Volume 1, Page 179

[4] - Allameh Tabatabaie, AL Mizan Persian translation, Volume 1 Page 366 The interpretation being under the supervision of Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi Volume 1 Page 382

[5] - Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi has said in this regard: “Contacting the spirits can be accepted as a fact but never forget that this issue has been misused by many…; Makarem Shirazi, Naser, Return of Spirits, Quoted by Ahad Zomorodian in the book “The Reality of the Spirits”

[6] - Makarem Shirazi, Naser, Tafsir Namunah, vol.14, pg.321, Islamic Books Publications, Amirul Momeneen Printing House, Qom 1983; Shuja’ei, Muhammad Sadiq, Psychological Perspective of Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, pg. 41 and 42, Imam Khomeini Educational and Research Institute, 2nd edition, 2007.

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