Please note: The answers on Hawramani.com constitute friendly advice rather than fatwas. Where relevant, we translate the opinions and fatwas of respected scholars and present them in our answers.

Can jinns possess objects or show themselves?

assalamu alaykum, can jinns posess inanimate objects like dolls?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

As I explain in my answer The Islamic Case for Scientific Empiricism and Skepticism toward Supernatural Phenomena, the Quran’s theology strongly supports having a skeptical view toward supposedly supernatural phenomena, because the Quran often suggests that we will never see evidence for the Unseen world until the Day of Judgment. Anything that is provably supernatural can be said to be evidence for the Unseen, which contradicts the Quran’s position that the Unseen will remain, well, unseen, until the world ends.

From what I gather, jinns have only one power: to inspire thoughts in humans. They have no power over the physical world. In the story of Prophet Sulayman we have mentions of jinns/devils building things for him and carrying out other tasks. That appears to have been an exception that was specifically made for Sulayman, similar to magical-sounding powers he was given by God. There is not the slightest hint in the Quran that jinns can interact with the physical world as a general rule. There are many hadith narrations of varying authenticity that mention the jinns. Some of them fit the Quran’s view that jinns can only interact through inspiration, while others mention them doing physical things. Such hadith narrations should be treated with great skepticism since hadith scholars like al-Bukhari used lax criteria when dealing with hadiths that did not contain legal doctrines. On the issue of jinns interacting with the physical world, since this is apparently against Quranic doctrine, we should demand extremely high standards of authenticity before believing in them (one high standard is to require three separate Companions to transmit the same hadith). I have not done a thorough study in all the main books of hadith, but my short study of some sources did not turn up any hadiths that mention jinns interacting with the physical world that matched the three-Companion standard.

Their ability to inspire thoughts is counterbalanced by God and the angels who protect faithful humans from such thoughts. The farther that a person strays away from God, the more unprotected they become and the more vulnerable to evil inspirations.

The devils inspire their followers to argue with you; but if you obey them, you would be polytheists. (The Quran, verse 6:121)

God is the Lord of those who believe; He brings them out of darkness and into light. As for those who disbelieve, their lords are the evil ones; they bring them out of light and into darkness... (The Quran, verse 2:257)

Some He has guided, and some have deserved misguidance. They have adopted the devils for patrons rather than God, and they assume that they are guided. (The Quran, verse 7:30)

11. They will say, “Our Lord, you made us die twice, and twice you gave us life. Now we acknowledge our sins. Is there any way out?”12. That is because when God alone was called upon, you disbelieved; but when others were associated with Him, you believed. Judgment rests with God the Sublime, the Majestic. (The Quran, verse 40:11-12)

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