Dear scholars, As-Salamu `alaykum. For the last 17 years of my marriage a question has remained unsolved for me. I hope to have an answer from you. My question is this: one of my wife’s paternal uncles claims that he can contact the departed soul of a shahid (martyr) who was killed hundreds of years ago and that he can get any work done by this departed soul. He claims that everything is done in accordance with the Qur’an and Sunnah. Can you comment on this?
Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Dear brother in Islam, thanks a lot for your question, which reflects your concern to have sound belief and faith. Allah commands Muslims to refer to people of knowledge to get acquainted with the teachings of Islam in all aspects of life.
First of all, it is an act of shirk (associating others with Allah) and a major sin to call upon anyone in the Unseen — a dead person, angel, devil or jinn — for help or intercession.
Answering your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
“There is absolutely no basis in Islam for anyone to claim that he or she can get in touch with the souls or spirits of the dead, whether martyrs, saints or even Messengers of high status, including Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), and get things done through them. Such a claim is not only preposterous, but totally absurd and must be shunned outright.
One of the explicit teachings of Islam, duly emphasized in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, is that the matters of the unseen world (such as what happens after death or in the future) are in the exclusive realm of Allah, and that no humans can have access to them except in the measure that Allah has allowed it. We are further taught that no one can benefit or harm us but with Allah’s permission, and therefore, we must seek help from no one but Allah — regardless of the status of the person through whom we are appealing.
Furthermore, the Qur’an is also categorical in its denunciation of those who indulge in speculations concerning matters of the unseen world; it is considered a most heinous offense.
Thus, it is not at all surprising that one finds not even a single instance in the sources involving any of the Prophets or Messengers of Allah that they ever demonstrated the ability to contact the souls of the dead.
While there is not a single incident of the Prophets or Messengers of Allah contacting the spirits of the dead, we do find, however, a number of cases in which they performed the miracle of reviving the dead. An obvious example of this is narrated in Surat al-Baqarah which pertains to the story of a murder. Since the identity of the killer was unknown, Allah ordered the children of Israel through Prophet Musa to sacrifice a cow and strike the corpse with a bone of the same. Accordingly, the dead person was revived, and he disclosed the name of the killer and then closed his eyes and died. Miracles such as these, we must stress again, have nothing to do with contacting the spirits of the dead.
If, for the sake of argument, one were to admit the possibility of contacting the souls of the dead and getting things done through them, then the following questions beg for an answer:
1) If it had been possible for humans to contact the souls of the dead, then why didn’t the early Muslims such as the Prophet’s Companions, their successors, etc., contact the soul of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and get things done through him?
2) Why didn’t Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthman and `Ali contact Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and seek his advice in the many trials and tribulations that the Ummah faced after his death? By doing so, perhaps they could have spared the Ummah of much of the bloodshed and civil war that ensued.
3) If contacting the souls of the dead and getting things done through their assistance had been part and parcel of the Islamic faith, why didn’t any of the ideal generations practice it? Why is it that we fail to find any confirmation of it in the authentic sources of Islam, in spite of humanity’s great need for it?
4) If anyone honestly believes that he can get things done by contacting the souls of the dead, then why can’t he get his ordinary needs fulfilled through this channel? Why not put him to the test: Withhold all of the essential services from him and challenge him to get things done through the soul of the so called departed shahid (martyr); should he ever fall sick, refuse to get him any treatment as he can get himself easily through this mysterious channel.
Now having dismissed such a claim as totally preposterous, absurd and contradictory to the teachings of Islam, it is upon us to explain the true nature of such claims. To explain this we must refer to the fact that according to Islam there are worlds out there which, though hidden from us, belong to devils and jinn. Such creatures do possess some limited powers, although matters of ghaib (matters beyond cognition, i.e. the Unseen) are certainly off-limits to them. Those who serve or befriend these spirits do get certain things done through them, but nothing so great, and nothing as far as involving the revelation of the hidden mysteries. Another important factor to consider: such spirits do personify and disguise as the souls of the dead in order to deceive their followers.
What is stated above was confirmed by one of the ex-chiefs of the so-called Spirit Movement in Egypt, who for decades had been peddling this trade. After having repented and renewed his shahadah (testimony of faith), he divulged the secrets of the cult. In his statement to the press, he denounced those who claim that they had been contacting the spirits of the dead. He said that they were, rather, simply dabbling in evil spirits such as devils and jinn.
This ex-chief of the Spirit Movement further exploded the myth that it was possible to get cured or healed through such channels. He admitted—though he himself had in the past made such false claims—that there was no truth to it. He himself had been suffering from a number of ailments, and if it had been possible to get cured through such channels he would have readily healed himself.”
Excerpted, with slight modifications, from: www.islam.ca
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