I have some questions about Islam that I have been unable to find any answers to. I hope you can help.
I have always wondered what Islam in general has to say regarding supernatural phenomenon. For example, there are always dozens of reports about “weeping statues” and “bleeding icons of Christian saints” etc. There are many documentaries and programs/books that I have seen/read that report these things, and I have a friend who claims to have experienced some of these things in his home country of Columbia.
There is also the phenomenon of “psychic powers”, that is, some people claim to have the ability of telepathy and the ability to bend spoons etc. In fact, there are many people claiming to have witnessed these things.
Finally, what is the Islamic view of evil spirits/possession and such things? I have met and heard so many people claiming to have seen a “ghost” or a dead relative that I feel compelled to learn what (if anything) Islam says about these things. Some of my family members even claim to have experienced such things, and a friend of mine claims to have witnessed an exorcism!
One more thing, the universe being so vast, it would be prudent to believe that intelligent life other than man exist in it. Would this belief be contradictory to Islamic belief in any way?
So, taking these things into consideration, is there anything in the Qur’an/Hadith or Islam in general that give some sort of explanation, or accounts of these things? I think there is a Hadith warning against false visions etc, but I can’t be sure. Did the Prophet (pbuh) warn against such things? I would be very grateful if you could ease my wondering mind since I have not found any answers anywhere else.
Regards and peace
It may come as a surprise, but Islam does not have much to say specifically about the phenomena that you have referred to. There are, however, a few hints that Islam gives on these topics. For instance, the Qur’an tells us that after a person dies, a curtain lies between the dead and the world (Al-Muminoon 23: 100), which, in my opinion, implies that the connection of the dead with this world is completely broken. The Qur’an has also informed us about two other beings – i.e. angels and jinn – that exist and can, at times, interact with humans. It is quite possible that the phenomena that you have referred to may have something to do with the manipulations of the jinn. Nevertheless, the important thing is that before trying to determine the nature of any such phenomena, it should first of all be confirmed by reliable sources. I really think that if such a thing as a weeping statue ever occurred, it would be reported all over the world through the electronic media, much before any documentary is even planned to be prepared. Obviously, the CNN, the BBC and the likes would not ignore such significant, publicly visible happenings. Scientific studies would be sponsored and undertaken immediately. Explanations would be developed. The phenomenon would indeed become a ‘Taj Mahal‘, overnight. It would be known and acknowledged by all, without anyone having to visit Columbia. I would, therefore, suggest that before taking any steps in trying to determine the explanation for such phenomena, you should get the existence of such phenomena certified from sources, which are objective and generally considered to be reliable and ask them for a scientific explanation for such happenings.
There are certain people who have developed the ability of telepathy, bending spoons etc. These abilities, at varying degrees, can be developed by human beings. There are even organized courses that are being taught by some institutions on this subject1. Nevertheless, it should remain clear that just as extra-ordinary physical abilities (as we see in weight-lifters, boxers, wrestlers etc.) are not a religious phenomena, such extra-ordinary mental abilities are not a phenomena related to religion. The latter is merely the result of development and enhancement of one’s mental potentials, just as the former is the result of development and the enhancement of one’s physical potentials.
What people generally term as interaction with spirits and ghosts, in my opinion, is actually interaction with jinn, which is construed as interaction with spirits and ghosts. According to the Qur’an, ghosts and spirits, as has been clarified above, do not have any connection with the world that they have left behind.
As far as the existence of life in the universe, besides that on the earth, is concerned, I would feel that it would be much more prudent to defer this decision till the existence of such life is proven beyond any doubt. Before such confirmation, why should we believe in something about which there is no supporting evidence? The Qur’an has presented the vastness of the universe as a symbol of God’s powers and has reminded man of the possibility of the Day of Judgment on the basis of these powers. Furthermore, there is also a hint of allusion in the Qur’an toward the fact that the vast space of the universe is actually the space that shall be utilized for setting the stage of the hereafter (Ibraheem 14: 14). Nevertheless, the existence of life in the universe is not against the Qur’an, yet the Qur’an has not positively informed us of such existence.
14th July 2000