The Arabian culture that gave birth to Islam believed that particular invisible beings, called Jinn, roamed the earth and could interfere in human activity. In the Quran, Jinn are described as having been created by fire. In Surah 72, a chapter of the Quran named after the Jinn, these beings choose to follow the ways of Allah and his messengers.
Today, many Muslims believe the Jinn continue to interact with humans, often revealing themselves by whispering in one’s ear, striking someone, or entering and possessing a person’s body. It is believed that humans are most vulnerable to attacks by Jinn during instances of blood loss, heightened emotional states and when neglecting one’s duty to pray.
Jinn building a wall for Dhul-Qarnayn to fend off the Yajuj and Majuj people (c. 1550).
Some Muslim people believe that Jinn can be the cause of mental health problems and experience these entities as distressing. Voices, visions and other unusual experiences are often attributed to the Jinn’s undesired influence. Researchers in the Netherlands have found that up to 80% of Islamic people with a diagnosis of psychosis consider Jinn as an explanation for their distress.
Western medical practioners often lack detailed knowledge of Islamic culture and religious beliefs, which can make some Muslims reluctant to seek help for distressing voices from UK mental health services.
Interestingly, research suggests that in some Muslim communities, medication and talking therapy for distressing voices is most effective when combined with traditional Islamic methods used to eradicate or establish peace with Jinn. These include:
- Reciting the Quran
- Induced Trance
Find out more
Anastasia Lim, Hans W. Hoek and Jan Dirk Blom (2014). The attribution of psychotic symptoms to jinn in Islamic patients. Transcultural Psychiatry
Anastasia Lim, Hans W. Hoek, Samrad Ghane, Mathijis Deen and Jan Dirk Blom (2018). The attribution of mental health problems to Jinn: An explorative study in a transcultural psychiatric outpatient clinic. Frontiers.