Book Review of The Exorcist Tradition in Islam by Dr. Bilal Philips

Updated: Aug 24, 2020

This was originally a WhatsApp post.


I just completed reading the book 'The Exorcist Tradition in Islam' by Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips. It is certainly a good academic introduction to the topic and one of Dr. Bilal Philips' better researched books. I say this primarily because of his comparison of exorcism in other cultures and religions, and interviews with Raqis from different parts of the world.


However, I believe due to the limited nature of the interviews the small group of expert Raqis were not afforded enough opportunity to answer thoroughly and comprehensively.


I therefore will note some points the book did not research or the interviewed Raqis did not mention or clarify:


  1. The exorcist tradition of non-Muslims presented in this book make no mention of evil eye and how to treat it. Nor sihr and how to treat it. It is limited to spirit/demon possession and its treatment.

  2. The medical research portions on mental health did not mention anything of evil eye, sihr and how they are treated. The presentation is limited to demonic-possession symptoms.

  3. The interviewed Raqis (some of whom were actually practicing magic) did not clarify how to distinguish between sihr, jinn-possession and evil eye. The best way to distinguish between all three is to repeatedly recite the specific verses related to each case and observing the patient’s reactions. The specific verses where a patient reacts the most will be the predominant diagnosis. For example, if a patient reacts significantly severely to Ayatul-Kursi (2:255) then it is a case of jinn-possession.

  4. The interviewed Raqis did not mention that, in cases of sihr, many of the jinn are pressured by shayatin/human-magicians who imprison their loved ones. So several of the possessing jinn themselves are victims of other jinn or magicians.

  5. Often, in very severe cases of sihr, the magician sends a family of jinn/shayatin to the family of the human. So the father is possessed and influenced by the father-jinn and the mother is possessed and influenced by the mother-jinn, and so on.

  6. In severe cases of sihr, there is a jinn-informer that returns to inform the human magician about the activities and happenings of the victim, especially when they increase 'ibadah or start treatment.

  7. There is often one main jinn guarding the main sihr.

  8. There may be multiple sihr on a single person or family by the same magician.

  9. There may be multiple sihr on the same person or family by different magicians.

  10. There is always one main shaytan the magician uses for all of his sihr.

  11. There are decoy-sihr and decoy-jinn to confuse the Raqi from finding the main sihr or main shaytan that is guarding the main sihr.

  12. A person or family may suffer from all 4 or 5: sihr, evil eye, jinn-possession, mental health problems and physical/medical health problems. So all 5 professions must work in corporation in order for there to be a comprehensive thorough diagnosis, treatment, and thereby the actual cure Bi Idhnillahi Ta'ala.

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