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Question:

Assalamualaikum. I want to get a clarification from SS Mufti, is it true that women are more susceptible to hysteria? If it is true, how can we handle this problem?

 

Answer:

Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

It’s undeniable that one of the most common spiritual illnesses occurred to women is hysteria. There’s a theory stating that hysteria is caused by the mental instability of an individual who experienced emotional stress or psychological conflict. However, one of the most popular causes of this, especially among women is the influence of shaytan.

According to Ibn al-Qayyim in his book at-Tibb al-Nabawi, illnesses such as hysteria is named al-sar’ (possession), which happens as a result of an attack from evil spirits to human’s souls that can have a negative impact on the physical state of the victim. The possession of evil spirits is in the form of jinn or shaytan, that enters human’s bloodstream and misleading the victim through actions that are beyond the control of the victim’s mind and soul. (See Al-Tibb al-Nabawi, pg. 51)

The possession of human’s body by evil spirits is also explained by Syeikh Wahid Abdussalam Bali that states al-sar’ (الصرع) is a symptom of lack of function that overrides the human mind so that it cannot realize what he says and unable to connect between what he had said and what he will say. People who are affected by this illness suffers memory loss due to the impairment of the brain's nerves. (See ‘Alam al-Jin fi Dhaw’ al-Kitab wa al-Sunnah, pg. 252)

Hence, hysteria from the Islamic view is also seen as a symptom of human possession by evil spirits that enter the human body to disturb the soundness of the mind and the soul. This is consistent with the words of the Messenger of Allah PBUH when he is describing the matter of the jinn and the shaytan trying to enter the human body and damages the hearts of the people through a hadith:

إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ يَجْرِي مِنَ الإِنْسَانِ مَجْرَى الدَّم

“The devil flows in a man like his blood.”

Sahih al-Bukhari (2038)

According to Islamic scholars, spiritual disturbances to women is not something new, and they happened during the time of the Prophet PBUH. Narrated 'Ata bin Abi Rabah:

قَالَ عَطَاءُ بْنُ أَبِي رَبَاحٍ: قَالَ لِي ابْنُ عَبَّاسٍ: أَلاَ أُرِيكَ امْرَأَةً مِنْ أَهْلِ الجَنَّةِ؟ قُلْتُ: بَلَى، قَالَ: هَذِهِ المَرْأَةُ السَّوْدَاءُ، أَتَتِ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَتْ: إِنِّي أُصْرَعُ، وَإِنِّي أَتَكَشَّفُ، فَادْعُ اللَّهَ لِي، قَالَ: «إِنْ شِئْتِ صَبَرْتِ وَلَكِ الجَنَّةُ، وَإِنْ شِئْتِ دَعَوْتُ اللَّهَ أَنْ يُعَافِيَكِ» فَقَالَتْ: أَصْبِرُ، فَقَالَتْ: إِنِّي أَتَكَشَّفُ، فَادْعُ اللَّهَ لِي أَنْ لاَ أَتَكَشَّفَ، فَدَعَا لَهَا

Ibn `Abbas said to me, "Shall I show you a woman of the people of Paradise?" I said, "Yes." He said, "This black lady came to the Prophet PBUH and said, 'I get attacks of epilepsy and my body becomes uncovered; please invoke Allah for me.' The Prophet PBUH said (to her), 'If you wish, be patient and you will have (enter) Paradise; and if you wish, I will invoke Allah to cure you.' She said, 'I will remain patient,' and added, 'but I become uncovered, so please invoke Allah for me that I may not become uncovered.' So, he invoked Allah for her."

Sahih al-Bukhari (5652)

Based on observations, amongst the reasons why women are more susceptible to spiritual disorders can be expressed as follows:

  1. Weak-willed. In the face of spiritual disorders caused by jinn and shaytan, women are found to be easier to become weak. It is based on their subtle and gentle souls compared to the men who were created with a more coarse and harder soul. If a woman is stricken with a sense of pressure that leads to emotional and mental depression, this certainly makes it easier for her to experience spiritual distractions.
  2. Spiritual weakness because she is in an unclean state due to menstruation or childbirth. In this state, women are prohibited from performing prayers, fasting, reciting the Quran and various other special worships. This will certainly cause them to always be exposed to elements of spiritual disruption as a result of jinn and shaytan because of a weak spiritual condition.
  3. Jinn fell in love with the woman. In the case of the jinn falling in love with a woman, the jinn will try to master her, so she will always be with the jinn.
  4. ‘Ain disease. ‘Ain disease can happen to anyone especially to beautiful woman that likes to show off her beauty to other people. As long as someone has something that could lead to the envy of others, ‘ain disease could happen.
  5. Practise shirk and superstitions. Shirk and superstitions may be in the form of talismans and charms that is given by shamans, or certain charms that need to be practised or certain rituals that are taught by shamans. These practises kept the victim away from the reliance to Allah SWT. There are some cases where the shamans themselves are the one responsible for hysteria or possession. They do this to ensure the victim is bound to come back to them for treatment.

Hence, in order for us to protect ourselves from any spiritual disturbance especially that which comes from the jinn and the shaytan, the best way is to return to what has been taught to us in our religion. Here are several examples:

  1. Sincere in practicing the religion. When Iblis promises to God to deceive, to denounce and to make the Muslim members of hell, the Iblis himself acknowledges that it cannot execute the promise to a group of people, which are those who are sincere as stated by Allah SWT in surah al-Hijr verse 36- 40:

قَالَ رَبِّ فَأَنظِرْنِي إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ ﴿٣٦﴾ قَالَ فَإِنَّكَ مِنَ الْمُنظَرِينَ ﴿٣٧﴾ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْوَقْتِ الْمَعْلُومِ ﴿٣٨﴾ قَالَ رَبِّ بِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي لَأُزَيِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَأُغْوِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ ﴿٣٩﴾ إِلَّا عِبَادَكَ مِنْهُمُ الْمُخْلَصِينَ ﴿٤٠

He said, "My Lord, then reprieve me until the Day they are resurrected.". [Allah] said, "So indeed, you are of those reprieved. Until the Day of the time well-known.". [Iblees] said, "My Lord, because You have put me in error, I will surely make [disobedience] attractive to them on earth, and I will mislead them all. Except, among them, Your chosen servants."

  1. Fear Allah SWT. If we fear Allah SWT, then shaytan will be scared to disturb us. Conversely, if we do not fear Allah SWT, then the shaytan will not be scared to disturb us.

For example, the real way to fence our house is by reciting basmalah every time entering the house and closing the door of our house. Furthermore, the people living in the house must always worship Allah SWT according to the Quran and Al-Sunnah such as performing congregational prayer, reciting the Quran especially Surah al-Baqarah and treating each other kindly. At the same time do not do anything sinful in the house. This will scare away the shaytan from entering the house or disturbing its occupants.

  1. Don’t follow in the shaytan’s footsteps. Some examples are bad manners, consulting with shamans for readings of the future, searching for a lost item, asking for charms and putting a curse on someone or love to waste time window shopping in shopping malls without any purpose.
  2. Always stay in jamaah (in groups). Jamaah here does not refer to parties, associations or organizations but it means always doing something accompanied by family members or friends. We also meant it as congregational prayer and Islamic classes.
  3. Always do zikr. There are at least three types of zikr that can help us fight away shaytan:

 

First: Basmalah (بسملة)

When starting any work, recite “بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ”. Before this, there were numerous hadiths that teach us to recite basmalah (بسملة) before doing anything. However, the recitation of basmalah (بسملة) is not limited to when entering a house or locking the doors. This is due to the fact that shaytan is with us in everything that we do, thus, we should recite basmalah (بسملة) when doing anything. The Prophet PBUH said:

إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ يَحْضُرُ أَحَدَكُمْ عِنْدَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ مِنْ شَأْنِهِ

“The Satan is present with any one of you in everything he does;”

Sahih Muslim (135)

Second: Isti’azah.

Isti’azah is reciting “أَعُوذُ بِاللهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ” which means “I seek refuge from the cursed shaytan”. When we feel like we are being seduced, whispered to or disturbed by shaytan, quickly recite isti’azah. Allah SWT states in Surah al-A’raf, verses 200-201:

وَإِمَّا يَنْزَغَنَّكَ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ نَزْغٌ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا إِذَا مَسَّهُمْ طَائِفٌ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ تَذَكَّرُوا فَإِذَا هُمْ مُبْصِرُونَ

“And if an evil suggestion comes to you from Satan, then seek refuge in Allah. Indeed, He is Hearing and Knowing. Indeed, those who fear Allah - when an impulse touch them from Satan, they remember [Him] and at once they have insight.”

              Third: Certain verses or surah from the Quran

Basmalah is recited before doing anything, isti’azah is recited when there is a disturbance from shaytan, thus, the third zikr is to always recite certain verses or surah from the Quran. These verses or surah are ayat al-Kursi, surah al-Baqarah and surah al-Muawwizatain (surah al-Falaq and surah al-Nas).

Those are the three types of zikr to fight off shaytan. Recite them with confidence and belief, not with doubt and indifference. Furthermore, these three zikrs can be used for any type of shaytan’s disturbance anywhere. There are other zikrs that the Prophet PBUH has taught us specifically for entering the bathroom, empty house and others.

Know that these types of disturbances fall under the category of tests for believers. Just as what was said by Abu al-Barra’ al-Ma’ani, “Jinn’s possession on humans is considered a test from Allah SWT, Allah SWT with His wisdom tests His slaves with many tests and one of them is possession. Allah SWT states: Every soul will taste death. And We test you with evil and with good as trial; and to Us you will be returned. (Surah al-Anbiya’ verse 35), hence, to those that is tested, be patient and hope for Allah’s rewards, at the same time try to treat with what has been sanctioned….” (See Fath al-Haqq al-Mubin, pg. 79)

Thus, as a being created by Allah SWT, there’s no other way for a woman except going back to the manhaj that has been set by Allah SWT and his messenger the Prophet Muhammad PBUH. Obeying all of Allah’s commandments and avoiding all that Allah SWT has prohibited to reach the level of a righteous (solehah) woman, as stated by the Prophet PBUH:

الدُّنْيَا مَتَاعٌ، وَخَيْرُ مَتَاعِ الدُّنْيَا الْمَرْأَةُ الصَّالِحَةُ

“The world is provision and the best provision in the world is a righteous woman.”

Sahih Muslim (64)

We pray to Allah so that we will always be protected from the disturbances of jinn, shaytan and His creations. We conclude this discussion with a famous prayer:

وَقُل رَّبِّ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ هَمَزَاتِ الشَّيَاطِينِ ﴿٩٧﴾ وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ رَبِّ أَن يَحْضُرُونِ

And say, "My Lord, I seek refuge in You from the incitements of the devils, And I seek refuge in You, my Lord, lest they be present with me."

Surah al-Mu’minun (97-98)