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When does fear of harm caused by the jinn or by people constitute shirk?

 

Praise
be to Allah

Firstly:

Being afraid of
harm caused by evildoers, such as human criminals, comes under the heading
of natural, innate fear for which there is a known cause, which is fear of
their harm and evil, so one takes action to protect oneself against that by
keeping away from them and avoiding them. This kind of fear is not regarded
as shirk; rather no one would be blamed for that unless it prompts him to do
something haraam.

Ibn ‘Uthaymeen
(may Allah have mercy on him) said:

Natural and
innate fear is permissible in principle, because Allah, may He be exalted,
says of Moosaa (interpretation of the meaning): “So he left it [the
city], fearful and anticipating [apprehension]” [al-Qasas 28:21]
. And He
tells us that Moosaa said (interpretation of the meaning): “My Lord,
indeed, I killed from among them someone, and I fear they will kill me” [al-Qasas
28:33]
. But if fear prompts a person to neglect an obligatory duty or to
do something haraam, then it is haraam. If it prompts him to do something
permissible, then it is permissible.

End quote from
Majmoo‘ Fataawa wa Rasaa’il Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (10/648).

Fear of the jinn
is subject to further discussion:

·       

If it is natural fear, like a person’s fear of anything that
could harm him, such as wild animals and snakes, then this is an innate
fear, like that referred to above, and the person is not to be blamed for
that, so long as it does not prompt him to commit any haraam action. But he
should seek to ward off that fear by prescribed means, such as remembering
Allah, may He be exalted, calling upon Him and putting his trust in Him.

·       

But if it is fear that results from false beliefs, such as if
he believes that the jinn can harm or benefit people independently of Allah,
then this constitutes shirk. What is required in this case is to correct his
belief.

The scholars
call this kind of fear khawf as-sirr (lit. fear of the hidden), i.e.,
fearing something other than Allah, may He be exalted, lest it do him harm
of its own volition and power, even if that is indirectly. This constitutes
shirk akbar (major shirk), because it is believing that something other than
Allah has the power to bring benefit or cause harm. See: Tayseer
al-‘Azeez al-Hameed
(p. 23).

A similar case
is when natural fear of the jinn or anything else that could cause harm
prompts a person to devote any kind of worship to them and not to Allah,
such as if he calls upon the jinn or seeks refuge with them, and so on. This
constitutes shirk akbar (major shirk), associating others with Allah, as is
mentioned in the verse in which Allah, may He be exalted, says
(interpretation of the meaning):


“And there were
men from mankind who sought refuge in men from the jinn, so they [only]
increased them in burden”


[al-Jinn 72:6]
.

Ibn Katheer (may
Allah have mercy on him) said:

That is, the
jinn used to think that they were superior to humans, because human would
seek refuge with them. That is, if they halted in a valley or some desolate
place in the wilderness, and the like, as was the custom of the Arabs during
their Jaahiliyyah, they would seek refuge with the chief of the jinn in that
place, lest he cause them any harm. This is like what one of them would do
when he entered the land of his enemy under the protection of a prominent
man. When the jinn saw humans seeking refuge with them because they were
afraid of them, “they [only] increased them in burden” that is, it
increased the humans in fear, terror and alarm, so that they would become
even more afraid of the jinn and more eager to seek their protection, as
Qataadah said: “they [only] increased them in burden” that is, it
increased them in sin, and the power that the jinn had over them would
increase thereby.

End quote from
Tafseer Ibn Katheer (8/239).

Thirdly:

If fear of
entering deserted places is an innate fear, such as if a person is afraid
that there may be scorpions and snakes there, or he is afraid that there may
be jinn there who could harm him by Allah’s leave, because the jinn live in
deserted places, and the like, he is not to be blamed for that. But if his
fear comes under the heading of khawf as-sirr (fearing that something other
than Allah could do him harm by its own volition and power), then it
constitutes shirk.

Fourthly:

There is nothing
wrong with saying in general terms that So and so may cause harm, because he
hits people and hurts them, because his harm in this case is connected to
some tangible and known cause. This is fine, so long as one still believes
that benefit and harm can only happen by Allah’s leave and by His decree, as
He, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): “But they do
not harm anyone through it except by permission of Allah” [al-Baqarah 2:102]
.
So harm is attributed to people [in this verse], but it happens only by
Allah’s leave and by His decree and His will.

At-Tirmidhi
(2516) narrated – and classed the report as saheeh – from Ibn ‘Abbaas that
the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said to
him: “Know that if the entire ummah were to come together to benefit you
with something, they would not benefit you except with something that Allah
had decreed for you, and if they were to come together to harm you with
something, they would not harm you except with something that Allah had
decreed for you.”

Something
similar may be noted with regard to saying “this thing is harmful to one’s
health.”

And Allah knows
best.