Ruqyah from the Sunnah
Initially all forms of ruqya were prohibited but later on, he (Peace and Blessing upon Him) allowed people to use only the ruqa that he approved, or that did not contain shirk.
Jabir Bin 'Abdillah (RA) reported that Allah's Messenger (Peace and Blessing upon Him) prohibited ruqa. Then, some people from the tribe of 'Umr Bin Hazam came to him and said, "We have a ruqyah that we used to use for scorpion and snake stings; but you have now prohibited using ruqa." And they showed it to him. He (Peace and Blessing upon Him) said:
‘I do not see anything wrong in it. Anyone among you who can benefit his brother should do so.’
Conditions for a Permissible Ruqyah
There are some important conditions that must be satisfied in a ruqyah to make it permissible. They were summarized by Ibn Hajar (AR):
"There is a consensus among the 'ulama that ruqa are permissible when they satisfy three conditions:
1 - To be with Allah's words or His names and attributes
2 - To be in Arabic or of an intelligible meaning
3 - And to believe that they do not have effect by themselves but by Allah
(swt) " Fath ul Bari 10/240
In what follows, we discuss each of these conditions:
1. Must Be with Allah's Words, Names, or Attributes
As we will see below, all forms of ruqa reported in the Sunnah satisfy this condition. They either consist of specific portions of the Qur’an, such as al-Fatiha or Ayat ul-Kursiy, or contain a praise of Allah ('Azza wa Jalla) and an invocation of His help and protection.
2. Must Be with Clearly Understood Words
This is an important condition that must be satisfied in order to eliminate any magic factors from the ruqyah.
3. Believing That the True Benefit Is from Allah ('Azza wa Jalla)
The cure is from Allah and not from the one performing the ruqya, no matter how pious he seems- if he claims to be able to cure people and you believe him- then you have committed shirk- exactly what the shaytan and the magician want of you.
In what follows, there are additional guidelines that should be taken into consideration what performing a ruqyah.
1. Adhering to What Is Reported in the Sunnah
Ruqyah is a form of supplication. As is the case with other supplications, it is permissible to use any words that fulfill the above conditions. This is approved by Allah's Messenger (Peace and Blessing upon Him) who said:
‘There is nothing wrong with ruqya as long as they do not involve shirk.’
Things to Avoid in a Ruqyah
'Awf Bin Malik al-Ashja'i (RA) narrated that he said to the Prophet (Peace and Blessing upon Him), "O Allah's Messenger! We used to apply ruqa during Jahiliyyah. What do you think of that?" He (Peace and Blessing upon Him) replied:
‘Present your ruqa to me. There is nothing wrong with them as long as they do not involve shirk.’
Ibn Mas’ud's wife Zaynab (RA) narrated that he saw on her neck a string and asked her, "What is this?" She replied, "It is a string on which a ruqyah was made for me." He cut it off her neck and said:
"You, family of Ibn Mas’ud, are in no need for shirk. Truly, I heard Allah's Messenger (Peace and Blessing upon Him) say: ‘Indeed, ruqya (that involves shirk), amulets, and tiwala, are all acts of shirk.'
She said, "Why do you say this? I was having spasms of pain in my eye; so I went to such and such a Jewish man, and whenever he treated it with ruqyah, it soothed it." He replied:
"That is the doing of Satan. He (Satan) pokes it with his hand; and when the ruqyah (shirk) is applied to it, he removes his hand. It would have been sufficient for you to say what Allah's Messenger (Peace and Blessing upon Him) used to say:
‘Athhib il-ba's, rabb an-nas, washfi ant ash-shafi, la shifa illa shifa uk, shifaan la yughadiru saqama.’
Meaning: ‘Remove the affliction, Lord of the people, and cure - You are the one who cures, and there is no cure except from You—a cure that will not leave any sickness.’
Recorded by Abu Dawud; judged hasan by al-Albani (Mishkat ul-Masabih no. 4552).
The Prophet (Peace and Blessing upon Him) explicitly prohibited all magical ruqya. Jabir reported that the Prophet (Peace and Blessing upon Him) said:
‘Nashrah* is of the doing of Satan.’ Recorded by Ahmad and Abu Dawud. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 2760).
(*A magical spell done to counter another magical spell.)
2. Seeking It from Magicians or Soothsayers
One may never go to a magician for help, regardless of whether the magician were true or false. False magicians are liars who pretend things to attract people's awe, money, or both.
True magicians rely on jinns and the devil, and apply procedures containing kufr to produce their spells. Thus all of their spells, including ruqya, are prohibited, and any Muslim who seeks their help belies his belief in the Prophet (Peace and Blessing upon Him).
Abu Hurayrah (RA) reported that the Prophet (Peace and Blessing upon Him) said:
‘Whoever goes to a soothsayer or fortuneteller and believes in what he says has indeed rejected that which has been revealed to Muhammad.’
Recorded by Ahmad and al-Hakim. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih ul-Jami no. 5939).
As indicated in the Qur’an, (the magicians can never be successful) (Taha 20:69), nor (can they benefit anyone) (al-Baqarah 2:102). Because of all of this, and from the rule established earlier that Allah did not make our cure in anything that He prohibited, we clearly conclude that it is not permissible at all to seek a ruqyah from a magician.
3. Using Unintelligible Words or Phrases
As has been indicated earlier, a ruqyah must be in intelligible and well-understandable words. Otherwise, it could contain shirk, magic, or other evils covered by cryptic characters and mysterious words.
4. Applying It in Prohibited or Strange Situations
Some people require that a ruqyah be accompanied with bizarre actions or conditions, such as applying it in a graveyard or bathroom, or applying it to a person who is unclean or covered with najasah. These and other similar requirements, beside conflicting with what has been reported in the Sunnah, demonstrate a devilish tendency that must be totally avoided.
As for writing a ruqyah on a piece of paper and attaching it to the body of the patient, or soaking the paper in water and making him drink that water, or blowing and spitting over a water container while reading it and then making him drink that water, all of this has no basis in the Sunnah (There are some authentic reports indicating that Imam Ahmad (AR) and some other 'ulama of the salaf have allowed some of these actions, but this by no means gives them a stamp of approval without a supportive evidence from the Sunnah.), and should therefore be totally avoided.
5. Using Prohibited Words or Phrases
A ruqyah may not include evil words, such as cursing, offensive descriptions, or profanity. All of this is prohibited, and, as has been indicated earlier, Allah did not make our cure in anything prohibited.
eg. "May the evil eye fall back on the one who did it and his whole family and children" This is a form of transgression because the one who may have done the evil eye is the one guilty of the crime, not his children and family!
6. Relying on the Power of the Ruqyah
Neither the person applying a ruqyah, nor the person to whom it is applied may assume that it has an independent power of cure or protection. They must both put their full trust in Allah, rely fully on Him, and believe that the ruqyah is a means that He created for them.
As Ibn Al-Qayyim indicates (Al Jawab Al Kafi), one should view a ruqyah like one does a sword: it can be of no use without three conditions:
a) It should be strong and sharp.
b) The person using it should be well versed and experienced.
c) There should be no obstacles hindering it from being most effective.
Ruqyah with Allah's Name
Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (RA) reported that Jibril came to the Prophet (Peace and Blessing upon Him) and said:, "O Muhammad, are you sick?" He replied, ‘Yes.’ He said:
"Bismillahi arqik, min kulli shayin yuthik, min sharri kulli nafsin aw ayni hasid - With Allah's Name I shelter you (give you ruqyah), from all that ails you, from the evil of every soul, or that of the envious eyes. May Allah cure you; with Allah's Name I shelter you."
Muslim and others.
Ruqyah with Allah's Book
'Aishah (RA) reported that Allah's Messenger (Peace and Blessing upon Him) came into her house and saw with her a woman who was treating her with ruqyah. He told her:
‘Treat her (only) with Allah's Book.’
Recorded by Ibn Hibban; verified to be authentic by al-Albani in as-Sahihah no. 1931.
In what follows, we present ruqa with specific suras or ayat as is recorded in the Sunnah.
So any verse from the Quran can be recited but certain verses are more effective (eg. Ayat Al Kursi) or have certain virtues (2:102 and other sihr verses) or surah fathiha which can be read to cure evil eye and poison.
Ruqyah with al-Fatiha
Abu Sa’id al-Khudri and Ibn Abbas (RA) reported that a number of the Prophet's (Peace and Blessing upon Him) companions were on a journey. They stopped one night by the dwellings of a bedouin tribe who refused to host them and give them food.
The chief of that tribe was then stung (by a snake or scorpion). His people tried everything possible to treat him, but to no avail. One of them suggested to seek help from the travellers. When they came to them, one of them said, "By Allah, I can perform ruqyah; but you have refused to host us. So I would not perform the ruqyah until you pledge to give us an offering."
They agreed to give them a flock of thirty sheep, and the companion started blowing (with light spit) on the stung man's sting and reading al-Fatiha. He was immediately cured, like one who was tied and then set free. He stood and walked as if nothing happened to him, and they gave them their pledged offering.
Some of the companions said, "Let us divide this flock among us." Others said, "No, you may not take any pay for reading Allah's Book! Let us not divide the goats until we reach the Prophet (Peace and Blessing upon Him), tell him what happened, and see what he commands us."
When they reached al-Madinah, they came to the Prophet (Peace and Blessing upon Him) and told him what happened. He said (approvingly):
‘How did you know that it (al-Fatiha) is a ruqyah? You have done well! And indeed, the best thing to be paid for is Allah's Book*. So, divide it among you; and allot a share for me.’ Al-Bukhari, Muslim, and others.
Muhammad Al Jibaly
Sickness: Regulations & Exhortations