An exorcist is a person who performs exorcism, the ridding of demons or other supernatural beings who have possessed a person, or (sometimes) a building or other object.
Exorcists in various religions
“Exorcist” was one of the four minor orders in the ministry Roman Catholic Church, received after the tonsure. At the time this order was formally defined and confined exclusively to exorcism of the catechumen in the rite of Baptism, leaving exorcisms of demons to priests; but its role was later expanded.
Recently, many dioceses have formally appointed priests to the function of Exorcist, partly to respond to an increase in requests for the practice partly as a result of reaffirmation of exorcism as a necessary ritual by Pope John Paul II (who reportedly performed three exorcisms himself during his pontificate) and Pope Benedict XVI. Gabriele Amorth is the chief exorcist of the Diocese of Rome, and founder of the International Association of Exorcists.
“Exorcism” in Islam signifies ridding the human body of jinn possession (Christians would be familiar with the term demonic possession) by means of using halal (permissible) means. The halal means centre around ruqya (Quranic recitations) and it essentially involves reciting the Quran in the presence of the possessed person. There are ahadith (pluaral of hadith) which prove that Muhammad did perform “exorcisms”.
The jinn, along with human beings, they will either be successful or doomed in hell in the Hereafter, based on their deeds in their worldly lives. Therefore, there are good jinn who follow the right path and evil jinn who commit sins.
In fact, Satan (Shaytan in Arabic) is a jinn who refused to follow God’s order and prostrate to Adam.For this arrogance and sin of his, he became an outcast and asked God to give him a respite till the Day of Judgement. His request was granted and so begins the age-old, ancient and eternal enmity between satan and human beings. While Adam and Hawa (English: Eve) repented for falling into satan’s insinuations of tasting from the forbidden tree, satan continues to try to corrupt humans with his sneaky whisperings and will continue to do so till the Last Day.
Some human beings, bent on evil, forge alliances with evil jinns and hence you have things like withcraft, black magic, etc. As an extension of this corrupt and unnatural alliance, some humans resort to haram (forbidden) means to get rid of jinns.
The jinn are mentioned in the Quran and belief in jinn is an integral part of Islam: they are part of the unseen world (to human beings) created by God just as angels – they exist, but cannot be seen. Exorcisms using ruqya (permissible) are not stopped or blocked in Muslim countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. It is in fact the haram (forbidden) means used by wizards/witches/sorcerers/those indulging in the dark side that the authorities try to clamp down against and purge.
Finally it may be noted that the exorcism experiences reported in the Christian tradition are identical to those experienced and recorded by witnesses in an “Islamic exorcisms”: after some moments of recitation of the Quran, the possessed human begins to talk in a very different voice and often scary voice (e.g. possessed man starting to speak in a different language or a very hoarse female voice when the female jinn starts speaking). The recitation of the Quran troubles and burns the jinn possessing the body and so they start “coming clean” so to speak in an attempt to stop the pain they are feeling. Similarly, it is well known in the Christian tradition, that sometimes possessed persons (possessed by demons) would get physically hurt as the priests would hold them back, or restrain them, etc. but when they would recover, they would have no signs of pain or injuries and they would not remember anything from the exorcisms (the screaming, shouting they did, the evil voice they spoke in, etc.), it is the same thing in “Islamic exorcisms” : once the jinn leaves (Christians would say once the demons depart) the person comes around and does not recollect what went on during the exorcisms.