It’s a Kind of Magic

6008-000097Rana Rais Khan tells the story of Sulaiman (as) to illustrate the origins and harms of magic

As a child I remember reading Enid Blyton’s books that centered greatly around magic and enchantments of the like. No one ever discouraged me to read them, as they might ruin my beliefs. In fact, such books were greatly encouraged by parents and teachers to enhance reading and imaginative skills among children. May be because the trials of magic were not so rampant as they are now. Today’s teenagers face the same predicament with Harry Potter series. Before we decide, how far we can go with magic, it is important to understand, why it has been forbidden by Allah (swt)?

Allah (swt) had bestowed upon Sulaiman (as) the ability to control Jinnat. He used to demand tough work from them, such as construction of palaces, etc. In order to defame Sulaiman (as), Bani Israel spread propaganda that he possessed magical powers, in lieu of which Sulaiman (as) was able to command over all Jinnat. On the contrary, Sulaiman (as) confiscated and buried all literature available on magic to ensure no evil was perpetuated.

Allah (swt) defended His Prophet (sa) beautifully by declaring that Sulaiman (as) never committed Kufr (disbelief) by resorting to magic. However, the devils did. As a trial, Allah (swt) sent two angels skilled in magic to Babylon in Kufa. Bani Israel would approach these angels to learn magic from them. When the angels warned them that this was a trial from Allah (swt) and that they should not delve in it, Bani Israel would ignore it and follow their satanic desires, learning magic and practicing it, too. These devils practiced the worst form of magic – causing rifts between husband and wife, thus, breaking up homes.

Historically, before Allah (swt) created Adam (as), Jinnat were this world’s inhabitants. When Allah (swt) decided to send mankind to the world, He ordered His angels to drive the Jinnat away towards the seas and islands. Now they hold their court and meet on the waters. On the authority of Jabir (rta), the Prophet (sa) has narrated: “Iblis holds his throne on water and then sends his armies in all directions. Among all the Jinnat, Iblis considers those to be his dearest, who are capable of committing the worst sin. When the Jinnat present their report of mischievous performances, Iblis is not impressed by their job, until one of his subjects comes to declare: ‘I did not leave a man alone, till I caused separation between him and his wife.’ Thrilled, Iblis comes forward and hugs his subject praising him: ‘You are very nice.'” This may also apply to any fight between two relatives, friends, etc.

Allah (swt) states: “They followed what the Shayatin (devils) gave out (falsely of the magic) in the lifetime of Sulaiman. Sulaiman did not disbelieve, but the Shayatin (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic and such things that came down at Babylon to the two angels, Harut and Marut, but neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) till they had said: ‘We are only for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us).’ And from these (angels) people learn that by which they cause separation between man and his wife, but they could not thus harm anyone except by Allah’s (swt) Leave. And they learn that which harms them and profits them not. And indeed they knew that the buyers of it (magic) would have no share in the Hereafter. And how bad indeed was that for which they sold their own selves, if they but knew. And if they had believed and guarded themselves from evil and kept their duty to Allah (swt), far better would have been the reward from their Lord, if they but knew!” (Al-Baqarah 2:102-103)

When I discovered that the marketing campaign of Harry Potter, Order of the Phoenix, J K Rowling’s fifth book was worth 4 million dollars, it saddened me to learn how far we can go to earn Allah’s (swt) displeasure. The western world has created an innocent outlook of magic tying it to fun, imagination, and sensation. But that is just a bluff. Even in our country Amils, black magicians, soothsayers, spiritual healers, etc., go scot-free after perpetuating such heinous crimes as driving people to self-injury, depression, domestic violence, and suicide. Instead, they are mushrooming in every city and town. The ignorant masses prefer to visit them for the fulfillment of their desires, instead of praying earnestly to Allah (swt). Little do they know what kind of sickening and evil practices these magicians delve into for gaining control over equally evil Jinnat.

Rest assured – magic does exist and only occurs by Allah’s (swt) leave. Allah (swt) deviates the rebels, who wish to befriend Shaitan, even further on to the road of Kufr, so they will be punished mercilessly on the Day of Judgment. It is considered to be a grave sin to indulge in it even for the sake of fun, since Shaitan is always prepared to deviate the innocent. As the saying goes: “Don’t give the devil a ride, for he will want to drive.”

Innocent fun is a guise for devious intentions. Just reading a book on magic or watching a movie may appear totally harmless, but it opens doors to many inter-related sins, such as superstitions, belief in the supernatural, astrology, numerology, palmistry, fortune telling, etc. Eventually, the devil succeeds in diluting our beliefs in Allah (swt), the All-Encompassing, and unconsciously we ascribe partners to Him by falling for omens and amulets, engaging in star-gazing and saint or grave worshipping. We must know that Shirk is a major sin that Allah (swt) will not forgive. May Allah (swt) protect us all from falsehood. Ameen.

Abu Darda (rta)

Abu Ad-DardaEarly one morning, Abu Darda (rta) awoke and went straight to his idol, which he kept in the best part of his house. He greeted it, anointed it with the best perfume from his large shop, and decked it with beautiful silk.

When the sun was high in the sky, he left his house for his shop. On that day the streets and alleys of Madinah were crowded with the followers of Muhammad (sa) returning from Badr. With them were several prisoners of war. Abu Darda (rta) asked about the fate of his close friend, Abdullah ibn Rawahah (rta). Everyone in Madinah knew the bond of brotherhood, which existed between the two men from the days of Jahiliyah. When Islam came to the city, lbn Rawahah (rta) embraced it, but Abu Darda (rta) rejected it. This, however, did not rupture the relationship between them.

One day Abdullah ibn Rawahah (rta) went to Abu Darda (rta)’s house, while he was at his shop, and took out an axe, which he had brought with him, and began destroying the idol while saying: “Isn’t everything Batil (falsehood), which is worshipped besides Allah?” When the idol was completely smashed, he left the house.

Abu Darda (rta) returned home and saw his wife sitting at the door of the room, where he kept his idol. She was clearly distressed and narrated the incident to her husband. Abu Darda (rta) looked at the broken idol and was horrified. He was consumed with anger and determined to take revenge.

However, it was not too long before his anger subsided and thoughts of avenging his idol disappeared. Instead, he reflected on what had happened and said to himself: “If there was any good in this idol, he would have defended himself.” He then went straight to Abdullah, and together they went to the Prophet (sa). There he announced his acceptance of Islam.

From that time onwards, Abu Darda (rta) devoted himself completely to Islam. He deeply regretted every moment he had spent as a Mushrik and the opportunities he had lost to do good. He realized how much his friends had learnt about Islam in the preceding two or three years. He made up his mind to expend every effort, day and night, to make up for what he had missed.

Ibadah occupied his days and his nights. His search for knowledge was restless. He spent a lot of time memorizing the Quran and trying to understand the profundity of its message. When trade kept him away from the circles of knowledge, he reduced his involvement without regret. Someone asked him why, and he replied: “I was a merchant before my pledge to the Messenger of Allah (swt) (sa). When I became a Muslim, I wanted to combine trade (Tijarah) and worship (Ibadah), but I did not achieve what I desired. So I abandoned trade and inclined towards Ibadah. By Him in whose hand is the soul of Abu Darda (rta), I want to have a shop near the door of the Masjid, so that I would not miss any Salah with the congregation. Then I shall sell and buy, and make a modest profit every day. Allah, Great and Majestic, has not prohibited trade, but I want to be among those, whom neither trade nor does selling distract from the remembrance of Allah.”

During his caliphate, Umar (rta) appointed Abu Darda (rta) as a governor in Syria. In Damascus, Abu Darda (rta) found people immersed in luxury and soft living. This appalled him. He called the people to the Masjid and spoke to them: “O people of Damascus! You are my brethren in religion, neighbors, who live together, and helpers of one another against enemies. Is it right that I see your learned ones departing (from this world), while the ignorant among you are not learning? I see that you incline towards such things, which Allah has made you answerable for, and you abandon that, which He has commanded you to do.”

“Is it reasonable that I see you gathering and hoarding, what you do not eat, and erecting buildings, in which you do not live? Peoples before you have amassed wealth, made great plans and had high hopes. But it was not long before what they had amassed was destroyed. Their hopes dashed and their houses turned into graves. Such were the people of Ad. O people of Damascus. They filled the earth with possessions and children. Who is there, who will purchase from me today the entire legacy of Ad for two Dirhams?”

The people wept and their sobs could be heard from outside the Masjid. From that day, Abu Darda (rta) began to frequent the meeting places of the people of Damascus.

Once, he passed a group of people crowding around a man, whom they began to insult and beat. He came up to them and asked: “What’s the matter?” “This is a man, who has committed a grave sin,” they replied. “What do you think you would do, if he had fallen into a well?” asked Abu Darda (rta). “Wouldn’t you try to get him out?” “Certainly,” they said. “Don’t insult and beat him. Instead, make him aware of the consequences of what he has done. Then give praise to Allah, Who has preserved you from falling into such a sin.” “Don’t you hate him?” they asked Abu Darda. “I only detest, what he has done, and if he abandons such practice, he is my brother.” The man began to cry and publicly announced his repentance.

While Abu Darda (rta) was still in Syria, the Caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattab came on an inspection tour of the region. One night, he went to visit Abu Darda (rta) at home. There was no light in the house. Abu Darda (rta) welcomed the Caliph and sat him down. The two men conversed in the darkness. As they did so, Umar (rta) felt Abu Darda’s (rta) ‘pillow’ and realized it was an animal’s saddle. He touched the place, where Abu Darda (rta) lay, and knew it was just small pebbles. He also felt the sheet, with which he covered himself, and was astonished to find it so flimsy that it couldn’t possibly protect him from the cold of Damascus.

Umar (rta) asked him: “Shouldn’t I make things more comfortable for you?”

“Do you remember, Umar,” said Abu Darda (rta), “a Hadeeth, which the Prophet (sa) told us?” “What is it?” asked Umar (rta). “Did he not say: ‘Let what is sufficient for anyone of you in this world be like the provisions of a rider?'” “Yes,” said Umar (rta). “And what have we done after this, o Umar?” asked Abu Darda (rta). Both men were moved to tears, no doubt thinking about the vast riches that had come the way of Muslims with the expansion of Islam and their preoccupation with amassing wealth and worldly possessions. With deep sorrow and sadness, both men continued to reflect on this situation until the break of dawn.

This was Abu Darda (rta) – the wise man. When people praised his piety and asked him to implore Allah (swt) for them, he replied in humility: “I can’t swim well and I fear drowning.”

Dear Haadia

My friends and I sometimes have fun with the Ouija Board – we call spirits. Is it really a sin to do so? Also, are magic tricks for kids’ parties allowed?

Answer: I have combined a comprehensive answer to both questions, as they encompass the same topic. Before that, it is important to define that magic (or sorcery) is the attempt to use or invoke supernatural powers for sinister purposes. We need to be crystal clear about this evil – it is a major sin, which may jeopardize our Iman.

As Muslims, we must take precautions in dealing with anything or anyone professing knowledge of the unseen or the future. Such beliefs and practices are against the spirit of Islam. Although Ouija board with alphabets and movable pointer may seem innocent, it is used to call upon spirits – we have to be aware, how this can lead to Shirk and destroy the very foundations of our beliefs.

We read in the Quran: “Say: ‘None in the heavens and the earth knows the Ghaib (Unseen) except Allah.” (An-Naml 27:65)

We learn that in Islam both the practice and learning of sorcery have been classified as disbelief, and anyone, who practices it and does not repent and give it up, is doomed to Hell: “And indeed they knew that the buyers of it (magic) would have no share in the Hereafter.” (Al-Baqarah 2:102)

Furthermore, our Prophet (sa) said: “The prescribed punishment for the magician is that he be executed by the sword.” (At-Tirmidhi)

We cannot deny the existence of magic, because since time immemorial, people have been practicing it. Though some of this magic may have been fabricated, it is very unlikely that the whole of mankind could have agreed to make up similar stories about magical and supernatural events. Anyone, who seriously contemplates the widespread presence of recorded supernatural phenomena, will conclude that there must be some common thread of reality to them. Haunted houses, séances, Ouija boards, voodoo, demonic possessions, speaking in tongues, levitation, etc., all represent puzzles to those unfamiliar with the world of the Jinns.

The above mentioned occurrences have their manifestations in various parts of the world; unfortunately, even the Muslim world is plagued with it. But behind these phenomena lies the hidden and sinister world of the Jinns, who can travel over vast distances instantaneously and can enter human bodies. The Jinn are the ones, who relate incidents from a person’s past, as in the case of the Ouija board, which appears to answer questions.

Therefore, getting involved in this seemingly innocent activity of calling spirits is not allowed. It is best to turn away and seek Allah’s (swt) help by reading the Quran (particularly Al-Falaq and Al-Nas) and relying only on our Creator.

However, magic tricks do not fall in the category of sorcery – they are just simple entertainment, which does not involve supernatural elements. Therefore, they are not Haram.

At this time, I invite you to reflect on a beautiful Hadeeth of our Prophet (sa). Abu Dharr (rta) narrated: “Allah’s Messenger (sa) said to me: ‘Fear Allah, wherever you are, and follow a bad deed with a good deed it will wipe it out, and behave with people with good conduct.” (At-Tirmidhi)

For further reading, I recommend “The Fundamentals of Tawheed” by Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilah Philips.