Magic and its Reality

Vol 3- Issue 4 Magic and It's reality

The mere mention of magic opens a Pandora’s Box of superstitions and hocus-pocus of all shapes and sizes. Because we do not understand the phenomenon, we apply our wildest imagination in an effort to comprehend it. Horror flicks, images of witches on broomsticks, and tales of Malang Babas further warp reality and feed a deviant human craving for the spooky.

Our ignorance has resulted in the establishment of a flourishing industry of unscrupulous profiteers, claiming to rid us of Kala Jadoo, Siflee Amals, evil spirits – you name it, they have it covered. For a hefty price, of course! They take advantage of hapless people, who are or think they are under the influence of magic, and are desperate, because they do not know how to deal with it. This business is lucrative. No wonder that we see professor so-and-so’s or Amil so-and-so’s ‘shops’ in most localities, ads in newspapers, and business cards distributed at traffic signals, claiming Roohani Ilaaj (spiritual healing). Seriously misguided people use magic to harm others, not caring for the consequences.

But we cannot conveniently act as victims. The reason this vicious cycle of fake exorcists, Taweez, Ganday, and other Shirk exists is because we allow it to. The rational way is to understand what magic is and how we can deal with it, without compromising our Iman.

Oxford dictionary defines magic as “the supposed art influencing the course of events by the occult control of nature or of spirits.”

The Quran and the Sunnah give us certain facts.

Fact: Al-Baqarah 2:102

They followed what Shayatin (devils) gave out (falsely of the magic) in the lifetime of Sulaiman (Solomon). 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 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 Leave. And they learn that which harms them and profits them not.

Fact: Al-Baqarah 2:255 (Ayat Al-Kursi)

Allah! La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His permission? He knows what happens to them (His creatures) in this world, and what will happen to them in the Hereafter. And they will never encompass anything of His knowledge except that which He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.

Fact: The Prophet (sa) was also afflicted with black magic. It has been related by Bukhari, Muslim, Nasai, Ibn Majah, Ahmad, Baihaqi, Tabarani, Hakim, and others on the authority of Aisha (rta), Zaid bin Arqam (rta) and Abdullah bin Abbas (rta).

When we analyze these facts together and consider them in the light of the Prophet’s (sa) experience and teachings, we can see a comprehensible picture.

Ayat Al-Kursi makes it clear that Allah (swt) is the Creator of all cosmos. Al-Khaliq. Each of His creations has particular characteristics. For example, fire burns; however, what we need to realize is that it burns, when Allah (swt) wills it so. Al-Qahhar. When Ibrahim (as) was thrown in it, Allah (swt) seized fire’s ability to burn.

Similarly, amongst Allah’s (swt) creation are human beings, animals, Jinns, and Shayatin. He has chosen to give different faculties and capabilities to each of them, and their power is relative to each other. An elephant is stronger than us, a snake bite can be fatal for us, and tiny bacteria can cause havoc in our bodies. Since there is a scientific rationale for these, we are not threatened and stay firmly on top of the food chain.

On the other hand, Jinns and Shayatin are not from our dimension, and Allah (swt) has given them abilities that seem supernatural to us. For example, some of them can transcend the time and space we are familiar with. The Shayatin take advantage of their peculiar powers to misguide some people into practices of total Shirk and the occult. When we are oblivious to the light and guidance of the Quran, the vacuum gets filled by Shaitan. That is what we call magic, Sihr in Arabic. It is not an autonomous force or a power beyond Allah’s (swt) Supreme authority. Read Ayat Al-Kursi again.

Magic is a psychological phenomenon, which can affect the body through the mind just as physical things affect the mind through the body. Fear, for instance, is a psychological phenomenon, but it affects the body: the hair stands up and the body shudders. Magic does not change reality, but under its influence our mind and senses feel, as if reality has changed. The staffs and cords thrown by the magicians at Moses (as) did not actually become snakes – the eyes of people and Moses (as) were so bewitched that they felt, as if they were snakes. (Al-Araf 7:116)

There is nothing spiritual or religious about it either. It is a practice used to harm and exploit and nothing else. The distinction between ‘black magic’ and ‘white magic a la Harry Potter’ is simply fiction. A dangerous one, in fact, because it glamorizes a great sin. It is clear from Al-Baqarah 2:102 that practicing magic is strongly condemned and is called Kufr (disbelief).

According to Abu Hurairah (rta), the Prophet (sa) said: “Avoid the seven most grievous sins.” (The hearers) asked: “What are they?” He replied: “Shirk, magic, killing without just cause, consuming the property of an orphan, devouring usury, fleeing on the day of fighting, and slandering chaste believing women.” (Muslim)

Magic exists. However, we should be wary of quickly jumping to the conclusion that all misfortunes happening to us are connected with magic. Scholars and many Muslim experts in the field of exorcism believe that in over 95 % of cases, where magic is suspected, there is no such problem. It is mostly suspicion or some other physical or psychological problem that is attributed to magic. Having said that, we should remember the age old thumb rule – prevention is better than cure. Our Prophet (sa) has prescribed several defenses against magic and all other evils that may harm us.

When the Prophet (sa) felt the effects of magic, Allah (swt) revealed to him the Mu’awwidhatayn (Al-Falaq and  an-Nas), in which refuge with Allah (swt) has been sought from all evil. A Jew, Labid ibn Asim, took a hair of the Prophet (sa), made eleven knots, and placed it under a rock in a well. The effect of this was that it created uncertainty in the mind of the Prophet (sa), as to whether or not he had done something. This was confined to his person. No change occurred in the performance of his duties as a Prophet (sa). There is no tradition indicating that he forgot verses of the Quran in those days, or a change occurred in his counsels or sermons, or he presented a discourse as a revelation, which may not have been revealed to him, or he missed a prayer and thought that he had performed it.

Jibrail (as) informed the Prophet (sa) about what had happened and came down with the Muawwidhatayn (Al-Falaq and an-Nas), in which refuge with Allah (swt) has been sought from all evil. The Prophet (sa) went to the well with his Companions, retrieved the knotted hair, and untied the knots, while reciting each verse. At the eleventh knot, the effects of this magic were gone.

Every night at the time of going to bed (especially during illness), the Prophet (sa) used to recite the Muawwidhatayn (or according to another Hadeeth, the Muawwidhat, i.e.,  Ikhlas and the Muawwidhatayn) thrice, blow in his hands, and rub them on his body from head to foot, as far as his hands could reach.

Other authentic Ahadeeth recommend the recitation of Al-Fatiha, Ayat Al-Kursi, and last two verses of Al-Baqarah. The Prophet (sa) said that Al-Fatiha has a cure for all illnesses.

According to Abu Hurairah (rta), when one recites Ayat Al-Kursi before sleeping, Allah (swt) sends an angel to protect that person till dawn, and Shaitan does not come near him. (Bukhari) Another tradition says – he, who recites Ayat Al-Kursi in the morning, is protected till evening, and he, who recites it in the evening, is protected till morning from the evil of Jinns. (Hakim) For the one, who recites the last two Ayats of Al-Baqarah at night, they will suffice him. (Bukhari and Muslim)

The morning and evening invocations of the Prophet (sa) include recitation of the above Surahs and comprehensive Duas, seeking Allah’s (swt) protection from evil and His help for getting through the day and night. We must try to form the habit of reciting them after Fajr prayers and in the evening. It doesn’t take much time or effort, and the result is tremendous – the protection of Al-Hafiz.

Ultimately, we must remember the Prophet’s (sa) advice: “If you are mindful about Allah, He will be mindful of you, and if you are mindful of Allah, you will find Him before you. When you ask for anything, ask it from Allah, and if you seek help, seek in Allah. Know that if the people were to unite to do you some benefit, they could benefit you only with what Allah had recorded for you, and that if they were to unite to do you some injury, they could injure you only with what Allah had recorded for you. The pens are withdrawn, and the pages are dry.” (Ahmad and Tirmidhi)

Response to Magic

role modelA bearded face and turbaned head with its tip ignited, passing for an ignited bomb; a scary-looking, long-bearded man dressed in white, waving a sharp sword. The world witnessed a chain reaction to these depictions and an outcry condemning this distorted imagery of a man, who was sent by Allah (swt) as a mercy to the mankind.

On the contrary, Prophet Muhammad (sa) was an exemplary human being, who returned the nasty actions carried out against him with lofty kindness. Today, he is alleged to having enforced barbaric punishments, such as having thieves’ hands amputated or adulterers flogged. How could it be that he forgave his personal enemies time and again, yet punished others publicly? The answer is twofold: as a Prophet, he had to enforce Islam’s judicial and legal system, as revealed to him by Allah (swt). When people transgressed Divine laws and limits, it was his duty to execute Divine justice. No legal system in the world lets off criminals, who commit heinous crimes. Once convicted, they have to pay the price. The same was true for establishing Islamic law enforcement in society.

Conversely, when dealing with his personal enemies, who constantly plotted vindictive actions against him, our Prophet (sa) never exacted revenge. He chose to forgive unconditionally. A total of seventeen attacks were made on his life, yet, in spite of knowing the perpetrators’ identities, he never took revenge against them although was able to.

It was narrated that Aisha (rta) said: “A spell was put on the Prophet (sa), until he imagined that he had done a thing, when he had not done it. One day, he made Dua and then said: “Do you know that Allah has shown me in what lays my cure? Two men came to me, and one of them sat at my head and the other at my feet. One of them said to the other: ‘What is ailing the man?’ The other replied: ‘He has been bewitched.’ ‘Who has bewitched him?’ asked the other. To this, the other responded: ‘Labeed ibn Al-Asam.’ ‘With what?’ continued the inquirer. To which came the response: ‘With a comb, the hair that is stuck to it, and the skin of pollen of a male date palm.’ Again the other asked: ‘Where is it?’ And the other revealed the place saying: ‘In the well of Dharwaan.’

The Prophet (sa) then went out to the well, came back, and said to Aisha (rta): ‘Its date palms are like the heads of devils.’ I said: ‘Did you take it out?’ He said: ‘No. Allah has healed me, and I feared that it might bring evil upon the people.’ Then the well was filled in.”(Bukhari and Muslim)

This Hadeeth indicates that the Prophet (sa) clearly knew, who had practiced magic upon him; yet, he turned only to Allah (swt) for cure and sought no revenge. Also, out of concern for the people, he did not extract the items used to execute the magic, lest their evil could affect others.

“Indeed, in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow…” (Al-Ahzab 33:21).

In Taif, the Prophet (sa) first met the chiefs, whom he invited to accept Islam. They responded insolently, sending gangs to harass him. These youths followed the Prophet (sa) and ganged up on him. They proceeded to abuse him and throw stones at him, until his feet were covered in blood. They continued, until he was compelled to take refuge in an orchard. Downhearted, he turned to Allah (swt) in earnest Dua. Allah (swt) sent the angel of mountains, who sought the Prophet’s (sa) permission to fuse the two hills, between which Taif was located. The Messenger of Allah (sa) replied: “No, I hope Allah will bring forth from their loins a people, who will worship Allah alone, associating nothing with Him.” (Muslim)

“And verily, you (O Muhammad) are on an exalted (standard of) character” (Al-Qalam 68:4).

Anas (rta) reported that a Jewess came to Allah’s Messenger (sa) with poisoned mutton, and he ate from it. When he felt the effect of poison, he called for her and asked her about it, whereupon she said: “I had intended to kill you.” Thereupon, he said: “Allah will never give you the power to do it.” He (the narrator) said that they (the Companions of the Prophet (sa)) said: “Should we not kill her?” Thereupon, he said: “No.” He (Anas (rta)) said: “I felt (the effects of this poison) on the uvula of Allah’s Messenger.” (Muslim)

Despite the pain in his throat, as a result of her lethal action, and the subsequent confession of the Jewess herself, the Prophet (sa) did not have her executed for her crime.

These incidents are eye-openers for us. When our relatives do us even the slight of mischief out of enmity or jealousy, such as public insulting, backbiting, slandering, or cutting us off, we harbor a permanent grudge against them. More often than not, we return their actions with the same, if not ruder and more antagonistic behavior.

If a passerby gives us an involuntary shove, we turn around with glaring eyes and sharp rebuke ready to fight it out. Cursing and abusing others has become the norm in the face of any damage done unto us by fellow Muslims.

As a role model, Allah’s Messenger (sa) is a guiding light for us, despite the fact that mirroring his lofty conduct is unthinkable. It takes superhuman effort to extinguish the pain and anger, which flame in our heart after being wronged; to nip the Nafs that push us for  ‘sweet’ revenge; to forgive and to meet the wrongdoer the next time, as if nothing happened. This is the lesson that our benign Prophet (sa) left behind for us. He proved that it really is possible to forgive bloodthirsty archenemies in the blink of an eye.

“And We have not sent you (O Muhammad) not but as a mercy for the ‘Alamin (mankind, Jinn and all that exists).” (Al-Anbiya 21:107)

A scary face wearing a turban, pictured as a ticking bomb meant to kill innocents? I don’t think so.

Shaking Off Superstitions

Vol 3- Issue 4 Shaking off superstitionsIn the days before the mankind turned to the science for explaining and predicting incidents of life, superstitions thrived. A broken mirror, spilt milk, and flying birds all foretold destruction and misfortune. Although today we are seemingly more ‘enlightened,’ we still are not completely free from the urge to wear ‘the lucky shirt’ or follow ‘harmless rituals,’ in order to attain good luck before important events.

What makes man turn to such objects in hope of good fortune? 18th century naturalist Gilbert White observes: “It is the hardest thing in the world to shake off superstitious prejudices; they are sucked in as it were with our mother’s milk; and, growing up with us at a time, when they take the fastest hold and make the most lasting impressions, become so interwoven with our very constitutions that the strongest sense is required to disengage ourselves from them. No wonder, therefore, that the lower people retain them their whole lives through, since their minds are not invigorated by a liberal education, and, therefore, not enabled to make any efforts adequate to the occasion.” Yet many of the liberally educated carry a charm, including the famous J. D. Rockefeller, an American icon of American capitalism, who was known to treasure a hollow stone (called an ‘eagle stone’) believed to protect one from shipwrecks and other disasters.

Fear of misfortune and ignorance about the cause of calamities still allows superstitions to thrive, just as they did during the Age of Ignorance. With the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment, kindled by Islam, Prophet Muhammad (sa) refuted superstitions, stating: “Whoever lets Tiyarah (superstition) stop him from doing something is guilty of Shirk.” His companions asked: “What is the Kafaarah (expiation) for that?” He said: “To say: ‘Allaahumma la khayra illaa khayruka wa laa tayra illaa tayruka wa laa ilaaha ghayruka (O Allah, there is no good except Your good, no portent except Yours, and there is no God beside You).'” (Ahmad)

Why does a harmless action, such as knocking on wood, fall into the sin of Shirk? Simply because it ‘innocently’ claims to protect us from harm, which, in truth, can be averted only by Allah’s (swt) Decree. Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “Tiyarah (superstition) is a kind of Shirk and a way, in which the Shaitan influences and scares a person. It is very serious for the one, who takes it to heart and pays too much attention to it, but it is insignificant for the one, who pays no attention to it and is not concerned about it.”

Nowadays, superstitions take on a ‘religious colour’ – charms have Allah’s (swt) names or Ayats from the Quran on them. No heed is paid to the extreme dislike of the Prophet (sa) towards charms (Taweez) of any kind. He would even refuse to take the hand of those, who wore a charm and wished to pledge allegiance to him, saying: “Whoever wears an amulet has associated others with Allah (Shirk).”(Ahmad)

How can one overcome the desire to perform the traditional rituals of predicting good luck?

Entrust yourself to Allah (swt): “And put your trust (o Muhammad) in the Ever-Living One, Who dies not, and glorify His Praises, and Sufficient is He as the All-Knower of the sins of His slaves” (Al-Furqan 25:58). There is nothing wrong in having a bad feeling and it is advised that one should take precautions, in order to avoid foreseeable disasters. The Prophet (sa) clarified this, when he explained: “That (bad feelings) is something that any of you may feel in himself, but it should not stop you from doing anything.” (Muslim)

Know that everything happens by the will of Allah (swt): “No calamity befalls on the earth or in yourselves but is inscribed in the Book of Decrees (Al-Lawh Al-Mahfooz), before We bring it into existence. Verily, that is easy for Allah.” (Al-Hadid 57:22) Thus, neither walking under the copy of the Quran nor staying indoors during an eclipse can alter your destiny.

Sheikh Munajjid prescribes Istikharah: “This is one of the greatest forms of worship and is complete Tawakkul or dependence on Allah (swt). It is the alternative to Tatayyur and Tiyarah (superstitions). The Prophet (sa) used to teach his companions to make Istikharah for all their affairs, just as he used to teach them the Surahs of the Quran.” Furthermore, one can find many Duas to be said during the morning and night, asking Allah (swt) to protect us and sort our affairs.

Avoiding things associated with good or bad luck. When an incident occurs, it is difficult to shake off the nagging thoughts (often Shaitan’s whispering) connecting the situation with superstitions. A person once related, how he moved to a house, where his wealth and the family numbers diminished; our Prophet (sa) suggested they move away from it. (Abu Dawood) Al-Baghawi explains: “They did not like it and did not feel comfortable; if they moved, the things they were feeling would go away. (He did not tell them to move, because the house was the cause of the problems).”

Remember that “no fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that.” (Bukhari) Free yourself from the hold of superstitions and Shaitan’s teasing and rest assured that your destiny is in Allah’s (swt) hands.

The Evil Eye – Fact not Fiction

Vol 3- Issue 4 The Evil eyeThe venomous glance, not alien to our society, is the evil eye (Nazr). It is centered on the belief that jealousy or praise can inflict misfortune. It is this very fear that causes many of us to go to great lengths for shielding ourselves and our children from its wrath. But how real is the threat of the evil eye? Is it an old wives’ tale? Superstition?

Belief in the evil eye is ancient. Reference to the evil eye is found on Babylonian clay tablets, the writings of Greeks and Romans, and in the Bible and Talmud. In Arabic, the evil eye is known as Al Ayn or Ayn Hasooda, but in Turkish – Nazar. In the United States and England, the evil eye is usually referred to as ‘overlooking.’

The concept of the evil eye is an established fact in Islam, thus, one should neither reject it nor consider it to be an erroneous impression or figment of imagination.

Abd Allah ibn Abbas (rta) reports that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “The influence of an evil eye is a fact. If anything would precede the destiny, it would be the influence of an evil eye. And when you are asked to take a bath (for curing purposes), then you should take a bath.” (Muslim)

The concept and reality of the evil eye (Nazar) in Islam can also be understood from the advice given by Prophet Yaqub (as) to his sons, when they intended to enter Egypt: “O my sons! Do not enter by one gate, but enter by different gates, and I cannot avail you against Allah at all. Verily, the decision rests only with Allah. In Him, I put my trust and let all those that trust, put their trust in Him.” (Yusuf 12:67)
The majority of commentators of the Holy Quran explain that the reason, why Prophet Yaqub (as) advised his sons to enter by different gates and not one, was that they were all young, handsome, and healthy. He feared that when people would come to know that they all were brothers and sons of one father, they may become jealous; hence, there was the possibility of them being affected by Nazar.
The reality of Nazar is such that when one looks at something beautiful and is envious, Allah (swt) creates some sort of harm in that particular thing.

Measures to ward off the evil eye vary from culture to culture. For protecting the offspring, common in our society is the lining of black Kohl around the child’s eyes or putting a black spot on the child’s body. Peasant mothers spit in the faces of their children or dirty them with soil, in order to diminish the effects of the evil eye or flattery.  Popular, however, is making the children wear black threads, beads, amulets, talismans, and charms.

The use of protective amulets and charms is forbidden in Islam, because it is considered a form of Shirk (idolatry). As long as one, who wears a charm, believes that it will avert evil and bring good fortune, he has given this charm the power to cancel what Allah (swt) has already destined. Eventually, he will depend on it instead of Allah (swt).

Instead, Islam teaches Muslims to seek refuge and protection with Allah (swt) from the evils of envy. Besides the phrase Masha’aAllah wa la Kuwata illa Billah (whatever Allah wishes, and there is no power except with Allah), which protects from the envy of others, there are various supplications for warding off the effects of the evil eye.
Abu Said Al-Khudri (rta) said: “The Messenger of Allah used to seek refuge from the devil-Jins and the evil eye of the human being until the Muawwadhatayn (Al-Falaq and Al-Naas) were revealed. When they were revealed, he took them and left the other forms of supplications.” (Tirmidhi)

It has been reported by Ibn Sunni on the authority of Sahl ibn Hunayf who said: “The Messenger of Allah, when he used to fear of anything being afflicted with his eye, he used to say ‘Allah uma Barik fihi,’ and it did not harm anything.” (Nawawi)

Ibn Abbaas (rta) said: “The Prophet (sa) used to seek refuge with Allah for Al-Hasan and Al-Husayn (rta). He said: ‘Your father [i.e., Ibrahim (as)] used to seek refuge with Allah (swt) for Ismail and Ishaq (rta) with these words: Aodhu bi kalimat Allah Al-tammah min kulli shaytanin wa hammah wa min kulli ‘aynin lammah (I seek refuge in the perfect words of Allah from every devil and every poisonous reptile, and from every bad eye).'”(Bukhari)

In the event of affliction by the evil eye, one should use the treatments recommended in Shariah. One of them is Ruqyah (spiritual healing). It consists of words said or written in the form of Dua or Dhikr for the purpose of protection or cure. It is sometimes accompanied with other actions, such as blowing or wiping over the thing to which it is applied.

The Prophet (sa) said: “There is no Ruqyah except in the case of the evil eye or fever.” (Tirmidhi) Jibreel used to do Ruqyah for the Prophet (sa) and say: “Bismillahi arqeeka min kulli shayin yudheeka, min sharri kulli nafsin aw aynin hasid Allah u yashfeek, bismillahi arqeek (in the name of Allah I perform Ruqyah for you, from everything that is harming you, from the evil of every soul or envious eye; may Allah heal you, in the name of Allah I perform Ruqyah for you).”

Secondly, if it is known or suspected that a person has been afflicted by the evil eye; it was narrated that Aisha (rta) said: “The man, who casts the evil eye, would be commanded to do Wudhu, and then the man, who was affected, would wash himself with (the water).” (Abu Dawood)

Prevention is better than cure. The evil eye is like an arrow, which comes from the soul of the one, who feels envy, towards the one, who is envied – sometimes it hits him and sometimes not. If the target is exposed and unprotected, it will be affected, but if the target is cautious and armed, the arrow will have no effect and may even come back on the one, who struck it. These are some of the Duas and treatments, which offer protection – by Allah’s (swt) leave – from the evil eye and from destructive envy (Hasad). We ask Allah (swt) for His protection. Allah (swt) knows best.

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.

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.