Chapter Five (Spiritual Ailments )

Magic Prohibition in the Sunnah and the Companions’ Sayings

*Prophetic Tradition:
1) Abu Hurayrah (May Allah be Pleased with Him) said: The prophet (PGBUH) said” Avoid the seven noxious things.1-Associating anything with Allah, 2- magic, 3- killing one whom Allah has declared inviolate without a just cause, 4- devouring usury, 5- consuming the property of an orphan, 6- running back from the battlefield and, 7- slandering chaste women who are believers but indiscreet”.

Al-Menawi states that magic is the second noxious thing which, according to Al-Harani, is an unusual change in the senses than what is normal due to a false cause which cease to exist when mentioning Allah. In Hashiyat Al-Kashaf, by Saad, magic is defined as actions and sayings practiced by evil spirits which result in supernatural matters .Al-Taj Al- Subki said that magic, witchcraft, and foretelling are of the same nature.(Fayd Al-Qadir-1/153).

2) Abu Hurayrah related that the prophet (PGBUH) said ” If anyone resorts to a diviner and believes in what he says, then he has nothing to do with what has been sent on Mohamed” (Sahih Al-Jami-5939).

Al-Menawi states that the diviner is the one who foretells absent things or someone’s fortune whether good or bad. If this person asks the diviner while thinking that he is a liar, then this man will not be punished. However, if he asks him because he believes in what he says and that he can tell the hidden future, then this person is considered to be a disbeliever (Fayd Al-Qadir-6/23).

3) Abu Hurayrah (May Allah be Pleased with Him) said: Allah’s Messenger (PGBUH) said”:”If any one resorts to a diviner and believes in what he says, or has intercourse with his wife when she is menstruating, or has intercourse with his wife through her anus, he has nothing to do with what has been sent down on Mohamed” (Sahih Al-Jami-5942).

Al-Mubarakfori cites Al-Jazri who states that ”diviner” refers to one who is given information about the future of creatures and claims to know hidden secrets. There were diviners among the Arab tribes who, like Kashak and Satih who claimed to have a jinn follower who given him the news. There were others, however, who proclaimed to know hidden things which they usually deducted from the information they got from the questions they asked people. For example, they claimed to know the places of stolen properties or unfound things. The hadith which mentions ” resort to the fortune-teller” also includes the soothsayer and the foreteller. Al-Qari states that the phrase ” has nothing to with what has been sent down on Mohamed” indicate a strong rebuke to those who resort to diviners as satated by Al-Termizi.

4) Omran ibn Husain (May Allah be Pleased with Him) related that Allah’s Messenger (PGBUH) said:” None of us is he who sees an evil omen or an evil omen is seen to him, nor he who foretells (the future) or (the future) is foretold to him, nor he who performs magic or magic is performed to him”.

Al-Menawi states that ”none of us” means not belonging to our tradition or creed which is Islam for that is the act of the period of ignorance.

5) Some of the Mothers of the Faithful reported that the prophet (PGBUH) said:” The prayers of one who goes to a fortune-teller will not be accepted for 40 nights”.

Al-Menawi says that the fortune-teller is the one who tells people about past or hidden things. However, Al-Nawawi states that the difference between the diviner and the fortune-teller and is that former is given information about future entities and claims to know secrets while the latter is given information about stolen things and the places of lost objects. Some diviners claim that a jinni provides him with the news while the fortune-teller proclaims his knowledge of the future comes from signs and indications given to him. Ibn Hajar claims that there many diviners in the Jaheleya (Ignorance) period who relied on their jinn followers. The prayers of the one who asks them for anything will not be accepted for 40 nights because 40 and 70 used to indicate plenty and multitude or it could be the period by the end of which the act of disobedience ends in the heart of the disobedient. Thus the effect ends when this duration ends too, as mentioned by Al-Qurtobi. He also added that the ”nights” are mentioned in the Hadith because the early Arabs started their counting with the night. ”Prayers” were chosen as the ones not accepted by Allah because it is the pillar of Islam.
6) Abu Musa (May Allah be Pleased with Him) related that Allah’s Messenger said: ” He will not go to Paradise who drinks alcohol, or believe in magic, or ends kinship relations”.

In this Hadith, ”believe in magic” does not mean believing in the effect of magic but that the effect of magic is beyond Allah’s Will; then this one will not go to Paradise.

7) Muaweya ibn Al-Hakam related that Allah’ Messenger (PGBUH) said:” Do not go to diviners” (Sahih Al-Jami -7180).

Al-Menawi says that prohibiting going to ”diviners” means those who claim to know transcendental. Muaweya bin Al-Hakam said, ”I told Allah’s Messenger that such things we used to do in Jaheleya, we would go to diviners. He said:’ do not go to diviners’ ”(Fayd Al-Qadir-6/383).

8) Ibn Abbas (May Allah be Pleased with Him) related that Allah’s Messenger (PGBUH) said: ” If anyone acquires any knowledge of astrology, he acquires a branch of magic” (Sahih Al-Jami-6074).

Al-Menawi says that acquiring any knowledge of astrology refers to that of the effects and movements. This, however, does not contradict with the statement (learn of astrology to guide you in the darkness of land and sea). If one continuous to acquire knowledge of astrology, he is sinful-similar to the magician- as long as he continuous to do so. Al-Taybi explains that Allah only Knows what is hidden, thus knowledge of the effect of astrology and using it is prohibited.

9) Aisha (May Allah be Pleased with Her) related:” Some people asked that she Allah’s Messenger (PGBUH) about the fore-tellers. He said ‘They are nothing’. They said ‘O Allah’s Messenger, sometimes they tell us of a thing which turns out to be true’. Allah’s Messenger said ‘A jinn snatches that true word and pours it into the ear of his friend (the fore-teller) (as one puts something into a bottle).This fore-teller then mixes with that word one hundred lies’ ”.

Al-Hafez bin Hajar said that fore-telling refers to the claim made by fore-tellers that they know supernatural things like telling what will happen on earth while giving reasons for that. The fact of the matter, however, is that a jinni snatches the angels’ words and pours it into the fore-teller’s ear. In Al-Jami book, it is mentioned that the Arabs used to call the one who tell of something before it happens a fore-teller. Al-Khatabi states that the fore-tellers often have sharp minds, evil spirits, and fiery natures. Thus devils get use to them for both have the same dispositions, so they help them as much as they can. Fore-telling spread in the Jaheleya period because there was no prophet hood. Fore-telling includes the following types:
– First that which the fore-tellers get from the jinn who rise on top of one another towards heaven and listen to the word and pass it down to the fore-tellers ear who then adds to it. With the advent of Islam, heaven became guarded against devils that are pursued by a flaming fire, of piercing brightness. Allah says” Except such as snatch away something by stealth, and they are pursued by a flaming fire, of piercing brightness” (Surah Al-Safat-verse 10). Before Islam, the fore-telling was true in most cases, such as those of the fore-tellers Shak and Satih. During Islam, the fore-telling decreased a lot and almost faded away.
– Second, that which the jinni tells his friend which other humans do not know, or known to those who are close to him.
– Third, that which is based on guessing and intuition which some people are capable of doing with a lot of lying about it.
– Fourth, that which relies on experiment and habit, so that the fore-teller makes use of previous events. This resembles magic where some may also use astrology and guessing all of which is prohibited in Islam (Fath Al-Bar-10/216-217).

* The Companions’ Sayings:

1) Omra narrated that Aisha (May Allah be Pleased with Her) was afflicted with a disease and some of her relatives mentioned her complain to a man from a tribe called Al-Zatt, a race from Al-Sanad who practices medicine and is not good at it. He told them that Aisha is under a spell of magic inflicted by a maid with a child in her lap, and added that this child has just urinated in her lap. She said: ”Bring her to me” and they brought the maid to her. Aisha said ”Did you use magic on me”. She said ”Yes”. Aisha said ”Why did you do that?” She said ”I wanted to be freed”. Aisha has conditioned the maid’s freedom with her death. Aisha said” By God, you will never be freed; look at this evil – and she ordered that the maid be sold and buy a slave with its price and free this slave (Imam Ahmed in his Musnid-6/40).
2) Abdel Rahman bin Abi Al-Zenad that Hisham bin Orwa related that his father told him that Aisha said ” A woman from the people of Al-Jandel came asking for the Prophet after his death to ask about a matter related to magic that she got into but did not work with it. Aish said to Orwa: ”I saw her cry when she did not find Allah’s Messenger (PGBUH) to cure her. I felt pity for her when she said’ I’m afraid I could be doomed. I had a husband who left me and I complained about this to an old woman who dropped by. The old woman said ‘ If you do what I tell you, he may come back to you. So at night she brought two black dogs and each one of us rode a dog until we reached Bable where there were two men hanging down by their legs. The men asked us ‘ Why are you here? ‘. I answered’ To learn magic’. The men said ‘We are only for trial; so do not blaspheme’. I said ‘No’, so they told me ‘ Go to this oven and urinate in it’. I went but I was afraid so I did not do what they have asked of me’. They asked me ‘ Did you do it?’ I said ‘Yes’. They said’ Did you see something?’ I replied ‘No’. They said’ Go back home and do not blaspheme’ but I refused so they told me’ Go to this oven and urinate in it’. I went there but I was frightened and returned to them without doing it. They said’ What did you see?’ I said’ Nothing’. They said ‘ You are lying, you did not do it; go back home and do not blaspheme, you are the commander of your own self’. I refused so they asked me again to go and urinate in the oven which I did. Then I saw an armored man leaving my body and ascended towards the sky and disappeared. I went back and told them of what I saw so they said ‘ You are telling the truth; that was your faith leaving you so go’. I said to the woman ‘I do not know anything and they told me nothing’. She said’ Whatever you want will come true. Take this wheat and saw it and said ‘grow’ so it grew, and I said ‘reap’ and it was reaped, I said ‘dry’ and it dried, I said ‘crush’ and it was crushed, I said ‘bake’ and it baked. Every thing I wanted a thing.’ Aisha said ‘I asked the Prophet’s companions who were there because the prophet has just died but they did not know what to tell her (the woman). They were afraid to give her a legal opinion about something they have no knowledge of. However they said’ If either your parents or one of them is alive then that is enough for you’ ”.