Could you please give us information about "Sorcery"? Is it permitted in Islam?

The Details of the Question
Could you please give us information about "Sorcery"? Is it permitted in Islam? What does scholars say about this subject?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is described as affecting people in a negative way with prayers and acts which are not related to the religion. It is also called “sihr (witchcraft)” in Arabic. It is a secret power which makes people do things someone wants them to do and brings into existence effects which are naturally abnormal. People who cast spells are called “sorcerers/spellbinders”. It is possible to describe spell as follows: unlawful acts of deceiving people such as magic and trickery in order to harm someone for an interest, by using some secret powers. A person who deceives people by magic and trickery is called a “sorcerer/spellbinder”, the job performed by those people is called “spell” and doing this job as an occupation is called “sorcery”. Sorcery was widespread amongst pre-Islamic Arabs, Romans, Indians and Egyptians. Sorcery was a respected occupation especially in the time of Prophet Moses. It was also widespread in the time of Prophet Solomon. Sorcery can be divided into groups according to its features.

Black Art: It is the real sorcery. People who do it claim that they can do some things with the help of evil powers, especially with the help of demons.

Sorcery in metaphor: something unperceivable, out of logic.

White (or natural) Art: Job of doing things which are realized with natural reasons, yet which look unnatural in appearance. Such as magic done for show business.

Sorcery used to exist in some communities. Chaldean sorcery in Chaldeans community was based on the belief that spirits wandering everywhere enabled natural events to occur. Some creatures were endowed with evil powers. However, women had this power rather than men. Witches and demons had the power of getting into fleshes of people.

Egyptians before Moses used to accept a kind of sorcery legal in Egypt. However, they equally knew all ways of performing the illegal sorcery, too. They used to believe that witches/spellbinders could affect life and death that they had the power of calling good or evil powers to help and that they could use natural forces however they wanted.

As for sorcery in the Far East, the Chinese were deeply indulged in all kinds of sorcery. A witch/spellbinder called Wu in the times before Confucius had an important official position in government’s social structure. There were kinds of sorcery which people used to predict future and send demons away.

As for Greek-Roman sorcery, the art of taking secret forces under human beings’ control was not less popular in Greek-Roman civilization than it was in the East. Greek spellbinders generally appealed to foreign gods hoping that they could serve them. Theselia region was famous for training the most renowned men who owned the knowledge of secret arts. Sorcery gained great importance in the time of Emperor Augustus.

Sorcery was so wide spread in Judaism. Inviting fairies, taking demons under human beings’ control, all kinds of wonders, all of beliefs which were well-known in certain civilizations were applied in Judaism. Jews used names of demons and fairies coming from ancient traditions or from foreign religions in their spell-making formulas.

Sorcery in Islamic Communities: some Muslims took lessons on sorcery from Jews, Syrians, Iranians, Chaldeans and Greeks. Incense sticks, talismans, amulets, witchcraft, telling fortunes all come from those communities. As Muslims believed in jinn (demons), this belief also paved the way to believing in sorcery. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) considered it permissible to use ruqya (prayers) against the evil eye, snake bites and illnesses. However, there is no slightest relation between our Prophet’s prayers and sorcery. There are some books of fortune-telling which use words and letters to predict future.

Sorcery in Western Civilization: when the archives of all nations are searched, beliefs related to sorcery are encountered. Celtics, Teutons, Scandinavians, Finns have many similarities with eastern civilizations in terms of sorcery. It would be too daring to state that sorcery disappeared with the advance of wit and reason (i.e. science and knowledge) today.

Casting spells and sorcery is prohibited in Islam. It is indicated in the Quran that sorcerers/spellbinders will not ever find true faith (Taha, 20/69). Infidels blamed Allah’s messengers with sorcery and witchcraft in order to prove themselves right. Prophet Jesus (as-Saf, 61/6), Prophet Moses (az-Zukhruf, 43/49); (az-Zariyat, 51/39), Prophet Solomon (al-Baqarah, 2/102) and Prophet Mohammad (al-Hijr, 15/6) are mentioned amongst the ones who were blamed with sorcery. In another verse, it is seen that unbelievers blamed all prophets with sorcery (az-Zariyat, 51/51). Prophet Muhammad mentioned “casting spells” as the second of the seven things which should be avoided in one of his hadiths (Bukhari, Wasaya, 23; Muslim, Faith, 144). It is indicated in another hadith (Nasai, Tahrim, 19) that whoever casts spells becomes an infidel and that it is attributing partners to Allah to put any kind of spells on someone in order to increase love. It is also indicated that whoever believes in sorcery will not enter Heaven (Ahmad ibn Hanbal, II, 83; IV, 399).

It is indicated in another hadith (Abu Dawud, Tib, 21) that whoever believes in spellbinders, fortune-tellers or anyone giving the news of unknown is considered to deny the Quran.
Şamil İA

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