Is the repentance of a sorcerer not accepted?

Details of the Question

- It is stated that the repentance of a sorcerer will not be accepted according to Abu Hanifa and Imam Malik and that Imam Ahmad says it will be accepted in a narration and not accepted in another narration. (reference: Ibn Kathir Tafsir, the interpretation of verse 102 of the chapter of al-Baqara) - As far as I know, it is possible to repent for all sins. I also know that even a person who associates partners with Allah can be forgiven if he repents. Why should the repentance of a sorcerer not be forgiven?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

As far as we know, it is possible to list the evidences of those who say the repentance of a sorcerer is not accepted as follows:

1) A sorcerer causes mischief in the world along with unbelief.

“The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter.” (al-Maida, 5/33)

It is definite by the verse above that people who act like that will be killed. (see Razi, the interpretation of verse 102 of the chapter of al-Baqara)

2) What is meant by the sorcerer whose repentance is not accepted is a person who hides his sorcery that contains unbelief. For, a sorcerer like that is a zindiq (a heretic person who pretends to be a Muslim) who “hides his unbelief and acts as if he is a Muslim” despite his unbelief. The word of a zindiq is not relied since he is a hypocrite. He cannot convince people even if he says, “I have given up sorcery; I have repented.”

Besides, a person who has been proven to commit fornication cannot escape punishment by repenting; similarly, the penalty of a sorcerer containing unbelief is not forgiven by repentance. It is necessary to punish him. (see Qurtubi, Ibn Ashur, the interpretation of the relevant verse)

It is understood from the statements above that what is meant by the expression of the scholars “the repentance of a sorcerer is not accepted” is that it cannot annul the penalty decreed for them in terms of Islamic law. On the other hand, there are a lot of hadiths stating that when a person who commits adultery is stoned, he/she is saved from the otherworldly penalty. Then, a sorcerer is not an exception to this rule.

3) The following hadith reported from Tirmidhi is another evidence used for those scholars:

“The penalty for a sorcerer is killing him with the sword.” (see Sha’rawi, the interpretation of the relevant verse)

However, this hadith is weak. (see Ibn Qudama, al-Mughni, 9/31; Qurtubi, the interpretation of the relevant verse)

4) The following decree of Hz. Umar is also regarded as an evidence: “Kill all sorcerers, whether male or female.” (see Razi, ibid)

- The following statements of the scholars are also important:

The rejection of the repentance of the sorcerer is in terms of the application of the worldly decrees related to it. If a sorcerer repents sincerely, his repentance will be accepted in the hereafter. (ibid)

- Despite those views, the view of Imam Shafii seems to be more appropriate. For, there are types of sorcery. They may contain or not contain unbelief, killing, etc. If he deserves to be executed, it means his repentance will not save him from being executed.

If he does not deserve such a punishment, there are many verses and sound hadiths stating that a person who repents sincerely from all kinds of evil deeds including polytheism and unbelief, his repentance will be accepted. (see ibid)

As a matter of fact, according to a narration, Imam Malik said, “If a sorcerer or a zindiq repents before he is taken to the court, his repentance is accepted.” (see Qurtubi, ibid)

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