Magic and Fortune-Telling
By Abdullah K. Abdurrahman
For thousands of years people have been fascinated, awed and fearful at the unknown and mystical, being heedless of the dangers and harm that they inflict. As Muslims it is imperative to understand these evil-filled practices and to protect ourselves from them.
Having the power to do supernatural and seemingly impossible things is referred to as 'magic'. It can be categorized as either sorcery, which is magic that uses the power of evil spirits for evil purposes; or as illusionism, which is the skill of performing tricks in which you seem to make things appear, disappear or change, as if by magic.
Both sorcery and illusionism are unlawful in Islam. Sorcery can only be performed with the aid of devils whose help is attained when the performer attributes them as partners to Allah in worship. Illusionism does not involve polytheism, but may none-the-less lead one astray. It is a sin because it implies an act of disobedience. Magic is a destructive act, and therefore Islam warns against it. Believers should avoid magic and magicians; take precautions to heed the danger they represent and attempt to expose their false allegations.
The following evidence from the Qur'an and Sunnah has asserted this ruling.
Allah says: '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.' [The Qur'an 2:102]
Abu Hurairah, radhiallahu anhu, related that 'The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: 'Avoid seven most dangerous things.'
The Companions asked: 'O Messenger of Allah! What are these things' He, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, answered: 'Making anyone or any thing a partner of Allah; practicing magic; killing a living being whose life has been declared sacred by Allah without justification; practicing usury; misappropriating the property of an orphan; running away from the infidels in a battle; and slandering chaste, innocent, believing women.' (Bukhari and Muslim)
According to Islamic law, the penalty that awaits every sorcerer is death. The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: 'Kill every sorcerer, for this is the punishment ordained by Allah.' Umar ibn al-Khattab sent messages to his viceroys in those countries under Islamic rule ordering them to kill all sorcerers. This was later confirmed by Uthman Ibn Affan, Hafsah Bint Umar, Abdullah Ibn Umar, and Jundub Ibn Abdullah, radhiallahu anhum.
Fact or Fiction
An illusion has an effect on the onlookers that seemingly make things or happen when in reality, they do not. Musa, alayhes salam, said:
'Nay, throw you (first)! Then behold, their ropes and their sticks, by their magic, appeared to him as though they moved fast.' (Qur'an 20: 66).
Spells can have a genuine effect that can manipulate the body; even to the extent that it can cause sexual impotence. It may also make the affected person go insane, as it disturbs the emotional balance. Allah says in the Qur'an:
' 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.' (2: 102)
Breaking a Magic Spell
The best way to break a spell is by reciting assigned verses from the Qur'an and to utter specific invocations specially worded by the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam. Another allowable method would be to use medicines lawfully prescribed for the particular case under examination. What is unlawful, however is to use magic as a means to break a spell because this is likely to be done by the aid of devils.
Protection From Magic
Holding fast to Allah, seeking refuge with Him and putting trust in Him, can attain protection from magic. Also, we should do what is right in the sight of Allah, and turn away from sin. But more specifically we can recite the following verses and sayings: Whoever recites verse 255 of the Surah of al-Baqarah (No 2) before going to bed, Allah sends him a keeper that protects him against the devils until he wakes up. Recite verses 285 and 286 of the Surah of al-Baqarah.
Say: 'I seek refuge with Allah?s perfect words from the evil of what He has created.' Say the following three times: 'In the name of Allah, Whose mention is a protection against whatsoever harm is on the Earth or in the Heavens. Verily, He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.'
Fortune-telling is the belief that some people possess the ability of telling other people what will happen to them in the future by using magical or mystical methods. These rulings also apply to people who claim knowledge of the unseen, such as geomancers, palmists, shell-diviners, etc. A fortune-teller uses devils who eavesdrop in the Heavens; Allah says in the Qur'an: 'Shall I inform you (O people!) Upon whom the devils) descend' They descend on every lying, sinful person. Who lends an ear (to the devils and they pour what they may have heard of the Unseen from the angels), and most of them are liars.' (26:221-223) This knowledge of what the angels may have said is then passed to the people who are often prepared to believe what the fortune-teller says. The problem is that what people believe is true, has been embellished or changed, omitting the truth.
Ruling: Fortune-telling is considered 'Shirk Akbar' (the major and serious form of polytheism) for two reasons. First, it implies the acquisition of knowledge of the Unseen, which is unique to Allah, (alone). 'Say: 'None in the Heaven and the Earth knows the Ghaib (unseen) except Allah, nor can they perceive when they shall be resurrected.' (Qur?an 27: 65). This means that any one who believes that he possesses such knowledge is certainly claiming the acquisition of a Divine attribute that Allah (alone) possesses. Second, it involves using devils and holding fast to them, a ritual that can only be perfected when the performer is in complete submission to that damned species. This is a form of polytheism.
The Danger of Attending Fortune-Telling Assemblies
In recent years, the number of fortune-tellers has dramatically increased, only being outnumbered by those who attend their assemblies and believe what they are told. Some people are fascinated and impressed by observing those who cannot miss the opportunity to make fortunes out of imparting their fabrications. People who attend fortune-telling assemblies are divided into three groups: Those who go to fortune-tellers to ask them about the future without truly believing in their falsehoods and without having the slightest intention of disclosing their falsehood to the public. People in this group are sinful and their prayers are not accepted for forty days.
Those who believe in the prophecies of the fortune-tellers and go to ask them about the future. These people are regarded as disbelievers since they deny the truthfulness of the Qur'an:
'Say: None in the Heavens and the Earth Knows the Ghaib (Unseen) except Allah.' (27: 65)
Those who go to fortune-tellers and only ask them in order to examine the truthfulness of their prophecies; then disclose their deceit to the public. These types of people publicize that fortune-tellers only offer misguidance that can make believers go astray. However, if someone uncertain that he is capable to take on such a task and accomplish it perfectly, he should not attempt it. Such a weighty undertaking could pose a risk to himself, and result in failure that may likely tempt people even further.