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I hear and read a lot about magic in islam, but I've never known anyone who knows how to do it?

Does Islam have some sample magic that one can try out?

For example, I was given a Quranic cures book once, in which you can find many Quranic cures. One of them is this:

ECZEMA: Recite (Quran 23:14) 21 times daily for 41 days in the morning and evening, blow on water and drink.

Is that an example of Islamic magic?

  • Perhaps you can reword your question to ask "is there such a thing as Islamic magic?" and then continue to explain about this Quranic cures. – مجاهد Mar 9 '13 at 23:06
  • 1
    can you provide a hadith of this thing you said above, recite 21 times, i haven't heard of it before – Sohaeb Mar 10 '13 at 14:40
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Is magic really real?

Yes it is, and real magic, not just some trick like making a coin disappear but really it is under your hand, or making a pencil go up an down making it seem it is bending, no I am not talking about this. Magic is real, it is a fact just like the evil eye. And to put more emphasis on it's realness/reality, it had affected the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) himself where he was seeing that he was doing things but not really doing them, source.

I would like to point out that all magic is haram, magic is magic, and it is haram and kufr.

Does Islam have some sample magic that one can try out?

No

is there such a thing as Islamic magic

No. Furthermore what you are talking about which may be confused as magic but not, and is instead good for anti-magic are called ruqayyah. There are Ad'iyah that the Prophet gave us for certain times, we have the Ma'udhatain (المعوذتين) which serves as protection, we also have Ayatul Kursi, and Surat Al Fatihah. but i would like to point out that Ruqayyah is not magic, and magic/black magic is through the jinn. Where the words of a Ruqayyah are not the ones that can heal, but it is Allah. I pray my answer is clear, May Allah guide us all on the straight path.

Sources: magic, and spirit possession.

Also as a side note, I would like to point out that we are not allowed to do a Ruqayyah with just any verse of the Quran, yes we can use the Quran, but there are things recommended for use, like Surat Al Fatihah for example. Experimenting with the verses of the Quran to see which works best is not allowed, and we have no authority to do so.

6

In Islam, there are two very different practices that could be considered "magic":

  • Sihr: This is the magic that's described in Al-Baqarah 102; it is considered evil and its use forbidden to Muslims.
  • Ruqyah: This refers to incantations (example) which call upon God (often by repeating particular ayat) to treat an ailment or to counteract sihr; often called Islamic healing so as not to confuse it with forbidden magic. Its use is condoned (if not recommended) in the sunnah.

Your example for eczema would be a form of ruqyah. While there are a number of ruqyah recorded in the hadith literature, I am not familiar with that one in particular; it may be authentic or fabricated, and God knows the truth of all matters.

3

A very interesting question. Insha Allah I will attempt to answer some of the queries to the best of my knowledge.

Your last question first: reciting from the Qur'an and blowing on water and drinking it is not magic but is a cure and is part of the cure prescribed by Allah and His Messenger (SAWS) and is formally called Ruqyah.

Allah says in the Holy Qur'an "And We send down of the Qur'an that which is healing and mercy for the believers, but it does not increase the wrongdoers except in loss." [HQ 17:82] Use of Ruqyah is perfectly acceptable and all scholars across practically all schools of thought allow it, as long as there is no shirk in it. There is a particularly well-known incident where some Companions (RAA) neutralized the effects of poison by reciting Surah Al-Fatihah on a person who had been bitten by a scorpion, and the Prophet (SAWS) approved it.

In fact, ruqyah is an excellent antidote for magic. (BTW, there is no such thing in Islam as "good" magic: all magic is bad and is punishable by death in an Islamic emirate.)

Secondly, verses from the Qur'an will never harm anyone even if the reciter has ill-intentions, since the Qur'an can bring about nothing but good. The supposed "Islamic magic" that you are asking about, the variety that we typically see in the Indian sub-continent (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc), is really magic (sihr) and is haraam and has absolutely no sanction in Islam.

The magic practitioner is often referred to as (very sadly) "Maulana" by the ignorant who visit him for his services; this in fact is a misnomer and should be avoided since though on the face of it he may seem to be adhering to the Sunnah (like keeping a beard and so on), the fact remains that he is a magician and a kaafir (disbeliever).

In fact there's an acid test to know if this "maulana" is indeed a magician: if he asks you about so-and-so's mother's name, it is a given that he is practicing magic, since magic afflicts the victim using his or her mother's name. They also prescribe the use of amulets (or "taveez" as it is know among the Urdu-speaking population of India/Pakistan), which is shirk and should be avoided at all costs if a person has to retain his or her Iman.

(“I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say, 'Spells (ruqyah), amulets and love-charms are shirk.' I said, “Why do you say this? By Allaah, my eye was weeping with a discharge and I kept going to So and so, the Jew, who did a spell for me. When he did the spell, it calmed down.” ‘Abd-Allaah said: “That was just the work of the Shaytaan who was picking it with his hand, and when (the Jew) uttered the spell, he stopped. All you needed to do was to say as the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to say: ‘Adhhib il-ba’s Rabb al-naas ishfi anta al-Shaafi laa shifaa’a illa shifaa’uka shifaa’an laa yughaadiru saqaman (Remove the harm, O Lord of mankind, and heal, You are the Healer. There is no healing but Your healing, a healing which leaves no disease behind.’” [Narrated by Abu Dawood, 3883; Ibn Maajah, 3530])

Also see: http://islamqa.info/en/ref/10543

Another interesting thing is how these magicians acquire their "craft," or rather how they are initiated into it. They have to do many kinds of blasphemous acts against the Qur'an (which I would not want to enumerate here), before Shaitaan and his helpers are pleased enough to respond to his calls and decide to make him part of their "team." A jinn is placed in his service who gets information for him and this makes his knowledge appear "miraculous" to those unaware of these methods. (I would recommend that you read Shaykh ibn Taymeeyah's Essay on the Jinn to get an insight about how black magic, spirit-possession and exorcism work; it's a very interesting and insightful read.)

Finally, there is no magic that verses from the Qur'an cannot break. The patient, however, needs to avoid sins if the remedy is to be effective. For instance, he or she needs to avoid shirk (sorry if I may offend some folks here) like visiting dargahs (graves of holy men, shrines, etc.); avoid listening to music; and so on and so forth.

Finally, I would also like to add that I when I assert that no magic, regardless of how powerful it may be, can withstand the Qur'an's power to neutralize it and heal the patient, it is because I have seen its effects with my own eyes. Trust me, the Power within the Book of Allah is tremendous, and can render useless the most malicious of Shaitaan and his helpers' evil (sihr).

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Definitive verse about origin of sorcery

According to this verse, it is clear that the magic exists and it can be powerful (as it is done by the order of Allah, not Satan!). Demons can only teach it. It is a branch of science that can applied only for doing bad things. I don't know of a verse in Qur'an that says everyone that uses magic is a disbeliever, as is mentioned in the verse you read:

The two angels taught magic to human on condition that they don't become disbelievers.

1

I am going to answer this question from another point of view. The most followed opinion that, yes magic is real, is already added as several answers in this question, so I thought of adding the other perspective instead, which indeed hasn't got much light and is far away from the majority view.

Defining our terms

When we speak about sihr, or magic, it is important that we define its meaning. Do we mean by it like a sorcerer casts a spell over another person, which makes him under his possession or do we have another understanding of it?

Now, the apparent meaning of the word «sihr» is magic.1 But if we go deeper, we will notice the Arabs used the word sihr (magic) in other contexts that really had nothing to do with our definition of magic.

As an example it is said in the Quran in Surat Al Mudathir, verse 24:

فَقَالَ إِنْ هَٰذَا إِلَّا سِحْرٌ يُؤْثَرُ
"All this is mere spellbinding eloquence handed down [from olden times]

Reading this verse in its context, we understand that a person from Quraysh was calling the Quran for sihr. And it is known that the prophet was called sahir in many places, due to the Quran. In tafsir Al Qurtubi, the word sihr here is explained to rather mean «deception» (khadi'a)2, not magic:

{ إِلاَّ سِحْرٌ يُؤْثَرُ }
أي يأثِره عن غيره. والسِّحر: الخديعة

The next verse (25) makes it clear that sihr is about words (in this context at least):

إِنْ هَٰذَا إِلَّا قَوْلُ الْبَشَرِ
This is not but the word of a human being."

Analyzing why these verses was reveled, it gives us more clues on the context of the word sihr. This is mentioned in the same tafsir of Qurtubi:2
(To give you some context, this is related to when the leaders of Quraysh was looking for a reason to warn people against the Prophet Mohammed, they tried calling him crazy, a liar, a soothsayer but they couldn't say that because they all agreed that it was a lie to call him that and they also knew the people would know they were lying, but because they wanted to stop him badly they had to come up with something, in order to not put the Prophet in a good light)

فقالت قريش للوليد: فما هو؟ ففكّر في نفسه، ثم نظر، ثم عبس، فقال: ما هو إلا ساحر! أما رأيتموه يفرق بين الرجل وأهله وولده ومواليه؟!
The (leaders) of Quraysh said to Walid, what is he then? (or what shall we call him?) So he thought, then he though then he frowned and said: he is nothing but a magician! Haven't you seen him (how he) separates between a man and his wife3,4 and his son and his loyals?!

So, they called him a magican, because (according to them) he, with "his" words (i.e the Quran), and message, somehow lead people to separate and divide. So they agreed that this was the best thing they should call him without lying. With other words, they warned people of listening to the message of the Prophet, because it would separate between people, i.e it was "magic" according to them.

This hadith5 also speaks about, albayan, or the ability to express oneself:

إِنَّ مِنَ الْبَيَانِ لَسِحْرًا
Some eloquent speech is as effective as magic.

Due to the vastness of Arabic, this is also possible to translate or interpret as: Indeed, There is really something magically about the ability to really be able to express oneself.

Conclusion about the definition

With the analyze above we can conclude that the word sihr, could mean following things (depending on the context):

  • Deceiving with ones speech, which may cause separation and other problems.
  • Expressing oneself eloquently to convey a message (one could say rhetoric)
  • Illusion (see explanation in section "Other verses")

Notice, I never added the apparent meaning which we already said means magic.

Is magic real?

These definitions and the contexts mentioned about will open ways of interpretations of certain verses in the Quran. We will start commenting on the famous verse 2:102 which tends to be the basic verse to support real magic.

And they followed [instead] what the devils had recited during the reign of Solomon. It was not Solomon who disbelieved, but the devils disbelieved, teaching people sihr and that which was revealed to the two angels at Babylon, Harut and Marut. But the two angels do not teach anyone unless they say, "We are a trial, so do not disbelieve." And [yet] they learn from them that by which they cause separation between a man and his wife. But they do not harm anyone through it except by permission of Allah . And the people learn what harms them and does not benefit them. But the Children of Israel certainly knew that whoever purchased it would not have in the Hereafter any share. And wretched is that for which they sold themselves, if they only knew.

This verse, is saying that sihr, but it isn't defining what sihr is anywhere except where it says:

cause separation between a man and his wife

And this description of sihr, likewise the one we found out when defining the terms, that the leaders of Quraysh called the Prophet a sahir, because he divides/separates between a man and his wife and so on, with his speech (message, Quran).

This, would then give us the possible conclusion that sihr - in this verse - really means that "deceitful speeches" was used - not magic - in order to cause married couple to separate.
If this is the case, because only this is mentioned in the verse, we shouldn't try to explain all other kind of magical things they might have learned.
P.S by reading Othello, you might come to know how some deceitful speeches really can act as magic and destroy a marriage (and lives).

Other verses

Surat Ta ha, verse 66, the verse about the "magicians"

قَالَ بَلْ أَلْقُوا ۖ فَإِذَا حِبَالُهُمْ وَعِصِيُّهُمْ يُخَيَّلُ إِلَيْهِ مِن سِحْرِهِمْ أَنَّهَا تَسْعَىٰ
He said, "Rather, you throw." And suddenly their ropes and staffs SEEMED to him from their magic that they were moving [like snakes].

In this verse, the so called magicians, clearly was throwing ropes and staffs, and the word "yokhayyalo", which means it was made to APPEAR, or made to seem (due to their "magic" or what we rather should call illusions), that they were moving. I.e it was made to appear by illusions that the ropes was moving like snakes. We also could come to the conclusion, due to other verses that the magicians planned a big show, which could be interpreted that they did in order to create and plan these illusions.

Now, we can also draw the conclusion that these called magicians never did any real magic, because of the wording "made to appear", i.e it was only an illusion. They prove it themselves when they in the same sura (ta ha) verse 69-70:

And throw what is in your right hand; it will swallow up what they have crafted. What they have crafted is but the trick of a magician, and the magician will not succeed wherever he is." So the magicians fell down in prostration. They said, "We have believed in the Lord of Aaron and Moses."

If they really was magicians and really did magical stuff, they would not be shocked when Musa threw the staff, which then miraculously, by Gods permission became a real snake and swallowed their ropes. They would say, well I can do that too! But they knew that they were called magicians only due to their ILLUSIONS that they were able to create, and that they never could do anything as real as that miracle. Therefore they fell down in prostration and followed Moses.

This is also mentioned in Surat Al Araf, verse 116:

قَالَ أَلْقُوا ۖ فَلَمَّا أَلْقَوْا سَحَرُوا أَعْيُنَ النَّاسِ وَاسْتَرْهَبُوهُمْ وَجَاءُوا بِسِحْرٍ عَظِيمٍ
He said: Cast. So when they cast, they deceived the people's eyes and frightened them, and they produced a mighty enchantment.

saharo a'yona nas, which here is translated to decieved the people's eyes, i.e they created an illusion.

About Surat Al Falaq, verse 4:

وَمِن شَرِّ النَّفَّاثَاتِ فِي الْعُقَدِ
And from the evil of the blowers in knots

Zamakhshari comments about this in his tafsir:8

ولا تأثير لذلك
And it has no effects (i.e the evil blowing in knots) For more info read the tafsir8.

The hadiths

The famous hadith that the Prophet was «mashor» (made magic upon) is also denied by the one following this opinions because they feel it is contradicting the Quran on these verses:

  • The verses 17:47 and 25:8

    إِذْ يَقُولُ الظَّالِمُونَ إِن تَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا رَجُلًا مَّسْحُورًا
    when the wrongdoers say, "You follow not but a man affected by magic."

    With other words, they think that it could not be true that he really was affected by magic, as the verse says: the wrongdoers (dhalimon) say that "you only follow a man affected by magic (mashor)"
    The verse(s) after both chapters;

    [25:9] انظُرْ كَيْفَ ضَرَبُوا لَكَ الْأَمْثَالَ فَضَلُّوا فَلَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ سَبِيلًا
    See what examples they have put forward for you. So they have gone astray, and never can they find a way.

  • Surat Duha, 93:3

    مَا وَدَّعَكَ رَبُّكَ وَمَا قَلَىٰ
    In no way has your Lord disregarded you, and in no way has He disfavored you.

  • The verse 5:67

    وَاللَّهُ يَعْصِمُكَ مِنَ النَّاسِ
    Allah will protect you from the people

    This verse is also understand to contradict the hadith by the one holding this opinion. Therefore they do not accept it. I.e God would protect him, and not let him get affected by sihr.

Now, this question about the hadith being in Sahih Bukhari might be related to this: "Do Sunni Muslims consider whole Bukhari as 100% authentic?" and "Is Sahih al-Bukhari considered as 100% authentic by Sunni scholars?"

Which contains:

The total weak/fabricated hadiths in al-Bukharis collection comes to 52.
A recent scholar, Imam ibn Amin has written a well detailed book on the weak hadiths in Bukhari and Muslim. You can find it on the internet.
Not all 'Sunni-Muslims' believe Bukhari is 100% authentic

and

Well as a Muslim i'd like to say sahih al-Bukhari and sahih Muslim are the most authentic books of sunna but i think as they are human they could include some mistakes or fabrication.

Therefore, these scholars, chooses (interprets) these verses mentioned above as having the last word, and because the hadith is (thought to) contradict these verses, they reject the hadith. Because they also follow the opinion that hadith books could include mistakes and fabcrications, while the Quran doesn't. They also seem to have problems with the hadith, as they do not see how the Prophet, who is the best of mankind, would be affected by sihr (or a jinn performing the "sihr" on him), without being protected by God. They also have issues on how the comb, (which is a private item) containing his hair, was given to the one performing the sihr. Who gave the comb, or the hair from the comb to that man? The comb being a private item, should most likely be in his house. Did they somehow break in to his house? What about his wifes, who likely was home? Was it a jinn who took the comb? What about the "angels protecting" his house from satans? And that kind of sihr, would be counted as the worst kind of sihr possible to be done (by the one believing in that definition of magic). Would the best man, the prophet be affected by the worst kind of sihr? What about you being protected by God just by reading some verses and doing dhikr every day, wouldn't the prophet be the one most protected? Why wasn't this mentioned in the Quran? It seems to be a very important situation! So they got lots of issues with the hadith.

Some scholars that have denied the hadith that the prophet was affected by sihr (magic):

  • Abu Bakr Ahmad bin Ali Al-Razi Al-Jassas, Hanafi scholar (died 331 h) - أحمد بن على الرازى الجصاص الحنفي In his book Ahkam Al-Quran (أحكام القرآن)
    Where he said:

    ومثل هذه الأخبار من وضع الملحدين

  • Muhammad Abduh

  • Mohammed al-Ghazali
  • Sayyid Qutb
  • Rashid Reda
  • (i'll try to add more later, edit and add more if you wish)

I could add other scholars alive (or tullab al-ilm), like Adnan Ibrahim, Tariq Suwadin, that reject this hadith, but the list would become rather long then.

Another hadith warning about practicing sihr13

This famous hadith which says:

"Avoid the seven great destructive sins ... practicing sihr ..."

Practicing sihr (or witchcraft) is considered one of the great destructive sins. But it doesn't imply that the sihr being practiced really works in that way people may expect. Even though it isn't working, the intention and the act done when practicing sihr is a great sin itself, not the result. Practicing sihr is connected to shirk, worshiping devils, jinns, murdering (which at least happen today), deceiving, foretelling (telling ghayb which only God knows) and more.

Three persons whose actions are not recorded

The hadith about persons whose actions are not recorded:15

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: There are three (persons) whose actions are not recorded: a sleeper till he awakes, an idiot till he is restored to reason, and a boy till he reaches puberty.

They also feel that, if someone has been affected by sihr, when for instance they do things that they cannot control, their actions shouldn't be recorded because they cannot control that, and that would be unjust. Because it is not mentioned in this hadith, they believe sihr cannot effect a person.

Good to know

  • Most people who deny the reality of magic also deny the possibility of the Jinn to posses humans. See "Which scholars deny possession of humans by jinn?" for more information. It is also known, that many, or most of the explanations of how sihr (magic) is done, is with the help of a jinn. Removing the jinn from the sihr equation, makes it harder to explain the "real magic".
  • It is highly possible that magic (or rather sihr) was used by people when talking about unknown things, which one really couldn't explain that time, but truly some of the sihr is taught (as we see in verse 2:102). Therefore it is highly possible that if you turned on the lights in a dark room, a person from that time might have interpreted it as magic, if it wasn't explained well enough to him/her.
  • Most people who talk about that sihr has been done to them or to someone they know, really doesn't base their statements on something convincing. At least all situations I've heard of are either possible to explain from a psychologically point of view or many times the story is very exaggerated (and the exaggeration could be explained in many ways).

Conclusion

There is much more one could add here, but in order to not make it too long I decide to make a conclusion.

With the analyze above, we can draw the conclusion that no "real magic" exists, or at least that there isn't something that forces us to believe in "real magic".
But most of the times it depends of what we mean by the word magic.

One scholar that follows this opinion, that I can come to think about now, is Tareq Al-Suwaidan. He discusses some of these points and many others, including ahadith and so on.

  • Why did you add Surat Duha? – Casanova Apr 19 '17 at 20:32
  • I am not sure how that Surah is associated with Sihr. After the first sura (al-Alaq) was received, there was a period of silence in which no further messages were revealed. During this time, the Prophet wondered if he had somehow displeased Allah, who it seemed for a while was no longer sending down His message. This sura broke that silence, and reassured Muhammad that all will be understood in time. – Casanova Apr 19 '17 at 20:38
  • @Casanova As I said I added it because it has been used as a proof by at least one, basically what these scholars want to say is that (according to them), these verses would imply that Allah would protect him against sihr. I will add some scholars that denied this hadith; for instance like "أبو بكر الجصاص", the Hanafi scholar. Well you don't have to agree with Adnan Ibrahim, but this is not something coming from him only, as you noticed he is explaining which scholars are denying the hadith. The point is to show the other point of view. – Kilise Apr 19 '17 at 20:43
  • I've heard the claim that Ibn Hazm said witchcraft isn't real, always without a reference. The only name here that I hadn't seen before in this context is Zamakshari. Why would you need protection from evil intentions if they have no effect, and why only against those of a sahir? Since when does sharia punish anyone for their intentions, especially with death? – G. Bach Apr 20 '17 at 10:33
  • @G.Bach Notice, I haven't claimed that Zamakshari is denying sihr, rather in this verse he is saying that the so called witchcraft in 113:4 has no effect. – Kilise Apr 20 '17 at 10:34

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