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Shaykh Muhammad bin Salih al-Uthaymeen: Clarification on Issues Pertaining to Magic (Sihr) and Explanation of the Intent Behind the Prescribed Punishment
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Wednesday, November 07 2012 - by Admin

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The Shaykh (rahimahullaah) said (as occurs here)

قبل الإجابة على هذا السؤال أود أن أبين أن السحر من أكبر المحرمات بل هو من الكفر إذا كان الساحر يستعين بالأحوال الشيطانية على سحره أو يتوصل به إلى الشرك وقد قال الله تبارك وتعالى (واتبعوا ما تتلوا الشياطين على ملك سليمان وما كفر سليمان ولكن الشياطين كفروا يعلمون الناس السحر وما أنزل على الملكين ببابل هاروت وماروت وما يعلمان من أحد حتى يقولا إنما نحن فتنة فلا تكفر) فهذا دليل على أن تعلم السحر كفر (السحر متلقى من الشياطين) وعلى هذا فيجب الحذر منه والبعد عنه حتى لا يقع الإنسان في الكفر المخرج عن الملة والعياذ بالله

Before answering this question I would like to explain that magic is from the greatest of unlawful things, rather it is from disbelief when the magician seeks aid through the devilish stations for his magic, or he attains it through shirk. For Allaah, the Blessed and Exalted said, "They followed what the Shayaateen (devils) gave out (falsely of the magic) in the lifetime of Sulayman (Solomon). Sulayman did not disbelieve, but the Shayaateen (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic and such things that came down at Babylon to the two angels, Harut and Marut, but neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) till they had said, "We are only for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us)"." (2:102). This is evidence that learning mgaic is kufr, the magic which is taken from the devils, and upon this it is obligatory to take caution from it and to be far away from it so that a person does not fall into disbelief which expels from the religion and refuge is with Allaah.

And the Shaykh (rahimahullaah) said (as occurs here) in an answer to a question:

السؤال: الشخص الذي يستخدم السحر أو يزاول السحر ماذا عليه؟ الجواب: سبق أن قلنا إذا كان سحره بواسطة الشياطين أو لا يتوصل إليه إلا بالشرك أن هذا شرك مخرج عن الملة

Question: A person who uses magic or who devotes himself to it, what is upon him? Answer: It has already preceded that if his magic was through the agency of the devils or (the magic) cannot be attained except through shirk, this is shirk which expels from the religion.

And the Shaykh (rahimahullaah) said (as occurs here) in an answer to another question:

السحر من كبائر الذنوب ومنه ما يكون كفراً قال الله عز وجل (وَلَقَدْ عَلِمُوا لَمَنِ اشْتَرَاهُ مَا لَهُ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنْ خَلاقٍ) لم يكن له خلاق أي نصيب في الآخر فهذا هو الكافر بل في الآيات السابقة يقول الملكان إنما نحن فتنة فلا تكفر فلا يحل لأحد أن يتعاطى السحر لأنه إما كبيرة وإما كفر على حسب التفصيل الذي ذكره أهل العلم

Magic is from the major sins and from it is that which is disbelief, Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic said, "And indeed they knew that the buyers of it (magic) would have no share in the Hereafter." (2:101-102), he will not have any "khalaaq" meaning portion in the hereafter. So this one is a disbeliever, rather in the preceding verses, the angels say, "We are a tribulation so do no disbelieve", hence it is not permissible for anyone to engage in magic because it is either a major sin or disbelief according to the tafseel (detail, classification) which the Scholars have mentioned.

And the Shaykh (rahimahullaah) said (as occurs here) in an answer to another question:

السحر لا شك أنه داء عضال وأنه جناية من الساحر عظيمة والساحر الذي يستعين بالأرواح الشيطانية أو بالشياطين أو بالجن كافر والعياذ بالله كفرا مخرجا عن الملة وإن صام وصلى لقول الله تعالى وتبارك (وَاتَّبَعُوا مَا تَتْلُوا الشَّيَاطِينُ عَلَى مُلْكِ سُلَيْمَانَ وَمَا كَفَرَ سُلَيْمَانُ وَلَكِنَّ الشَّيَاطِينَ كَفَرُوا يُعَلِّمُونَ النَّاسَ السِّحْرَ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَى الْمَلَكَيْنِ بِبَابِلَ هَارُوتَ وَمَارُوتَ وَمَا يُعَلِّمَانِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ حَتَّى يَقُولا إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ فِتْنَةٌ فَلا تَكْفُرْ فَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مِنْهُمَا مَا يُفَرِّقُونَ بِهِ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَزَوْجِهِ وَمَا هُمْ بِضَارِّينَ بِهِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ وَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مَا يَضُرُّهُمْ وَلا يَنْفَعُهُمْ وَلَقَدْ عَلِمُوا لَمَنِ اشْتَرَاهُ مَا لَهُ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنْ خَلاقٍ وَلَبِئْسَ مَا شَرَوْا بِهِ أَنْفُسَهُمْ لَوْ كَانُوا يَعْلَمُونَ) فالساحر الذي يستعين بالشياطين والأرواح الشيطانية والجن كافر

There is no doubt that magic is a chronic disease and that it is a great crime on behalf of the magician. And the magician that seeks aid through the satanic spirits or through the devils or the Jinn is a disbeliever, and refuge is with Allaah, with disbelief that expels from the religion, even if fasts and prays, due to the saying of Allaah, the Exalted and Blessed, "They followed what the Shayaateen (devils) gave out (falsely of the magic) in the lifetime of Sulayman (Solomon). Sulayman did not disbelieve, but the Shayaateen (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic and such things that came down at Babylon to the two angels, Harut and Marut, but neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) till they had said, "We are only for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us)." 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 permission. And they learn that which harms them and profits them not. 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 ownselves, if they but knew" (2:101-102). Hence, the magician that seeks aid through the devils and satanic spirits and the Jinn is a disbeliever.

And the Shaykh (rahimahullaah) said (as occurs here) in an answer to another question:

نعم السحر نوعان نوع كفر ونوع عدوان وظلم أما الكفر فهو الذي يكون متلقاً من الشياطين فالذي يتلقى من الشياطين هذا كفر ودليل ذلك قوله تعالى (وَاتَّبَعُوا مَا تَتْلُوا الشَّيَاطِينُ عَلَى مُلْكِ سُلَيْمَانَ وَمَا كَفَرَ سُلَيْمَانُ وَلَكِنَّ الشَّيَاطِينَ كَفَرُوا يُعَلِّمُونَ النَّاسَ السِّحْرَ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَى الْمَلَكَيْنِ بِبَابِلَ هَارُوتَ وَمَارُوتَ وَمَا يُعَلِّمَانِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ حَتَّى يَقُولا إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ فِتْنَةٌ فَلا تَكْفُرْ) وهذا النوع من السحر كفر مخرج عن الملة يقتل متعاطيه... النوع الثاني من السحر سحر لا يكون بأمر الشياطين لكنه بأدوية وعقاقير وأشياء حسية فهذا النوع لا يُكفِّر ولكن يجب أن يقتل فاعله درءا لفساده وإفساده

Yes, magic is of two types, a type that is disbelief and a type that is oppression. As for that which is disbelief, that is what is derived, taken from the devils, so the one who takes from the devils, this is disbelief and the evidence is the saying of His saying, the Exalted, "They followed what the Shayaateen (devils) gave out (falsely of the magic) in the lifetime of Sulayman (Solomon). Sulayman did not disbelieve, but the Shayaateen (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic and such things that came down at Babylon to the two angels, Harut and Marut, but neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) till they had said, "We are only for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us)"." (2:101-102). And this type of magic is disbelief which expels from the religion, the one who engages in it is killed (as an apostate)... the second type of magic is the magic which does not occur through the affair of the devils, but it is through potions and medications and perceptible things, this type does not expel from Islam but it is obligatory to kill the one who does it in order to repel his own corruption and causing of corruption.

Note that Islam has come to protect the five necessities: a) sound religion, b) the body, c) the mind or intellect, d) wealth and property and e) honour and lineage. The legislations in Islaam are aimed at protecting these five necessities, and it is from this perspective we understand the wisdom behind the various injunctions in many different affairs (marriage, divorce, inheritance, intoxicants, social dealings, transactions and so on). With respect to magic in particular, then it is something that destroys these five necessities, magic (in its various types) affects them all, it affects sound religion (eemaan, tawhid), the bodies of people, the minds of people, the honours of people, the wealth of people. As a result, the prescribed punishment is specified for people who cause corruption upon the earth in order to protect the lives, honours and wealth of the people, alongside protection of their eemaan and deen. And sometimes this prescribed punishment is meted out for shirk and kufr (entailing apostasy) - due to involvement with devils and magic which expels from Islam, or for dhulm (oppression) and fisq (sinfulness) where people are being harmed in their bodies, wealth, and minds by those who use potions and medications to harm people.

And the Shaykh (rahimahullaah) said (as occurs here) in his tafseer of Surah al-Baqarah:

رابعاً: الساحر، السحر نوعان: نوع يكفر به الساحر، ونوع لا يكفر به. أما الذي لا يكفر به الساحر فإنه يقتل حداً، كما جاء ذلك عن الصحابة، كفّاً لفساده؛ لأنه من الساعين في الأرض فساداً، وقد قال الله تبارك وتعالى: {{مِنْ أَجْلِ ذَلِكَ كَتَبْنَا عَلَى بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنَّهُ مَنْ قَتَلَ نَفْسًا بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِي الأَرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا}} ولا أحد يشك في إفساد السحرة في الأرض، فيقتلون كفاً لشرهم وردعاً لغيرهم، والساحر الكافر: هو الذي يستعين بالشياطين ومردة الجن على إيذاء عباد الله، بأن يضع سحراً يستهوي به الشيطان أو مردة الجن حتى يسكنوا في جسم إنسان، ويأبوا أن يخرجوا منه إلا بحل السحر؛ هذا يكفر لقوله تعالى: {{وَاتَّبَعُوا مَا تَتْلُوا الشَّيَاطِينُ عَلَى مُلْكِ سُلَيْمَانَ وَمَا كَفَرَ سُلَيْمَانُ وَلَكِنَّ الشَّيَاطِينَ كَفَرُوا يُعَلِّمُونَ النَّاسَ السِّحْرَ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَى الْمَلَكَيْنِ بِبَابِلَ هَارُوتَ وَمَارُوتَ}}

Fourthly: The magician, magic is of two types. A type by which a magician becomes a disbeliever and a type by which he does not become a disbeliever. As for the one who does not disbelieve, then he is killed as a hadd punishment (not as an apostate), as has come from some of the Companions, in order to repel his corruption, because he is from those who cause corruption upon the earth. And Allaah, the Blessed and Exalted had said, "Because of that We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land - it would be as if he killed all mankind." (5:32). And no one doubts in the corruption caused by the magicians on the earth, hence, they are killed out of repelling their evil and as a deterrent for others. And the disbelieving magician is the one that seeks aid through the devils and the rebellious amongst the Jinn in harming the servants ofAllaah, in that he places magic in which he seeks recourse to the devils, or the rebellious Jinn until they reside in a person's body and refuse to come out except through the route (of another instance of) magic, so this [person] disbelieves due to the saying of the Exalted, "They followed what the Shayaateen (devils) gave out (falsely of the magic) in the lifetime of Sulayman (Solomon). Sulayman did not disbelieve, but the Shayaateen (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic and such things that came down at Babylon to the two angels, Harut and Marut" (2:101-102)

And the Shaykh (rahimahullaah) said (as occurs here) in his explanation of al-Safaareeniyyah

والسحر نوعان: سحر يكفر به الساحر : وهو السحر بواسطة الاستعانة بالشياطين ، فهذا كفر لقول الله تعالى : (وَمَا كَفَرَ سُلَيْمَانُ وَلَكِنَّ الشَّيَاطِينَ كَفَرُوا يُعَلِّمُونَ النَّاسَ السِّحْرَ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَى الْمَلَكَيْنِ بِبَابِلَ هَارُوتَ وَمَارُوتَ وَمَا يُعَلِّمَانِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ حَتَّى يَقُولا إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ فِتْنَةٌ فَلا تَكْفُرْ )(البقرة: الآية 102) ، وهذا الساحر يجب أن يقتل لكفره ومفسدته ، فإن تاب قتل لمفسدته. وسحر لا يكفر به الساحر : وهو الذي يكون بالأدوية ، لكن يجب أن يقتل درءاً لمفسدته. فقول المؤلف رحمه الله : ( وساحر وساحرة ) فيه هذا التفصيل ؛ فنقول : إذا كفر بسحره فإنها لا تقبل توبته ؛ باعتبار إننا نقيم عليه الحد ونقتله ، وإن لم يكفر بسحره أقمنا عليه الحد تطهيراً لا كفراً

And magic is of two types, magic through which a magician becomes a disbeliever and that is magic through the route of seeking aid from the devils, this one disbelieves due to the saying of Allaah, the Exalted, "Sulayman did not disbelieve, but the Shayaateen (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic and such things that came down at Babylon to the two angels, Harut and Marut, but neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) till they had said, "We are only for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us)"." (2:101-102). And it is obligatory to kill this magician due to his disbelief and corruption. So if he repents, he is killed for his corruption (and not disbelief). And magic through which a magician does not become a disbeliever, and this is what occurs through potions (used to harm others), however it is necessary for him to be killed in order to repel his corruption (in harming others). So the saying of the author (rahimahullaah), "And the male and female magician" it has this detail to it, so we say, if he disbelieves through his magic, his repentance is not accepted with the consideration that we are establishing the prescribed punishment upon him and we kill him. And if he does not become a disbeliever through his magic, we establish the prescribed punishment upon him out of purification (of the land of his likes) but not due to disbelief.

Notes and Comments

There are a few notes on what has preceded:

FIRST: Magic is of types and from it is what involves the devils and comprises ways and means of kufr and shirk - this is kufr. And from it is that does not involve the devils but involves potions and medications used to harm others (either killing them or injuring them or making them sick or mad), then this is dhulm (oppression) and fisq (sinfulness) but not kufr. And from it is that which is deception and trickery (sleight-of-hand magic) and this is a separate category altogether. And there are other types that also enter into the linguistic meaning of magic (as opposed to legislative meaning) - see Shaykh Saalih Aal al-Shaykh explain that here - so the ruling in all cases varies, because magic has levels and types.

SECOND: The Shaykh has indicated that the hadd punishment is not always for magic which is kufr, rather, those who harm the people with magic involving potions and medications and the likes and who cause death or injury and harm, then they are kill out of repelling corruption and protection of people's lives, minds and properties - which are from the necessities the Shariah has come to protect - and thus the prescribed punishment for those whose magic does not reach kufr but which comprises oppression against others is from this angle. This is an important consideration to keep in mind as some may argue that the fact that some of the Companions killed magicians is a proof that all magic (including sleight-of-hand magic involving deceptions and tricks) is kufr and apostasy. And this does not follow, and is not a valid argument in and of itself when we return to the tafseelaat (details) the scholars have elaborated upon with respect to this matter. Thus, one who embezzles money from the people, or brings harm through potions and the likes or who is a threat to the faith and beliefs of the people through his tricks and deceptions and the likes then such a one may be given the hadd punishment by the authorities from the angle of causing corruption upon the land, but it does not follow that because he has received the hadd punishment, his actions, in all cases, were kufr and apostasy.

THIRD: To support the above, see the explanation of Shaykh Ibn Baz on the killing by Jundub al-Azdee (radiallaahu anhu) of a magician. Ibn Baz (rahimahullaah) says in his commentary on the chapter pertaining to magic in Kitab al-Tawhid the following (Dar al-Diyaa, 1422H, p. 129):

Some of the people, from them al-Shafi'ee said: If the magic of the magician is through known things which harm but which do not alter the minds, rather they harm and cause illness and in which there is no claim of knowledge of the unseen, and it was not from one who seeks the service of the devils and aid from them, and does not perform that which Allaah has prohibited of shirk and other than it, then he is not killed. Because this is not from magic, rather, it is from causing harm and oppression. Hence, he is merely beaten and disciplined [as opposed to being killed], because the intent behind killing the magicians in the view of the Sahaabah is (to eliminate) those who employ the Jinn, worship them and claim knowledge of the unseen, since this is what is found overwhelmingly amongst the magicians, so such a one is killed, and this is what is correct.

FOUR: In light of the above, caution needs to be taken in understanding the details (tafseelaat) in the types of magic and likewise the interpretations of the actions of the Sahaabah, and it is important to gather the statements of all of the people of knowledge in order to get a sound picture and comprehension of issues.



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