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Magic and the Occult
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There occurs in the saying of the Prophet Muhammad (alayhis salaam), narrated by al-Bukhari, Muslim, an-Nasaa'ee and Abu Dawud, in which he indicates an association between shirk and magic:
عن أبي هريرة أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: اجتنبوا السبع الموبقات. قالوا: يا رسول الله وما هن؟ قال: الشرك بالله، والسحر، وقتل النفس التي حرم الله قتلها إلا بالحق، وأكل الربا، وأكل مال اليتيم، والتولي يوم الزحف، وقذف المحصنات الغافلات المؤمنات
From Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said: "Avoid the seven destroyers". They (the Companions) said, "O Messenger of Allaah, what are they?". He said: "Shirk (associating partners) with Allaah (in worship), magic...
And the Scholars of Islaam explain that magic was placed after and alongside Shirk because magic occurs through Shirk, in the sense that in order for the devils to execute and implement instances of magic, the sorcerer will have already given obedience to the devils, worshipped them, or did what was requested of him by the devils of affairs that comprise disbelief.
In this article we want to explore this a little more from a historical perspective to show that magic is tied to ancestor worship and astrology and beliefs in the stars and planets.
Ancestor Worship in the Time of Noah
In the time of Noah (alayhis salaam), who was ten generations away from Adam (alayhis salaam), the people began to venerate and worship righteous people who had passed away. They are mentioned in the chapter in the Qur'an called "Nuh":
وَقَالُوا لَا تَذَرُنَّ آلِهَتَكُمْ وَلَا تَذَرُنَّ وَدًّا وَلَا سُوَاعًا وَلَايَغُوثَ وَيَعُوقَ وَنَسْرًا
And they say: By no means leave your gods, nor leave Wadd, nor Suwa, nor Yaghuth, and Ya'uq and Nasr. (Nuh 71:23)
These were the names of righteous men who had passed away, and then Satan came to the people and beguiled them into venerating these righteous men (through representations and statues). Then a few generations later Satan came to the people and said that your ancestors used to worship them as gods, and thus he made them fall into Shirk through ancestor worship. These were the people to whom Noah was sent, and they were destroyed when they refused to heed to his call through the flood.
Ancestor Worship and Astrology Amongst the Chaldeans and Babylonians
After the flood, there were from the offspring of Noah those who inhabited what was known as Baabil (Babylon), and this was Nimrod, a descendant of Nuh by around four generations. At-Tabari gives his genealogy as Nimrod, the son of Kan'aan, the son of Kush, the son of Saam, the son of Nuh (Noah). This is the tyrant king that the Prophet Ibrahim disputed with, as occurs in the verse:
أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِي حَآجَّ إِبْرَاهِيمَ فِي رِبِّهِ أَنْ آتَاهُ اللّهُ الْمُلْكَ إِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ رَبِّيَ الَّذِي يُحْيِـي وَيُمِيتُ قَالَ أَنَا أُحْيِـي وَأُمِيتُ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ يَأْتِي بِالشَّمْسِ مِنَ الْمَشْرِقِ فَأْتِ بِهَا مِنَ الْمَغْرِبِ فَبُهِتَ الَّذِي كَفَرَ وَاللّهُ لاَ يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ
Have you not looked at him who disputed with Ibrahim (Abraham) about his Lord (Allah), because Allah had given him the kingdom? When Ibrahim (Abraham) said (to him): "My Lord (Allah) is He Who gives life and causes death." He said, "I give life and cause death." Ibrahim (Abraham) said, "Verily! Allah causes the sun to rise from the east; then cause it you to rise from the west." So the disbeliever was utterly defeated. And Allah guides not the people, who are wrong-doers. (Al-Baqarah 2:258)
The people of Nimrod known as the Chaldeans and Kan'aanites had turned to star and planet worship, and they believed that the spirits of the dead inhabited the planets and stars, and they believed about Nimrod after his death that he went up into the sun (becoming a "sun god"), and continued to shine down upon the earth and that he later had a son called "Tammuz", who was in essence a "reborn" of the "deity" Nimrod and the "son of god". Built upon these ideas and beliefs and associated mythologies, the people were well-versed in astrology and they had built an elaborate belief system around the stars and planets, and around this belief, they also outlined their magic and occult practices that they were enticed into by the Jinn. Now even though magic already existed at least from the time of Nuh (alayhis salaam), it was nevertheless given a boost through the astrology that was associated with the deification of kings or authority figures.
Ancestor Worship and Astrology Amongst the Ancient Egyptians
The land of Egypt was populated by the descendants of Nuh after a a few generations and it is said that Mizraim, who is the son of Haam, the son of Nuh, inhabited and founded Egypt. From this genealogy there came another ruler king called Osiris who was murdered by Seth (his brother). So Osiris was slain and he went up into the stars, into the Sun and he was the "sun god" but he had a child called Horus who was a "reborn" of his father (a "son of god") and he came to avenge his father.
With Tammuz coming back as the deity Nimrod and Horus coming back as the deity Osiris, according to the historical mythologies, this "reincarnation" or reappearance led the people to believe in "immortality" and that they could become gods themselves through continuous cycles of birth and rebirth (becoming more perfect each time) and by venerating these deities (through rituals of worship and sacrifice). Remember in an earlier article we established that Iblees caused Adam to err through the promise of things like "immortality" and becoming "angels" and "living forever", and that it is with this same promise that Iblees and his offspring the Jinn have continued to beguile nation after nation in history. That is what was going on here in these "mystery religions" in Babylon and Egypt. Note that these "mystery religions" were taken up in other forms by other nations such as the Greeks, and it is the same pattern in all other nations on other continents.
Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah says in al-Hamawiyyah (p. 13, Dar ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah):
... and al-Ja'd bin Dirham - in what has been said - was from the land of Harraan, and there used to be amongst them a great portion of the Sabeans and Philosophers from the remmants of the religion of Nimrod, and the Kan'aanites, whose later ones authored [works] on the magic (sihr) of those people - and Nimrod is the King of the Chaldean Sabean Pagans.
And Ibn Taymiyyah also says in Majmoo' al-Fataawaa (35/195):
For Nimrod bin Kan'aan was the king of those (star and planet worshippers), and the Scholars of the Sabeans were the astrologers and their likes. And have idols been worshipped overwhelmingly except on account of the viewpoint (teaching) of this vile faction who consume the wealth of people in falsehood and hinder (others) from the path of Allaah.
Astrology and Magic
Just like in Babylon, Chaldea, magic and occult practices occurred in connection with astrology, the same happened in Egypt. These mythologies surrounding Nimrod and Osiris and Horus - sun god and worship of the sun and the stars and planets - all go back to ancestor worship, that's the crux of it all and the crux of all mythologies in all past nations. These mythologies (tied with astrology) have remained the foundational background to a great deal of the magic that has been transmitted through the centuries or millenia for that matter, and it includes the magic rehearsed by the devils in the time of the Prophet Solomon and also the Qabbalah which was codified by the Jews exiled in Babylon in the time of Nebuchadnezzar in the 6th century BC, when they studied the mystery religions. If you remember in our previous article on Prophet Solomon, the Jinn and Magic, we quoted from at-Tabari the following narration:
Ibn Hawshab: He states similar to what was said by Ibn Ishaq above, and explains that the devils would write, "Whoever wants to arrive at such and such let him turn to the sun and let him say such and such. And whoever wants [to be able] to do such and such, let him face his back to the sun and let him say such and such." So they wrote the likes of this and put it in a book, and gave it the same title as mentioned by Ibn Ishaq above. Then they buried it under Sulayman's throne. When Sulayman died, Iblees stood as a khateeb and said, "O people, verily Sulayman was not a prophet, but he was a magician, so hold to his magic which is in his place of retreat and in his houses", then he showed them the place in which it was buried, and when they found it they said, "By Allaah, Sulayman was a magician, and this is his magic, with it shall we worship, and through it shall we subdue (others)". However, the believers amongst those Jews said, "Rather, he was a Prophet, a believer"....
So we find that what the devils were teaching of magic and its rituals included the involvement of celestial bodies and their veneration or worship.
The Prohibition of the Worship of Celestial Bodies
And we find in the Qur'an an express prohibition of worship of the Sun (and moon):
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ اللَّيْلُ وَالنَّهَارُ وَالشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ لَا تَسْجُدُوا لِلشَّمْسِ وَلَا لِلْقَمَرِ وَاسْجُدُوا لِلَّهِ الَّذِي خَلَقَهُنَّ إِن كُنتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ
And from among His Signs are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. Prostrate not to the sun nor to the moon, but prostrate to Allah Who created them, if you (really) worship Him. (Fussilat 41:37)
And the Messenger (alayhis salaam) said, as is narrated by al-Bukhari from Ibn Umar,
When the (upper) edge of the sun appears (in the morning), don't perform a prayer till the sun appears in full, and when the lower edge of the sun sets, don't perform a prayer till it sets completely. And you should not seek to pray at sunrise or sunset for the sun rises between two sides of the head of the devil (or Satan).
And likewise, the stars and celestial bodies only have three purposes, beautification, guidance for travelers, and protection against the devils. And also there occurs in the hadeeth: (ومن اقتبس شعبة من النجوم، فقد اقتبس شعبة من السحر), "Whoever acquired a branch [of knowledge] of astrology, then he has acquired a branch of magic." And thus astrology is considered magic, and the historical reality is that ancestor worship, shirk, astrology and magic are all tied and related along the lines that we have explained above.
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