Shaykh Saalih Aal al-Shaykh, in his commentary on Kitab al-Tawheed, in the chapter related to magic (sihr) says the following (see al-Jaami' al-Fareed Fee Sharh Kitaab al-Tawheed 1/978 onwards):
As for the magic which is kufr (disbelief) and major shirk (polytheism) with Allaah - the Mighty and Majestic - then it is employing the devils, seeking aid by way of them in order to attain a matter through the means of becoming near to those devils by something of the types of worship. And the jurists have defined magic by their saying that it is is spells and incantations, tying knots and blowing on them. So magic harms in reality, and it causes illness in reality and it kills in reality. So the reality of magic then is that it is the employment of the devils in order to bring about effect and it is not possible for a magician to attain the execution of his magic until he seeks nearness to the devils. So when he has become near to them the devils amongst the Jinn serve him by affecting the body of the one on whom magic is done. Hence, every magician has a servant from the devils who aids him, and every magician has one from the devils from whom he seeks aid. Hence, it is not possible for a magician to be a magician in reality except when he seeks nearness to the devils, and for this reason, magic is shirk with Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic...
And there is something that outwardly might be magic but in reality (inwardly) it is not magic, and this speech (here) is not about that type of magic, rather the speech here is about the magic which occurs through seeking aid with the devils... and this magic which is using the devils is shirk and kufr (disbelief) in Allaah - the Mighty and Majestic ...
...And some of the Scholars say that magic is of two types, such as the saying of al-Shafi'ee and others: From it is that which occurs by seeking aid of the devils, then this is kufr and major shirk and from it is that which occurs through potions and fumigation (using gaseous elements), this being sinfulness and unlawful and the one does it does not become a disbeliever except when he declares it lawful.
And this classification from al-Shafi'ee and whoever followed him in that is from the perspective of the actual reality, meaning that they looked into those who are skilled in that [art], so [they found that] amongst them is one who says he is a magician but he is not really so from the angle of the Shari'ah perspective, meaning that it is not the magic which the legislation (Shari'ah) has described, so he says that he is a magician and he makes use of potions and incantations but in reality he is just a swindler, and the label of magican (saahir) is not correctly and truly applied to him. And this is regarding one who brings about effects by way of potions (and not by way of Jinn).
But as for al-Sarf and al-Atf (two types of magic involving the Jinn), meaning that a woman is made to love her husband or remove a woman's love of her husband or the opposite, then this is from the first type (involving the Jinn), because it is from the nullifiers of al-Islaam. For magic (sihr) is from the nullifiers of Islaam because it comprises Shirk with Allaah and from it is al-Sarf and al-Atf because it is not possible for anyone to reach the soul and the heart of the one whom he desires to separate or join (with another) except through Shirk, because the devil is the one who actually brings this effect in the soul and the devil will never aid a human magician except after he commits shirk with Allaah the Mighty and Majestic.
So the result of this is that magic (sihr) in all its types involves the usage of the devils, seeking aid by them and the devils do not serve except the one who becomes near to them by sacrificing (for other than Allaah), or by seeking rescue, or by seeking refuge and their likes. Meaning that he directs something from the types of worship (to them). Rather, I have looked into the books of magic and I found that the magician - in accordance with what that writer described - will not attain the reality of magic and attain the aid of the Jinn as is desired until he belittles the Qur'an and belittles the copy of the Qur'an and until he disbelieves in Allaah and reviles Allaah the Mighty and Majestic and His Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). And this has been mentioned by one who has come to know the reality of the situation (regarding these affairs).
From this speech of Shaykh Saalih Aal al-Shaykh and likewise that which has preceded from other Scholars:
- Shaykh Ibn Baz on the Tafseel (Detailed Clarification) Regarding Magic Which Constitutes Kufr - (see here)
- Shaykh Ibn al-Uthaymeen on the Magic that Expels from Islam and the Magic Which Does Not - (see here)
- Shaykh Sulayman bin Abdullaah bin Abdul-Wahhaab on What Constitutes the Magic Which Expels from Islaam - (see here)
- Imaam al-Shanqeetee's Clarification and Verification on the Magic that Expels From the Religion - (see here)
- Shaykh Ibn Baz; That Which Makes Magic to Be Kufr is Worship of the Jinn and Seeking their Assistance - (see here)
It is apparent that the magic which is kufr in the Shari'ah is that which involves the agency of the Jinn and whose ways and means comprise kufr and shirk. As for those who use potions and other means in order to bring about effects in people, then that is not the magic being referred to in the Shari'ah, even if it is prohibited severely. The clarification provided in this article also applies to illusions created by calculated deception. Because illusions are of two types: First, those brought about by the devils through magic and which affect the imagination and perceptive faculties of people in reality and second, those which are mere tricks with the use of gadgets and using the special properties of things to make it look as if actual magic is being done when in reality it is simply deceiving and swindling the people and this is when someone makes a coin in his hand disappear and then pulls it from behind his ear, or uses hidden mirrors to see things which he is not supposed to see, or uses previously prepared and arranged artefacts and what is similar to all of this. This does not involve the agency of the Jinn but is calculated deception and this is severely prohibited and unlawful.