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Shaykh Ibn Baz on the Magicians and What is Intended by Illusory Magic (al-Sihr al-Takhyeeliyy)
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Saturday, November 03 2012 - by Abu.Iyaad

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In Majmoo' al-Fataawaa Ibn Baaz, the Shaykh (rahimahullaah) makes a commentary on a seminar that was held by a number of mashaayikh on the subject of magic and magicians, and here we will translate relevant excerpts of it in order to clarify the issue of al-sihr al-takhyeeliyy (illusionary magic) as this term causes ambiguity, confusion and can be misunderstood.

The Shaykh (rahimahullaah) said (8/101 onwards):

There is no doubt that the magicians are a great evil, their danger is great, and they are present from ancient times, for they were in the time of Pharoah, and he sought their aid in waging war against what Moosaa (alayhis salaatu wasalaam) brought, and he gathered them together for that (purpose), but Allaah made futile their plot and gave Moosaa ascendancy over them and Allaah guided the magicians and they accepted Islaam on account of what they saw of great signs which Moosaa (alayhis salaam) came with...

Then he mentions some verses relating to magic and then said:

So the noble verses and whatever else came with such meaning clarify that magic exists and has a reality and that magicians use their magic in what harms the people...

Then a little later (p. 103), after citing some more verses that explain magic is kufr, the Shaykh says:

So this indicates that it (magic) is the opposite of eemaan (faith) and the opposite of piety (taqwaa), and this is not except for the reason that they attain their magic by worshipping the devils, and seeking nearness to them through what they (the devils) desire from sacrificing (for other than Allaah), making oath (for other than Allaah), prostration and other such things. For the magicians seek nearness to the devils by worshipping them besides Allaah and then they (the devils) aid them in what they (the magicians) desire of harming the people through their earning of worldly weath [meaning, being paid to harm other people through magic].

Then the Shaykh says a little later (p. 104):

And sometimes their magic can be through takhyeel (making someone imagine something in the mind that is not so in external reality) - but those Mashaayikh did not address this (type of magic) - and Allaah has explained that they also make people imagine things, just as Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, said in Surah Taha, "It was made to appear to him, by their magic, that they (the ropes and sticks) moved fast." (20:66) so they can sometimes make people imagine something by throwing down ropes making them think they are snakes which are moving, and sticks likewise, making the observer imagine that they are snakes, but this is mere takhyeel done on the eyes...

What is clear here that the word takhyeel (creating an illusion in the mind) is referring to making the mind and imagination to see something in the mind's eye what is not so in external reality. Hence, this is bewitching of the eye.

The Shaykh continues later and says (p. 105):

And so the intent is that the magicians can sometimes use things by which they change the realities by Allaah (the Mighty and Majestic's) permission through many different activities, through the use of food and drink and other than that...

Meaning, this is one method of effecting magic and changing realities - the use of food and drink, and the Shaykh continues:

...and they can also sometimes make takhyeel (creating an illusion in the mind of a person) and so an observer sees it upon other than what it is in reality...

So here, the eyes are bewitched because the eye, mind and imagination is made to see what is not really there in external reality, and this is effected by way of the devils, the Shaykh continues:

...they make him imagine certain things, so he (appears) to see ropes or sticks as snakes which are moving, and he can be made to imagine that birds, snakes or scorpions come from his mouth or from his interior and all of that has no (external) reality, all of it is mere imagination (in the mind), they deceive him by way of what they do of takhyeel (making him imagine things)...

From the examples that the Shaykh now proceeds to give, it is clear that this takhyeel is by way of the devils, through magic involving the devils:

And from such (magic) is that they make him perceive an ugly appearance of his wife so that he hates her and dislikes her, or she is made to perceive his appearance as ugly when he turns towards her (for relations) so that she hates him and dislikes him... and to other such things which they do, and all of it is kufr, all of their magic is kufr, irrespective of their devilish actions by which they harm the people or through takhyeel which makes a person imagine, perceive someting upon other than what it really is...

All of it is disbelief because it all involves the agency of the devils and worship of them and these things cannot be achieved except by receiving aid and service from the Jinn - whether it is to harm other people in their bodies or whether it is to play with their faculties and minds - so the Shaykh is saying that all of this is disbelief, and from the examples the Shaykh gives, it is clear that by takhyeel (illusion) he means that which the devils do of playing with the senses, minds and imaginations of people, the Shaykh continues to illustrate

... they make him perceive as if he is an ugly animal, and they make (her) perceive that her husband is black after he was white, and they make her perceive that her husband is ill and other such things, and they make him perceive that she is like such and such, all through the action of the magicians. And so with all of this hatred and enmity and splitting (between husband and wife) arises.

All of this makes clear the intent of the Shaykh and this discussion is not to be confused with the type of "illusory" magic that is done without the agency of the devils which is referred to as "sleight of hand" where ways and means of deception using special artefacts and certain types of skills of manipulation are used to perform "magic" by which to entertain people and dumbfound them. And whilst this is certainly unlawful and severely prohibited, it is not the magic being spoken of here by Shaykh Ibn Baaz (rahimahullaah) as is evidently clear - for how does a magician make a woman's husband appear to be black to her (whereas his complexion is white) by using mere "illusions" and "tricks" not involving the Jinn? Or how does a magician make a wife appear to be ugly or a husband to be ill by mere sleight of hand not involving the Jinn? So clearly, this is not the intent of Shaykh Ibn Baz and whoever claimed as such has misunderstood what Shaykh Ibn Baz is saying here.

Later, in a question and answer session following his lecture above, the Shaykh says in an answer to a question (p. 114):

And in summary, (the crime of) killing is less severe than magic, because magic is kufr and a magician is not able to bring it except after his disbelief, and after his worship of the devils, and for this reason it has been connected with shirk...

And a little later in response to a question about learning magic to cure someone afflicted with magic, the Shaykh says (p. 118):

When it is with something permissible, such as the legislated supplications, or permitted medications, or the legislated incantations (Ruqyah), then there is no harm. As for learning magic in order to treat magic or for other objectives, then that is not permissible, rather it is from the nullifiers of Islaam becuase it is not possible to learn it except after falling into Shirk, and that is by worshipping the devils by sacrificing for their sake or making oaths for their sake and other such things from the types of worship, and sacrificing to them and seeking nearness to them with what they (the devils) love until they serve him in what he loves (that they should do for him), and this is the pleasure of benefit that is referred to in the saying of the Exalted, "And on the Day when He will gather them (all) together (and say): "O you assembly of Jinns! Many did you mislead of men," and their allies amongst men will say: "Our Lord! We benefited one from the other, but now we have reached our appointed term which You did appoint for us." He will say: "The Fire be your dwelling place, you will dwell therein forever, except as Allah may will. Certainly your Lord is All-Wise, All-Knowing"." (Al-An'am 6:128)

So from this it is clear that when we are referring to magic and takhyeel (illusion) - that which is being spoken of here is what the devils do of making a person perceive and imagine that he is seeing with his faculties which is not there in external reality and this is one of numerous types of magic, others being making a person feel emotions, or become sick - and all of this involves the agency of the devils and all of it is kufr, since all of it is magic, the magic intended in the Shari'ah whose reality is kufr and shirk since these types of things cannot be effected except by assistance from the devils who bring about these effects in the bodies and minds and their assistance cannot be won except by worshipping them, hence magic has been associated with shirk in the revealed texts. As for the magic which is trickery and calculated deception and use of the special ways and means which involve skill and technology and the likes (and does not involve the use of devils), then this is prohibited severely.

For more information on this subject refer to all the following articles:

  • Ibn al-Qayyim on the Nature of the Magic of the Magicians of Pharoah and Refutation of the Mu'tazilah Who Deny Magic and A Clarification of What is Meant by Illusory Magic - (see here)
  • Shaykh Saalih Aal al-Shaykh on the Nature of the Magic Which Expels from Islaam - (see here)
  • 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)

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