Shaykh Saalih Aal al-Shaykh on the Classification of Magic into Types That Vary in Definition, Reality and Ruling
Monday, November 05 2012 - by Abu.Iyaad
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In his commentary upon Kitab al-Tawhid, Shaykh Saalih Aal al-Shaykh makes an important clarification regarding the word sihr (magic) and points out that this term can refer to a number of things.

This is "Chapter: An Explanation of Some of the Types of Magic," when the Imaam (rahimahullaah) mentioned what has come regarding magic (in the previous chapter) and what is connected to that of its ruling and the detailed speech therein, he mentioned (here) that magic can sometimes come in the texts but it is not intended by it the magic which is shirk with Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic. For the noun "sihr" (magic) is general in the language, and the specific noun (of magic) enters into (the general), that which comprises seeking aid by the devils, seeking nearness to them and worshipping them so that they aid the magician. And there are other affairs that enter into it (the general noun with the general linguistic meaning) to which the legislator has applied the label of "magic" but which are not like the first magic (involving the devils) in terms of reality (haqeeqah) and ruling (hukm), (rather) it is of levels.

So from what has been labelled as magic (sihr) is eloquent discourse (bayaan), as has come at the end of this chapter, "From speech is that which is magical" and discourse is not magic in which there is seeking aid of the devils, however it enters into the reality of the linguistic reality of magic because it has a hidden effect upon the hearts...and likewise what he mentioned that tiyarah (omen) is from magic (sihr) because it is a type of belief, and likewise iyafah [also an omen on account of which a person abandons doing a certain action he was going to embark upon], and it resembles tiyarah or is from its types, and likewise lines in the sand and other such things, perhaps they are labelled as sihr (magic) but they are not like the first magic (involving the devils) in terms of definition and reality, and it terms of ruling.

For this reason, the Imaam (rahimahullaah) designated this chapter to explain something of the types of magic, because from the types of magic is what is major shirk with Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, and that is what is intended when the (term) magic is used unrestrictedly, and this is is customary usage. And from it is that which is not major shirk. And in the words of the legislation (shar', revealed texts) there are affairs which return back to the linguistic reality, and affairs that return back to the customary reality (as in how a word is used customarily with a people), and affairs that return back to the sharee'ah reality (as in how the sharee'ah has explained and defined it's meaning). And from that is this particular chapter, for in this chapter is what is referred to as magic (sihr) linguistically, and that which is referred to - in customary usage - as magic, and that which is referred to - legislatively - as magic.

To separate between these types is important, for that reason the Imaam mentioned this chapter so that it may be distinguished between one type and another. And the prescribed punishment for it "the prescribed punishment for a magician is striking with the sword" does not apply to all of these types which shall be mentioned because they are (considered) magic linguistically, and they are not magic legislatively.

Refer to the commentary on the chapter "Some of the Types of Magic" (Refer to al-Jami' al-Fareed Fee Sharh Kitab al-Tawhid, 1/1014-1015):