#410: Consulting a Shaman to Treat Magic

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. Is it permissible for a person to consult a shaman to treat an illness due to magic? Hope for an explanation.

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.

Definition of Magic

Here, we first present the lexical definition of magic as the following:

  • Referring to the 4th Edition of Kamus Dewan, magic lexically means supernatural action or occurrence as a result of an act of a person through hidden or unseen matter involving an unseen creature.
  • According to al-Azhari, the word al-sihr is changing something from what is the truth into something else. Or an illusion of something not from the truth or reality. [1]
  • Ibn Manzur stated in Lisan al-Arab, that what is meant by magic is a practice with the intention of getting closer to shaytan by asking for the shaytan’s help.
  • Ibn Manzur also stated that a person who practises magic is as though he showcases falsehood as the truth and depicts something that is untrue to be true. Hence, he has changed something from what it truly is. [2]

Whereas, for the terminology, magic is defined as the following:

  • Ibnu Qudamah said: “Magic is a bind, incantation and charms that are uttered, written or made that will negatively impact the person the magic is intended for or his heart and thoughts without directly touching the person.” [3]
  • Ibn Qudamah also said: Magic is charms or incantation that influences another person whether physically or spiritually, making him sick or killing him.  Its purpose is to harm the emotions, thoughts or mind of the intended person. [4]
  • Ibn Khaldun said: Magic is knowledge to negatively affect people by using evil elements and unseen power whether it is used as a mediator or not for evil hidden intentions. [5]
  • Imam al-Qurtubi said: Magic originally comes from a charm or amulet or rope of which the sorcerer will change it into something that it isn’t. The definition is compared to a person under the blazing sun when walking on a long journey, he’ll see a water mirage. [6]
  • Dr Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Ahmad al-Tayyar said: Magic is an amulet and charm incantation made by its practitioner that negatively affects the heart and emotions of a person, hurting and killing him. [7]
  • Imam al-Alusi said: Magic is a strange and supernatural matter that is obtained by learning it from the shaytan.
  • Muhamad Isa al-Maghribi said: Magic is something that is harmful to the victim made through certain practise associated (related or has a relationship with one another) with the strength of evil unseen creatures through certain methods.
  • Syeikh Wahid Abd al-Salam Bali said: Magic is an agreement, cooperation and understanding between the shaman and shaytan. The sorcerer will commit something prohibited by syarak through shirk matters towards Allah SWT to harm people. The shaytan will then help them with their requests to commit evil deeds. [8]

The ruling of learning magic, teach and practise it

Rasullullah PBUH stated that magic is one of the major sins. From Abu Hurairah RA, Rasullullah PBUH said:


اجْتَنِبُوا السَّبْعَ المُوبِقَاتِ، قَالُوا: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَمَا هُنَّ؟ قَالَ: الشِّرْكُ بِاللَّهِ، وَالسِّحْرُ، وَقَتْلُ النَّفْسِ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلَّا بِالحَقِّ، وَأَكْلُ الرِّبَا، وَأَكْلُ مَالِ اليَتِيمِ، وَالتَّوَلِّي يَوْمَ الزَّحْفِ، وَقَذْفُ المُحْصَنَاتِ المُؤْمِنَاتِ الغَافِلاَتِ

“Avoid the seven great destructive sins.” They (the people!) asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! What are they?” He said, “To join partners in worship with Allah; to practice sorcery; to kill the life which Allah has forbidden except for a just cause (according to Islamic law); to eat up usury (Riba), to eat up the property of an orphan; to give one’s back to the enemy and fleeing from the battle-field at the time of fighting and to accuse chaste women who never even think of anything touching chastity and are good believers.” [9]

Scholars agreed that learning, teaching and practising magic is prohibited. Ibn Qudamah said: “Indeed learning magic and teaching it is prohibited. There is no khilaf on it among scholars.” [10]

Imam al-Nawawi said: “As for learning (magic) and teaching it, the ruling for them is prohibited.” [11]

According to Syeikh Zakariya al-Ansari, the act of magic is prohibited. If a person believes that practising magic is permissible, then he has disbelieved. If one purposefully learns, teaches and practises magic, then his action is considered sinful. He further explained that every matter related to magic is sinful for it may lead to fitnah and harm others. [12]

Furthermore, some scholars stated that if the magic can harm others and even kill, the person who commits the magic can be punished with qisas. This is cited by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani in Fath al-Bari. [13] This is the sign that the act of magic shouldn’t be taken lightly, rather, it is a sin that harms others no matter what the excuse is.

Thus, in any matter related to magic, it is prohibited. This is based on the Islamic legal maxim:

‌مَا ‌أدى ‌إِلَى ‌الْحَرَام فَهُوَ حَرَام

“Whatever that leads to the prohibited, is prohibited.” [14]

Magic is something where both disbelief and harm exist, for the assumption of the ignorant public is that a sorcerer can do anything he so wishes. This contradicts the statement of Allah SWT:

…وَمَا هُم بِضَارِّينَ بِهِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ اللَّـهِ…

“But they do not harm anyone through it except by permission of Allah.” [15]

Scholars have agreed on the prohibition of learning, teaching and practising magic. Scholars ruled magic into two:

  • They are considered disbelievers which obligates the death penalty. This is the opinion of Imam Malik, Imam Ahmad and many more from among the companions and tabi’in.
  • They are considered as fasiq (committed major sin) but aren’t sentenced to the death penalty. They aren’t considered to have denounced Islam such as in madhhab Syafi’e except when they have committed something that leads to disbelief such as claiming that he is able to change the creation of Allah SWT.

The companions are strict in sentencing the death penalty to sorcerers. Among them:

  • Saidina Umar Ibn al-Khattab RA killed sorcerers. [16]
  • Ummul Mukminin Hafshah R.Anha killed his female slave who was a sorceress. [17]
  • Jundub bin Abdullah RA killed a sorcerer who was playing with al-Walid bin ‘Uqbah by beheading the man and then asked him to bring himself back to life. [18]

We’d also like to include here some of the scholars’ opinions regarding this issue:

  • Ibnu Kathir when interpreting the statement of Allah SWT: ‘وَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مَا يَضُرُّهُمْ وَلَا يَنفَعُهُمْ’ (And the people learn what harms them and does not benefit them), [Surah al-Baqarah:102], he said: “It harms their religion (Islam) and there is no benefit that can outweigh the harms.
  • Al-Hafiz Ibnu Hajar in Fath al-Bari cited verse 102 from surah al-Baqarah as evidence on the prohibition of magic, for Allah SWT has stated the disbelief of shaytan for the magic teachings. Hence, learning it damages the aqidah of a person.
  • Imam al-Nawawu said the work of a sorcerer harms the faith entirely or ijmak. [19]
  • Imam Ibnu Qudamah stated that learning, teaching and practising magic is prohibited and there isn’t any known khilaf among muktabar scholars that it harms the faith. [20]
  • Syeikh Atiyyah Saqr stated that the magic that the general public learn is for the purpose of hurting and harming others and not for good or benefit. The Quranic and prophetic evidences clearly show that magic is a major sin and disbelief, for it is clear that believing that it can affect others and not by the will of Allah.

Thus, the knowledge of magic and others is prohibited from us to learn, teach and practise. If the practitioner is a Muslim, then it will harm his faith and we state that the knowledge of sorcery is the closest to making a person to fall into shirk.

The ruling of consulting with a shaman to treat magic

The ruling of consulting a shaman to treat an illness due to magic is prohibited. The reason is when a person consults a shaman (sorcerer) to treat the illness he is experiencing due to magic, it is clear that the act leads to dependence towards other than Allah SWT. It also leads to shirk towards Him.

Syeikh Dr Wahbah al-Zuhaili in al-Fatawa al-Mu’asirah stated: It is prohibited to consult a shaman whether it is to perform magic or treatment through magic. Hence, all of these are stated in the prophetic guidance as one of the types of shirk toward Allah SWT, for it is a belief that knowing an unseen creature can act as a mediator to cure other than Allah SWT. [21]

Whoever goes to consult a shaman but doesn’t believe him, then his prayers aren’t accepted for 40 nights. Rasullullah PBUH said:

مَنْ أَتَى عَرَّافًا فَسَأَلَهُ عَنْ شَىْءٍ لَمْ تُقْبَلْ لَهُ صَلاَةٌ أَرْبَعِينَ لَيْلَةً

He who visits a diviner (‘Arraf) and asks him about anything, his prayers extending to forty nights will not be accepted.” [22]

Whereas, whoever went and believes him, then he has disbelieved what has been revealed by Allah SWT to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH regarding the matters of the unseen. None knows about the unseen matters except Allah SWT. [23]

The Prophet PBUH said:

مَنْ أَتَى كَاهِنًا، أَوْ عَرَّافًا، فَصَدَّقَهُ بِمَا يَقُولُ، فَقَدْ كَفَرَ بِمَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ

“If anyone resorts to a kahin and believes in what he says, he has disbelieved in what has been sent down to Muhammad.” [24]

It should also be understood that magic can never overcome magic. Likewise, evil can never overcome another evil. The only one that can cure it is Allah SWT. This is as narrated in the story of Prophet Moses with the friends of the Pharaoh as recorded in the Quran:

فَأُلْقِيَ السَّحَرَةُ سُجَّدًا قَالُوا آمَنَّا بِرَبِّ هَارُونَ وَمُوسَىٰ

“So, the magicians fell down in prostration. They said, “We have believed in the Lord of Aaron and Moses.” [25]

Ibn Kathir said: After the magicians saw and witnessed the matter, while they are experts in all sorts of magic, knowledge and methodology, hence, they are certain that what is done by Moses is not magic or deceit rather it is haq (the truth) and undoubted. It can never be done except by God of whom if He says “be” to something, then it will be. At this moment, they fell down in prostration to Allah SWT and said: “We have believed in the Lord of the world, the Lord of Aaron and Moses.” [26]

The ruling of practising syar’ie incantation (ruqyah)

In this matter, Islam prepared its own solution which is by using ruqyah (incantation) based on the verses of al-Quran and al-Sunnah in treating magic and others. Allah SWT states:

وَنُنَزِّلُ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ مَا هُوَ شِفَاءٌ وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

“And We send down of the Qur’an that which is healing and mercy for the believers,” [27]

Imam al-Syaukani Rahimahullah said: “Scholars have differing opinions regarding the meaning of “al-syifa” (cure) into two opinions:

  • It is the cure of the heart and the removal of ignorance and doubt and opens the screen that leads to Allah SWT.
  • It is a cure for physical illnesses and with ruqyah protection and other verses.

It isn’t an issue if al-syifa’ (cure) meant is any one of the meanings stated.” [28]

Imam al-Baghawi said: “Ruqyah (incantation) that is prohibited is ruqyah that contains any elements of shirk or stated in it evil jinn or non-Arabic ruqyah that one doesn’t know the meaning. The reason is the ruqyah may contain elements of magic or disbelief.

As for ruqyah (incantation) using al-Quran and zikrullah, then indeed this matter is encouraged. The reason is the Prophet PBUH himself once blew (incantation) on himself with al-Mu’awwizat surahs (al-Ikhlas, al-Falaq and al-Nas).” [29]

From Aisyah R.Anha, she said:


أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَانَ إِذَا اشْتَكَى يَقْرَأُ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ بِالْمُعَوِّذَاتِ وَيَنْفُثُ فَلَمَّا اشْتَدَّ وَجَعُهُ كُنْتُ أَقْرَأُ عَلَيْهِ وَأَمْسَحُ بِيَدِهِ رَجَاءَ بَرَكَتِهَا

“When Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) fell ill, he recited over his body Mu’awwidhatan and blew over him and when his sickness was aggravated, I used to recite over him and rub him with his band with the hope that it was more blessed.” [30]

In another hadith narrated by Abi Sa’id RA, he said Gabriel came to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and said: Muhammad, have you fallen ill? Thereupon he said: Yes. He (Gabriel) said: 


بِاسْمِ اللَّهِ أَرْقِيكَ مِنْ كُلِّ شَىْءٍ يُؤْذِيكَ مِنْ شَرِّ كُلِّ نَفْسٍ أَوْ عَيْنِ حَاسِدٍ اللَّهُ يَشْفِيكَ بِاسْمِ اللَّهِ أَرْقِيكَ.

“In the name of Allah! I exorcise you from everything and safeguard you from every evil that may harm you and from the eye of a jealous one. Allah would cure you and I invoke the name of Allah for you.” [31]

Closing

Indeed, consulting a shaman to treat an illness caused by magic is absolutely prohibited. We suggest consulting practitioners who practise treatment using ruqyah based on the verses of al-Quran and al-Sunnah in treating illnesses due to magic. Or if one is capable, he can treat himself following the quranic and prophetic guidance.

We also cited the decision made by the 33rd National Muzakarah Fatwa Council Committee for Religious Affairs Malaysia which convened on 11th October 1993 regarding the Practise of Black Magic/Magic:

  • Magic is a major sin and can lead to shirk and the ruling of learning it is prohibited.
  • Magic practitioner (sorcerer/shaman/etc.) who harm others have committed a major sin and if he committed any criminal act, then the punishment of qisas/hudud is obligatory on him.
  • The related parties should prepare a law to sentence the convicted people for the act of magic.

Lastly, may Allah SWT distance us from shirk matters and matters that lead to shirk towards Him and grant us all understanding in practising His commandments.

Wallahu a’lam.

[1] See Fath al-Mughith fi al-Sihri wa al-Hasad wa Mass Iblis, pg. 55

[2] See Lisan al-‘Arab, 4/348

[3] See al-Mughni, 9/34

[4] See Fathul Haq al-Mubin fi ‘Ilaj al-Sor’ie wa al-Sihr wa al-‘Ain, pg. 171

[5] See Rawatan Sihir Akibat Sihir, by Allahyarham Tuan Guru Dato’ Dr Haron Din, pg. 3

[6] See Fath al-Mughith fi al-Sihri wa al-Hasad wa Mass Iblis, pg. 57

[7] See Fathul Haq al-Mubin fi ‘Ilaj al-Sor’ie wa al-Sihr wa al-‘Ain, pg. 171

[8] See al-Sarim al-Battar fi al-Tasaddi li al-Sihr al-Asrar, pg. 17

[9] Narrated by al-Bukhari (2766)

[10] See al-Mughni, 8/151

[11] See Syarh al-Nawawi ‘ala Sahih Muslim, 14/176

[12] See Asna al-Matalib fi Syarh Raudh al-Talib, 4/82

[13] See Fath al-Bari Syarh Sahih al-Bukhari, 10/236

[14] See Qawa’id al-Ahkam fi Islah al-Anam, 2/355

[15] Surah al-Baqarah: 102

[16] Narrated by Ahmad in Musnad 1/190, Abu Daud 3/431, Abd al-Razzaq in Musannafnya 10/179 and al-Baihaqi in al-Sunan 8/136. Its sanad is sahih.

[17] Narrated by Imam Malik in al-Muwatta’ 2/871 and al-Baihaqi in al-Sunan 8/136

[18] Narrated by al-Bukhari in al-Tarikh al-Kabir 2/222 and al-Baihaqi in al-Sunan 8/136

[19] See Fath al-Bari10/ 224

[20] See al-Mughni, 8/151

[21] See al-Fatawa al-Mu’asirah, pg. 319

[22] Narrated by Muslim (5957)

[23] See al-Fatawa al-Mu’asirah, pg. 319

[24] Narrated by Ahmad (9171)

[25] Surah Taha: 70

[26] See Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azim, 9/350

[27] Surah al-Isra’: 82

[28] See Fath al-Qadir, 3/300

[29] See Syarh al-Sunnah, 12/159

[30] Narrated by al-Bukhari (5016) and Muslim (5844)

[31] Narrated by Muslim (5829)

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