Those who Traffic in Magic and Sorcery
In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy.
Allah praise is for Allah, Lord of the words, and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His servant and final Messenger, Muhammad. To proceed:
Shaikh Al-Islam Muhammad Ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhāb (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
Allah, the Most High, stated: “And verily, they knew that whoever traffics in magic has no share in the Hereafter.” (Al-Baqarah 2:102) He also stated: “They believed in Jibt and Tāghoot.” (An-Nisā: 51)
‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “Jibt is magic and Tāghoot is the Shaytān (the Devil).” 
Jābir (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The tāghoots are the soothsayers upon who the devils descend [with false information]. And in every district, there is one [of these soothsayers].” [1A]
Abu Hurayrah said that Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Keep away from the seven destructive sins.” They asked him: “What are they, O Allah’s Messenger?” He replied: “Associating partners with Allah, magic, killing a person whom Allah has made impermissible to kill, consuming usury (interest), taking the wealth of the orphan, to turn away on the day of battle, to falsely accuse the chaste believing woman (or man) of fornication.” 
Jundub (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) narrated what is ascribed to the Messenger of Allah (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam): “The punishment of the magician is that [the judge rules] he struck with the sword.” Reported by Tirmidhi who said: “What is correct is that it is the saying of the Companion.” 
It is reported in Saheeh Al-Bukhāri from Bajālah Ibn ‘Abdah who said: “[The Caliph] Umar Ibn Al-Khattāb (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) wrote: “Execute every male and female magician.” So we executed [upon his command] three magicians.” 
It is reported authentically from the wife of the Prophet, Hafsah (radiyallāhu ‘anhumā) that she commanded that a female servant of her’s should be executed because she performed magic on Hafsah, so she was executed.  Similar has been reported from Jundub (radiyallāhu ‘anhu). 
Imām Ahmad stated: “This is reported from three Companions of the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam).”
From Shaikh Ahmad Ibn Yahyā An-Najmi (rahimahullāh) with brief additional notes from Abu Khadeejah for further clarity:
Magic is real; meaning that the fact it exists in true. Shaikh Hāfidh Ibn Ahmad Al-Hakami (rahimhullāh) said in lines of poetry: “Magic is real and it has effects; however it only occurs by the will of the Most Able (Allah). Meaning: [it occurs] by the decree of what He (Allah) has already decreed through His universal will. And it is not that He willed it by His legislative pure will (which is what He loves and is pleased with).”
So magic is what Allah has decreed by His universal will and He forbade it by His legislative will. This is similar to the will of Allah wherein He has decreed unbelief to occur and He forbade it by His legislative will.
Magic is of two types:
- Illusionary magic (Sihr at-Takhyeel).
- The magic that has an actual effect (Sihr at-Ta’theer).
Illusionary magic: is that which Allah informed us in the Qur’an about the magicians of Pharaoh: “The magicians said: O Moses, either you throw first or else we shall throw first. Moses said: ‘Nay, you throw first.’ Then behold, their ropes and staffs appeared, by their magic, as [serpents] moving fast.” (Tāhā: 65-66)
The magic that has an actual effect: There are many examples and the types of this magic. From them is:
A. Keeping a man away from his wife. He is kept away from her [through magic] such that he does not desire her or no longer wishes to do anything with her. Allah, the Most High, said: “So, they went forth and learned the sorcery which causes separation between a man and his wife. But they cannot harm anyone with it except by Allāh’s leave, and the evil-doers only learn that that which harms them and does not benefit them.” (Al-Baqarah 2:102)
B. That which afflicts many people and even afflicted the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) when Labeed Ibn A’sam Al-Yahoodi (may Allah’s curse be upon him) performed magic on the Messenger. So, Angel Jibreel (‘alaihis-salām) made ruqyah (supplications and recitations of cure) upon him with the last two Soorahs of the Qur’an. And he told the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) where the articles of magic could be found. Bukhari (5766) and Muslim (2189) reported from ‘Ā’ishah (radiyallāhu ‘anhumā) that she said: “Magic was worked on the Prophet so that he began to think that he had done something though he had not. One day, while he was with me, he made a lengthy supplication to Allah and then said: ‘O Ā’ishah, do you know what Allah has instructed me about what I asked him?’ I said: ‘What is it, O Allah’s Messenger?’ He said: ‘Two men came to me, one of them sat at my head, and the other at my feet. Then one said to the other: ‘What is the illness of this man?’ The other said: ‘Magic.’ He then asked: ‘Who did the magic?’ The other replied: ‘Labeed Ibn Al-A’sam Al-Yahoodi from the tribe of Zuraiq.’ He asked: ‘Which what did he make magic?’ He replied: ‘With hair wrapped around a comb and a skin of pollen of a male date palm tree.’ He asked: ‘Where is it now?’ He answered: ‘In the well of Dhī Arwān.’ After that, Allah’s Messenger went with some of his Companions to the well. When he reached it, he saw that it was surrounded by date-palm trees.” Then he returned to Ā’ishah and said to her: “By Allah, its water was red like as if infused by henna leaves, and its date palms were like the heads of devils.” Ā’ishah asked: “O Allah’s Messenger, did you take it out?” He replied: “No. As for me, Allah has already cured me, healed me and given me well-being. And I feared that evil would come upon the Muslims from it.” Then he ordered that the well be filled up with earth, and so it was done.
The point is that magic in all its forms and types is unbelief. Allah, the Most High, said: “They (the Jews after the time of Moses) followed that which the devils recited during the reign of the [Prophet and King] Solomon. Solomon did not disbelieve but it was the devils who disbelieved by teaching the people magic that was revealed to the two angels called Hārūt and Mārūt, at Babylon. They did not teach it to anyone until they had said, “Indeed we are but a test, so do not disbelieve by learning it.” So, they went forth and learned from the angels the sorcery which causes separation between a man and his wife. But they cannot harm anyone with it except by Allāh’s leave, and the evil-doers only learn that which harms them and does not benefit them. And verily, they knew that whoever traffics in magic has no share in the Hereafter. Evil indeed is the price for which they sold their souls, if only they knew.” (Al-Baqarah 2:102)
From this verse, we ascertain the following:
- Allah, the Most High, informs us that it was the devils who disbelieved due to their teaching the people magic; and their fabrication of a lie upon the Prophet Solomon (‘alaihis-salām) in claiming that he disbelieved.
Allah informs us that the two angels at Babylon did not teach anyone until they had said, “Indeed we are but a test, so do not disbelieve by learning it.”
Allah stated: “And verily, they knew that whoever traffics in magic has no share in the Hereafter.” Meaning that whoever exchanges his faith for magic, then he has no share in the Hereafter; no share of happiness and no Paradise.
The Magicians, Devils and Jinn
Allah, the Most High, stated: “They believed in al-Jibt and at-Tāghoot.” (An-Nisā: 51) ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “Jibt is magic and Tāghoot is Shaytān.” Jābir (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The tāghoots are the soothsayers upon who the devils descend [with false information]. And in every district, there is one [of these soothsayers].”
Whoever studied the state of affairs in the times of pre-Islamic ignorance (al-Jāhiliyyah) and what the people were upon in their state of Jāhiliyyah, they know this very well. So [it is true] that the tāghoots are the fortune-tellers or soothsayers upon whom the devils descend. And in every district, there is one whom the people would fear. The devils come to the soothsayer with murmurings that may contain a word which they heard from the angels. But after the sending of the Prophet Muhammad (salallāhu ‘alaihi wassallam) the devils were prevented from listening in. Allah stated regarding the devils from the Jinn that they said: “And we have sought to reach the heaven but found it filled with stern guards and flaming fires (shooting stars and meteors). And we used to sit there in stations to listen in. But anyone who listens in now will find a flaming fire waiting on him in ambush. And we know not whether evil is intended for those on earth or whether their Lord intended for them a right path.” (Al-Jinn: 8-10)
From these verses in Soorah Al-Jinn, several matters become clear:
- The devils from the jinn used to be seated in stations in the sky for the purpose of listening in to the speech of the angels and then to use that to deviate the people [by claiming knowledge of the Unseen].
Then they prevented from that after the sending of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). So, they were no longer able to listen in. And the skies are defended and guarded with shooting stars that are thrown at the devils (among the jinn) that set them ablaze.
This verse proves that the jinn know nothing of the Unseen and that is why they stated: “And we know not whether evil is intended for those on earth or whether their Lord intended for them a right path.”
The devils (shayāteen) believe in their Lord yet that does not enter them into Islam. And that is the same for the unbelievers from the humans who believe in their Lord (i.e. Allah) but that does not enter them into Islam – that is because they refuse to submit and worship Him alone.
As for the term Tāghoot, then it is derived from tughān which is to transgress and go beyond bounds in disobedience. And what is apparent is the tā (the t at the end) indicates an increase. Meaning that they are tāghoot because they fall in excessive and many transgressions. At-Tughyān is to increase in a matter that causes one to exceed and go beyond bounds.
Shaikhul-Islam Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhāb mentioned the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah where the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) stated: “Keep away from the seven destructive sins.” They asked him: “What are they, O Allah’s Messenger?” He replied: “Associating partners with Allah, magic, killing a person whom Allah has made impermissible to kill, consuming usury (interest), taking the wealth of the orphan, to turn away on the day of battle, to falsely accuse the chaste believing woman (or man) of fornication.”
Then the Shaikh (Ibn Abdul-Wahhāb) brought the hadeeth of Jundub with takes the ruling of ascription to the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam): “The legislated punishment for the magician is that he is struck with the sword.” This Companion is Jundub Al-Khair who watched the activities of this magician who claimed to have cut off the head of a boy and then returned it back. So, then Jundub came with his sheathed sword and when the magician started his tricks [once more], Jundub removed the magician’s head and it fell to the ground. He then said: “If he was truthful, he’ll return his own head back.” Then he said, “The legislated punishment for the magician is a strike with a sword.” [The legislated punishments can only be carried out by those in authority, and Jundub had that authority].
The Caliph, Umar Ibn Al-Khattāb (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) wrote: “Execute every male and female magician.” So they executed [upon his command] three magicians. It is reported authentically from the wife of the Prophet, Hafsah (radiyallāhu ‘anhumā) that she commanded that a female servant of her’s should be executed because she performed magic on Hafsah, so she was executed.
So all of this proves that the magician/sorcerer is an unbeliever and magic itself is unbelief. And the one found guilty of magic is to be executed (male or female) by the strike of the sword through the Islamic Legislation sanctioned by those in authority, not through vigilante-type retribution (which is forbidden in Islam). It is understood from these narrations that the magician is asked to repent and then executed.
Concluding note: If magic and sorcery were being practised in the time of ‘Umar (radiyallāhu ‘anhu), then what about today?! Magic in the time of ‘Umar was the remnants from the days of Jāhiliyyah. In today’s world, magic is practised and revered, and given an elevated station in literature, film and art. It is important that Muslims and all right-minded people keep away from these irreligious and satanic practices, and especially important is to steer children well-away from these harmful matters. The practice of magic as described above nullifies Tawheed and exits a Muslim from the Islamic faith.
The Bible of the Jews and Christians on Magic, Witchcraft and Sorcery
- “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers. Do not seek them out and so make yourselves unclean by them. I am the Lord, your God.” Leviticus 19:31. A person who practises necromancy is a wizard or magician, and a medium is a soothsayer or fortuneteller.
“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8
“And he burned his son as an offering and used fortune-telling and omens and dealt with mediums (soothsayers) and with necromancers (sorcerers). He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger.” 2 Kings 21:6
“There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you.” Deuteronomy 18:10-12
“Therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against your magic bands with which you hunt the souls like birds, and I will tear them from your arms, and I will let the souls whom you hunt go free, the souls like birds.” Ezekiel 13:20
“When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you.” Deuteronomy 18:9-14
“You shall not permit a sorceress to live.” Exodus 22:18
“A man or a woman who is a medium or a necromancer shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them.” Leviticus 20:27
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21
“And I will cut off sorceries from your hand, and you shall have no more tellers of fortunes.” Micah 5:12
“If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.” Leviticus 20:6
“And he burned his sons as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger.” 2 Chronicles 33:6
13. “Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” Revelation 22:15
 Reported by Bukhāri 6/45 in disconnected form; Ibn Hajr cited that is also reported with a connected chain of narration that is strong. See Fathul-Bāri 8/252.
[1A] Bukhāri 6/45, in disconnected form; and declared hasan (authentic) by Muqbil Al-Wādi’i in his checking of the Tafseer of Ibn Katheer, 2/402. Plural of taghoot is, tawāgheet.
 Bukhari no. 2767; Muslim no. 89.
 Tirmidhi no. 1460; the narration was declared weak (da’eef) by Al-Albāni in Ad-Da’eefah no. 1446.
 Bukhāri no. 3156; this wording is with Abu Dāwood no. 3043.
 Mālik in Al-Muwatta no. 14; Al-Bayhaqi in Al-Kubrā 8/136 no. 16941.
 Bukhāri in At-Tāreekh Al-Kabeer 2/222 in his biography of Jundub entitle, “Jundub Ibn Ka’b, the executor of the magician.” Then he narrated with a connected chain of narration to Abu ‘Uthmān, “In the presence of Waleed there was a man (magician) who would behead a man and separate his head from his body, so we were amazed. Then he returned his head back to his body. So Jundub came along and killed the magician.” Reported by Al-Bayhaqi in Al-Kubrā, 8136.
The Arabic text of the Chapter: