Lesson From The Quran

Verse 102-103 Cont'd

Magic and Prophets
As to the question whether magic can have an effect on prophets, we shall say that it can. As we have explained above, magic operates through physical causes, and prophets are not immune to the influence of physical causes. Just as they feel the effects of hunger and thirst, fall ill and get healed through the operation of apparent physical causes, in the same way they can be affected by the hidden operations of magic, which are no less physical. Let us add that being affected by magic does in no way go against the dignity of the station of prophethood - no more than would thirst or hunger. Authentic ahadith report that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was affected by the magic spell cast by the Jews, that he came to know of it through revelation, and that he took certain measures to free himself of its effects. The Holy Qur'an too tells us how Sayyidna Musa (Moses AS) experienced the effects of magic when the sorcerers cast a spell on his eyes, and the ropes and the sticks thrown by them began to look like running serpents, so that he was really frightened (20:66,67).

Injunctions of the Shari'ah with regard to Magic
As we have already said, Sihr (magic), in the terminology of the Holy Qur'an and the Hadith, refers only to those practices in which one seeks the help of jinns and devils (Shayatin) by gaining their pleasure through the adoption of certain phrases or actions that involve infidelity (Kufr) and association (Shirk) or sin and transgression, and thus brings about certain extraordinary and unusual events. The magic of Babylon, mentioned in the Holy Qur'an, was just this, and it is this form of magic which it condemns as infidelity or Kufr (Jassas). According to Abu Mansur, the most valid and correct view in this respect is that each and every form of magic does not, unconditionally and absolutely, constitute infidelity, but only that form which employs actions or speech contrary to the tenets of faith (Iman). (Ruh al-Ma'ani)
As everyone knows, the Holy Qur'an and the Hadith repeatedly enjoin upon the Muslims to consider the Shayatin as one's enemies, to hate them and to curse them. Seeking to please them and to win their friendship, in contravention of such clear commandments, is in itself a sin. Moreover, they are pleased only when one indulges in Kufr (infidelity) or Shirk (association), and thus forfeits one's faith ('Iman) altogether, or at least in disobedience and transgression, displeasing Allah and His angels by wallowing in dirt and impurity - which becomes an additional sin. And if one makes use of magic for doing some harm to a human being unlawfully, it is still one more sin.
Thus, what the Holy Qur'an and the Hadith call Sihr can never be free either of infidelity in the matter of faith, or at least of infidelity in the matter of actions. If, in order to please the Shayatin, one adopts actions or speech involving infidelity or association, one would be committing an act of real infidelity in the matter of faith; and even if one manages to avoid infidelity and association in speech or action, but indulges in other sinful activities, one would not remain free from infidelity in the matter of actions. This is what the Holy Qur'an means when, in the present verses, it designates magic as Kufr.
To sum up, when magic employs actions or speech involving infidelity (such as seeking the help of Shayatin, or believing the stars and the planets to be effective in themselves, or claiming prophethood by presenting the results of magical procedures as miracles, etc), such a magic, according to the consensus, constitutes infidelity; and when magic does not involve acts of infidelity but only the commission of sinful acts, such a magic is a major sin.
Now, let us add some subsidiary injunctions with regard to magic.
(1) Since magic is not usually free from infidelity in the matter of faith or in that of action, it necessarily follows that it is forbidden to learn or teach or practice it. Some jurists, however, allow one to learn magic for the purpose of protecting Muslims from harm, but one must not try to learn more than is necessary.
(2) If in preparing charms and amulets the help of Jinns and Shayatin has been sought, they too come under the category of Sihr, and are thus forbidden. If the words employed in the charms are vague, and one does not exactly know what they mean but suspects that they are invocations addressed to idols or Shayatin, even such charms are forbidden.
(3) As for the other forms of magic beside the Sihr, like that of Babylon, condemned by the Holy Qur'an and the Hadith, if they involve Kufr and Shirk in some way, they too are forbidden.
If there is a form of magic which employs words or actions or other elements to which the Shari'ah does not object, then it is permissible on condition that it is not used for a purpose which the Shari'ah forbids.
It is permissible to use the verses of the Holy Qur'an, or the Divine Names or the words of the Hadith in preparing charms and amulets, or as a recitation or invocation for gaining divine help in order to attain a desired end. But if such a use of the sacred texts or words is made for a reprehensible purpose, like doing harm to someone without an excuse, even that is forbidden. (Shami, Fatawa Qadhi Khan)

A doctrinal point
Verse 102 says: "They could not thus do any harm to anyone, except with the permission of Allah". This shows that causes in themselves and by themselves cannot produce the effects one usually associates with them, and it is Allah who creates the effects -as much as the Causes. (Bayan al-Qur'an)

Verse 104
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَقُولُوا رَاعِنَا وَقُولُوا انْظُرْنَا وَاسْمَعُوا وَلِلْكَافِرِينَ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ ()
O those who believe, do not say "Ra'ina", hut say "Unzurna", and listen. And for the unbelievers there is a grievous punishment.

Among other perversities, some of the Jews invented a new mischief. When they presented themselves before the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), they would address him with the word Ra'ina, which, in Arabic, means "be mindful of us", but is, in Hebrew, a curse. The latter is what they intended, but the Arabs, not knowing Hebrew, could not see the point, and some Muslims too, with the Arabic sense of the word in mind, began to address the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) in the same manner to the great glee of the Jews who had thus found a way of insulting him openly, and had even tricked the Muslims into joining them. In order to frustrate the design of the Jews, the Holy Qur'an commands the Muslims to use the word Unzurna instead of Ra'ina, for the meanings of the two words are the same in Arabic. The verse also announces a dire punishment to the Jews for showing disrespect to the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and for trying to be clever with him.
The verse describes the insolent Jews as Kafirin (infidels), which means that being intentionally disrespectful towards a prophet even in an indirect manner constitutes infidelity.
The verse shows that if a perfectly legitimate action on one's part provides room for others to commit illegitimate actions, even the legitimate action no longer remains lawful for one. For example, if a permissible action on the part of a scholar is likely to lead the ignorant into error and to induce them to do impermissible things, that permissible action will then become forbidden for him, provided that the action concerned is not essential according to the Shari'ah and is not included among its objects. The Holy Qur'an and the Hadith provide many instances of this nature. For example, before the advent of Islam the Quraysh had, in rebuilding the Ka'bah, made certain modifications in the design set by Sayyidna Ibrahim (Abraham AS). A hadith reports that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) wished to demolish the present structure, and to build it again according to the Abrahamic pattern, but he did not do so, for such an action could have led ignorant people into misunderstanding and error.
In the vocabulary of the Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, such injunctions are described as سد الذرائع: Sadd al-Dhara'i: "removing the means (to error)" and are accepted by all the jurists -- those of the Hanbali school being very particular about them. (Qurtubi)

Verse 105
مَا يَوَدُّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ وَلَا الْمُشْرِكِينَ أَنْ يُنَزَّلَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ وَاللَّهُ يَخْتَصُّ بِرَحْمَتِهِ مَنْ يَشَاءُ وَاللَّهُ ذُو الْفَضْلِ الْعَظِيمِ ()
Those who disbelieve from among the people of the Book, or idolaters, do not like that any good should come to you from your Lord. But Allah chooses for His grace whom He wills. And Allah is the Lord of great bounty.
The previous verse told us how the Jews behaved towards the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam); the present verse speaks of their behaviour towards Muslims in general. Some of the Jews used to assure the Muslims of their sincerity towards them, and to pretend that they would very much have liked the Muslims to have received from Allah religious doctrines and commandments superior to what they themselves had received, so that they too could accept them, but unfortunately Islam did not seem to be a better religion. The Holy Qur'an refutes their claim to be the well-wishers of the Muslims, and declares that the infidels, whether they be the Jews or the associators, are so jealous of Muslims that they can never like the idea of their receiving from Allah any kind of blessing whatsoever. Of course, this jealousy can do no harm to the Muslims, for Allah is Beneficent and Ail-Powerful, and can shower his special blessings on whomsoever He chooses.
These Jews used to make two claims -- firstly, that Judaism was a better religion than Islam; secondly, that they were the well-wishers of the Muslims. They could not establish the first of these claims on the basis of any valid argument, and it remained an empty assertion. Moreover, the difference between Islam and Judaism does not primarily depend on the question of one being better than the other. For, when something new comes to abrogate something older, the latter is automatically given up - and Allah has sent Islam to abrogate all the earlier religions. The fact being so obvious, the Holy Qur'an says nothing in refutation of the first claim, and takes up only the second. The mus/iri&in (associators) have been mentioned here along with the Jews for the sake of emphasis, and to point out that Jews cannot be the well-wishers of Muslims any more than can -- the two being alike in their hatred of Muslims.