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January 15, 2011 / Man in the Mirror

Religious Con Artists – Part 4

Many people make a living at either pretending or, some believe, actually having and using skills and powers related to the paranormal.

Many Islamic sources discount most methods of magic, divination, etc, as false.
Chapter 10, verse 81:
“What magic you have brought is deception, certainly God will negate it.”

Some interpretations of Quran and Islamic sources do not deny the possibility that some of these practices may occasionally have a basis in reality. Many people who have had and still do have some skill are usually extremely pious and they do not advertise their God-given gifts. However, the “reality” behind much magic is more of a psychological nature than anything supernatural. That is, even if some of these skills or methods are sometimes successful, their success is not necessarily due to “unnatural” means most of the time. Certain forms of black magic are considered by scholars to be of this category-their power is most likely only psychological; if someone is superstitious and prone to believing its effect, then they may feel its results.

The practice of sorcery has been mentioned as one of the greater sins which preclude someone from paradise, on the basis of Sura Baqarah, verse 102.

Several traditions prohibit a believer from turning to a diviner or a magician for aid or advice The Holy Prophet says, “If a person goes to a magician, a diviner, or a liar and testifies to the truth of whatever he says, he becomes an infidel according to all the books revealed by Allah.”

While supernatural occurrences do sometimes seem to occur, such as “giving information of the unseen, and particularly foretelling future events; the charms for love and hate, the harmful or beneficial spells affecting men’s virility, hypnotism, mesmerism, spiritualism, telekinesis and so on…,” that usually their power is from the human mind, not an outside source. That is, human will can manipulate the imagination to conjure otherwise improbably or impossible events. People with particularly strong will and skill can use their own will to manipulate the wills of others into believing certain things. Since these do not rely on the will of Allah, but instead lead many people to be deceived by their own illusions of power, they are a cause of separation between man and His Lord.

Miracles, divinations and the like, performed by Prophets and saints, are not of this type, because they rely on the power of Allah solely and consider no power to be independent of Allah.

All the jurists are unanimous in their opinion that ‘Kahanat’ or soothsaying is sinful. One should not resort to such means for trying to find missing property, missing persons, or making decisions about the future. Instead there are numerous sinless means, such as physically seeking, prayers (Duas) and seeking the guidance of God (Istikhara).

Other kinds of magic that are mentioned as prohibited include creating illusions to deceive people, and attempting to influence Jinns, animals, or other creatures in order to obtain benefit, information, power, etc., it is suggested in some sources that this manipulating of other creatures may be harmful to them, akin to subjugation or slavery.

Dream interpretation is mentioned in the Quran and by scholars as a legitimate activity. However, many people may interpret them incorrectly Likewise, the power of certain stones or substances for healing and protection is also well-noted in the Islamic sources, but may also be misunderstood by many. Pious people have been mentioned in sources as occasionally communicating with the dead or the Shuhada, or receiving messages from holy people. Not all such accounts may be factual, but the possibility os such occurrences is acknowledged in Islam. Successful access to any of these ‘powers’ is obtained by permission of Allah and through legitimate means only; anyone claiming these abilities or knowledge but lacking in piety would naturally be suspect.

There are certain patterns of those who make the claims of being in contact with holy people yet are not pious. They can in one of many: pitting immediate family member against another, separating links in extended families, accusing relations of bad intentions without any proof, taking money and favors under pretense, boasting about their gifts, keeping company with corrupt politicians and people, creating discord in marriages, not maintaining the correct distance between unrelated men and women, inappropriately behaving with unrelated women, dissuading established Islamic practices in order to promote own rituals, backbiting, gossiping, promoting wrong ideals and keeping silent on correct ideals and to focus on worldly material things.

If a believer is interested in the mystical, there are many doors open to him that are positive and much more effective-the reciting of Quran, Dua (prayers), Dhikr (remembrance of God) and the permitted Irfani disciplines.


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