Islam's views on sorcery and black magic

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Date: Apr. 2011
From: Islam and Civilisational Renewal(Vol. 2, Issue 3)
Publisher: Pluto Journals
Document Type: Essay
Length: 949 words
Lexile Measure: 1280L

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Black magic is condemned in Islam but Muslim thinkers are not clear on how to deal with this superstitious holdover from an earlier age. Sorcery or witchcraft (sihr) is often equated with trickery aimed at conflating falsehood with the rational association of causes and effects.

Sorcery is difficult to define. Our knowledge of sihr and what is not within reach of our sense perception is also limited. The available information in the scriptural sources of Islam also falls short of elaboration on detail. Sihr may aim at inflicting harm on its object or at realising a benefit, and the sorcerer often resorts to irrational and impermissible means. Muslim scholars have differed on the reality of sihr.

The Mutazilite rationalists held that sorcery is mere image-making and has no reality, and even considered one who believed in it as an infidel (kafir), claiming as authority a hadith stating that "one who resorts to sorcery truly associates other deities with God".

The majority of Muslim scholars have, however, concurred on the reality of sihr, its actual occurrence and its effects, as is also evident from the numerous references to it in the Qur'an. Some have deemed sihr a branch of knowledge that subscribes to a methodology and set of rules. The Mu'tazilites concurred, however, with the majority that God alone has the power to create body and soul, and natural endowments such as colour and taste ab initio. No...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A270895965