Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars:Witchcraft and the Occult

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Peculiar Traditions

The hadith literature are replete with references to witchcraft and the occult. The belief in the "evil eye" عين الحسد is particularly prominent. According to this ancient and widespread belief, the act of envying what another person has or possess can put the metaphysical, mystical "eye" upon them, bringing misfortune of various kinds on whom is on the receiving end of the eye. This eye can be warded off by, variously, giving the person who is envious the object of their envy, using charms made to look like the eye itself (among them the so-called خمسة or hamsa), prayers, scripture reading, or various forms of magic. The belief itself is widespread in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean societies and is attested to widely in ancient Greek literature, where it was part of the metaphysical world of the ancient Greek paganism. The hadith tradition paints the prophet Muhammad himself as contending with the evil eye via prayers. Like with the evil eye, the tradition is unanimous in recognizing the reality of سحر "sahr" as in magic or witchcraft, which is envisioned as a black, malevolent force in league with shaytan.

Evil Eye

The Arabic word al-‘ayn (translated as the evil eye) refers to when a person harms another with his eye. It starts when the person likes a thing, then his evil feelings affect it, by means of his repeated looking at the object of his jealousy. Allaah commanded His Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to seek refuge with Him from the envier...Everyone who puts the evil eye on another is envious, but not every envier puts the evil eye on another. The word haasid (envier) is more general in meaning than the word ‘aa’in (one who puts the evil eye on another), so seeking refuge with Allaah from the one who envies includes seeking refuge with Him from the one who puts the evil eye on another. The evil eye is like an arrow which comes from the soul of the one who envies and the one who puts the evil eye on another towards the one who is envied and on whom the evil eye is put; sometimes it hits him and sometimes it misses. If the target is exposed and unprotected, it will affect him, but if the target is cautious and armed, the arrow will have no effect and may even come back on the one who launched it.



The verse 113:4 (Those who blow on knots), is typically believed to be referring to those who practice magic,[1][2] with knots being commonly associated with magic in antiquity.[3]

1. Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of the dawn

2. From the evil of what He has created 3. And from the evil of the utterly dark night when it comes 4. And from the evil of those who blow on knots

5. And from the evil of the envious when he envies

And verse 113:5 (evil of the envious when he envies) is believed to be referring to the 'The Evil Eye'.

At least once, angels (Harut and Marut are named in this verse) and satans (believed to be jinn) teach humans magic:

and they follow what the Satans recited over Solomon's kingdom. Solomon disbelieved not, but the Satans disbelieved, teaching the people sorcery, and that which was sent down upon Babylon's two angels, Harut and Marut; they taught not any man, without they said, 'We are but a temptation; do not disbelieve.' From them they learned how they might divide a man and his wife, yet they did not hurt any man thereby, save by the leave of God, and they learned what hurt them, and did not profit them, knowing well that whoso buys it shall have no share in the world to come; evil then was that they sold themselves for, if they had but known.

And pharaoh has wizards in his employ in ancient Egypt, who's magic is overthrown by Moses's.

Said the Council of the people of Pharaoh, 'Surely this man is a cunning sorcerer

who desires to expel you from your land; what do you command?' They said, 'Put him and his brother off a while, and send among the cities musterers, to bring thee every cunning sorcerer.' And the sorcerers came to Pharaoh, saying, 'We shall surely have a wage, if we should be the victors?' He said, 'Yes, indeed; and you shall be among the near-stationed.' He said, “You throw”; when they threw, they cast a magic spell upon the people’s eyes and terrified them, and they brought a great magic. And We signalled to Moses: ‘Throw down your staff.’ And behold, it was swallowing what they had faked. So the truth came to pass, and false was proved what they were doing. So they were defeated there and returned humiliated.

The sorcerers fell to the ground in homage,

Verse 68:51 has also been taken by classical scholars to refer to the Evil Eye:

And the Unbelievers would almost trip thee up with their eyes when they hear the Message; and they say: "Surely he is possessed!"

Such as Ibn Kathir's prominent tafsir:[4]

The Effect of the Evil Eye is Real. In this Ayah is a proof that the effect of the evil eye and its affliction by the command of Allah is real. Many Hadiths have been reported concerning this through numerous routes of transmission.


The evil eye is a fact

Abu Huraira reported so many abidith from Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and he reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The influence of an evil eye is a fact.
Ibn 'Abbas reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The influence of an evil eye is a fact; if anything would precede the destiny it would be the influence of an evil eye, and when you are asked to take bath (as a cure) from the influence of an evil eye, you should take bath.
Yahya related to me from Malik that Muhammad ibn Abi Umama ibn Sahl ibn Hunayf heard his father say, "My father, Sahl ibn Hunayf did a ghusl at al-Kharrar. He removed the jubbah he had on while Amir ibn Rabia was watching, and Sahl was a man with beautiful white skin. Amir said to him, 'I have never seen anything like what I have seen today, not even the skin of a virgin.' Sahl fell ill on the spot, and his condition grew worse. Somebody went to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and told him that Sahl was ill, and could not go with him. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came to him, and Sahl told him what had happened with Amir. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'Why does one of you kill his brother? Why did you not say, "May Allah bless you?" (ta baraka-llah) The evil eye is true. Do wudu from it.' Amir did wudu from it and Sahl went with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and there was nothing wrong with him."
Narrated By Abu Huraira : The Prophet said, “The effect of an evil eye is a fact.” And he prohibited tattooing.

The evil eye causes black spots, and a type of prayer (ruqya) can prevent it:[5]

Narrated by ‘Aisha: “The Prophet ordered me or somebody else to do Ruqya [recitation or incantation of the Qur’an for purposes of healing] (if there was danger) from an evil eye.” Narrated by Um Salama: That the Prophet saw in her house a girl whose face had a black spot. He said, “She is under the effect of an evil eye; so treat her with a Ruqya.”

Responsible for the deaths of many Muslims

The evil eye is responsible for the deaths of many Muslims (second only to the will of Allah).

Jabir reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “A great many from my nation who die, after the judgment, decree, and providence of Allah, die by the evil eye.” Definition of the evil eye, and ways of protecting oneself against it and treating it] - Islam Q&A, Fatwa No. 20954</ref>

Muhammad was affected by the evil eye

Muhammad was affected by the evil eye and the witchcraft of a Jew.

Abu Sa'id reported that Gabriel came to AJlah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and said: Muhammad, have you fallen ill? Thereupon he said: Yes. He (Gabriel) said:" In the name of Allah I exercise 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."
A'isha reported that a Jew from among the Jews of Banu Zuraiq who was called Labid b. al-A'sam cast spell upon Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) with the result that he (under the influence of the spell) felt that he had been doing something whereas in fact he had not been doing that. (This state of affairs lasted) until one day or during one night Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) made supplication (to dispel its effects). He again made a supplication and he again did this and said to 'A'isha: Do you know that Allah has told me what I had asked Him? There came to me two men and one amongst them sat near my head and the other one near my feet and he who sat near my head said to one who sat near my feet or one who sat near my feet said to one who sat near my head: What is the trouble with the man? He said: The spell has affected him. He said: Who has cast that? He (the other one) said: It was Labid b. A'sam (who has done it). He said: What is the thing by which he transmitted its effect? He said: By the comb and by the hair stuck to the comb and the spathe of the date-palm. He said: Where is that He replied: In the well of Dhi Arwan. She said: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) sent some of the persons from among his Companions there and then said: 'A'isha. by Allah, its water was yellow like henna and its trees were like heads of the devils. She said that she asked Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as to why he did not burn that. He said: No, Allah has cured me and I do not like that I should induce people to commit any high-handedness in regard (to one another), but I only commanded that it should be buried.

The Punishment for Magic

Narrated Jundab: That he heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saying: "The punishment of the Sahir(sorcerer/witch) is a strike of the sword."


Witches must be executed

Learning witchcraft and practising it constitute kufr. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“They followed what the Shayaateen (devils) gave out (falsely of the magic) in the lifetime of Sulaymaan (Solomon). Sulaymaan did not disbelieve, but the Shayaateen (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic and such things that came down at Babylon to the two angels, Haaroot and Maaroot, but neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) till they had said, ‘We are for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us).’”

[al-Baqarah 2:102]

A practitioner of witchcraft may do something that makes him an apostate, so he commits kufr and should be executed for his apostasy. Or he may practice witchcraft by doing something that does not constitute kufr. In that case there is a difference of scholarly opinion, but the correct view is that he should also be executed if it is proven that he is a practitioner of witchcraft. This is what the Sahaabah (may Allaah be pleased with them) did and enjoined other to do. If he is executed, he should not be washed or shrouded or buried in the Muslim graveyard.

There should be no hesitation in executing the practitioner of witchcraft, whether we say that he is a kaafir or not, because this is what is proven from the companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). Executing him prevents the spread of evil and serves as a deterrent to his fellow practitioners of witchcraft.

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