Punishment Under Islamic Law For Practicing Sihr [Dark Magic]

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The Messenger of Allaah said, “He is not of us, the one who (looks for) evil omens, or the one on whose behalf they are sought (omens are signs, information, from the unseen used against people), or the one who practices soothsaying, or the one on whose behalf it is practiced; or the one who practices sorcery, or the one for whom sorcery is done.” (At-Tabaraanee)

He also said, “And the magician will never be successful no matter what amount (of skill) he may attain” (Taahaa 20:69). This hadith doesn’t mean sihr (dark magic) doesn’t work, it means that the sihr used will only be a tool in taking a person to his fate, his fate isnt the sihr (dark magic) but what is given after it has passed, so magic won’t be successful  in changing what he grants. Allah will grant the person increase in his life on the back of the sahir (the one who did sihr on him) because of the sihr (dark magic) he suffered, so the sahir (sorcerer) any misfortune he suffers in his life, or anything he falls short in will be because of the people he did sihr on. As a result of this the Sahir, both the one who practices it or has it done for him is continually in a state of falling short in his life, this is how the sahir never prospers.

No matter what benefit he receives from the sihr it is always short of what he would have received had he worked for it himself.

The Prophet (saws) commanded: “Kill every sorcerer, for this is the punishment ordained by Allah.”

This is the fiqh (legal) opinion of Imam Abu Haneefah, Imam Maalik, and Imam Ahmad the founders of the Madhhabs of Law in Islam, in all four madhhabs (schools of Law) including the Shafii Madhhab practicing Sihr is a capital punishment and one of the worst sins a person can commit on the same level with Kufr, leaving Islam, because Allah says many times in the Quran it is Kufr (2:102).

Allah in a single verse (2:102) says Sihr is Disbelief (Kufr) multiple times to emphasis this point, that the person who practices dark magic and the person who has it practiced for him have left Islam:

“And they followed [instead] what the devils had recited during the reign of Solomon. It was not Solomon who disbelieved, but the devils disbelieved, (by) teaching people magic and that which was revealed to the two angels at Babylon, Harut and Marut. But the two angels do not teach anyone unless they say, “We are a trial, so do not disbelieve [by practicing magic].” And [yet] they learn from them that by which they cause separation between a man and his wife. But they do not harm anyone through it except by permission of Allah. And the people learn what harms them and does not benefit them (the Sahir is in a state of loss in his life). But the Children of Israel certainly knew that whoever purchased the magic (practiced it or had it practiced for them) would not have in the Hereafter any share. And wretched is that for which they sold themselves, if they only knew.” (the extent of their loss in this life and the next)(2:102)

Imam Ahmad said, “Capital punishment for the sorcerer has been authentically reported from three companions of the Prophet. It is reported from Umar that he wrote, “Kill every sorcerer and sorceress.” Bujaalah (a sub-narrator of the hadith) said, “Then we killed three sorceresses.” It is also authentically reported from Hafsah (the Prophet’s wife) that she ordered a maid of hers to be killed because she did sorcery on her.” The great companion Jundub bin Kaab, it was also authentically reported that he beheaded a magician who was playing his magic in front of Waleed and said, “Let him use his magic for his own benefit now”, in this is the ruling on street magicians, hence capital punishment is not simply for dark magic used on people but any kind of illusions or tricks people play on people, illustrating how strict Islam is on any kind of magic.

According to Imam Malik, a person who practices Sihr (magic), but does not have it done for himself is similar to the person Allah describes in the following verse: “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.” (al-Baqarah 2/102) According to the verse, Imam Malik ruled that the punishment for practicing Sihr is the death sentence. (Muwatta, 628)

According to Ibn Qudamah, the punishment for practicing Sihr was also the death sentence and this is the opinion reported by the companions of the prophet (saws), among others, of Umar (ra), Uthman Ibn Affan (ra), Ibn Umar (ra), Hafsa (ra), Jundub Ibn Abdullah (ra), Jundub Ibn Ka’b (ra), Qays Ibn Sa’d (ra) and Umar Ibn Abdu’l-Aziz, it is also the view of Abu Hanifa and Malik. Continue reading

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