President of Jamiyatu Ulama Australia

Superstition and Witchcraft

اليوم أكملت لكم دينكم وأتممت عليكم نعمتي ورضيت لكم الإسلام دينا
This day I have perfected your religion for you, and completed My Favour upon you, and I have chosen for you as your Din Al-Islam.

تركت فيكم أمرين، لن تضلوا ما تمسكم بهما: كتاب الله وسنتي.
“I have left among you two things, by holding fast to which you will never go astray: The Book of Allah and my Sunnah.”

The Glorious Qur’an and the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (s.a.w.) stand foremost in guiding the life of the Muslim. If we turn the pages of history and look at the lives of our Prophet (s.a.w.), his Khulafa’ ar-Rashidun, and the Tabi‘un, we will discover the true reality and glory of Islam. There was a time when the Muslims, with the Qur’an in one hand and the Sunnah in the other, were able to crush the forces of Batil, the might of the Persians and Romans.

These illumined personalities lit up the farthest reaches of the earth with the rays of true knowledge and laid the foundations for true civilisation, as true ambassadors of Islam. And they left behind them a great and noble heritage for all humanity: a humanity previously grovelling in the darkness of ignorance, immorality and superstition.

Most of the Muslims of today have fallen from that high pedestal of glory and honour upon which our Pious Predecessors stood and have instead lost their identity as true propagators of Islam. This is the result of apathy towards the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

Many factors have contributed to this degeneration. Two notable ones are Sihr, or black magic, and superstition. These beliefs have been borrowed from Mushrikeen and Kafireen, and they have absolutely no basis in the teachings of Islam. Yet, these beliefs are prevalent among many ignorant and misguided people, and in many places, they have obscured the true understanding of Islam.

There is no place for omens and superstitions in Islam. These things are characteristic of Jahiliyyah and Shirk. The Mushrikeen Arabs used to believe in many of these things, for example:

• It was believed that a snake must not be killed, or otherwise its mate would avenge it.
• When the number of a man’s camels reached 1000, he would gouge out the thousandth camel’s eye to protect himself from the evil eye.
• In times of famine, dry hay was tied to the tail of a sheep and set alight, and the sheep let loose.
• If a man went on a journey, he would tie a piece of cloth to a tree. If, upon returning, he found the knot untied, it was believed that his wife had been unfaithful to him while he was away.
• If a person lost his way, he would turn his clothes inside out, thinking that this would set him on the right path.
• It was believed that wearing a brass ring prevented senility.
• It was thought that if a person abused the idols, then he would contract leprosy.
• People used to take omens from looking at the flight of birds.
• When a person died a camel would be tied to his grave, because it was thought that he would need it to ride on in the next life.

In the days of Jahiliyyah, if a man intended to do any important action, such as entering into an agreement, marrying a woman, engaging in a battle, or anything else, he used to take three arrows and inscribe on one of them “My Lord has commanded me”, on another “My Lord has forbidden me”, and he would leave the other blank. Before embarking on the course of action, he would shuffle them and draw one of them. If he happened to draw the first arrow, he would do the act. If he drew the second, he would refrain from it. And if he drew the third, he would shuffle the arrows and draw again.

This custom was so well-embedded in their society that they had the images of Allah’s Prophets in the Ka‘bah depicted with arrows in their hands. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) expressed his utmost displeasure at this, saying: “Those pious persons never took omens from arrows.” And Allah (s.w.t.) expressly forbade this practice in the Qur’an.

The Jahili Arabs consecrated certain animals to their idols. The slaughter of such animals was prohibited, and they could roam freely without molestation.

The Qur’an abolished all such acts of superstition, and such nonsensical lies fabricated against Allah.

Even after the Revelation of the Qur’an, some of the Prophet’s companions still had lingerings of the belief in omens. On the day that the Prophet’s son Ibrahim died, a solar eclipse happened to take place. The people believed that it happened due to the death of the child, and that the sun was eclipsed due to grief. The Prophet (s.a.w.) clarified this misunderstanding by saying: “The sun and the moon are among the Signs of Allah. They are not eclipsed due to the death of any person.”

It was very common in the age of Jahiliyyah for the Arabs to visit soothsayers and fortune tellers. The Messenger of Allah was ordered to prohibit this practice. The soothsayers and fortune tellers claimed to have knowledge of the Unseen, whereas in truth no-one knows the Unseen except Allah.

Even today, in the so-called “scientific age”, such superstitions and nonsense are rife among the non-Muslims, and sadly among many Muslims too. It is a sign of a diseased mentality that a person degrades himself to the point that he believes in these things. These things are totally Haram.

Belief in such things is a sign that one does not want to take responsibility for one’s life, or to make one’s own decisions; indeed, it betrays a person’s total ignorance about the nature and reality of life itself. Through the guidance of the Qur’an, however, we can gain a true understanding of the nature and meaning of life, and therefore understand the false nature of superstitions and omens. Allah explains to us in the Qur’an the true perspective regarding life’s happenings:

الذي خلق الموت والحياة ليبلوكم أيكم أحسن عملا
(Allah is) He who created death and life in order to test you as to which of you are the best in deeds.

وأن ليس للإنسان إلا ما سعى
And man shall have nothing except that for which he strives.

فإذا عزمت فتوكل على الله إن الله يحب المتوكلين
So, when you have made a decision, then rely on Allah: Truly, Allah loves those who rely on Him.

O Muslim! Put these Ayat into practice and carve your way in the light of the Divine Revelation and abandon all forms of Shirk and Taghut (abominations like superstition and witchcraft). Face every situation and circumstance with Sabr, with Shuja‘ah, with Tawakkul, and with Iman.

It was Tawakkul, not superstition, which turned the Arab barbarians into the torchbearers of Truth and Guidance. It was Tawakkul, not superstition, which turned ignorant people into teachers and guides for the nations of the world. It was Tawakkul, not superstition, which turned criminals into moralists, diseased hearts into healers, and idolaters into scientists.

سبحانك اللهم وبحمدك
أشهد أن لا إله إلا أنت
أستغفرك وأتوب إليك