In Arabia, before the advent of Islam, soothsayers, magicians, and poets are all believed to have been under the influence of the Jinn. These went as close to heaven as they dared to overhear the heavenly counsels, Shooting stars are said to be missiles hurled by angels at these intruders to drive them off. Whatever they heard, they repeated to the soothsayers. A parallel is drawn between men and Jinn. Soothsayers are apostles of the Jinn, staining their books, lies their traditions, poetry, their religious recitations, the flute, their muezzin, the market, their mosque, baths, their home, their food, whatever has not had the name of God invoked over it, their drink and their women.
Magic may be white or black, licit or illicit. The white is formed by the help of God. Solomon was the first great practitioner of it. Persians give this place to Jamshid. Black is worked by men who have learned to compel Jinn and demons to serve them. Black Magic began with the daughter of Iblis. Magic may be worked by the power of the soul or by material objects, amulets or talismans. Belief in the evil eye is almost universal. Some limit the power of magic to causing enmity between a man and his wife but orthodoxy says it can do more than this. As regards the lawfulness of magic, opinions are divergent. For instance, it is forbidden both to teach and to learn it; it is forbidden to teach it if this will lead to sin; it is allowed to teach it to ward off the magic of a wicked man. A sorcerer is said not to be an unbeliever unless his acts are, for other reasons, those of an unbeliever.
A common form of magic is the Zar, meaning to be possessed by a Jinn. Zar denotes both the spirit and the ritual. The exorcist is of the same sex as the patient and is accompanied by an orchestra for the spirit is expelled by music. With a new patient the exorcist has to find out the place of origin and the name of the spirit, as these determine the colours of the clothes to be worn and the tune which will drive it out. When the right melody has been found, a matter of trial and error, the singing may go on all night culminating in the sacrifice of a fowl. This seems to be the original offering though sometimes a sheep is substituted and occasionally both are offered. If the patient is rich the incantations may go on for as many as seven nights. For those who cannot afford such extravagance, the ceremony is held regularly at certain shrines. A sacrifice does not always occur. Several women may dance, apparently in some kind of trance. Sometimes, at any rate, the chief patient neither dances nor falls into a trance. It seems that these practices are widespread in all classes of society in Egypt. The occurrence of the Zar in Egypt was first noticed in print in Egypt in 1885. Belief in possession and proceedings to remove it are current in the Sudan, Egypt, and Mecca from where they have spread to Oman.
Thus discussed is the concept of magic in Islam.
(Last Updated on : 12-06-2015)
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