Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Verse 102..........Part 2
Verse 102, A continuation
And they followed what the devils recite during Solomon’s reign —and Solomon did not turn faithless, but it was the devils who were faithless— teaching the people magic, and what was sent down to the two angels at Babylon, Haroot and Maroot, and they would not teach anyone without saying: ‘We are only a test, so do not be faithless.’ But they would learn from those two that with which they would cause a split between man and his wife —though they could not harm anyone with it except with Allah’s permission. And they would learn that which would harm them and bring them no benefit; though they certainly knew that anyone who buys it has no share in the Hereafter. Surely, evil is that for which they sold their souls; had they known! (Chapter 2: Verse 102)
What is magic? The Arabic word for magic “sihr” is derived from the word ‘sahar’ which is the time right before daybreak. At this time darkness is mixed with a little light, and the sight of everything is vague. You can see outlines and shadows, but you cannot make out the reality of things. Likewise, magic is the power of blurring reality; the eye is deceived, it perceives things not in line with reality. Keep in mind that magic does not change the nature or the reality of things, rather it is a matter of deception and false perception. Take the following examples as God Almighty narrates the actions of Pharaoh's magicians:
He said, ‘You throw,’ and they did, casting a spell on people’s eyes, striking fear into them, and bringing about great sorcery. (07:116)
and in another verse:
They said, ‘Moses, will you throw first or shall we?’ He said, ‘Rather you throw down first.’ Behold, their ropes and staffs appeared to him by their magic to wiggle swiftly. (20:65-66)
When the magicians threw their sticks and ropes it seemed to the audience as though they were snakes moving. Where the sticks and ropes actual snakes? of course not, they just appeared to the people that way. Moreover, did the sticks and ropes appear to the magicians as snakes? Again the answer is no, because the magician knew the tricks, and they could see the reality of ropes and sticks. Hence, the magician only influences and deceives the eye of the bewitched. The eyes of the audience become fooled by the illusions and distracted from reality. This is made evident by the phrase ‘appeared to him’ in the verse, highlighting the fact that it was an illusion. In fact, if you continue on reading these verses you can tell the difference between magic and reality. The confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh’s magicians went as follows:
They said, ‘Moses, will you throw first or shall we?’ He said, ‘Rather you throw down first.’ Behold, their ropes and staffs appeared to him by their magic to wiggle swiftly. Moses felt a fear within his heart. We said, ‘Do not be afraid, you have the upper hand. Throw down what is in your right hand, and it will swallow what they have conjured. What they have conjured is only a magician’s trick, and the magician does not fare well wherever he may show up.’ And so the magicians fell down prostrating. They said, ‘We have believed in the Lord of Aaron and Moses!’ (20:65-70)
Why did the magicians fall in prostration? These were master magicians at the top of their game. They knew all the tricks of the trade and could see the reality of things. Their ropes and sticks were just that: ropes and sticks. However, when Moses threw his staff it turned into a real python devouring their ropes and sticks. The magicians realized that this is not magic......there were no tricks. The only one capable of turning a wood staff into a real live snake is God almighty. They immediately realized that Moses brought the truth, and that he is supported by miracles from his Lord. Who could have understood that better than the master magicians themselves? Hence, they fell in prostration to God when they saw that Moses brought forth something far beyond human capacity.
Magic is also a practice that is done by the jinn -more specifically the devils of the jinn-. It is still a practice of deception and masking the reality of things as the devils have the ability to appear in many forms and shapes. We cannot perceive the actual form or reality of the devil. But when the devil take a specific physical form, we can see that illusion. For example, when a devil takes the form of a human, we see him as a human. If he turns into an animal, we see him as an animal. The problem for the devils is that when they take a specific form, they are ruled by the limitations of that form. For example, if a devil takes a human form, and he is shot by a gun, then he will die. And if he is in the animal form and gets hit by a car then, he will die. This is because humans and animals are affected by bullets and car crashes. Thus, devils usually stay in such a visible form for an extremely short period of time. This is sheer mercy from Allah toward all humanity because if that was not the case, then mischief and chaos would have spread across the globe.