Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Verse 102..........Part 3
Verses 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)
God Almighty created the universe in balance and harmony, so that no one creation can transgress over the other. Let's clarify this point with an example. Suppose that there was a village, and none of its residents owned a gun. Life in the village would be in balance because no single person can have extraordinary power over another. But if one resident among the villagers had a gun, even if he or she claims that it is to defend his home and village, then balance would start to shift. If the armed person exploits this weapons to intimidate, gain control, or impose royalties over his fellow villagers, then balance and justice are disturbed and life becomes miserable.
So, when you read in the verse that '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', the logical question to ask is: Why would God send such harmful knowledge? Why would He send angels to teach people and jinn magic to work together and create havoc? We answer that Allah tests his creation, and gives them trials. Sometimes these trials are in the form of good and bounty, while other times they are in the form of hardship and evil. God says:
Every self will know the taste of death. We tempt you with evil and with good as a trial; and to Us you will return. (21:35)
Some people claim that God is testing us so he would know who is corrupt and who is upright. But this could not be further from the truth; God is our creator and he is all knowledgeable, all aware of his creation. So why does he test us? He tests us so we may bear witness against ourselves. No one can come on the day of resurrection and say: Lord, if only you had given me a chance, I would have followed the right path. Take the example of schools all over the world conducting exams for their students. Are the teachers who taught these students all year long unaware of what their students know? Do they intend to obtain this knowledge through the exam? Of course not! Any good teacher can tell you who will Ace the test, who will fail, and who will struggle, well before the exam is given. Testing is important because it presents the evidence to the students themselves. If a student fails the test and then comes to argue, all the teacher has to do is point to the test result. On the other hand, if the exam was not conducted, then every student can claim that he or she deserves high grades and honors.
This brings us back to the verse where God presented the Israelites with a test. A chance to gain knowledge that -at first glance- would give them unfair advantage: a chance to work with, and subject, the Jinn. Keep in mind that jinn, and devils are created from fire, and thus, carry some of the traits of fire. They are swift in movement, and competent in changing forms. When a person learns this types of magic and subjects jinn to his will, he or she may initially claim that it is only to spread good and peace in the world. But this sort of advantage encourage transgression, and the spread of injustice. Any person who learns such magic will undoubtedly cause corruption; even if he or she at the time of learning had the best of intentions. These intentions often change when faced with daily challenges. This is similar to the example we mentioned about the lone person with a gun in a village. This person may have the best intentions when buying the gun, however, when sometime in the future, he or she is faced with extreme anger or fear, the gun will be used to cause harm. Thus, it is always best not to own such tools as guns, or magic to begin with. This is exactly the warning the angels brought forth before teaching anyone. God says: 'they would not teach anyone without saying: ‘We are only a test, so do not be faithless.’ Note that the warning did not come against using this tool of magic to do evil or harm. In other words the angels did not say: ‘We are only a test, so do not use this tool for evil,' rather their warning was general indicating that no one can control him or herself from abusing such knowledge.
Always remember that this knowledge, in by itself, carries no power to harm. Allah kept this in His hand. He says: '—though they could not harm anyone with it except with Allah’s permission.' Therefore, if you suspect that things are out of balance, you should always seek refuge in God from those who use such tools to cause harm. This fact is often ignored by those who suspect that they have been affected by magic. They go from one sorcerer to another looking for a solution; they seek the help of fortune tellers and psychics. Allah, who holds the keys to all benefit and all harm, taught us to say:
Say, ‘I seek refuge with the Lord of daybreak, from the evil of what He has created, And the evil of evening darkness when it overspreads, and from the evil of the witches who blow on knots, and from the evil of the envious one when he envies. (113:1-5)
Take a look around you to those who practice fortune telling, witchcraft, and the like, you will see the darkness and wretchedness in their faces. Are they rich? Is their life free of problems? Did this knowledge benefit them in anyway? God answers: '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.'
For all these reasons, you should not occupy yourself in reading about or seeking this type of knowledge. You may think to yourself that learning magic will help you do good or achieve a certain task, but rest assured that at some point it will lead you to spread evil. It is as God described it: an act of disbelief. He says: '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' Moreover, the jinn often rebel against those who seek their aid and cause them to suffer all sorts of torments and afflictions as mentioned in the following verse:
Certain men from among mankind used to seek refuge with certain men from among the jinn but they only misguided them further. (72:06)
Let's take a few moments here to talk about the two angels: Haroot and Maroot who were sent to teach people the magic of working with and subjecting the jinn. There are many stories out there, even in some books of tafseer (study of the Quran), claiming that Haroot and Maroot are fallen angels, and claiming that they committed sin and spread evil. We answer that Angels are a creation that does not disobey God. Furthermore, Allah was the One who sent the two angels to teach people magic, and they both performed their task as commanded by God. They taught humans the art of magic and sorcery while warning each one that this knowledge is a trial leading towards disbelief. Another point to remember is that while God had sent this knowledge down to earth, He almighty reserved its ability to cause harm to Himself. He says: ' 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. Indeed, there is no power in the universe which is beyond God’s will.