Shaykh Ibn Baaz on the Kufr (Apostasy) of Illusionary Magicians

In the Name of Allaah, the Most Merciful, the Ever-Merciful…

The great scholar, the late Muftee of Saudi Arabia and head of their permanent council of scholars, Shaykh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (d.1420, may Allaah have Mercy on him), commented on a seminar about magicians and religious swindlers held in 1415.  After acknowledging the accuracy of their speeches on the topics of witchcraft, the practice of sorcery and its reality, and other topics, the shaykh noted that they had not discussed illusionary magic, and felt the need to add the following clarification:

Their magic could also be illusionary, and the shaykhs did not discuss illusionary magic.  Allaah has clearly mentioned that they could also perform illusionary tricks on people, as He, the Glorious and Most High, said in Soorah Taa-Haa:

يخيل إليه من سحرهم أنها تسعى
( And it was made to seem from their magic that they were moving )

So they would make the people think that the ropes they threw down were actually snakes moving about. Similarly, the sticks also appeared to the people to be snakes, while this was merely an illusionary trick on the eyes.

So when Moosaa (Moses) threw his staff down, it devoured them, doing away with their ropes and sticks.  When the magicians saw this, they fell down in prostration as believers in what Moosaa (Moses) had come with (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace). They paid no attention thereafter to the threats of Fir’own (Pharoah):

قالوا لن نؤثرك على ما جاءنا من البينات والذي فطرنا فاقض ما أنت قاض إنما تقضي هذه الحياة الدنيا إنا آمنا بربنا ليغفر لنا خطايانا وما أكرهتنا عليه من السحر والله خير وأبقى
( They said, “We would not prefer you over the clear proofs that have reached us, nor over the One who created us.  Judge however you will, your judgment is only for this worldly life.  Verily we have believed in our Lord, so that He might forgive our mistakes and the magic you forced us to perform, as
(the reward from) Allaah is better and more lasting.” ) [20:72-73]

What I mean is that magicians could use things to change the apparent reality, by the Permission of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic.  Any number of things (could be used): foods, drinks (potions), or something else.

They could also create illusions that lead someone to think things are not really the way they are, like an illusion that convinces someone that a rope or a stick becomes a slithering snake.

It could also be made to seem that some birds, snakes, or scorpions have come out of his body, while that did not really happen, rather it was all just an illusion.  He tricks someone through the illusionary magic he does.

Another kind of illusionary magic is when they trick a man into thinking that his wife is ugly, and so he hates and despises her; or the wife is convinced that her husband is ugly when he approaches her, and so she despises him.

There are other examples of what they do, and it is all kufr (apostasy), all of their magic is kufr, whether it is done through Satanic acts that harm the people, or through illusions, causing people to see things for other than what they really are – a man is convinced he looks like a hideous animal, or that a woman’s husband has turned black after he had been white, or that he is diseased or other things that a man is made to believe about his wife, from the work of magicians, and thus it causes hatred, animosity, and splitting.

Source: Shaykh Ibn Baaz’s Fatwaa Collection (8/105) [Click here for the Arabic source.]


Compare the words of Shaykh Ibn Baaz above to the words of the magician of Almaghrib Institute, Kamal el-Mekki (may Allah guide him), as he complains about the people who don’t understand his opinion that illusionary magic is perfectly permissible:

So, if you watch Dynamo, Criss Angel, or… Oh! Muslims talk about, “I don’t watch them cause they use jinn.” And they don’t use jinn. I can show you every one of their tricks, how they do it, and every one of them has an explanation, yeah?

So, but, and one talent show I was going to do some sleight of hand tricks, but someone already came up and objected, (deep mocking voice), “Oh, magic on stage!” So, khalaas (that was over).

So, we tell people that what’s haraam is sorcery, yeah? So, if you go to a magician’s show, they’re just doing illusions on stage, there’s nothing haraam (impermissible) about that.

Now, so what you’re not allowed to go to – to a black magician, yeah? That’s what’s haraam (impermissible). Now I don’t mean a “black” magician (gesturing to his skin color), ya’nee, I mean… (laughs) a magician who uses jinn and stuff…

Source: An interview with Kamal el-Mekki at Green Lane Masjid (transcript)

Videos of Kamal el-Mekki performing magic tricks, even “levitation”, can be found on YouTube, as well as other words of his defending and promoting his opinion.  We do not advise anyone to seek them out, except for those who have decision making roles in Muslim communities and they want to uphold the trust on their shoulders by preventing him from coming to their community by warning the people from him.  In such a case, when verification is needed to prevent the spread of evil, only then should someone watch those videos. Watching magic tricks for mere entertainment is something that can nullify a person’s Islaam (as explained here), so take heed.

For most people it should be enough that he openly states that he can teach you ALL of the magic tricks of Criss Angel and Dynamo (two famous modern-day magicians).  Allaah’s Refuge is sought from such clear misguidance.

And Allaah knows best.

Written by: Moosaa Richardson

13 thoughts on “Shaykh Ibn Baaz on the Kufr (Apostasy) of Illusionary Magicians

  1. As’salamualykum!
    Q/A regarding this to Sheikh Saleh al-Fawzaan (hafidha’hullah).
    From sheikh’s website in a lecture Ruqyah-Shareyah:
    أحسن الله إليكم، وهذا يقول: هل صحيح أن الفرق بين السحر والشعوذة أن الأول اتصال حقيقي بالشياطين والثاني اتصال وهمي؟

    الشيخ: لا فرق بينهما، إلا أن السحر قد يكون حقيقيا وقد يكون تخيليا، والتخييل هو الشعوذة على غير الحقيقة، مِنْ أنه يمشي على الجمر ومن أنه يمشي يجذب السيارة بشعره وأنه ينام على المسامير، هذه شعوذة، وسحر التخييل كذب وليس له حقيقة.


    • wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. Jazaak Allaahu khayran for the quote, which means in English:

      Question: Is it correct that there is a difference between sihr (genuine magic) and sha’wathah (illusions and deceitful trickery), that the first has a real connection to the devils, and the other one has a fake connection?

      Answer: There is no difference between them, except that that sihr (magic) could be real or illusionary. Illusionary magic is sha’wathah (deceitful trickery) that is not real, like someone walking on hot coals, or someone pulling a car along by his hair, or someone laying down on a bed of nails, this is sha’wathah (deceitful trickery, illusionary magic). Illusionary magic is a lie which has no reality to it.

    • wa alaykumus-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. The selection quoted and translated above begins on page 105, while the 11-page write up of the entire event begins on page 101.

  2. Interesting and informative. May Allah guide us all aright and make us see falsehood as falsehood

    While we are making efforts to warn against this form of magic and others, we should not forget the evil effects of books and films of Harry Potter and the like being sold around us in Muslim societies. Moosa, what is being done to stop the sale of Harry Potter books and paraphernalia in Makka, Madeena, and around them? Wouldn’t it be strange when we warn about magic in the US and have those of us visiting Makka and Madeena seeing books overtly encouraging belief in magic being sold there. Just a reminder

  3. UPDATE: The people of towheed rejoice as Green Lane Masjid openly takes a stance against magic, in an open clarification (dated Nov. 7) on their masjid’s website. While we want to thank them for the good that is in the clarification (may Allah accept from them), we must be balanced, and so we need to remind them to avoid trickery and outright lies in their words: “We do not believe that the remark made was intended to confuse people nor promote magic, yet since some confusion has arisen, we make this clarification so that there is no doubt left in the issue.”

    Muslims who prefer honesty in matters related to their religion are free to review the “remark”, or what is more truthfully referred to as: remarkS, blatant promotion and defense of illusionary magic and professional magicians like Criss Angel, a baseless and unprecedented fatwaa declaring it permissible for Muslims to attend magic shows, and – last but not least – mockery of those who wish to forbid such evil!

    The Muslims of Green Lane have every right to ask their imam and administration:

    * Why are you making light of such a serious issue?
    * Why are you lying and covering up what actually happened?
    * Why are you insulting our intelligence by announcing that Kamal el-Mekki “didn’t intend to promote magic”?
    * Why don’t you warn against Kamal el-Mekki whom you introduced us to a few months ago, asking him to perform a magic trick for us?

  4. Assalam walaikum. I understand that you are trying to say that watching movies with illusionary magic, such as Harry Potter, is an act of kufr. But this makes me wonder… [*]

    • Wa ‘alaykas-salaam. Harry Potter books and movies actually depict genuine magic – the incantation of spells, calling upon Jinn, etc. [*] The question you have asked (which is not shown above) is excellent, and requires the attention of our scholars. May Allaah bless you for asking it, and we will try to get it addressed (in shaa’ Allaah).

  5. Asalaamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakaatuh. Jazaak Allaahu Khayran for this post. Firstly I do not want to come across as defending actions such as these… [comment abridged by admin]

    • wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. If you don’t want to come across as defending falsehood, then step #1 would be: Don’t defend falsehood. No Muslim could justify the use of illusionary magic tricks to aid the da’wah of Towheed. No Muslim would sympathize with someone who claims Criss Angel and Dynamo provide halaal entertainment. May Allaah make us people who love, promote, and defend the truth.

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