The Reality of “Magic” on The Prophet (sa)
English translation of Urdu Friday Sermon delivered by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community) on the 8th March 2019.
After reciting the Tashahhud, Ta’awwuz, and Surah Al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba) stated:
Hazrat Qais bin Mihsan was a companion from among the Ansar. He participated in the Battles of Badr and Uhud. Umm Sa’ad bint Qais was one of his daughters. His children were in Medina when he passed away.
The next companion is Hazrat Jubair bin Iyaas. His father’s name was Iyaas bin Khalid. He participated in the Battle of Badr. He belonged to the Banu Zuraiq branch of the Khazraj tribe. It is mentioned in ahadiththat a Jewish man attempted to cast a magic spell on the Holy Prophet (sa); as a symbolic gesture he used a comb with the hair of the Holy Prophet (sa) and put this in the well with some dates. It is related that Hazrat Jubair bin Iyaas took those items out of the well. It is important to know our viewpoint regarding this magic. I will now present some of the details of this incident that are found in the literature of the Community.
Hazrat Ayesha (ra) narrates: “One day or for one night the Holy Prophet (sa) supplicated before God Almighty and then again supplicated and he once again supplicated and said, ‘O Ayesha, God Almighty granted me everything for which I had supplicated.’” Hazrat Ayesha narrates: “I asked, ‘O Apostle of Allah what did you ask for? What has Allah bestowed you with?’ He replied, “Two men came to me and one of them sat near my head and the other near my feet. The one that was seated near my head said to one who sat near my feet…” or perhaps Hazrat Ayesha states, “Or the one who sat near my feet said to one who sat near my head: ‘What is this man, i.e. Muhammad, suffering from?’ The other one replied: ‘A spell has been cast on him. The former asked: Who has cast the spell? The latter replied: ‘It was a Jew named Labid bin Asim.’ He then asked: ‘What is the thing by which he transmitted its effect?’ The other one replied: ‘Using a comb and by the hair wrapped around the spathe of a date-palm.’ He then asked: ‘Where is it located?’ He replied: ‘In the well of Zhi Arwan.’” Hazrat Ayesha states, “The Holy Prophet (sa) went to the well along with some of his companions. When he returned, he said, ‘O Ayesha, by God! The water of the well had a reddish complexion resembling extracts of henna.’”
It is worth remembering that it was the practice of the Jews to add henna or something similar in water when casting a spell on someone. This was done to display that through the power of magic the water had turned red. The branches of dates were meant to represent multiple heads of a snake. This was a technique they used to deceive ignorant people.
Regarding the narration of Hazrat Ayesha (ra), Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) states: “It seems that the two people mentioned who came to the Holy Prophet (sa) were in fact Angels. Had they been humans, surely Hazrat Ayesha (ra) would have seen them. In relation to the narration of Hazrat Ayesha (ra), Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) states: “It merely states that Allah the Exalted had informed the Holy Prophet (sa) through the means of angels that the Jews have tried to cast a spell on him. It does not mean that the Holy Prophet (sa) was affected by the spell in the way people believe spells to work.”
Whereas this narration manifests the hostility of the Jews towards the Holy Prophet (sa), it also becomes evident that the Holy Prophet (sa) was a true Prophet of God the Exalted. The reason for this is that the Holy Prophet (sa) had been informed by God Almighty of all the ploys being hatched against him by the Jews. Hence, for the Holy Prophet (sa) to have received knowledge of the unseen and for the Jews to have failed in their objectives are clear and evident signs of the Holy Prophet (sa) being a true Prophet.”
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad Sahib explains this further that following the treaty of Hudaibiyyah, a hypocrite of Jewish descent, whose name was Labid bin Asim, once cast a spell on the Holy Prophet (sa), God forbid. This spell was cast by tying strands of hair to a comb, a spell was recited over it and then thrown into a well.” The narrations and stories around this incidence are unauthenticated and make it difficult to get to the true incidence. However, if one analyses the accounts and by pondering over them rationally, it becomes clear that this incidence relates to a temporary period of forgetfulness, that was the result of excessive stress and physical ailments. Some evil-minded enemies took advantage of this and spread rumours that the Prophet of the Muslims was under the influence of a spell, heaven forbid. However, God Almighty swiftly restored the Holy Prophet (sa) back to health and destroyed the false propaganda of the enemies and the hypocrites.
This is not just a claim, the Holy Prophet (sa) himself has refuted this. This matter has been elaborated upon in a Hadith. Hazrat Ayesha (ra) asked the Holy Prophet (sa): “O Messenger of Allah! Is there a Satan with me?” The Prophet (sa) responded: “Yes.” She then asked if Satan is attached to every human. The Prophet (sa) answered in the affirmative. Astonished, Hazrat Ayesha (ra) enquired: “O Messenger of Allah (sa)! Is there a Satan attached with you?” The Prophet (sa) responded: “Yes. However, God has granted me victory over Satan to the extent that even my Satan has become a Muslim.” After this clear assertion, there is no room to give any credibility to a claim that a Jew, with the help of his Satan, could cast a spell on someone as exalted as the Holy Prophet (sa), causing him to become affected by this Satanic sorcery for a long time? God the Powerful and the Magnificent has continuously stated: “Allah has decreed: ‘Most surely I will prevail, I and My Messenger.’” Meaning that God has recorded this and has decreed that He, along with His messenger will be victorious in all ages and no satanic deceit will prevail over them.
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad Sahib further writes: “If one were to consider the context of this incident and take into account the ways and habits of the Jews and the hypocrites, then it would not be difficult to understand the truth of this incident. First of all, it is important to note that this incident of sorcery took place after the Treaty of Hudaibiyah. It is recorded in Tabqaat ibn Sa’ad that the Holy Prophet (sa) decided to perform Umrah based on a dream he had seen. While he was travelling for this purpose, the Quraish prevented him from entering Mecca, as a result of which he had to return. This apparent failure caused immense grief, and the disbelievers and the hypocrites began to mock and ridicule this. To the extent that it affected even sincere Muslims, as it is recorded in a Hadith that even an eminent Companion such as Hazrat ‘Umar (ra) was in doubt for a brief period owing to the apparent defeat. During this time, the Holy Prophet (sa) became anxious and worried for those individuals that were weak of faith, lest they be put into a trial. This anxiety naturally affected the health of the Holy Prophet (sa). Due to these reasons, it impacted him psychologically and he suffered from temporary amnesia [memory loss].”
Extreme stress impacts human beings in many ways and even the prophets of God are not exempted from it. When the Jews and hypocrites witnessed that the Holy Prophet (sa) was unwell during those days, was under a lot of strain both mentally and physically and that he was suffering from a spell of forgetfulness, they seized this opportunity (as was their habit) to spread that they had cast a spell on the Holy Prophet (sa) and that his forgetfulness etc. were a result of this sorcery. Furthermore, as was their longstanding custom, they tied knots of hair around a comb and buried it in a well, as a physical symbol. When the Holy Prophet (sa) came to know of this supposed sorcery, he prayed further to God Almighty in order to put this mischief to an end. Therefore, God Almighty heard his ardent pleas and manifested the truth to him in a vision.
The principle mentioned in the Holy Quran is: [Arabic] In other words, no sorcerer can ever be successful against the prophets, in any case whatsoever, regardless of how they try to attack. In light of this clear verdict of the Quran, we find: [Arabic] i.e., The wrongdoers say, ‘You follow none but a man who is a victim of deception.’ God’s promise of “And a magician shall not thrive, come where he may” was fulfilled in full glory and grandeur.
So, the summary of the event is that
- After the Treaty of Hudaibiyyah, the Holy Prophet (sa) was naturally concerned that people may become misguided by not fully understanding the wisdom of the treaty. This was a period of immense stress and during that time, he sometimes used to forget the minor matters of domestic affairs.
- Secondly, the Jews and the Hypocrites, who would leave no stone unturned to make such things a basis for defaming Islam and its Holy Founder (sa), picked on these minor matters and started the rumour mill that we have – God forbid – cast a spell over the Prophet of the Muslims.
- Thirdly, as an outward symbol of their so-called magic, these evil-natured people used Labid bin Asim, a hypocrite of Jewish descent, to tie knots of hair around the teeth of a comb and place in the well to give the impression of magic.
- The fourth point is that the Holy Prophet (sa) began to offer fervent supplications, saying, “O God! You Yourself dissolve and extinguish this disorder and reveal its reality to me so that I may expose this trickery and thereby save simple-minded people from misgivings. Hence, God accepted this prayer and threw open the reality for all to see.
- The fifth point is that God Almighty exposed the mischief-making of Labid bin Asim, upon which the Holy Prophet (sa), accompanied by some witnesses, proceeded to the well, buried the comb and totally covered up the well, so that the matter could come to an end once and for all.
In the end, the only question that remains, is: How could it be that the Holy Prophet (sa) a Prophet of such lofty stature who is in fact the greatest of all Prophets could fall victim to episodes of forgetfulness? So, in response to this, he was a human being bound to laws of nature. This is why God the Almighty, addressing the Holy Prophet (sa) in the Holy Qur’an, stated, “O Messenger, tell them, ‘I am but a human being like yourselves, and subject to all those laws to which other human beings are subject. Yet, I am also a Prophet of God and have been granted Divine Revelation from God for the guidance of mankind.’” – This is a commentary-based translation of the verse.
In part one of Seeratul Mahdi, narration no.75, it states that one day a Hindu, who was full of prejudice and lived in Gujrat, came to Qadian. He was an expert in the art of hypnotism and sat in a gathering of the Promised Messiah (as) and secretly began to focus his attention on the Promised Messiah (as), so that he could influence him to carry out some inappropriate acts and thus make the Promised Messiah (as) a target of mockery and ridicule. All of a sudden, he screamed out loud and ran away. When he was asked about what had happened to him, he said that when he focused his attention on Mirza sahib, it seemed as if a ferocious lion was standing before him, ready to pounce at any moment. That is why he became terrified and ran away. Since the Promised Messiah (as) was the servant of the Holy Prophet (sa), Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad Sahib writes: “If the servant holds such a status that God Almighty did not allow for him to be hypnotised, then how can one believe that the master – i.e. the Holy Prophet (sa) – was hypnotised by the Jews, God forbid?”
In the end, I will read the sayings of the Just Arbitrator of this era [i.e. the Promised Messiah (as)] which prevails over all other commentaries and explanations. In one of his gatherings, a person asked the Promised Messiah (as) what he thought about the incident where the disbelievers asserted that they had cast a spell on the Holy Prophet (sa). The Promised Messiah (as) stated: “Sorcery is also the work of Satan. It does not behove the status of a prophet or messenger to come under the influence of a spell. Rather, all spells are broken when they come in contact with a prophet, just as God Almighty states in the Holy Quran: [Arabic] [And a magician shall not thrive, come where he may]. Observe, Prophet Moses was confronted by the magicians, did Moses not succeed? To say that the Holy Prophet (sa) was influenced by magic is absolutely incorrect and we can never accept there to be any truth in this matter.” For one to say that the Holy Prophet (sa) was under a spell, heaven forbid, in which his memory was affected is completely false. All praise is for Allah that we accepted the Imam of the age, through which we can recognise the true rank and status of the Holy Prophet (sa).