According to dictionary definitions, black magic refers to evil magic and is associated with the devil or evil spirits. This type of magic has been touched upon in the Quran as well with the difference that those helping people to perform such magic cases where help is sought are the jinn (جن) and Satan. Black magic in the Quran covers the following topics:
Black Magic in the Quran in the Time of Prophet Solomon
وَاتَّبَعُوا مَا تَتْلُو الشَّيَاطِينُ عَلَىٰ مُلْكِ سُلَيْمَانَ ۖ وَمَا كَفَرَ سُلَيْمَانُ وَلَـٰكِنَّ الشَّيَاطِينَ كَفَرُوا يُعَلِّمُونَ النَّاسَ السِّحْرَ وَمَا أُنزِلَ عَلَى الْمَلَكَيْنِ بِبَابِلَ هَارُوتَ وَمَارُوتَ ۚ وَمَا يُعَلِّمَانِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ حَتَّىٰ يَقُولَا إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ فِتْنَةٌ فَلَا تَكْفُرْ ۖ فَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مِنْهُمَا مَا يُفَرِّقُونَ بِهِ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَزَوْجِهِ ۚ وَمَا هُم بِضَارِّينَ بِهِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ اللَّـهِ ۚ وَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مَا يَضُرُّهُمْ وَلَا يَنفَعُهُمْ ۚ وَلَقَدْ عَلِمُوا لَمَنِ اشْتَرَاهُ مَا لَهُ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنْ خَلَاقٍ ۚ وَلَبِئْسَ مَا شَرَوْا بِهِ أَنفُسَهُمْ ۚ لَوْ كَانُوا يَعْلَمُونَ ﴿102﴾
And they followed what the devils pursued during Solomon’s reign —and Solomon was not faithless but it was the devils who were faithless—teaching the people magic and what was sent down to the two angels at Babylon, Harut and Marut, who would not teach anyone without telling [him], ‘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 leave. 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! 1
Black Magic in the Quran among the Jews at the Time of Solomon
According to narrations, Prophet Solomon (سلیمان), peace be on him, ordered that the writings of the magicians be collected and stored away to prevent its misuse and deviation of others.
However, a group of them found these writing and started teaching and spreading them to others. They even called Prophet Soleyman’s miracles magic and denied his prophethood. Some of the Israelites also started following the teaching of this magic instead of the Torah.
This gained so much popularity and became so widespread that even the Jews of the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him and his progeny) considered Prophet Solomon to be a skillful magician and not a prophet. 2
Abandoning the Torah and Following the Devils
This verse explains the sin and deviation of abandoning the Torah and following the devils or evil spirits. The Jews would follow the words that the evil spirits recited for the people at the time of Prophet Solomon instead of the teachings of the Torah.
In order to justify their actions, they attributed magic to Prophet Solomon as well. However, he was a Godly man and his actions were miracles not magic while the evil spirits were working the opposition to him and their actions were magic. 3
Another Source of Black Magic in the Quran
The Jews also found another source of black magic. Allah sent down two angels, Hārūt (هاروت) and Mārūt (ماروت) in human form among the people of Babylon to teach them how to neutralize and nullify the effect of magic.
However, in order to do so, they first had to make them familiar with magic so that they knew how it worked and could then nullify it. So the angels first taught them magic and then the way to counter it. Before teaching it to them, they made the condition that they would not abuse or misuse it and explained that this is a test and their students should not use it in opposition to God.
Quran’s Reminder about Black Magic
The Quran reminds us of an important point in this verse regarding magic this is that a magician is not outside the boundaries of God’s power by possessing the knowledge of magic. He does not have the ability to do anything or harm anyone without God’s will.
However, since God has bestowed an effect to everything that is in this world, magic can also have ill effects one of which it that it can affect spousal and familial relationships. 5
Black Magic in the Quran in Surah al-Falaq
Surah al-Falaq (سورة الفلق) talks about female practitioners of black magic who blow words and spells into knots and bounds against those they want to bewitch.
The verse talks about female practitioners because magic and witchcraft is more prevalent between women than men.
From this verse we can also conclude that the Quran in general acknowledges the effects of magic as the previous verse also indicates. 6
Another Type of Magic in the Quran
There is another type of magic in the Quran which refers to bewitching the senses such that a person sees or hears things that are not real. This magic has been indicated to in verses talking about the magicians at the time of Pharaoh. For example, the following verse:
قَالَ أَلْقُوا ۖ فَلَمَّا أَلْقَوْا سَحَرُوا أَعْيُنَ النَّاسِ وَاسْتَرْهَبُوهُمْ وَجَاءُوا بِسِحْرٍ عَظِيمٍ ﴿116﴾
However, the miracles that Prophet Moses (موسی) or other prophets performed were no a sleight of hand; rather they were real transformation of and in the external world. For example, Prophet Moses’s stick really turned into a snake. 9
The Quran does not refute this magic and acknowledges its effects in general on another person although it reminds us that this too would not be possible without God’s will and power.
However, since He has blessed us with free will and has created a system of cause and effect, our actions, even those intended to harm others, will have this effect.
On a final note, according to Islam and the Quran, there is no such thing as white or benevolent magic. All magic is prohibited and deviant. The only difference is that sometimes magic takes the form of trickery and deceit and sometimes it has actual harmful effects on the other person.
- [2: 102]. Qarai
- Tafsir Nur. Commentary of Surah al-Baqarah. Verse 102
- Translation of Tafsir al-Mizan [20 vols]. Commentary of verse 4 of Surah al-Falaq.
- [7: 116]. Qarai
- Translation of Tafsir al-Mizan [20 vols]. Vol. 8, p. 274
- Qarashi, A. A. Qamus al-Quran. Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyyah. Vol. 3, p. 238