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Beyond Exorcism: Black Magic Spells, Pieces of Sihr (Talismans/Amulets), and the Disease of Hasad (Envy)


Please note that wherever I refer to magic in this post, it is of course referring to black-magic, not trickery.

A while back, MM posted an article sharing my experiences with exorcism in Pakistan. I mentioned in the post that whenever I get a chance, insha Allah, I will write about sihr (magic) and why it has become so common in Pakistan. A few months back, I made another trip to Pakistan and new experiences prompted me to write the long-overdue sequel to that exorcism post!

In my previous trip to Pakistan, I went (not alone of course) to different graveyards in my attempt to help the possessed girl with whom I was working. To my surprise, I noticed hundreds of ripped pieces of cloth hanging on the trees in each of the graveyards that I visited.  When asked about those pieces of cloth, the graveyard caretakers almost always seemed fearful of them, essentially saying that these were works of magicians and they didn’t want to “mess with them.” Obviously, these pieces of sihr contained magic spells, impacting the lives of an untold number of people.

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After I returned from Pakistan, I regretted not destroying as many of those objects of sihr as I could, and perhaps thereby helping to break magic spells cast upon husbands, wives, sisters and brothers. However, I promised myself that whenever I returned to Pakistan, I would try my best to dispose of as many such items as I could. Since this wasn’t exactly a woman’s job, especially due to the prohibition of females visiting cemeteries (although there is an ikhtilaaf, it is not the goal of the discussion here), for this purpose, I recruited my poor husband to help me with this “mission.”

Thus, my husband made the trip to his ancestral graveyard with his cousin and brother (for added “protection”). However, he could only destroy a handful of these sihr-cloths for a number of reasons: Firstly, it was a time consuming process, since each one preferably needed to be read over before destruction. Secondly, trying to “mess with” them is made very complicated by the graveyard groundskeepers, as they are afraid that somehow their destruction is sacrilegious. Almost always, the groundskeepers were uneducated and wore tons of talismans themselves. They truly believe that some “museebah” (calamity) will befall them once those objects of sihr are “messed around with!”

To make a long story short, you can see the film of what my husband accomplished, while his brother and cousin watched/videotaped (SEE all the way at the bottom). Photos of the pieces that are being destroyed in the movie shown here

Notice how the groundskeeper provided constant commentary (in Punjabi) in the background, almost begging my husband to stop before he started taking them apart, because he feared some “evil omen,” I’yaadhobillah! Also notice the animal sounds (no one noticed these sounds until we watched the movie together—of course, it may be a pure coincidence), particularly the crow’s cawing and the donkey’s loud braying as soon as the sihr-cloths are lit up.

All of these pieces of sihr were composed of pieces of paper with grids drawn upon them that contained strange numbers, which is almost always used in magic. These papers were then meticulously wrapped up in pieces of plastic (to prevent moisture from entering), tied up with tons of string, and then wrapped up in pieces of cloth. On one of the papers, I noticed what appeared to be traces of blood, which could be from a woman’s menstrual blood (and Allah knows best) because that is the most common ways of doing magic on females. Also one of these pieces of sihr had the names of an entire family written upon it, along with the Urdu words “laraiee jhagra” (translated as fighting/argumentation). Quite obvious what the purpose of this one was, and Allah knows best.

While in Pakistan, I also helped a family member with some of her personal issues. Apparently, her in-laws had given her an amulet to wear, which she didn’t trust to wear, but kept with her. It was sealed in a small, light-weight metallic silver box. After a bit of maneuvering, I managed to open it, only to find two pieces of papers wrapped up in plastic. One paper had about 7 needles inserted in it (see first couple of photos above) and the other one had some strange language written on it, although it started with “bismillah!”

These and similar incidents make all of us wonder: Why have people, Muslims in particular, become so involved in these acts of disbelief and kufr?

Based on my personal observation in the cases where I have witnessed the use of magic, I believe that the main cause of the use of magic is hasad (jealousy). It’s true that the majority of the population is ignorant of the facts about magic and the shar’eeh rulings about it, however, jealousy is a very strong emotion and at times it blurs even the minds of knowledgeable people. That is why the Prophet of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wa salam) said:

“Jealousy eats away at good deeds, just as fire eats away at firewood.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

In general, I noticed a strange sense of competition among the folks there. In many cases, people were just not well-wishers of each other, even to close family members. I noticed that people don’t like anyone passing them in worldly status (wealth, career, etc.), especially within their own family or friends. Everyone seemed so curious and so much into each other’s business. Sometimes talking to different ladies reminded me of the warning of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa salam):

“Do not harbor envy or ill-will; and neither spy nor be inquisitive about other persons’ faults nor make bogus offers of prices to spoil a bargain, and O Allah’s servants! Be brethren to each other.” [Bukhari]

Everything turns into a “status symbol.” The more wealth a family has, the more they like to show it off, whether it is a worldly affair or even a religious one. People have even made the udhiya (sacrifice) of Eid a means to flaunt their wealth: the more money one has, the bigger or more animals they sacrifice. Children’s education is sought in schools that are judged by the amount of tuition, and not necessarily by the standard of education! Wedding parties, engagement ceremonies, and even normal gatherings are but a race to compete with others and to show off. When a marriage proposal is described it starts and ends with how much wealth the suitor has. In such circumstances, people not only tend to forget the real purpose of life, but they also forget the worldly harms of this rat race. Forget about stress, psychological tension, and depression; two of the most malicious consequences faced in this world are, Ain bil hasad (evil eye) and sihr (magic).

In most cases, people are negligent about reading their daily adhkaar. Moreover, those who deliberately flaunt their blessings have no recognition of these adkhaar. There is a reason why the morning and afternoon adhkaar are called “the fortress of a believer.” They literally are a wall between a believer and an evil eye, but only when recited regularly. When this wall is absent, however, the evil eye finds an easy and smooth way to the person and causes damage and harm. As Ibn al-Qayyam explains in Ziyaad al-Maad:

“The evil eye is like an arrow… sometimes it hits him [the target] and sometimes it misses. If the target is exposed and unprotected, it will affect him, but if the target is cautious and armed, the arrow will have no effect and may even come back on the one who launched it.”

An evil eye can be given by anyone. When a person likes something and looks at it, either with jealousy or with sincere appreciation, but does not invoke Allah’s blessings over it, the shayateen/jinn voluntarily fly over to harm the one being appreciated.

The Prophet (sallallahu alihi wasalam) traveled with Sahl ibn Haneef towards Makkah, until they were in the mountain pass of al-Kharaar in al-Jahfah. There Sahl ibn Haneef did ghusl, and he was a handsome white-skinned man with beautiful skin. ‘Aamir ibn Rabee’ah, looked at him whilst he was doing ghusl and said: “I have never seen such beautiful skin as this, not even the skin of a virgin,” and Sahl fell to the ground. They went to Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alihi wasalam) and said, “O Messenger of Allah, can you do anything for Sahl, because by Allah he cannot raise his head.” He said, “Do you accuse anyone with regard to him?” They said, “‘Aamir ibn Rabee’ah looked at him.” So the Messenger of Allah called ‘Aamir and rebuked him strongly. He said, “Why would one of you kill his brother? If you see something that you like, then pray for blessing for him.” Then he said to him, “Wash yourself for him.” So he washed his face, hands, forearms, knees and the sides of his feet, and inside his izaar (lower garment) in the vessel. Then that water was poured over him, and a man poured it over his head and back from behind. He did that to him, then Sahl got up and joined the people and there was nothing wrong with him. (Ahmad, Nisaa’i)

If the person invokes Allah’s blessing (by saying Allaahumma barik), the shayaateen cannot cause harm, or if the one being appreciated has his/her adhkaar recited then he/she stays protected, by Allah’s will. However, if people are not well-wishers and are jealous of the blessings of the other person (such as beauty, wealth, education, children, a happy marriage or any type of success), then we can be assured that they will never invoke Allah’s blessings. And the dangerous harm that they cause from their evil eye can even be life-threatening!

“Most of those who die among my ummah die because of the will and decree of Allah, and then because of the evil eye.”
“The evil eye is real and if anything were to overtake the divine decree, it would be the evil eye. When you are asked to take a bath (to provide a cure) from the influence of the evil eye, you should take a bath.” (Muslim)

However, since the jealous ones, in most cases, are not spiritual enough to know the harm they are capable of causing simply by looking with the eye of hasad, their jealousy eventually leads them to the magicians. They need something more “concrete” to satisfy the fire of jealousy in their hearts. With the help of the magicians they try to achieve that satisfaction, however little do they realize that it only adds to their distress, unhappiness and failure to this dunya and akhira (may Allah protect us from hasad and haasid).

In all honesty, the first time I ever truly appreciated the ayah in Surah Falaq, “wa min shari haasedin idha hasad (and from the evil of the jealousy when he starts envying),” was after my observation and hearing the stories of many unfortunate people that had been affected by magic.

Magic is a step further then evil eye. If an evil eye can itself be so evil, just imagine the effects of magic on people. By Allah, I have seen people suffer, and this suffering is far worse than a fatal disease. It is not only damaging to the person’s body and sanity, but even damaging to the people around them and in many cases may break up marriages and divide families.

So my sincere advice and reminder, firstly to myself and then to everyone else is to read the morning and evening adhkaar. In addition to Ayatul Kursi, Surah Falaq and Naas, read the following:

  • A’oodhu bi kalimaat-illaah il-taammati min sharri ma khalaqa (I seek refuge in the perfect words of Allah from the evil of that which He has created).
  • A’oodhu bi kalimaat-illaah il-taammati min ghadabihi wa ‘iqaabihi, wa min sharri ‘ibaadihi wa min hamazaat al-shayaateeni wa an yahduroon (I seek refuge in the perfect words of Allah from His wrath and punishment, from the evil of His slaves and from the evil promptings of the devils and from their presence).

Whenever you praise someone, or you notice something nice about someone, please make sure you follow it up with, preferably, “Allahumma barik” or “masha Allah.” Even if you don’t verbalize your praise, know that the shayaateen are sharply observing your sight. There is a reason why the evil eye is called an “evil eye”:

“And verily, those who disbelieve would almost make you slip with their eyes (through hatred)” (68:51)

Also, in my humble opinion, it is not wise to mention to others about our specific blessings. Not everything needs to be mentioned to everyone or in every gathering. I understand that it is tempting and a way of carrying on a conversation among friends, but it is for our own safety and protection. Especially sisters, who like to discuss the details of their new clothes, shoes, makeup etc., please remember that not every shopping trip to the mall, or gifts from husbands need to be mentioned. Not to say that our friends are not sincere, but it could be that one of them cannot afford what we can afford, or she may be having problems in her marriage and may feel some element of jealousy, or she may forget to say “masha Allah”, and the evil eye befalls us.

One of the ways that is becoming quite common is to write a Facebook status mentioning specific blessings or good about oneself. Some sisters like to write blog entries about their everyday interaction with their husbands, or happily married life in general. May Allah (azzawajal) bless all the sisters with happy and successful marriages, but I want to remind them that they may be opening a door to bringing the evil eye upon themselves. Don’t be mistaken. I am not saying that we should not be thankful, or that we be miserable in front of others, I am just advising that the details of a happy life or everyday blessings do not need to be mentioned to every friend. The true thanks should be given to the One who blesses us with the blessings and by being content, but every happiness doesn’t need to be verbalized in front of others, wa Allahu ta’ala ‘alam.

At the same time, we should not become paranoid either, and mistake every mishap with an evil eye or magic. Rather we should try to keep a balanced approach. This has been my observation. I realize that there are some other problems for which people approach magicians other then jealousy, but I wanted to remind all of us about evil eye and the necessity of reading our adhkaar. Another major reason for using magic is lack of Tawakkal and people seeking the solution to their problems through magicians, but insha Allah that will be the topic for another article.


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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Saba Syed (aka Umm Reem) is the author of International award winning novel, "An Acquaintance." Saba has a BA degree in Islamic Studies. She studied Arabic Language & Literature at Qatar University and at Cairo Institute in Egypt. She also received her Ijaazah in Quranic Hafs recitation in Egypt from Shaikh Muhammad al-Hamazawi. She had been actively involved with Islamic community since 1995 through her MSA, and then as a founding member of TDC, and other community organizations. in 2002, she organized and hosted the very first "Musim Women's Conference" in Houston, TX. Since then, she's been passionately working towards empowering Muslim women through the correct and untainted teachings of Islam. She is a pastoral counselor for marriage & family, women and youth issues. She has hosted several Islamic lectures and weekly halaqas in different communities all over U.S and overseas, also hosted special workshops regarding parenting, Islamic sex-ed, female sexuality, and marital intimacy.