The Prophet (sws) And Magic

Question

Did the Prophet (sws) ever remain under a magical spell?


Answer

There are many Ahādīth which say that the occasion of revelation (shān-i-nuzūl) of the last two sūrahs of the Qur'ān was that some Jews had woven a magical spell on the Prophet (sws). A number of questions arise in this regard:

1. These Ahādīth say that the Prophet (sws) remained a victim of this magical spell for almost six months. It is claimed that this situation in no way hindered his duties as a Prophet (sws), in spite of the fact that it caused amnesia (temporary loss of memory) in many of his daily routines. Sometimes, he thought that he had seen a thing when in fact he had not. At times, he thought that he had visited his wives while actually he had not. Now the question arises that if this condition really prevailed on the Prophet (sws) for a period of six months then how can it be safely said that during this time he received a revelation and did not have it written down, saw Gabriel when in fact he had not seen him, said his prayers when in reality he had not. Even if the Ahādīth mention no such omission on the Prophet's part, it can be easily said that there are many details which do not find mention in Ahādīth. Besides, the mental state which the Prophet (sws) remained in for such a long time as these Ahādīth say, in fact, almost necessitates that, God forbid, he faltered in many of his obligations as a Prophet.

The greatest thing which questions this shān-i-nuzūl is that it is in direct contradiction with the principle of infallibility of Prophets (`ismat-i-anbiyā), which according to the Qur'ān is a permanent feature of all Prophets. They cannot err in matters of religion. They remain under divine protection at all times whatsoever. No devil can in any way tamper with them. It is in fact this infallibility which gives credence to what these great personalities present before mankind on behalf of Allah.

2. If we judge these Ahādīth on the principles of rawāyah, a major weakness in the chain of narrators can be noted. These Ahādīth are Akhbār-i-A^hād up to the third chain of narrators, that is up to the third chain the number of narrators is very small. In other words, this event came to general notice almost a hundred years after the Prophet's death. Before this, only a small number of people were aware of it. The nature of this event, however, is such that it should have been reported by a large number of people in the first three links of the chain.

3. None of the Muhaddithīn of the Sihah regards these Ahādīth as the shān-i-nuzūl of these sūrahs. It is the later scholars who have linked these Ahādīth with this shān-i-nuzūl.

4. The subject matter of the sūrahs bears no connection to such a shān-i-nuzūl.

Unless a sound answer is given to these questions, the Ahādīth can in no way be accepted.

About the Author

Dr. Shehzad Saleem


Born in 1966 Shehzad Saleem has been under the tutelage of Javed Ahmad Ghamidi since 1988 and is currently a Research Fellow and one of the Vice Presidents of Al-Mawrid. He has a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from UET Lahore, Pakistan and holds a PhD in the History of the Qur’an from the University of Wales, UK.

Special Area of Interest
  He recently (2014) completed a fifteen year research work on the History of the Qur’an, a part of which constituted his doctoral thesis (the thesis portion is available at: http://www.al-mawrid.org/index.php/books/view/collection-of-the-quran-a-critical-and-historical-study-of-al-farahis-view).  The work addresses some nagging questions related to the revelation, collection and transmission of the Qur’an. These questions include narratives found in our legacy on the alleged incompleteness of the Qur’an, scribal errors found in it,  its variant readings, chronology of its compilation, order of the surahs, and manuscript studies.

Books Authored
  1. Common Misconceptions about Islam
  2. Playing God: Misreading a Divine Practice
  3. Islam and Women: Misconceptions and Misperceptions
  4. Essays on Character Building, Lessons on Character Building
  5. Qur’an Workshops on Character Building (including a separate Teacher’s Guide)
  6. Lessons on Character Building
  7. Selections from the Qur’an
  8. Selections from the Bible
  9. Selections from the Hadith

He has also compiled a modular textbook on Qur’anic Studies, which was taught by him to graduate students (1999-2001). The textbook is available in course format at
  www.studying-islam.org. It comprises course topics as: Revelation of the Qur’an, Theme of the Qur’an, History of the Qur’an, Arrangement of the Qur’an, Language of the Qur’an, Interpreting the Qur’an.

Translations
  He has translated some works of Amin Ahsan Islahi (d. 1997) and Javed Ahmad Ghamidi into English. These include:

1. Volumes 6, 7,  8 and 9 of Tadabbur Qur’an 
  2. Mizan (Islam: A Comprehensive Introduction)
  3. Al-Islam (Islam: A Concise Introduction)
  4. Selected Essays of Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
  5. Volumes 1 and 5 of Al-Bayan 

QnAs
His answers to various questions received about Islam can also be accessed at the Renaissance website at: http://monthly-renaissance.com/issue/writers.aspx?option=queries&id=1

Websites
He is the Founding Editor of the monthly research journal, Renaissance which was initiated in 1991. In 1999, its website www.monthly-renaissance.com was launched.

He launched the Studying Islam www.studying-islam.org website in 2003, which offers online courses on Islam. Through technical help, he has developed an online software (Qur’an for All) at the Studying Islam website to teach the translation of the Qur’an to those who can read the Arabic text but cannot comprehend its meaning.

He also set up websites about the life and works of the Qur’anic scholars Hamid Uddin Farahi (www.hamid-uddin-farahi.org)  and Amin Ahsan Islahi (www.amin-ahsan-islahi.org)  in 2010 and 2013 respectively

He has also built a text based website on the exegesis Tadabbur i Qur’an (www.tadabbur-i-quran.org)  in 2013.

He also founded a website on the life and works of the biblical scholar Abdus Sattar Ghauri (www.abdus-sattar-ghauri.org)  in 2014

He uses his personal facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=562019607)  to write on personality development issues.

Lectures
  He is a guest speaker at various public forums. Some of the topics he regularly speaks on include:

1. Misconceptions about Women in Islam
  2. Pardah and Gender Interaction
  3. Non-Muslims and the Qur’an
  4. Question on the Qur’an by Serious
  5. Misconceptions about Islam
  6. Muhammad (sws): The Misunderstood Prophet of Islam
  7. Marriage and Married Life
  8. Fast and Fasting
  9. Basic Morality
  10. Islam and Islamic Welfare State
  11. Misconceptions about Divorce in Islam
  12. Misconceptions regarding Jihad of the Companions of the Prophet (sws)
  13 Imbalanced Religious Attitudes

He conducts activity-based Qur’anic Workshops for adults and sessions on Character Building and Personality Development for teenagers. Topics include:

1. Spending in the Way of God 
  2. Pride and Arrogance
  3. Remembering God  
  4. Civic Sense
  5. Kindness to Parents
  6. Gratitude
  7. Forgiveness
  8. Moral Courage
  9. Truthfulness 
  10. Showing Off
  11. Humility
  12. Sympathy
  13. Sinful Speech 
  14. Honesty
  15. Justice

Some of his talks and lectures on or about Islam can be viewed at:
  www.youtube.com/shehzadsaleem         www.dailymotion.com/drshehzadsaleem
  www.youtube.com/shehzadsaleemurdu, www.dailymotion.com/drshehzadsaleemurdu

A facebook page, Dr Shehzad Saleem’s Video Talks (https://www.facebook.com/Dr-Shehzad-Saleems-Video-Talks-309627932402929/?ref=br_rs)  also displays his talks

Answered by this author