Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God. The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so. (Deuteronomy 18:10-14)
Sura 113 - Al-Falaq (The Daybreak, Dawn)
Sura 114 - An-Nas (Mankind)
These two Suras are commonly referred to by the name Mu'awwidhatayn (the two Suras in which refuge with Allah has been sought). The themes of these two Suras are closely related and it was believed by some (mainly Imam Baihaqi in Dala'il an-Nubuwwat) that they were "revealed" together to Muhammad. In spite of the fact that these are among the shortest Suras in the Qur'an, they are full of theological and philosophical problems.
Muhammad first preached these Suras in Mecca at a point when his growing popularity, and material wealth, began to provoke the hostility of many of his fellow citizens. Muslim traditionalists tell us that after Muhammad recited the Sura Al-Kafirun (the Sura against the unbelievers), the polytheistic Meccans abandoned any hope of a theological compromise with Muhammad. There were many families whose members accepted Islam, and they were angry with Muhammad and some cursed him publicly. Muhammad believed that some Meccans were holding secret meetings where they hatched conspiracies to kill him quietly in the middle of the night so that his clan could not discover the murder and take revenge.
Muhammad also believed that his enemies were using magic and charms on him in order to kill him, make him ill, or drive him mad. Muhammad also thought that there were Satans from among the men and the jinn that were whispering evil into the hearts of the people against him and the Qur'an, so that the masses would become suspicious of him and ignore him and his message.
A similar incident occurred in Medina after the peace treaty of Hudaibiyah. According to the traditions, a group of the Jews from Khaibar visited Medina where they met a famous magician, named Labid bin Asam. They said to him:
While in Medina, Muhammad employed a Jewish boy as his valet who passed along Muhammad's comb with some hair stuck in it. "Magic" was worked on this hair, according to some traditions, by Labid bin Asam while, according to others, his sisters who were more skilled cast the spell. In any case, Labid placed this spell in the spathe of a male date-tree and hid it under a stone at the bottom of Dharwan or Dhi Arwan, the well of Bani Zurayq. In a short time, the spell to affected Muhammad.
According to Muslim tradition recounted by Syed Maududi's commentary, Muhammad said to Aisha:
The Argument for Meccan Origins
Hasan Basri, Ikrimah, Ata and Jabir bin Zaid believed that these Suras were Meccan. A tradition from Abdullah bin Abbas also supports the same view.
The Argument for Medinan Origins
However, another tradition from Abdullah bin Abbas, suggests that it is Medinan. 'Abdullah bin Zubair and Qatadah also believed that these Suras are Medinan. There are Hadith in which Muslim, Tirmidhi, Nasa'i and Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal related (on the authority of Uqbah bin Amir) that Muhammad said: "Do you know what kind of verses have been revealed to me tonight? - these matchless verses are A'udhu bi-Rabbil-falaq and A'udhu bi-Rabbin-nas." This Hadith is used as an argument for these Suras to be Medinan because 'Uqbah bin Amir became a Muslim in Medina according to Abu Da'ud and Nasa'i.
Other traditions that support the Medinan origins include: Ibn Sa'd, Muhiyy-us-Sunnah Baghawi, Imam Nasafi, Imam Baihaqi, Hafiz Ibn Hajar, Hafiz Badr-uddin 'Ayni, and 'Abd bin Humaid who claim that these Suras were revealed after the Jews of Medina had placed magic spells on Muhammad who had fallen ill.
The subject matter of these Suras explicitly says that they were first recited in Mecca after opposition to Muhammad, and his message, became more intense. Later, when a similar situation occurred in Medina, Muhammad recited these Suras once again.
According to Syed Maududi's commentary, one of Muhammad's most trusted Companions, Abdullah bin Mas'ud, said that these two Suras do not belong in the Qur'an and he eliminated these Suras from his copy of the Mushaf. In fact, Abdullah bin Mas'ud not only eliminated these Suras from the Mushaf, he often said:
The other companions defended these Suras and Uthman included them in the Qur'an and Muslims believe that Abdullah bin Mas'ud was in error.
The most important question is: if such an "error", assuming that it was an error, could be committed by a close Companion, could other errors of omissions and insertions have been made during the compilation of the Qur'an?
If we accept that Muhammad was affected by magic, or at least believed that he was affected by magic, the entire Qur'an becomes highly suspect. I believe, based on historical evidence, that Muhammad actually thought that a spell had been cast on him. There are numerous traditions (according to Syed Maududi) including: Bukhari, Muslim, Nasai, Ibn Majah, Imam Ahmad, Abdur Razzaq, Humaidi, Baihaqi, Tabarani, Ibn Sad, Ibn Mardayah, Ibn AbiShaibah, Hakim, Abd bin Humaid and other traditions on the authority of Aisha that clearly say that Muhammad believed that he could be affected by spells and magic.
Another interesting tradition is found in Bukhari Volume 4, Book 54, Number 490 where Aisha tells us:
A similar Habith tells us something even more bizarre:
Hadith Bukhari Volume 7, Book 71, Number 660:
Apparently, Muhammad believed that he was having sex with his wives, while he actually did not have sex with them, for nearly one year! ("The Life of Muhammad", by A. Guillaume, Oxford University Press).
How easy was it to bewitch Muhammad with magic?
Bukhari Volume 7, Book 71, Number 662:
Narrated Abdullah bin Umar:
Muhammad's problems with the occult became very serious in the case of the "Satanic Verses" (omitted from Sura 53:19-20) At one point in time, Muhammad admitted that Satan put words in his mouth to compromise with idol worship. Later Muhammad said that God showed him he was wrong, and the Quranic recital was changed.
In "The Life of Muhammad" by A. Guillaume, pp. 165-166, we find this quotation from at-Tabari:
2. The word is said to mean `Numidian cranes' which fly at a great height.
3. Another reading is turtaja `to be hoped for'.
4. Mentioned in the last verse of the Sura.
Ibn Sa'd also records the compromise:
The problem is: if Muhammad could be charmed, or made to believe that he had been charmed, who knows what he could have said under the influence of the "magic" used by his opponents - especially when he imagined himself doing something that he was not doing - even having sex with his wives! Which of his teachings are from God (assuming for a moment that any are from God) and which are the result of these magic spells?
Also, Ibn Sa'd raises a very serious question. If Muhammad could not distinguish between the words of God and the words of Satan, how can we trust anything that he said? In fact, the entire story of Muhammad's "prophethood" and his "revelations" are very suspect when viewed in the light of these suras. Incidentally, the Qur'an mentions an accusation made against Muhammad that he was bewitched (Sura 17:47) and, to make matters worse, these two Suras give evidence that Muhammad had actually been, or believed that he had been, charmed and bewitched. Worst of all, the most serious problem is that Muhammad could be tricked by Satan.
The third issue that arises when we read these two Suras is whether recitation of charms and amulets has any place among people who claim to believe in a sovereign, all powerful God. During Muhammad's last illness (prior to his death), Aisha recited these Suras on his command and blew on his hands, since she believed that they were blessed, and rubbed them on his body. In spite of Muhammad's many superstitions, he, according to the traditions, opposed charms and amulets: according to Syed Maududi, Abdullah bin Abbas reports that Muhammad said:
Latter Hadith show that, unlike the earlier traditions where Muhammad said that the recitation of charms and amulets was forbidden, he allowed it on the condition that is should not smack of polytheism, but one should recite and blow by means of the holy names of Allah, or the words of the Qur'an. This view was a compromise between Muhammad's new religion and earlier pre-Islamic superstitions. There are many examples of Muhammad's belief in charms, amulets, and other superstitions including: Sahih Muslim, Book 25, Number 5448: Narrated Anas ibn Malik:
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 65, Number 356, claims that Sad said:
Also, Sahih Muslim, Book 25, Number 5531: Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah:
The philosphical problem with these beliefs in amulets, charms, and other superstitions, is that they conflict with the idea of a sovereign, all-powerful God. If one believes in God and in the power of God's will, what is the purpose of amulets and charms? Can any of these things alter or over-ride the will of an all-powerful God? Muhammad's faith in amulets and charms, as well as his belief in superstitions, seriously undermines the theological ideas that he preached and casts doubt on the validity of all of his purported "revelations".
For more on Muhammad and the occult please read Muhammad and the Demons.
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