Can we meet or consult with shamans for the purpose of treatment or curing of illnesses due to sorcery?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Islamic View on Black Magic
Linguistically, sorcery in Lisan al-Arab is said as: A sorcerer made a lie or falsehood appear as the truth and describes something untrue as the truth. Thus, he has changed something from the actual fact. (See Lisan al-‘Arab, 4/348)
From Islamic view, according to Ibnu Qudamah: Sorcery is something that binds, charms, enchantments or words that is uttered or written or acted out that causes harm to the body of someone or his heart or his mind, without even touching the victim.
The Prophet PBUH said that sorcery is one of the great sins. From Abu Hurairah RA, the Prophet PBUH said:
اجْتَنِبُوا السَّبْعَ المُوبِقَاتِ، قَالُوا: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَمَا هُنَّ؟ قَالَ: الشِّرْكُ بِاللَّهِ، وَالسِّحْرُ، وَقَتْلُ النَّفْسِ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلَّا بِالحَقِّ، وَأَكْلُ الرِّبَا، وَأَكْلُ مَالِ اليَتِيمِ، وَالتَّوَلِّي يَوْمَ الزَّحْفِ، وَقَذْفُ المُحْصَنَاتِ المُؤْمِنَاتِ الغَافِلاَتِ
"Avoid the seven great destructive sins." The people enquire, "O Allah's Messenger PBUH! What are they? "He said, "To join others in worship along with Allah, to practice sorcery, to kill the life which Allah has forbidden except for a just cause, (according to Islamic law), to eat up Riba (usury), to eat up an orphan's wealth, to give back to the enemy and fleeing from the battlefield at the time of fighting, and to accuse, chaste women, who never even think of anything touching chastity and are good believers.
Sahih al-Bukhari (2766)
Islamic scholars agreed on the opinion that learning, teaching and practising sorcery is prohibited. Ibn Qudamah said: “Learning and teaching of sorcery is prohibited. There’s no disagreement about it among the scholars.” (See al-Mughni, 8/151)
Imam al-Nawawi said: “Learning it (sorcery) and teaching it, then the ruling is, it is prohibited.” (See Muslim bi Syarh al-Nawawi, 14/176)
The Ruling for Consulting with Shamans to Treat Sorcery
The ruling for consulting with shamans to treat sorcery is, it is prohibited. This is due to the fact that when someone went to meet with shamans to treat any type of illness caused by sorcery, it is a clear act of reliance on something other than Allah SWT. This act could lead to shirk towards Allah SWT.
Dr Wahbah al-Zuhaili in al-Fatawa al-Mu’asirah said: It is prohibited to went to see shamans whether it is for committing sorcery or treating sorcery. All of it is included in a Nabawi hadith as a form of shirk towards Allah SWT, through reliance and knowledge of the unseen or treatment of illnesses through a medium other then Allah SWT. (See al-Fatawa al-Mu’asirah, pg. 319)
Whoever that went to meet shamans and does not believe in them, his prayer is not accepted for forty nights. The Prophet PBUH said:
مَنْ أَتَى عَرَّافًا فَسَأَلَهُ عَنْ شَىْءٍ لَمْ تُقْبَلْ لَهُ صَلاَةٌ أَرْبَعِينَ لَيْلَةً
“He who visits a diviner ('Arraf) and asks him about anything, his prayers extending to forty nights will not be accepted.”
Sahih Muslim (5957)
Meanwhile, whoever went and meet shamans and believe in them, he has become a disbeliever of what had been sent by Allah SWT to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH about the unseen world. No one knows anything about the unseen world except for Allah SWT. (See al-Fatawa al-Mu’asirah, pg. 319)
The Prophet PBUH said:
مَنْ أَتَى كَاهِنًا، أَوْ عَرَّافًا، فَصَدَّقَهُ بِمَا يَقُولُ، فَقَدْ كَفَرَ بِمَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ
“If anyone resorts to a diviner and believes in what he says, he has nothing to do with what has been sent down to Muhammad PBUH,”
Sunan Ahmad (9171)
What should be understood is, sorcery can never be treated by another sorcery. The same goes with evil can never fight another evil. The only one that can treat it is Allah SWT. As have been told from the story of the Prophet Musa AS fighting against the pharaoh’s sorcerers, stated in the Quran:
فَأُلْقِيَ السَّحَرَةُ سُجَّدًا قَالُوا آمَنَّا بِرَبِّ هَارُونَ وَمُوسَىٰ
“So, the magicians fell down in prostration. They said, "We have believed in the Lord of Aaron and Moses."
Surah Taha (70)
Ibn Kathir said: After the magicians saw what the Prophet Musa AS did, they themselves know everything about magic and sorcery and thus they are convinced that what the Prophet Musa AS did is not magic or any form of sorcery or deception or trick, and that it is something that is the truth and undoubted. It can only happen by the power of God that is able to just say be and it will be. That is the time when all the magicians fell down in prostration to Allah SWT and said: “We have believed in the Lord of Aaron and Moses.". (See Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azim, 9/350)
The Usage of Recitations (Ruqyah) that Follows the Islamic Law
In this case, Islam has its own solution using ruqyah (recitation) from verses of the Quran and al-Sunnah in treating illnesses that is caused by sorcery.  Allah SWT states:
وَنُنَزِّلُ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ مَا هُوَ شِفَاءٌ وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ
“And We send down of the Qur'an that which is healing and mercy for the believers, but it does not increase the wrongdoers except in loss.”
Surah al-Isra’ (82)
Imam al-Syaukani Rahimahullah said: “Islamic scholars has differing opinions regarding the meaning of “al-syifa” (healer) into two opinions:
- As a healer for the heart, remove stupidity, doubts and the opening of the veil that would lead him to Allah SWT.
- As a healer for physical diseases, using ruqyah verses, as protection and others.
There is no problem with both the meanings of “al-syifa” (healer) as stated above. (See Fath al-Qadir, 3/300)
Imam al-Baghawi said: Ruqyah (recitations or enchantments) that is prohibited is ruqyah that has elements of shirk or stated within it the name of evil jinn, or ruqyah that is not in Arabic and the real meaning of it is unknown. This is due to the fact that it may contain shirk elements or it could lead to disbelief in Allah.
Meanwhile, ruqyah (recitation) using verses from the Quran and Zikrullah is permitted and is encouraged in Islam. This is due to the fact that the Prophet PBUH blow (recitations) over himself the al-Mu’awwizat surah (al-Ikhlas, al-Falaq and al-Nas). (See Syarh al-Sunnah, 12/159)
From Aisyah R.Anha, she said:
أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَانَ إِذَا اشْتَكَى يَقْرَأُ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ بِالْمُعَوِّذَاتِ وَيَنْفُثُ فَلَمَّا اشْتَدَّ وَجَعُهُ كُنْتُ أَقْرَأُ عَلَيْهِ وَأَمْسَحُ بِيَدِهِ رَجَاءَ بَرَكَتِهَا
“Whenever Allah's Messenger PBUH became ill, he used to recite the Muawidhatan (i.e. the last two surahs of the Qur'an) and blow his breath over himself (after their recitation) and rubbed his hands over his body. So, when he was afflicted with his fatal illness. I started reciting the Muawidhatan and blowing my breath over him as he used to do and then I rubbed the hand of the Prophet PBUH over his body.”
Sahih al-Bukhari (5016) and Sahih Muslim (5844)
In another narration from Abi Sa’id RA, he said when Jibril came to the Prophet and said: "O Muhammad! Are you suffering?" He said: "Yes." Then Jibril said:
بِاسْمِ اللَّهِ أَرْقِيكَ مِنْ كُلِّ شَىْءٍ يُؤْذِيكَ مِنْ شَرِّ كُلِّ نَفْسٍ أَوْ عَيْنِ حَاسِدٍ اللَّهُ يَشْفِيكَ بِاسْمِ اللَّهِ أَرْقِيكَ.
"In the Name of Allah, I recite a prayer (Ruqyah) over you, from the evil of every person and evil eye. In the Name of Allah, I recite a prayer (Ruqyah) over you, may Allah cure you."
Sahih Muslim (5829)
To close, consulting with shamans to treat sorcery is prohibited. We recommend consulting with people that use verses of the Quran and al-Sunnah in treating sorcery. Or if one is competent, he can treat himself according to the Quran and Nabawi hadith.
We also elaborated here on the decision of the 33rd Fatwa Committee of National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs Malaysia’s meeting which met on October 11, 1993 on the Black Magic / Sorcery Practice:
- The act of sorcery is a great sin that could lead to shirk and that it is prohibited to learn sorcery.
- Someone who practises sorcery and causes harm to people has commit a great sin and a criminal offender, in which it is obligatory for him to be punished through qisas/hudud
- Related authorities should provide legal punishments for convicted black magic practitioner.
Lastly, may Allah SWT keep us away from anything that could lead to shirk towards Allah SWT and bestow upon us the understanding in practising His commandments.
For more information regarding sorcery, we have answered about it before in Al-Kafi 253 : Islamic Standing Regarding Sorcery  and al-Kafi 557 : How to Treat Wife’s Illness Caused by Sorcery? .
 For the discussion on Enchantments and Its Ruling we have discussed it in Irsyad Al-Fatwa Series 219 : The Ruling of Practising Enchantments from Ancestors: