Magic, fortune-telling & divination
Other widespread forms of shirk are: magic, fortune-telling and divination. Magic (sihr) is an act of kufr, and one of the seven sins which doom a person to Hell. It causes harm but no benefit. Allaah says of the one who learns it (interpretation of the meaning): “. . . And they learn that which harms them and profits them not . . .” [al-Baqarah 2:102] “. . . and the magician will never be successful, no matter what amount (of skill) he may attain).” [Ta-Ha 20:69]
The one who deals in magic is a kaafir, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “... Sulayman did not disbelieve, but the shayaateen (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic and such things as came down at Babylon to the two angels, Haaroot and Maaroot, but neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) things till they had said, ‘We are only for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us).’ . . .” [al-Baqarah 2:102]
The prescribed punishment for the one who practices magic is death, and his income is haraam and impure. But people who are ignorant wrongdoers and weak in faith go to magicians to help them harm someone or take revenge on someone. Some people commit the sin of going to a magician to ask his help in undoing the magic of someone else, when they should turn to Allaah to help them and heal them, by reciting His words, such as the soorahs that offer protection (al-Falaq and al-Naas), and so on. Fortune-tellers and their ilk are kaafirs who disbelieve in Allaah, because they claim knowledge of the Unseen, but no one has knowledge of the Unseen except Allaah. Many of these fortune-tellers take advantage of simple-minded people and take their money. They use many methods such as drawing lines in the sand, throwing sea-shells, reading palms, teacups (or coffee cups), crystal balls and mirrors, and so on. If they get it right one time, they get it wrong ninety-nine times, but ignorant people remember only the one time when these liars get something right. They go to them to find out about the future, whether they will be successful in marriage or business, or to help them find something they have lost, and so on. The ruling concerning the person who visits a fortune-teller is: if he believes what he says, he is a kaafir who has left Islaam, on the basis of the hadeeth in which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever goes to a fortune-teller or a soothsayer and believes in what he says has disbelieved in what was revealed to Muhammad.” (Reported by Imaam Ahmad, 2/429; see also Saheeh al-Jaami’, 5939). If a person does not believe that they have knowledge of the Unseen, but he goes out of curiosity or whatever, he is not a kaafir, but his prayers will not be accepted for forty days, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever goes to a fortune-teller and asks him about something, his prayers will not be accepted for forty nights” (Saheeh Muslim, 4/1751) - even though it is still obligatory to pray and to repent for this sin.
Astrology, or believing that the stars & planets have an influence on people’s lives & events
Zayd ibn Khaalid al-Juhani reported: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) led us in the morning prayer at al-Hudaybiyah after rain had fallen during the night. When he had finished, he turned around to face the people and said: ‘Do you know what your Lord says?’ They said, ‘Allaah and His Messenger know best.’ He said: ‘[Allaah says]: This morning one of My slaves became a believer in Me and one became a disbeliever. As for the one who said, “We have been given rain by the grace and mercy of Allaah,” he is a believer in Me and a disbeliever in the stars; as for the one who said, “We have been given rain by such-and-such a star,” he is a disbeliever in Me and a believer in the stars.’” (Reported by al-Bukhaari; see Fath al-Baari, 2/333) Similarly, the one who reads the horoscopes in newspapers and magazines and believes what they say about the influence of the stars and planets is a mushrik, and the one who reads them for entertainment is a sinner, because it is not permitted to entertain oneself by reading things that contain shirk, because Shaytaan will try to lead him to shirk through this.
Believing that certain things can bring benefit when the Creator has not made them so
Yet another form of shirk is believing that certain things can bring benefit when the Creator has not made them so. For example. some people believe in amulets and spells, or wearing certain types of pearls or seashells or metal earrings and so on, on the advice of fortune-tellers or magicians or in accordance with inherited customs. So they hang them around their own or their children’s necks to ward off the evil eye - or so they claim; or they tie them onto their bodies or hang them in their cars and homes, or wear rings with special stones, thinking that these things can relieve or ward off distress. This without a doubt is contrary to the idea of relying on Allaah, and will only result in making a person even more weak, like seeking medicine in a haraam way. These amulets obviously contain much shirk, such as seeking the help of some jinns and devils, or vague drawings and illegible writing. Some of these liars even write aayaat from the Qur’aan, or mix them with words of shirk, or write them with impure substances such as menstrual blood. Hanging up these amulets or tying them to one’s body is haraam because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever hangs up an amulet is guilty of shirk.” (Reported by Ahmad, 4/156; see also Silsilat al- Saheehah, no. 492).
If the one who does this believes that these things can cause benefit or harm instead of Allaah, he is a mushrik who is guilty of al-shirk al-akbar. If he believes that they are a means of causing benefit or harm, then he is a mushrik who is guilty of al-shirk alasghar, which includes shirk that consists of attributing causes to things other than Allaah.