Superstitions in Muslim societies

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Superstition is a belief in supernatural causality contradicted by natural science: the belief that one event is the cause of another without any physical process linking the two, such as astrology, omens, witchcraft, and apotropaic magic.[1] Muslim individuals and communities have at various times practiced superstitious rituals, practices, and beliefs.[2][page needed] According to Rashid Shaz the whole Muslim world is permeated with pre-Islamic superstitions.[3] According to Samuel Marinus Zwemer Islam emerged in idolatrous background and despite transforming it's followers to forceful monotheism continued to hold on to many old Arabian beliefs. Zwemer says, wherever Muslims went they introduced their own old superstitions and adopted new ones;[4] as a result animism has influenced whole Islamic ritual and prevailed in popular Islam.

Quotes about Evil Eye[edit]

  • Abu Huraira reported so many abidith from Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and he reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The influence of an evil eye is a fact.
    • Sahih Muslim 26:5426
  • Ibn 'Abbas reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The influence of an evil eye is a fact; if anything would precede the destiny it would be the influence of an evil eye, and when you are asked to take bath (as a cure) from the influence of an evil eye, you should take bath.
    • Sahih Muslim 26:5427
  • Yahya related to me from Malik that Muhammad ibn Abi Umama ibn Sahl ibn Hunayf heard his father say, "My father, Sahl ibn Hunayf did a ghusl at al-Kharrar. He removed the jubbah he had on while Amir ibn Rabia was watching, and Sahl was a man with beautiful white skin. Amir said to him, 'I have never seen anything like what I have seen today, not even the skin of a virgin.' Sahl fell ill on the spot, and his condition grew worse. Somebody went to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and told him that Sahl was ill, and could not go with him. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came to him, and Sahl told him what had happened with Amir. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'Why does one of you kill his brother? Why did you not say, "May Allah bless you?" (ta baraka-llah) The evil eye is true. Do wudu from it.' Amir did wudu from it and Sahl went with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and there was nothing wrong with him."
    • Al-Muwatta 50 50.11
  • Abu Sa'id reported that Gabriel came to AJlah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and said: Muhammad, have you fallen ill? Thereupon he said: Yes. He (Gabriel) said:" In the name of Allah I exercise you from everything and safeguard you from every evil that may harm you and from the eye of a jealous one. Allah would cure you and I invoke the name of Allah for you."
    • Sahih Muslim 26:5425, See also: Sahih Muslim 26:5424
  • A'isha reported that a Jew from among the Jews of Banu Zuraiq who was called Labid b. al-A'sam cast spell upon Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) with the result that he (under the influence of the spell) felt that he had been doing something whereas in fact he had not been doing that. (This state of affairs lasted) until one day or during one night Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) made supplication (to dispel its effects). He again made a supplication and he again did this and said to 'A'isha: Do you know that Allah has told me what I had asked Him? There came to me two men and one amongst them sat near my head and the other one near my feet and he who sat near my head said to one who sat near my feet or one who sat near my feet said to one who sat near my head: What is the trouble with the man? He said: The spell has affected him. He said: Who has cast that? He (the other one) said: It was Labid b. A'sam (who has done it). He said: What is the thing by which he transmitted its effect? He said: By the comb and by the hair stuck to the comb and the spathe of the date-palm. He said: Where is tbap He replied: In the well of Dhi Arwan. She said: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) sent some of the persons from among his Companions there and then said: 'A'isha. by Allah, its water was yellow like henna and its trees were like heads of the devils. She said that she asked Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as to why he did not burn that. He said: No, Allah has cured me and I do not like that I should induce people to commit any high-handedness in regard (to one another), but I only commanded that it should be buried.
    • Sahih Muslim 26:5428, See also: Sahih Muslim 26:5429, Sahih Bukhari 4:54:490, and Sahih Bukhari 8:75:400



  • ".. Should Islam embark on a period of enlightenment and modernization? Does Islam need a Voltaire to call Muslims to break free of Superstition, to use their mind not emotions, to take note, as he did in 1800s, that "Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense."
    • Ayaan Hirsi Ali in The Caged Virgin, An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam 2008
  • "..Is there an enlightened Muslim man or woman who can stand with Voltaire and say, "To think of virgin as a virtue--and not a barrier that separates ignorance from knowledge -- is an infantile superstition"? Where is the biting criticism from within? Or is it the West that should be listening to the critical voice of Voltaire and examining itself and it's committment to moral principles? As Thomas L. Friedman has written, Westeners should hold Arabs and Muslims to the same high moral standards as Westeners hold for themselves. .."
    • Ayaan Hirsi Ali in The Caged Virgin, An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam 2008
  • ".. Islam is in need of enlightenment. Islamic societies still wrestle with the Dark Ages (prejudice, restricted thought, superstition) that strapped Christian societies before the Reformation and Age of Reason questioned central tenets. But it is unlikely that this movement will rise up from within the Islamic world. Writers, academics, and journalists who voice their criticism are forced to take refuge in the West. Their works are banned in their own country.."
    • Ayaan Hirsi Ali in The Caged Virgin, An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam 2008
  • "..Closed groups who live in superstitious conviction that mutilation is good for a child, can not be expected to be open about such matters. As a result of their conviction, the parents perceive mutilation of their own child not as a criminal..."
    • Ayaan Hirsi Ali in The Caged Virgin, An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam 2008


  • "... Soyinka, the authentic African visionary, is clearly surprised that there are still individuals who hold that religion, Islam especially, has any relevance to a new vision of Africa as this continent faces challenge of the twenty-first century. Islam may after all not only be alien to Africa, it is also alien to our era. It is not only an imported superstition, it is also an antiquated superstition, a tale that is full of fury and violence but signifying nothing. ..."
    • Islam and the West African Novel The Politics of Representation By Ahmed S. Bangura · 2000

  • "...The images of Islam that emerge from critical literature indicate a translation of colonial perceptions of Islam as a primitive and regressive superstition, either imposed by force or else singularly deformed to suit the defective ethical standards of Africans.
    • Islam and the West African Novel The Politics of Representation By Ahmed S. Bangura · 2000
  • "...a series which was dedicated to the redressing of appalling ignorance and misrepresentation of a vast continent ended up just being another expensive propaganda for the racial-religious superiority of seductive superstition imported into or forced down the throat of African continent"...If the references to Islam still remains veiled they become transparent when Soyinka writes...but let it not be done as a continuation of the game of denigration against the African spiritual heritage/...perpetrated by Islam;s born again revisionist of history..."
    • Islam and the West African Novel The Politics of Representation By Ahmed S. Bangura · 2000


  • "...there is a great danger in stumbling upon this state.In a good many cases there is the danger of the brain being deranged, and, as a rule, you will find that all those men, however great they were, who had stumbled upon this superconscious state without understanding it, groped in the dark, and generally had, along with their knowledge, some quaint superstition. They opened themselves to hallucinations. Mohammed claimed that the Angel Gabriel came to him in a cave one day and took him on the heavenly horse, Harak, and he visited the heavens. But with all that, Mohammed spoke some wonderful truths. If you read the Koran, you find the most wonderful truths mixed with superstitions. How will you explain it? That man was inspired, no doubt, but that inspiration was, as it were, stumbled upon. He was not a trained Yogi, and did not know the reason of what he was doing. Think of the good Mohammed did to the world, and think of the great evil that has been done through his fanaticism! Think of the millions massacred through his teachings, mothers bereft of their children, children made orphans, whole countries destroyed, millions upon millions of people killed!

So we see this danger by studying the lives of great teachers like Mohammed and others. Yet we find, at the same time, that they were all inspired. Whenever a prophet got into the superconscious state by heightening his emotional nature, he brought away from it not only some truths, but some fanaticism also, some superstition which injured the world as much as the greatness of the teaching helped. To get any reason out of the mass of incongruity we call human life, we have to transcend our reason, but we must do it scientifically, slowly, by regular practice, and we must cast off all superstition. We must take up the study of the superconscious state just as any other science. On reason we must have to lay our foundation, we must follow reason as far as it leads, and when reason fails, reason itself will show us the way to the highest plane. When you hear a man say, "I am inspired," and then talk irrationally, reject it. Why? Because these three states — instinct, reason, and superconsciousness, or the unconscious, conscious, and superconscious states — belong to one and the same mind. There are not three minds in one man, but one state of it develops into the others. Instinct develops into reason, and reason into the transcendental consciousness; therefore, not one of the states contradicts the others. Real inspiration never contradicts reason, but fulfils it. Just as you find the great prophets saying, "I come not to destroy but to fulfil," so inspiration always comes to fulfil reason, and is in harmony with it. .."


  • "...Superstitions are not reduced in monotheism, but concentrated in to one God or his apostle. Historically speaking monotheism has shown itself to be ferociously intolerant in comparison to polytheism...
...There is vast literature on the beliefs surrounding Jinns for our purpose it is sufficient to realize that this superstition is sanctioned by the Koran and jinns are in Islam officially fully recognized...Ibn Sina was perhaps the first Islamic philosopher forthrightly to reject the very possibility of their existence. ..."

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