The difference between miracle, magic and jugglery

Q: Please explain the difference between miracle, magic and jugglery.

A: A miracle is manifested by Allah through His Messenger, which is against the normal course in such a way that all cannot present such a thing in spite of all their knowledge and power. A miracle is thus a proof of truthfulness of one who claims to be a messenger of God, Who never allows a miracle to be performed by an imposter of messengership or prophethood as it is against perfect wisdom of Almighty Allah, because it is apparently awkward that a liar should be able to show miracles and Allah can never indulge in an awkward thing.

As for the definition of magic: Sorcery or magic is manifestation of a thing against the ordinary by a person who is impure and evil with the help or means of some special acts.

Those acts are such, which anyone can learn by heart and bring about results. Thus difference between miracle and magic was such as:

First: Miracle is from Allah, the Merciful for testifying His messenger's truthfulness; whereas sorcery is from Satan. It is an effect of the filth of the magician and his engagement with devils and their indulgence in unclean deeds or acts, which make them nearer to satans. The difference between miracle and sorcery is seen from the difference between Mercifulness and mischievousness.

Second: If an extraordinary thing is seen or manifested with the hands of a person who has no faults or evils in him at all and he is also having all desirable virtues and is not selfish at all regarding any material thing and his total concern is with Almighty Allah, all this shows that the unusual thing he has shown is indeed a miracle and that it is granted to him by Almighty Allah as a miracle and that he is true in his claim to be a messenger or Imam.

On the other hand, if there is a fellow who shows extraordinary and unusual things, but who is mean-minded, desirous of worldly things and worshipper of his desires and devoid of all graceful virtues, then what he has shown is of course magic and he himself is accursed. Most probably every aspect of his mean-mindedness and evil intentions will not remain hidden from intelligent people. This is how miracle and magic can be distinguished by wise people.

Intelligent people, on seeing unusual and unhabitual things in someone do not put faith in him at once until they have looked deeply into that person 's conditions and ascertain whether what he has shown is spiritual and divine or material and satanic. When they find that he is clean and pious and is not interested in anything except the pleasure of God and that he is always engaged in worship and has perfect virtues and is clean of every evil thing then they obey him fully and love him from heart and put themselves in his service.

On the other hand, if they find that a fellow is selfish and mad after money and material things and seeks only worldly ranks and his deeds are undesirable, then they become sure that he has shown only magic and sorcery. If such a selfish fellow claims to be a prophet or spiritual leadership, the wise people at once become sure that he is a liar and a perjurer and hence will reject his claim even if he shows thousands of unusual things and astonishing and wonderful matters. Intelligent and wise people understand that whatever unusual things such an imposter has shown are the result of some hidden causes which rnay be exposed by those who have any knowledge of such matters.

The third difference between miracle and sorcery is that miracle does not require any ritual or trouble-taking and whatever the messenger or prophet asks comes up by the Command of God. On the other hand a magician or a sorcerer needs to do perform acts acquiring some

materials, spells, charms, amulets and materials like stones or roots and control of jinns and satans and some eatables, which disrupt human mind and change feelings. Hence it is often noticed that magicians make people drink tea or coffee to affect their perceptions and make them see astonishing things. They also indulge in hidden handiworks for gathering riches.

That is why some scholars have said that it is also necessary to gain knowledge of sorcery (at least for some people) so that masses may be warned of their tricks and they may be protected from their webs, nets, traps etc. It should also be known that sometimes a magician may show wonders without resorting to special acts and may show his will power acquired by exercises (which are false and rejected). But in such event, if he claims to be a prophet, Almighty Allah, Who is merciful and kind will certainly expose that fellow's falsehood or He will not allow what that fellows wants to bring out and raise some certain events, which will expose that fellow's falsehood.

Fourth: Miracle is not bound by time and space. Time and space cannot hinder the messenger and he will seek from the Almighty Allah anything at anytime and at any place whereby the extraordinary and wonderful event will come up at once before all. And also what the Messenger of Allah will show will be according to what people had demanded. For example, if people say: Please make a man who died a hundred years ago rise from his grave so that we may believe in your prophethood; then as soon as the messengers requests Allah, that dead person will rise up unless it is known that what people demanded was not for putting faith, but only to seek excuse as mentioned in reply to another question.

But magic is bound by time and space. The magician cannot do whatever he wants at once. In magic it is what the magician wants to show, not what people ask of him. In case there is a fellow who acquires will power to bring forth what others demand then we say that if such person claims divine messengership, Almighty Allah, Who is wise and kind to His creation, will certainly not allow such a thing to happen, which may misguide the masses.

Sayyid Abdul Husayn Dastghaib