Is Wearing Taweez Shirk?

Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani

Q: Is wearing a tawiz (ruqya or amulet) shirk?

Statements by Salafi-wahabis like Shaykh Omar Bakri Mohammed & others such as Bilal Philips, ibn Baz, and Al-Albani:

Whosoever wears the hijab or so-called taweez that includes pictures, numbers, signs, characters or strange wording that has no meaning, or  even writes some Qur’anic words on a piece of paper and puts it around the neck all these are means and forms of shirk.

A: Now let us look at the evidence from Quran, hadith and respectable scholars.

وَنُنَزِّلُ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ مَا هُوَ شِفَاء وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَلاَ يَزِيدُ الظَّالِمِينَ إَلاَّ خَسَارًا

Allah says: “And We reveal of the Qur’an what is a healing and a mercy for the believers, and the wrong-doers are not increased except in loss” (17:82)

It has been said that he who does not seek cure through the Qur’an, Allah does not cure him. The scholars interpret that verse in two ways however:

The first is that cure is for the hearts, by the removal of ignorance and doubt which hinder the understanding of miracles and matters pointing to Allah Almighty;

The second, that cure is for outward diseases, through the use of healing verses [ruqya] and seeking refuge.

Imam al-Qurtubi then lists instructions for making a kind of ruqya called nushra: various verses are recited over a clean container which is then filled with water; the water is then used for wudu‘ by someone who already has a valid wudu‘, and who also soaks his Head and limbs with it but does not use it for ghusl or istinja‘; it may be drunk; he then prays two rak`as at the conclusion of which he asks for healing, and so for three days. Al-Qurtubi cites Ibn `Abd al-Barr’s statement whereby the Prophet’s condemnation of nushra concerns whatever contradicts the Qur’an and Sunna, not what conforms to it.

Imam al-Qurtubi continues: “The Prophet said: Cure for my Community is in but three verses of Allah’s Book, a mouthful of honey, or cupping. He also said: Ruqya is allowed as long as there is no idolatry [shirk]; and if you can help your brother, help him.

Malik ibn Anas said: To hang writings of Allah’s Names upon oneself is permitted for healing and blessing but not for protection against the evil eye [see Abu Hayyan, Tafsir al bahr al-muhit 6:74]. `Abd Allah ibn `Amr used to hang a protective invocation taught by the Prophet around the necks of his young children. (Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi – hasan)

`A’isha said: “Whatever is worn after the descent of calamity is not an amulet (laysa min al-tama’im).”…

As for seeking cure (istishfa‘) with the Qur’an whether worn on oneself or not then it is no shirk at all: the Prophet said: “Whoever hangs something (upon oneself), he is left to it for protection.” Therefore who hangs Qur’an is certainly taken under Allah’s protection, and He will not leave him to other than Him. Wearing a ruqya is accepted by: Ibn al-Musayyib, ad-Dahhak, Ja`far as-Sadiq, and Ibn Sirin.”

We ask, “How did he miss the explanation of Imaam Nawawi in his in al-Majmu’ sharh al-muhadhdhab?:

One may adduce as evidence for their permissibility [amulets (ta`wiz) containing protective or healing words (ruqya, hijab)] the hadith of `Amr ibn Shu`ayb, from his father, from his grandfather [`Amr ibn al-`As], that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to teach them for fearful situations the words: a`udhu bi kalimatillah al-tammat min ghadabihi wa sharri `ibadihi wa min hamazat al-shayatina wa an yahdurun = I seek refuge in Allah’s perfect words from His wrath, from the evil of His servants, from the whispered insinuations of devils, and lest they come to me. `Abd Allah ibn `Amr [in Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud: `Abd Allah ibn `Umar] used to teach these words to those of his sons who had reached the age of reason, and used to write them and hang them upon those who had not.

The hadith is related in Abu Dawud, … Nawawi included it in his Adhkar…. (#264).

Awf ibn Malik said: We would use ruqya in Jahiliyya, so we said: “O Messenger of Allah, what do you say about this?” He replied: “Show me your protective words (a`ridu `alayya ruqakum), there is no harm in ruqya as long as it contains no shirk.” [Muslim and Abu Dawud ]

Among the Companions it is established that `Abd Allah ibn `Amr used to make his small children wear ta`wiz and he certainly would not have done it if it consisted in shirk or led to it. This is confirmed by the Tabi`in who accepted the unconditional wearing of ta`wiz by both adults and children such as Sa`id ibn al-Musayyib, al-Dahhak, Ja`far al-Sadiq, and Ibn Sirin, and among those of later times Malik ibn Anas, as related by Qurtubi. Neither the latter nor Imam Nawawi objected to it, nor did the narrators of `Abd Allah ibn `Amr’s report such as Tirmidhi, Nasa’i, Ahmad, and Abu Dawud.

Yahya related to me from Malik that Humayd ibn Qays al-Makki (Allah be well pleased with him) said, “A man came to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, with the two sons of Jafar ibn Abi Talib. He said to their nursemaid, ‘Why do I see them so thin?’ Their nursemaid said, ‘Messenger of Allah, the evil eye goes quickly to them. Nothing stops us from asking someone to make talismans (using ayats of Qur’an) for them, except that we do not know what of that would agree with you.’ The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘Make talismans for them. Had anything been able to precede the decree, the evil eye would precede it.’ ”  (Muwatta – Imam Malik)

Yahya related to me from Malik from Yahya ibn Said from Sulayman ibn Yasar that `Urwa ibn az-Zubayr (Allah be well pleased with him) told him that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) entered the house of Umm Salama (r), the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. There was a child weeping in the house, and they told him that it was from the evil eye. `Urwa said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘Why do you not find someone to make a talisman to protect it from the evil eye?’ ”  (Muwatta – Imam Malik)

فقد روى  مسلم  في صحيحه عن  أبي سعيد  رضي الله عنه أن جبريل أتى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم، فقال: يا محمد اشتكيت، فقال: نعم، قال: بسم الله أرقيك من كل شيء يؤذيك من شر كل نفس أو عين حاسد، الله يشفيك بسم الله أرقيك.

Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (Allah be well pleased with him) reported that Jibril (as) came to the Prophet (s) and said: “O Muhammad, are you sick?” He replied, ‘Yes.’ He said: “Bismillahi arqik, min kulli shayin yuthik, min sharri kulli nafsin aw ayni hasid – With Allah’s Name I shelter you (give you ruqyah), from all that ails you, from the evil of every soul, or that of the envious eyes. May Allah cure you; with Allah’s Name I shelter you.” Muslim.

رواه  ابن ماجه  عن  أبي هريرة  رضي الله عنه، قال:  جاء النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يعودني، فقال لي: ألا أرقيك برقية جاءني بها جبريل، قلت: بأبي وأمي بلى يا رسول الله، قال: بسم الله أرقيك والله يشفيك من كل داء فيك (من شر النفاثات في العقد ومن شر حاسد إذا حسد)، ثلاث مرات.

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said:

“The Prophet (Peace be upon him) came to visit me (when I was sick), and said to me: ‘Shall I not recite for you a Ruqyah that Jibra’il brought to me?’ I said: ‘May my father and mother be ransomed for you! Yes, O Messenger of Allah!’ He said: Bismillah arqika, wallahu yashfika, min kulli da’in fika, min sharrin- naffathati fil-‘uqad, wa min sharri hasidin idha hasad (In the Name of Allah I perform Ruqyah for you, from every disease that is in you, and from the evil of those who (practice witchcraft when they) blow in the knots, and from the evil of the envier when he envies), three times.”

When Egypt was conquered by the Muslims, there was a custom to throw a girl in the Nile River on the 11th night of one of the non-Arabic months in order that the Nile would continue to flow. It was believed that without throwing a girl into it, the Nile would not flow. Amr Ibn al-`As (r) wrote to the Caliph `Umar (r) concerning this custom. `Umar sent a message to the Nile saying:  “If you were flowing before by your own power, we do not want you to run; and if Allah is the one who makes you flow, we ask the Almighty to make you flow.” Amr Ibn al-`As threw the letter of `Umar into the Nile one day before the Christian commemoration of the crucifixion. The following morning they woke up to find the river flowing stronger and had gone up 48 feet in one night.  (Ibn Hajar, in Al-Sawa’iq). A large Taweez, written with black ink on cloth, is on display in the Museum attached to the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore. It is written by non other than Ameer al-Momineen Sayyidina `Ali (may Allah be pleased with him).

The great Hanafi Jurist, Ibn Abidin states:

“Using of Ta’wizes will be impermissible if they are written in a non-Arabic language in that its meaning is not known. They may consist of black magic, disbelief or impermissible invocations. However, if they consist of Qur’anic verses or prescribed supplications (du`as), then there is nothing wrong with using them (Radd al-Muhtar).

Imam Ibn Taymiyya (Allah have mercy on him) writes in his Fatawa:

“It is permissible for an ill or troubled person, that certain verses from the Qur’an are written with pure ink, then it is washed and given to the ill to drink. Ibn `Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) is reported to have mentioned a certain Dua that should be written and placed close to the woman who is experiencing hard labour at the time of giving birth.

[Additional information]

Hadith Regarding not Seeking Ruqyah

With regard to the hadith narrated by Muslim, according to which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) described the seventy thousand of this Ummah who will enter Paradise without being brought to account or punished, and in which it says: “They are those who did not recite Ruqyah or ask for Ruqyah to be done, and they did not believe in bad omens and they put their trust in their Lord ” – the phrase “they did not recite Ruqyah ” is the words of the narrator, not of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Hence al-Bukhari narrated this hadith and did not mention this phrase. Ibn Taymiyah said: “These people are praised because they did not ask anyone to recite Ruqyah for them, and Ruqyah is a type of du`aa’, so they did not ask others to pray for them. The phrase “and they did not recite Ruqyah ” which is mentioned in the hadith is a mistake (on the part of the narrator), for their Ruqyah for themselves and for others is a good deed. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) recited Ruqyah for himself and for others but he did not ask anyone to recite Ruqyah for him. His reciting Ruqyah for himself and others was like his making du`aa’ for himself and others; this is something that is enjoined, for all the prophets asked of Allah and prayed to Him, as Allah tells us in the stories of Adam, Ibrahim, Musa. ” (Majmu` al-Fatawa, 1/182)

Ibn al-Qayyim said: “This phrase is inserted in the hadith, but it is a mistake on the part of some of the narrators.” (Hadi al-Arwah, 1/89)


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