Question # 204: In many groups Muslims are encouraging others in reading books like Harry Potter in pursuit of learning Arabic and some teacher of Arabic seem to encourage it and use this book as well… What is the guidance in this matter from the light of Quran and Sunnah?
Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: Reading stories that contain magic and fantasy (the like of Harry Potter) are prohibited in Islam as these stories spread acts of sihr (witchcraft) and kufr. Some magicians in such tales are depicted as good and decent people, which is quite dangerous as the readers (in particularly, children) consider it appropriate and acceptable and do not regard magic and its practitioners, as abhorrent. It also poses a greater danger, when the reader might try to put into practice what he/she has read. Although just reading these stories is not kufr which puts one beyond the pale of Islam, Muslims should focus the attention of their children on reading books that are important and beneficial in terms of science, arts and literature. Lastly, everyone should be wary of utilizing their time effectively as a person will be questioned about his/her time and how he/she spent it on the Day of Resurrection.
Long Answer: Reading stories that contain magic and fantasy (the like of Harry Potter) involves things concerning which there are some reservations. They are spreading acts of sihr (witchcraft) and kufr, to the extent that they become like ordinary behavior in civilized societies; in fact, they depict such things as essential skills for individuals and societies that can be learned. They often depict the magician as a good and decent man who does good and spreads good among the people, and this is the most dangerous aspect of the matter; where something evil is presented as something good, where one no longer objects to it in one’s heart and no longer feels that magic and its practitioners are something abhorrent, and one no longer thinks of the seriousness of the sin involved before Allah (سبحانه و تعالى).
[Moreover,] in most cases, these stories teach their readers about types of magic and sorcery and depict to them some of the secrets of magic that make it easy for any reader to apply them and indulge in them. This also poses a great danger, because it may lead the reader to try to put into practice what he has read. It is not just the matter of reading a story for fun; rather there is the fear that some of these stories may influence their readers so they may be bewitched or harmed because of reading these incomprehensible words in these stories.
Hence Muslims should beware of allowing their children to read these stories, and societies should put a stop to the spread of this aspect of culture; they should focus instead on things that are important and beneficial in terms of science, arts and literature.
In Fatawa Noor ‘ala al-Darb by Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) says: “The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whoever learns a branch of astrology has learned a branch of magic …” [(Collected by Abu Dawood, Sunan Abi Dawud and Ibn Majah)] And Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an about the two angels: ““… but neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) till they had said, ‘We are for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us).’” (Soorah al-Baqarah, 2:102). This indicates that learning magic and practicing it is kufr (disbelief). So the Muslim must oppose books which teach magic and astrology…”
Just reading these stories is not kufr that puts one beyond the pale of Islam, so long as that is not done with the aim of learning magic and practicing it. However, what is required is to warn against reading books of magic in general.
[On the other hand,] with regard to reading these stories, there is waste of time. People are deceived by the idea of “free” time, for it is one of the things about which they will be questioned on the Day of Resurrection:
- It was narrated that Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) said: The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “There are two blessings which many people do not make the most of: good health and free time.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari)
- Abu Barzah al-Aslami (رضي الله عنه) said: The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “A person will not be let go on the Day of Resurrection until he has been asked about his life and how he spent it, his knowledge and what he did with it, his wealth and from where he earned it and where he spent it, and his body and how he used it.” (Narrated and classed as sahih by al-Tirmidhi)
(The above reply is based on various answers by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.