Ibn Wahshiyya and Magic
Anaquel de Estudios Árabes X (1999)
Magic has always had a role to play in Islamie society’. Its use has often been condemned by religious scholars, yet the efficacy of magic has never been contested; the early tenth-century religious scholar al-Ash ‘arT (d. 324/936), to take but one example, wrote in his dogmatical work Ibána (p. 19)’: «(…) and we belíeve that there are magicians and magie in this world, and that magic is an existing entity in this world». During the Middle Ages magic always kept this role not only among common people but also among the learned. In the tenth century the Brethren o Purity wrote extensively on magie in their Rasa’il (esp. IV:283- 335)3 and magical elements can easily be detected from a variety of sources, including the biography of the prophet Muhammad.