1st Edition

Magic and Divination in Early Islam

Edited By Emilie Savage-Smith Copyright 2004

    Magic and divination in early Islam encompassed a wide range of practices, including belief in jinn, warding off the evil eye, the production of amulets and other magical equipment, conjuring, wonder-working, dream interpretation, predicting the weather, casting lots, astrology, and physiognomy. The ten studies here are concerned with the pre-Islamic antecedents of such practices, and with the theory of magic in healing, the nature and use of amulets and their decipherment, the arts of astrometeorology and geomancy, the refutation of astrology, and the role of the astrologer in society. Some of the studies are highly illustrated, some long out of print, some revised or composed for this volume, and one translated into English for the first time. These fundamental investigations, together with the introductory bibliographic essay, are intended as a guide to the concepts, terminology, and basic scholarly literature of an important, but often overlooked, aspect of classical Islamic culture.

    Contents: Introduction; Beliefs in spirits among the pre-Islamic Arabs, Joseph Henninger; Hermes and Harran: the roots of Arabic-Islamic occultism, Francis E. Peters; The theory of magic in healing, Michael W. Dols; The rod of Moses in Arabic magic, A. Fodor; The decipherment of Arabic talismans, Tewfik Canaan; Islamic seals: magical or practical?, Venetia Porter; Weather forecasting in the Arabic world, Charles Burnett; Islamic geomancy and a 13th-century divinatory device: another look, Emilie Savage-Smith and Marion B. Smith; Ibn Taymiyya on astrology: annotated translation of three fatwas, Yahya J. Michot; The role of the astrologer in medieval Islamic society, George Saliba; Index.


    Dr Emilie Savage-Smith is Senior Research Associate at The Oriental Institute, University of Oxford, UK

    'Overall, this volume represents a significant source material for students of Islamic occult sciences and will doubtless provide a veritable research book for comparativists.' Journal of Islamic Studies ’There is, as far as I know, no general survey of Islamic occultism in print. In the meantime, the fifty-two page introduction specially written for this book by Savage-Smith will do very well, particularly as there is a fairly comprehensive bibliography, as well as copious referencing in the footnotes.... Magic and Divination in Early Islam is the most valuable and useful survey of Islamic occultism yet to have been printed.’ Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft