Is Islam against science

Magic in Islam: Between Faith and Science (July 11-13, 2012)

Magic is the attempt to influence the natural course of things by invoking a supernatural power. The term “magic” refers to the secret powers that ghosts and demons, but also the evil eye or certain actions such as incantations, magic practices, the use of amulets and talismans as well as future prognosis practices. Magic is often opposed to science and religion, although the boundaries between these three areas are fluid.

In Islam, magic presents itself as an imaginative and very complex syncretistic structure in which the above-mentioned basic characteristics are all found again. In addition, magic in Islam is an area in which ancient oriental, Jewish and Christian and genuinely Islamic elements were creatively mixed, and whose practices have been preserved in popular Islamic beliefs to the present day. The “blue eye” to protect against the evil eye, for example, is an almost everyday item in many parts of the Islamic world. Equally widespread is the use of incense to protect against demons. Numerous magical acts in Islam, especially writing and word magic, are to be understood in a mystical-religious context, as in Jewish and Christian popular beliefs.

Under these premises, the aim of the workshop is to question the content, manifestations and practices of actions considered “magical” in Islam and to analyze their intellectual-historical contexts in the mirror of religion and science in folklore, philological and scientific terms.

The workshop was led by Prof. Dr. Ingrid Hehmeyer, (Fellow 2011/12) and Prof. Dr. Sebastian Günther (Seminar for Arabic / Islamic Studies, Göttingen and associate of the Lichtenberg-Kolleg 2011/12).