Speech on Magic and Tasawwuf (November 2023)

Int. Mevlana Foundation Istanbul, November 20th 2023 by Peter Hüseyin Cunz



My Shaykh Hüseyin Top Dede mentioned some month ago here in this room the
problem of magic. Our Prophet was attacked by malice magic, and he needed
protection. So the Sura 113 al-Falaq (the daybreak) was revealed. This gave me the
idea to give to you some detailed information about magic.

We all believe in Angels and love them, don’t we. They protect us. But likewise
we have to accept the existence of Devils. Do you know where the angels and devils
are located? Are you clear about where they come from to help us or to create
difficulties? That’s about what I’d like to talk now. And of course, after that you may
ask questions.

Our religion is monotheistic with the distinction between al-Akhira (the Nonmanifested
World) and Dûnya (the Manifested World). The place where these two
worlds interact is called Barzakh (the Bridging World).
In al-Akhira live the angels, but also the devils. They have no material body and they
are not restricted by time. They are just qualities, without the possibility to manifest
and act. Angels and devils want to manifest in Dûnya in order to fulfill their task. So
they have to find a way to do so. All they can reach by themselves is Barzakh where
they wait to find an opportunity for manifestation in Dûnya.

This is the spiritual geography in which we humans are living. We are constantly
exposed to angelic or devilish forces that want to reach us. But normally we
recognize this only to a limited extent or once it is too late to be prepared for that.
We need help to discern between good and bad influences from the unseen world.
Mevlana says:

“Take heed to separate the grain from the chaff.” (1)

How can we discern good and bad from the unseen world? Discernment is possible
where there is order. So we should make an effort to create order in us — mainly order
in our soul. The soul of average human beings is chaotic. The Commanding Soul (nafs al-ammârah)
with its urges and greed, and the Lamenting Soul (nafs al-lawwâmah) with its
emotions and fantasies are normally not under full control. Our first task in tasawwuf is
to improve the order in ourselves.

What does that mean? How do we become less chaotic? The first to do is to eradicate
any unfinished business in our life. For example:
• To repay depts that are not yet repaid.
• To ask for forgiveness and to offer a compensation if we had done something wrong.
• To disclose secrets that need to be uncovered.
• To say what we never dared to say.
Why is this so important? Unfinished states in our exterior life produce in us feelings of
concern or even guilt. This is a burden that supports our inner chaos. We should free
ourselves from all such unnecessary garbage. By cleaning we create space in us, and this
makes us transparent. We have done a big first step when we reach a state of being
without ambiguity. Mevlana explains why we are chaotic beings:

“The trays with different grains were broken when creation happened and the
souls were spilled: good and evil ones were mingled with each other.
God sent the Prophets with scrolls of Revelation, that He might pick out and sort
these grains on the dish.”(2)

This is interesting, isn’t it. Allah first created chaos, and then he sends His servants
and revelations to create order again. Doesn’t this look like a big theatre? The
cosmic theatre of Allah? And we are the actors, each with his or her role!

Again: the angelic and devilish qualities of al-Akhira want to find a way to
manifest in Dûnya. To do so they need the availability of substance. This they find in
our soul (nafs). Our soul consists of fine substance. Without such substance our soul
with its emotions and thoughts could not exist in this material world. Therefore,
whoever opens his or her heart for al-Akhira will immediately be flooded by unseen
qualities. These qualities — good or bad — will manifest in our soul as inspiration,
thoughts, emotions, or even urges. This happens more often than we think. Many of
our thoughts and emotions have their origin in Akhira and not in ourselves under
our own control.
Is this not scaring? How do we assure that only Angels reach us and not Devils? Well,
there are ways to protect us and to control this:

• You believe it or not: the best protected are the complete unbelievers who do not
believe in the existence of an invisible world. Their heart is locked, and therefore
the qualities of al-Akhira have no access to their soul. There is no Angel coming to
help them, and there is no Devil to bother them.

• And then we have those who – often for understandable reasons – do not believe
in Allah and religion, but still believe in something obscure that creates our
destiny. For this they mostly use the vague expressions “Spirituality” or “spiritual
experience” or “following the heart”, without knowing what all this really is.
Because their heart is open they can be approached by the unseen world. Through
their yearning, hopes and ambitions they call for help and attract the forces
coming from al-Akhira. But they might not be aware of that. If their hopes and ambitions are selfless and good, then angelic influences will enter into their soul and support them. If however their intention is egoistic or bad, devilish influences will enter into their soul. Many of these people are not aware of what happens in them, because their soul is chaotic. They are the most vulnerable ones. And that is the majority in the modern world!

• Then we have the religious people who surrender to the rules of a proven religion.
They’re abiding to the laws of their religion and thus create order in their soul.
Their honesty and good behaviour (Adab) allows them to be aware of what
happens. These people will only attract angelic support, and they will know how to
be protected from devils. Now it’s time to talk about the functioning of magic.


Since the various forces in Barzakh have the urge to incarnate in this world, we can use them for our own advantage. This happens by the power of visualisation. Visualizing is an invitation
for the forces in Barzakh to manifest in Dûnya according to our imagination and
This effect is greatly enhanced when we support our visualization with a suitable
ritual. A ritual is an outward act that supports an intention. Hz. Mevlana encourages
us to ritualize our intentions in order to make it more effective:

“The gifts of lovers to one another are, in respect of love, naught but forms;
But the purpose is that the gifts may have borne testimony to feelings of love
which are concealed in secrecy,
Because outward acts of kindness bear witness to feelings of love in the heart, O
dear friend.”(3)

Magic is always ritualized. It’s through the ritual that it becomes powerful. Maybe
we want to be of help, and for that we cast spells, make amulets and call upon
spirits. But such processes can also be abused for harming others. In the Sura 113
al-Falaq (the daybreak) we ask to be protected by “those who blow upon knots”,
which is what we call black magic. Black magic uses rituals to attract evil forces from
Barzakh. Whispering incantations against someone else mobilizes Jinns and malice
forces against that unfortunate person. The affected person will then be bothered
and even be possessed by these forces.

So, what is the fundamental difference between magic and spirituality? I think
we have answered it. Magic satisfies our needs and desires, and it serves our
ambitions. Even if our ambition is for a good cause, it is an action of us that serves
our own Self – by making us feeling good. We should always ask, who will benefit
from intended magic. Does it serve something greater than us?
Spirituality on the other hand is supposed to place our Self aside and to allow the
Angels to decide about our actions. Tasawwuf is the art to let go from ourselves and
to make our steps on the way towards complete surrender to Allah (Fana fi Allah).
Strictly speaking, magic has no place in Tasawwuf, even if it is good intended.

Let me end with a practical advice regarding our protection. Please be aware: to
believe in Allah is not sufficient to be protected from Satan! If we want to be
protected from black magic, Jinns and Devils, we need to practice the various rituals
of our religion. Namaz (Salâh), Dhikr, Sema and other exercises protect us from evil
influences. And on the same time these beautiful practices open the windows to the
angelic qualities of al-Akhira. To frame good intensions with a visible form is
essential. Hz. Mevlana sums it up in his poetic way:

“Well, intention first exists in the inner world before entering this world of form.
So if form does not matter, what is the purpose of this world? If you plant only
the kernel of an apricot stone, nothing will grow. If you plant it with its husk,
then it becomes a tree.”(4)

From this we know that form also has a function. Yes, prayer is an inward matter: “There is no prayer without the heart being present.” But it is still necessary to bring the prayer into form. With outward words, genuflection and prostration, you gain benefit and attain your desire.

In contrast to this I often hear the statement, “I don’t need to follow religious rules; I
follow my heart!” You surely know it, such claim is typical in our today’s society. But
Mevlana reminds us again and again that opening the heart without a protective
framework is foolish. I end here with an other poem of him:

“You scornfully refused help, saying, “I am the owner of a purified heart: I have no
need of any one else, I am united with God.”
That is as though the water in the earth (the stream-bed) should scornfully
refuse, saying, “I am the water, and why should I seek aid from the earth?”
You fancied this polluted heart was the pure heart; consequently you averted
your heart from those possessed of purified hearts.
Do you indeed think it possible that this heart which is in love with milk and
honey should be that pure heart?”(5)



1 Masnawi 2:202

2 Masnawi 2:283 f

3 Masnawi 1:2626 ff

4 Rumi, Fihi ma fihi, Discourse 38, translated by A.J. Arberry.

5 Masnavi 3:2260