In a perfect world, the perfect child would ask: Harry Potter, who?
But the imperfection of the world we live in and the enormous power it exercises over our minds and our lives is manifest in the carefully orchestrated 'Pottermania' that takes hold of our children in perfect sync with each release of a new Harry Potter book or movie.
Milling crowds outside movie theatres and stampedes at book releases, merchandise and memorabilia bearing the Potter brand in every child's list of must-haves, an estimated 200 million copies sold in 200 countries, translated into 55 languages, all this hysteria over a children's book? Just who is Harry Potter?
For all practical purposes, Harry Potter is a fictional character in a series of children's books written by a struggling British single mum, Joanne K Rowling; who apparently wrote the first Potter book sitting for hours in a cafe because her apartment didn't have enough heating.
Dig a little deeper and you discover that the series is about a young orphan called Harry Potter whose parents were killed when he was a tot, by a wicked wizard named Voldemort aka "You-know-Who" aka "He-who-must-not be-named". Voldemort's attempt to kill Harry backfired and Harry was left with a lightening shaped scar on his forehead as a reminder of that fight.
Next, Harry is sent to live with his hopelessly non-magical relatives called Muggles, for the next 10 years; where his Uncle, Aunt and spoiled cousin devote their lives to making him miserable and horrors, even try to prevent him from knowing he's actually a wizard.
At age11 , a letter suddenly arrives from a magic boarding school called Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry which apparently tells Harry that he's a famous fellow in the witching world and invites him to live up to his fame, by joining the school and preparing for the final encounter with the wicked Lord Voldemort.
Each subsequent book details one school year in the life of Harry, the usual growing up pains, encounters with his admirers and enemies, and of course, the ever-present ever-menacing You-Know-Who.
Fair enough. Enid Blyton crossed with magic realism. Sounds interesting, most people say, and lead their little unsuspecting kids by the hand to make friends with Harry. Parents and children gleefully enter his world in darkened movie theatres or invite him home with each fat book from the series, smiling in parental joy as their kids spend hours poring over them, ahem, my kid's reading.
Scratch a little deeper and you'll see something that perhaps wasn't meant to be seen. That Harry is not the innocent little nerdy friend you first thought him to be. He's telling your kids things you don't want them to hear, teaching them things you don't want them to learn, albeit in inaudible whispers and untraceable actions.
What else did you expect, he's magick don't you know?
Harry's teaching them magick is cool
In Islaam, both the practice and learning of magic is classified as kufr or disbelief. Magic involves shirk in an aspect of Islaamic Monotheism called Tawheed al Asmaa-was Sifaat, Maintaining the Unity of Allaah's Names and Attributes; because by virtue of practicing magic, mere mortals seek to assume certain charachteristics which belong to Allaah alone.
The Qur'aan relates a story of Haarut and Maarut, two angels who were sent to Babylon among a people who practiced a form of magic that caused differences between spouses. The two angels explicitly said that they had been sent as a trial for the people and warned them not to commit disbelief by learning sorcery and its principles; but the people did not pay heed to them [ Surah Al Baqarah2 :102]
According to Islaamic law, the penalty for a person who practices magic, who does not repent and give it up, is death. The law is based on the hadeeth reported by Jundub ibn Ka'ab: The Prophet [SAW] said: The prescribed punishment for the magician is that he be executed by the sword. [Collected by At-Tirmidhee.]
This hadeeth, although classified da'eef or weak in its chain of transmission has been upgraded to the level of hasan or relatively authentic due to the supporting evidence. Three of the four leading Imaams Ahmad, Abu Haneefah and Maalik gave rulings according to it. Imaam Ash-Shaafiee ruled that magicians should be killed only if his magic feats reached the level of kufr.
Interestingly, the Torah and Bible also have similar rulings on magicians: A man or woman who is a medium or a wizard shall be put to death; they shall be stoned with stones, their blood shall be put upon them. [Leviticus20:27]
There shall not be found among you anyone who... practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord... [Deuteronomy18 :9- 12]
Harry's playing with their psyche
In Arabic, the term sihr means something caused by hidden or subtle forces; it may be used to mean magic and a magician/soothsayer is called a saahir. Children have an inbuilt fear of the unknown, a child who refuses to go into a darkened room alone because of "things that go bump in the dark" is testifying to that innate fear.
Psychologists believe that this fear of the unknown may sometimes be an inbuilt, natural defense mechanism that guards a child's psyche from harmful stimuli. If something seems forbiddingly foreign , a child will normally want out of the situation.
However, in the name of "fantasy" and "stimulating a child's imagination", Harry is encouraging children to feel at home in a completely alien environment. Normally scary witches and monsters, become "human", almost lovable protagonists; while ordinary non-magical people metamorphose into the hated Muggles.
The presence of parents who are accompanying children into darkened movie halls which feature Harry's latest adventures as surely as mice following the Pied Piper; is lulling children into a false sense of security. Surely they're safe in there, after all their parents are there with them. What you're seeing here is Harry's magick at work: blurring the lines between good and evil, between normal and paranormal.
Harry's interfering with submission
Muslims are people, whose very name implicitly implies that they have submitted their Selves and personal desires to the Will of their Creator and the example of His Prophet.
While Islaam recognizes the reality behind some manifestations of magic, it explicitly forbids indulgence in such practices and teaches Muslims to seek refuge from them.
In a Saheeh hadeeth, The Prophet [SAW] taught Muslims to seek refuge from magic and the one who practises it by reading 2 verses from the Qura'aan called the Mu'awidhatyn - the two which help in seeking refuge. These two verses are Surah Al Falaq and Surah An Naas whose revelation was reported by the angel Jibreel [AS] when the Prophet himself came under the evil effect of magic wrought by a Jewish magician called La'bid bin Aasim.
The Qur'aan says (of people who indulge in magic): They follow what the devils related concerning Sulaymaan's kingdom, but it was not Sulaymaan who disbelieved, it was the devils who disbelieved by teaching the people magic and that which was revealed to the angels Haaroot and Maaroot in Babylon.
Although the two would not teach anyone anything until after they had warned them saying: Verily, we are only a test and a trial, so do not commit disbelief.
But the people went ahead and learned from the two of them what would cause the separation of a man from his wife. However, they could not harm anyone with it except by Allaah's permission.
They (in fact) learned what would only harm their own souls and not benefit them. Verily they knew that whoever purchases it would have no share in the Hereafter. Evil indeed was the price for which they sold their own souls if only they knew."
[Surah Al Baqarah2 :102]
When children delight in their new friend Harry and his fantastic world, when they take every word he says as gospel truth, when they aspire to be like him or one of his gang, they are in fact desensitizing themselves to Allaah's clear-cut injunctions.
Harry's teaching them "moral relativism"
Harry's teaching them concepts about God which are the complete anti-thesis of Islaam. He's insinuating that "God" is an entity whose help is sought with the help of intricate rituals and obscure spells -- not through submitting one's will to Him and obedience to His Message. Harry's teaching them to ignore Allaah's Attributes as revealed in His Book, and is insidiously urging them to follow their own desires to see where they lead.
Harry's teaches them "moral relativism" or in kidspeak, how it's okay to lie or be bad and get away with it."
An example, an excerpt from a Harry Potter Special magazine [Primedia Inc] featuring interviews with actors Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Rupert Grint (Ron), Tom Felton (Draco) and Harry Melling (Dudley):
Your favorite word in the Harry Potter books?
Daniel: "I like the word--it's very bad to say this--but I like the word Voldemort."
Do you prefer to play a bad or good character?
Tom: "Bad. It's more fun because it is different.
What magical power would you want to have?
Tom: "Invisibility. So I could sneak around and go places I shouldn't."
Did you find it hard torturing Harry?
Harry M: "No. I found it quite fun, actually."
According to a review of the latest Harry Potter movie, The Prisoner of Azkaban Harry's character acquires a "dark" edge as he plays out adolescent angst as a "confused and cynical"13 -year old. Among other "treats" featured in the movie, Harry breaks a golden magick rule and turns his hated Muggles aunt into a Hot-air balloon, fights ghostly death guards called Dementors, watches his pet rat metamorphose into a real buck-toothed boy. For good measure, there's also something called a "hippogriff" which is a cross between a horse and an eagle, yodeling toads, a talking opera singer's painting and gross jokes about "playing with one's wand" .
While this may be enough for reviewers to sing paens to Rowling's "dazzling imagination" and "the stuff that dreams are made of", it sounds like a nightmare gone excruciatingly wrong to me.
Is this the kind of stuff you want your child to read and see???
As a Muslim parent who is answerable to Allaah for the spiritual, physical and mental well-being of my children, I have made the decision not to bring Harry home; not to introduce them to him or his mixed up world. What about you? Wouldn't you like to hear your kids ask: Harry Potter, who?