Black magic (sihr) is something that definitely exists and causes harm to people. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was also afflicted with black magic.
Harut and Marut (mentioned in the Quran in Surah Al-Baqarah) were two angels who are known to be behind bringing black magic to this world.
Allah had bestowed King and Prophet Sulaiman(pbuh) with certain powers over mankind, Jinn and all other living creatures. Satan wanted to deprive him of this power.
When Sulaiman wanted to answer the call of nature or to make love with any of his wives, he used to give his ring to a woman called Al-Jaradah. Once satan took advantage of this opportunity, came in the form of Sulaiman, and took the ring from her and put the ring on. As Allah had decreed to bless the holder of the ring to have many powers, all mankind, the jinn and devils submitted to Satan.
Then, Sulaiman came seeking his ring from her and she said: “You are a liar, you are not Sulaiman”. Sulaiman was exiled from his own land and nobody recognized him to be the very King and Prophet. Thus, Sulaiman knew that it was a test from Allah the Almighty.
With Satan having new powers, the devils were now free to do whatever they wished.During these days Satan wrote several books on witchcraft. The Jinns used typical and treacherous ploys to convince people that Sulaiman, derived power and kingdom by ‘witchcraft’. Thus the people were interested in magic; they thought they would be master of their fate by going through witchcraft and that ultimate power would be invested to them.
Satan spread corruption and discordance among the people. Only a few of them were God-fearing ones, but it was not an easy work for them to make such a people return to the path of success.
when the angels saw men committing wrong they said: “These humans you created with your hand, to whom you made the angels prostrate, to whom you taught namesof everything are committing wrong.”
Allah said to them, “But if you were in their place, you would be doing the same thing.” In another source and tradition, it is said that Allah said to the angels, “I gave mankind ten carnal desires and it is through these they disobey me.”
So, Allah challenged the angels to do better and commanded to choose one who would be sent to Earth and finally chose Harut and Marut. Allah said to them, “Go down, I have given you ten carnal desires so judge between the people.” So the two angels, Harut and Marut were sent to the earth.
Harut was sent as a Judge whereas Marut as a scholar with the instructions to avoid the grave sins. They lived, and consumed food as human beings. Their judgement were appraised.
Then one day a woman named Zuhra appeared to them, she was wondrously beautiful. Zuhra knew that the two men were no ordinary persons. She thought that they must be other creatures in human forms who have got secrets. Therefore she tried her best by means of her beauty and tricks to bring out the secret.
Zuhra wanted at all costs to know the secrets of Harut and Marut; so she invited them to her place, served them with the best food. Now, they wanted to comimit adultery with her as they were captivated by her beauty, but she said. “No, not unless you associate ‘partners’ with God, consume wine, murder somebody and prostrate before idol.” They said, “we cannot associate anything with God.” Then one of them said, “Return to her”. But she said “Not until you drink.”
They forgot their mission and commited several sins in order to win her favors. In state of inebriety they disclosed their greatest secret which Allah has vouchsafed to them. Thus Zuhra came to know the greatest name of Allah!
Zuhra once uttered the name and she disappeared from the surface of the Earth, and she was never seen again. But she could not enter Paradise and was turned into a star.
The two angels were put in fetters from their ankles to their neck and they were placed in a certain well in the Babel.
Harut and Marut were placed in the well and all those who were keen to learn magic, flocked to them for instructions. The two angels started to teach them magic or witchcraft and they became great teachers of magic. The two angels taught men magic, sorcery but after they had warned the would be student of magic, “We are only a temptation, therefore, disbelieve not in the guidance of Allah.”
Later, when Allah restored to Prophet Sulaiman (pbuh) his kingdom, and all those who had strayed away came to follow the straight path once again, Allah the Almighty informed Sulaiman about the magic that had become commonplace among his people.
Sulaiman quickly seize and gather all these writings and put them in a chest and bury them under his throne. All the devils who tried to even approach the chest were burned alive. Prophet Sulaiman (pbuh) took an even harder stance declaring that he would behead anyone who claimed that the devils knew the unseen.
After Sulaiman’s death, a devil came in the form of a human being to the people and said: “I will lead you to an everlasting treasure that will never run out.” He was referring to the writings that were buried under the chest. After the people dug out all the writings,the devils altered these books by adding magical and blasphemous writings. The devils wrote about different types of sorcery meant to fulfill different desires.(For example, how people could get some wishes fulfilled by standing facing the sun and saying some words)
They wrote this in a book and sealed it with a ring bearing the inscription found on Sulaiman’s ring and buried it under Sulaiman’s throne.
It is said that Harut and Marut are strung up by their feet every day between Maghrib and Isha, such will be their punishment until the day of judgement. They will then be forgiven and will obtain their angelic nature and abode.