The following is a four years old article by Khalid Baig, but with a new movie out, it is worth reading before one decides to go to the cinema. (July 10, 2007)
Harry Potter: Facts about Fiction
Posted: 21 Rabi-u-Thani 1424, 21 June 2003
As expected there was much frenzy around the latest Harry Potter book. Bookstores and clubs around the world arranged special midnight parties and other events in celebration of the launching of the long-awaited fifth book in the series. A grandiose countdown was held in Times Square for the coming of the fifth book.
The book was set to break many old records. Online bookseller Amazon had already received one million pre-orders of the new book, its largest pre-order ever. Scholastic, the American publisher had ordered 8.5 million copies as the largest first printing ever. Worldwide, 13 million copies of the book had rolled off the presses in a massive print run.
The other books in the Harry Potter series have been translated into more than 55 languages, including Urdu, Persian, and Turkish. Nearly 200 million copies of the first four books have been sold in 200 countries.
What is all this craze about?
The series chronicles the growing up of a young orphan wizard named Harry Potter who attends a secret magic boarding school called Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Harry is a very unique wizard. His parents are killed while he is a baby by a wicked powerful wizard named Voldemort, but generally called "you-know-who" or "he-who-must-not-be-named". Voldemort fails in his attempt to kill Harry and instead is nearly destroyed when his magic rebounds on him. Harry is left with a lightning shaped scar on his forehead.
Harry is sent to live with his "muggle" (non-magical people) relatives for the next ten years. He lives a miserable life, tormented by his aunt and uncle and his spoiled cousin. They attempt to keep him from knowing that he is a wizard.
Then, suddenly a letter arrives from Hogwarts on his eleventh birthday, changing his life completely. Harry finds out he is a wizard and rather famous for his encounter with the evil lord Voldemort. Despite opposition from his aunt and uncle, Harry goes to the wizard boarding school where he meets new people, including his best friends Ron and Hermione. Harry discovers that he has both admirers and enemies.
Each book details the events of one school year.
The main characters in the story have few noble qualities; they lie with impunity, use profanity, don't respect their elders, break rules regularly, and are unrepentant.
While the books are characterized by most people as innocent fantasy and entertainment, they contain many evil messages - not all of which are subtle.
The books glorify magic and sorcery. Harry and his classmates regularly cast spells, brew potions, learn to tell the future, communicate with the spirits of the dead, train magical animals, and ride brooms. They study astrology, crystal gazing, numerology, transfiguration, and divination. Darker things occur as well such as murder, human sacrifice, drinking of unicorn blood, etc. The fight between good and evil in this book is actually a conflict between "good magic" and "evil magic", both of which are evil.
The books are in effect promoters of paganism. They glorify magic and paganism while non-magical people, called Muggles, are despised and portrayed as boring, narrow-minded, and paranoid of magic.
Not surprisingly, the main characters in the story have few noble qualities; they lie with impunity, use profanity, don't respect their elders, break rules regularly, and are unrepentant.
And for all these qualities and more, the books are popular and are having an effect. It is the "in" thing to purchase the book. And not just the book. Children have gone crazy over Harry Potter memorabilia, surrounding themselves with Harry Potter T-shirts, posters, toys, costumes, wands, hats, etc.
The media has been glorifying the book that glorifies sorcery.
Welcome to the world of capitalism and paganism, where superstitions and the occult reign supreme in the hearts and minds of people, and where the twin forces have forged an "alliance of the willing" that is doing its "magic" on a global scale.
Capitalism is all about maximization of profits and if that requires appealing to the lowest instincts and the darkest recesses of human nature, so be it. Millions of dollars have been spent on advertising the latest craze on billboards, buttons, bumper stickers, and posters etc. U.S. publisher Scholastic alone has planned a $4 million marketing budget for this single book - among the largest advertising budgets ever for a book.
The media machine --- equally adept at political, cultural, and commercial propaganda --- has been doing its part faithfully, paying a great deal of attention to the smallest events relating to the coming of the fifth book. It has been glorifying the book that glorifies sorcery.
Even if it were innocent entertainment (which it is not) the extreme devotion would be unjustified. But this culture is given to extremes and incidents of mass craziness are nothing new in it. The cabbage patch dolls craze in the 1980s was similar to current craze over the Harry Potter books. The Cabbage Patch Dolls were the fad of the 1980s. The most distinctive feature about them was that each doll looked a bit different from others and came with its own unique name and birthday, "adoption papers," and a "birth certificate." Marketing gimmick and television coverage combined to make sales explode starting in 1983. Chartered planes were used to bring the dolls from the overseas manufacturing plants to meet the ever increasing demand. Fist fights among eager customers often broke out in retail stores when a shipment of dolls arrived. In 1985, Coleco posted record sales of $600 million, thanks to their Cabbage Patch Kids.
When life has no higher purpose, entertainment and fun become the over-riding goal in life. When there is no belief in or clear concept of God as Creator and Master of the universe, superstition, sorcery, and the occult become fascinating.
When life has no higher purpose, entertainment and fun become the over-riding goal in life.
It is a reflection on the state of the society that there has been scarce opposition to this series that promises to become darker with each new release.
The Role of Muslims
In this current state of hysteria, Muslims should have played an important role in opposing this book and exposing the flaws of this culture. It is the duty of Muslims to guide the world, rather than blindly follow the ignorant masses. The Qur'an commands us in Surah Al-Kahf, "And don't obey any whose heart We have permitted to neglect the remembrance of Us, one who follows his own desires, whose case has gone beyond all bounds." [Al-Kahf 18:28]
Yet, unfortunately, we find very little opposition or reflection from Muslims, many of whom have chosen to blindly follow the pop culture. Many Muslims have assured themselves that the books are harmless fiction. Others even claim them to be beneficial because they encourage reading. Reading what? It does not occur to them to ask that question.
Islam prohibits both pointless entertainment (lahw) and sorcery. But countless Muslims seem to be unaware of that. And they are the ones fascinated by Harry Potter.
THE EXTREME LOVE OF ALLAH'S MESSENGER (MAY PEACE BE UPON HIM) FOR HIS UMMA, AND HIS EXTREME ANXIETY TO WARN THEM AGAINST THAT WHICH IS A SOURCE OF TROUBLE TO THEM
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The similitude of mine and that of my Umma is that of a person who lit fire and there began to fall into it insects and moths. And I am there to hold you back, but you plunge into it. (Muslim, Ch 6, Book 030, Number 5670)
Abu Musa reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The similitude of mine and of that with which Allah sent me is that of a person who came to us and said: O people, I have seen an army with my eyes and I am a plain warner (and issue you warning) that you should immediately manage to find an escape. A group of people from amongst them paying heed (to his warning) fled to a place of protection and a group amongst them belied him and the morning overtook them in their houses and the army attacked them and killed them and they were routed. And that is the similitude of the one who obeyed me, followed with which I had been sent and the similitude of the other is of one who disobeyed and belied me and the Truth with which I have been sent. (Muslim, Ch 6, Book 030, Number 5669)
You may be an atheist or an agnostic or you may belong to any of the religious denominations that exist in the world today. You may have been a Communist or a believer in democracy and freedom. No matter what you are, and no matter what your religious and political beliefs, personal and social habits happen to be— YOU STILL MUST KNOW THIS MAN!
He was by far the most remarkable man that ever set foot on this earth. He preached a religion, founded a state, built a nation, laid down a moral code, initiated numberless social and political reforms, established a dynamic and powerful society to practice and represent his teachings, and he revolutionized the worlds of human thought and human action for all time. His name was Muhammad (peace and blessings of Almighty Creator be upon him)—and he accomplished all these wonders in the unbelievably short span of twenty-three years.
THE SIMILITUDE WITH WHICH ALLAH'S APOSTLE (MAY PEACE BE UPON HIM) HAS BEEN SENT WITH GUIDANCE AND KNOWLEDGE
Abu Musa reported Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) as saying: The similitude of that guidance and knowledge with which Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, has sent me is that of rain falling upon the earth. There is a good piece of land which receives the rainfall (eagerly) and as a result of it there is grown in it herbage and grass abundantly. Then there is a land hard and barren which retains water and the people derive benefit from it and they drink it and make the animals drink. Then there is another land which is barren. Neither water is retained in it, nor is the grass grown in it. And that is the similitude of the first one who develops the understanding of the religion of Allah and it becomes a source of benefit to him with which Allah sent me. (The second one is that) who acquires the knowledge of religion and imparts it to others. (Then the other type is) one who does not pay attention to (the revealed knowledge) and thus does not accept guidance of Allah with which I have been sent. (Muslim, Book 030, Number 5668)
"Those who believe, and those who are Jews, Christians, Sabeans, all those who believe in God and in the Day of Judgment and do the good works, all of them have their merit with their Lord. They have no reason to fear nor will they grieve." [Qur'an, 2:62]
Has the world known any tolerance wider than this? Whoever believes in God, in the Day of Judgment, and in doing good works will have his merits with his Lord. No difference separates the believer from those whom the Islamic call has not reached, whether Jews, Christians, or Sabeans. [Commenting on this verse, al Tabari wrote in his exegesis: "'Those who believe' refers to the people who believed in the Prophet of God.' 'The Jews' refers to those who gave themselves this name as a derivation from their statement, 'We have returned to You,' that is, 'we have repented.' 'The Christians,' are the followers of Jesus. They were called by this name-nasara-in derivation from the name, Nazareth, the village of Jesus in Palestine. According to another view, the derivation was one of Jesus' statements, 'And who are my helpers-ansar in God?' 'The Sabeans' are, according to one view, those who worship the angels. According to another view, the Sabeans were a people who believed that there is no God but God but had neither scripture nor prophet. Their religion may be characterized by no other statement except that there is no God but God. According to a third view, the Sabeans were a people without religion." Al Tabari explained the verse as follows: "Those who believe in God and in the reality of resurrection after death, in the Day of Judgment, who do the good works in obedience to God-such men have their merit with their Lord; that is, they have the merit earned by their good works. As for the statements 'they have no reason to fear' and 'neither shall they grieve,' the meaning which God-May He be adored-intended is that those people have no reason to fear any of the terrors of the Day of Judgment, nor will they grieve for all the good things of the world which they left behind when they come to know all the bliss which God has reserved for them in Paradise." Following these comments, al Tabari mentioned that this verse was revealed in reference to those Christians who guided Salman al Farisi and converted him to their religion, announcing to him that an Arab prophet would come forth and asking Salman to verify the identity of such prophet with given signs and to follow him if he could find him. After Salman converted to Islam, he told the Prophet about those Christians, and the Prophet replied: "0 Salman, those people belong to Hell." Salman was grieved, and on this account, God revealed the verse: "Those who believe, the Christians, etc." According to another view. God had revoked this verse with another verse, namely, "Whoever seeks another religion besides Islam, it will not be accepted of him" (Qur'an 3:85). However, al Tabari adds: "What we have mentioned at the beginning is the closer to the commonsense meaning of the revelation because God-May He be praised-could not have restricted merit for the good works and faith to some of His creatures rather than to others. The predicate of the verse therefore belongs to every subject mentioned therein, including the Muslims." A confirmation of this view of al Tabari is that it may be said in regard to the verse, "Whoever seeks another religion besides Islam, it will not be accepted of him." It applies to those .Muslims who seek another religion besides Islam, after they have been born into Islam or come to believe in it. As to those who are born in another religion, and those whom the Islamic call has not reached without falsification, their case will be like that of those who have gone before the advent of Muhammad and his prophethood, and who have not come to know of his message as it is and without falsification. (See further Ibn Jarir al Tabari, Kitab al Tafasir, Vol. 1, pp. 253-57.)]
God-may He be adored-further says: "Of the people of the Book, some believe in God, in what has been revealed to you, and what has been revealed to them. These revere God and fear Him and do not exchange the revelations of God for a mean price. To them belongs their reward with their Lord. God is quick to take account." [Qur'an 3:199] How far is all this from our world dominated as it is by western civilization? How far is the tolerance of Islam from the national and religious fanaticisms of the West and all the wars and catastrophes which it has contributed to human history!