Abu ‘Ubayd said: The meaning of Sihr is to show something other than what it is or should be.
Al-Layth said: Sihr is an action by means of which a person draws closer to Shaytaan, and with his help.
Shumar said: Ibn ‘A’ishah said: Sihr is so called in Arabic because it changes health to sickness. The word Saharahu means he changed his attitude from hatred to love, i.e., attracted him. The word Sihr may be used to describe something permissible, such as when ‘Amr ibn Al’Ahtam narrated that Prophet (PBUH) said concerning Al-Zabarqaan Ibn Badr (RA):
“Some eloquent speech may be as effective as magic.”
Sihr in Sharee’ah terminology
Al-Raazi said: Note that the word Sihr in the Shar’i sense applies to everything the cause of which is hidden, and everything that may be imagined as being other than what it is and happens by way of concealment or deceit. When the word is used in a general sense and is not defined, it is usually in a negative sense and the one who does it is condemned.
Al-Qurtubi said: Witchcraft is a profession based on trickery. It is something that may be learned, but because of its subtle nature, very few people proficient in it. The knowledge of witchcraft is based on the characteristics of things, their components and the correct time for things, but most of it is imaginary with no reality and illusionary with no proof. Those who are unaware of that are impressed by it, as Allah says of the magicians of Pharaoh:
“And they displayed a great magic.”
Although their ropes and sticks did not stop being ropes and sticks. Then he said: In fact, some types of witchcraft have an effect on people’s hearts, in matters of love and hate, casting good and bad thoughts into their minds, and on their bodies, causing pain and sickness.
In fact witchcraft is based on hidden matters may be learned; some of it is real and emanates from evil souls in cooperation with evil spirits, causing harm to people, property and relationships by means of incantations and special tools. But most of it is deceit and pretense, and is not real at all.
Ameen, Dr. Abu’l-Mundir Khaleel ibn Ibraheem, “The Jinn and Human Sickness: Remedies in the Light of the Qur’aan and Sunnah”, pp 176-179, Darussalam publishers.