Why do most Muslims, even educated ones, believe in magic? If a girl doesn’t get any proposals for marriage, the family goes to so called practitioners of magic (called “amils” in Urdu) to somehow deal with the evil spell cast on her. If a man suddenly becomes a pauper, he goes to the caretaker of a shrine to remove the black magic which made him lose his fortune.
For many years I owned and operated a salt works in the coastal areas of Karachi. The level of illiteracy I saw was incredible. Needless to say, everyone there believes in black magic. One of my workers became a father at the age of fifty (he looked eighty, owing to spending so much time in the sun, but he wasn’t more than fifty according to the factory’s records). And because he fathered a male child despite being so old (most people there die before the age of fifty), he became a kind of saint (“pir” in Urdu). He used to sell them things like pieces of paper or cloth to be carried in their pockets, or tied around their necks or arms. It was so strange, seeing people having so much faith in a man who couldn’t read.
Another man in a neighbouring village won a lottery and bought a car. His neighbours thought he had done this by magic, so they started going to him so that they too could get rich quick. He became even richer, as his customers paid him well for giving them advice on how and where to invest. Needless to say, most of his followers became disillusioned when they lost their hard-earned savings within a year.
I have noticed that it’s mostly the poor and illiterate folks who believe in magic. The solution, then, is for the government to invest more on education for the masses. But with the priorities of our politicians so skewed, they’ll go on spending our taxes on enriching themselves.