pl. of Majusi. The Magians. Mentioned in the Qur’an only once, Surah xxii. 17: “As to those who believe, and the Jews, and the Sabeites, and the Christians, and the Magians, and those who join other gods with God, of a God shall decide between them on the Day of Resurrection: for God is witness of all things.”
Most Muslim writers (especially amongst the Shi’ahs) believe them to have formerly possessed a revelation from God which they have since lost.
The Magians ware a sect of ancient philosophers which arose in the East at a very early period, devoting much of their time to the study of the heavenly bodies. They were the learned men of their time and we find Daniel the Prophet promoted to the head of this sect in Chaldea. (Dan v. 11.) They are supposed to have worshipped the Deity under the emblem of fire-; whilst the Sabians, to whom they were opposed, worshipped the heavenly bodies. They held in the greatest abhorrence the worship of images, and considered fire the purest symbol of the Divine Being. This religious sect was reformed by Zoroaster in the sixth century before Christ, and it was the national religion of Persia until it was supplanted by Islam. The Magians are now known in Persia as Gabrs, and in India as Parsis. Their sacred book is the Zend Avesta, an English translation of which has been published by Mr. A. B. Bleeck (Hertford, 1864), from Professor Spiegel’s German translation. There is an able refutation of the Parsi religion by the late Rev. John Wilson, D.D. (Bombay. 1843).
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam