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The different opinions on Horoscopes, focusing on the authentic Islamic position

Written by Asim Nazir
Student of Master in Islamic Studies
Islamic University Qatar

Meaning of Horoscope
According to oxford dictionary it means:
“A forecast of a person’s future, typically including a delineation of character
and circumstances, based on the relative positions of the stars and planets at
the time of person’s birth.”

Since astrology is mainly used for predicting the future, those who practice it are considered fortunetellers.
Arabic Term
The Arabic term for horoscope is Tanjeem (Astrology) which was used by Muslim scholars in early age.

Origin of Horoscope
The earliest astrology practices can be found in Mesopotamia in 3rd B.C and it fully developed in Greek civilization later on.  In Mesopotamia, astrology was a royal institution and omens concerning the welfare of the king and his country were drawn from signs in the sky and belief was that heavenly bodies were powerful gods . It will be worth mentioning that older Mesopotamian also reached to India and China by the 6th century B.C.
Creption into Muslim Community
Fortune-telling and horoscope existed in pre Islamic society, its original form was to believe that earthly beings are influenced by heavenly bodies and future events may be forecasted by the observation of the movement of these bodies . It was also their belief that spirits of the heavenly bodies descended into the idols, communicated with them and fulfilled the needs of the people . This form was clearly described kufr (disbelief) by Islam as it contradicts with the basic principle of Tawheed al-Asma was-Sifat (the unity of Allah’s names and attributes) Ibne Abbas (May Allah be please with Him) narrated that Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“Whoever acquires knowledge of any branch of astrology has acquired
knowledge of a branch of magic. The more he increases in that knowledge,
the more he increases in sin .”

Astrology officially introduced into royal Muslim court by the later Umayyad and early Abbasids caliphs . Every caliph had an astrologer in his court that used to guide him in the day to day affairs and used to warn him of any danger. As I mentioned above that astrology in its original form was prohibited (haram) by Prophet (Peace be upon him) and known to masses of Muslims to be kufr (disbelieving), but few Muslims who wanted to practice it, made it acceptable islamically by compromising their faith and astrology was attributed to Allah’s will by claiming that Allah has willed that the movement and configurations of heavenly bodies indicate the occurrence of earthly events . This type of astrology has also been rejected by Islam because two basic elements of the Tawheed are being violated again:

  1. Tawheed Al Rububiya (Maintaining the unity of Lordship): Allah’s powers are being given to the heavenly bodies.
  2. Tawheed al-Asma was-Sifat (the unity of Allah’s names and attributes): Making claim to have knowledge of the future which only belongs to Allah.

Only exception in Islam regarding about astrology is when sailors or desert travellers take guidance from the formations of the stars to determine their destinations or when a farmer needs to know the arrival of the season for his particular crops etc . This exception based on the following verse of the quran:
“He is the One who made stars as guidance for you in the darkness of the land and the sea….”
Arguments of Muslims Astrologists & Its Effect on Modern Time: Muslims astrologists tired their best to prove their un-islamic astrology practices lawful by explaining the few verses from the Quran into completely incorrect context. For instance, the word “Barooj” from surah al Barooj was translated into “the Zodiacal Signs” , whereas the correct meaning of Barooj is “Star Configuration”.
Also Quran chapter 16, verse 16 was also considered to support astrology in the courts of the caliphs as it says:
“And signs and with the stars they are rightly guided”
It was translated that stars are signs and they are revealing the unseen and by this knowledge people may be guided in their future . However Ibn Abbas (May Allah be please with him) said:
“Signs mentioned in this verse meant road signs or landmarks in the daylight hours. They were not in reference to the stars at all. And ‘with stars they are rightly guided’ meant that they are guided by them at night during their travels on the sea and land

The effect of these deviant explanations of the Quranic verses and the continuous support of the Muslim astrologists for horoscope led few people to believe that Islam has some kind of place for it. Therefore many Muslims in this modern age have great interest in reading and believing in horoscope material and to visit fortunetellers/astrologists on regular basis. Now days it has become a reputable profession for fortunetellers/astrologists who are appearing on TVs programmes, publishing their material on magazines and newspaper and debating about future knowledge.
Islamic Position
Islam not only rejects the horoscope ideology, it also prohibits visiting fortunetellers/astrologists, reading predictions or one’s horoscope. The knowledge of the unseen is only with Allah as He says in Quran 6:V59:
“With Him are the keys to the unseen and none knows [the unseen] it except Hi”
And in chapter 27:V65:
“Say: ‘None in the heavens or earth knows the unseen except Allah”
Also Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
“The Salah of whoever approaches a fortuneteller and asks him about
anything will not be accepted for forty days and night

On another place Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:

“Whoever approaches an oracle or fortuneteller and believes in what
he says has disbelieved in what was revealed to Muhammad

It can be clearly concluded from aforesaid verses and statements of the Prophet (Peach be upon him) that horoscope has no place in Islam and also visiting fortunetellers/astrologists is haram (prohibited) as well, even if someone is in doubt about his statement that he knows the unseen or not. He is still committing shirk as Allah clearly stated, none knows the unseen except Him. 

Dr. Rohi Baalbaki, Al-Mawrid, A Modern Arabic-English Dictionary, 7th edition 1995, p.377

Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, The Fundamentals of Tawheed, 2nd edition 2005, p. 105

Mesopotamia: the region of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in south-western Asia. The region extends north-westward from the Persian Gulf through the centre of modern Iraq. It includes the eastern part of Syria and a small part of south-eastern Turkey, where the two rivers have their sources. The name Mesopotamia, Greek for “land between the rivers,” was given the region by Alexander the Great. It has been called a “cradle of civilization.”

Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, The Fundamentals of Tawheed, 2nd edition 2005, p. 105

Ibid

Ibid

Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, The Fundamentals of Tawheed, 2nd edition 2005, p. 106

Umayyad dynasty 661 to 750 CE & Abbasid dynasty 750 to 1258 CE

Taysir al-aziz al-hamid, p.442 mentioned in Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, The Fundamentals of Tawheed, 2nd edition 2005, p. 107

Ibid

Quran 6:V97

Quran, chapter 85

A.Yusuf Ali, the holy Quran, (Trans, Beirut: Dar al-Quran al-Karim), p.1714 mentioned in Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, The Fundamentals of Tawheed, 2nd edition 2005, p. 109

Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, The Fundamentals of Tawheed, 2nd edition 2005, p. 110

Ibid
 

Reported by Hafsah and collected by Muslim, (Eng Trans), vol 4, p.1211 mentioned in Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, The Fundamentals of Tawheed, 2nd edition 2005, p. 112

Reported by Abu Hurayrah and collected by Ahmed and Abu Dawud, Sunnan Abi Dawud, (Eng Trans), vol 3, p.1095, hadith no. 3895 mentioned in Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, The Fundamentals of Tawheed, 2nd edition 2005, p. 113

 

 
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