Astrology, Astronomy and Islam
There are two terms confused in many people’s minds when it comes to dealing with the question in hand. These terms are astronomy and astrology.
Astronomy is the science that deals with studying the movements of the celestial bodies and reducing observations to mathematical order. That science is useful in determining time, seasons, the direction of Prayer, etc.
Astrology, on the other hand, is concerned with studying the positions and aspects of celestial bodies in the belief that they have an influence on the course of natural earthly occurrences and human affairs. Astrologists believe that the movements of stars have an influence on people’s lives.
Both Muslim astronomers and [religious] scholars refuse the prophecies of astrologists. According to scholars of Shari`ah, it is lawful to study astronomy; they accept that it is used in determining the direction of the qiblah.
The science of astronomy through which the movement of the sun and thus the direction of Prayer is detected is not prohibited in Islam.
On the other hand, scholars agree that astrology is a prohibited field to deal with. Ibn Taymiyah said: “Astrology that is concerned with studying the positions and aspects of celestial bodies in the belief that they have an influence on the course of natural earthly occurrences and human affairs is prohibited by Almighty Allah’s Book, the Sunnah, and the unanimous agreement of the Muslim scholars. Furthermore, astrology was considered forbidden by all Messengers of Almighty Allah.”
Ibn `Uthaymeen, said: “Astrology is a kind of sorcery and fortune-telling. It is forbidden because it is based on illusions, not on concrete facts. There is no relation between the movements of celestial bodies and what takes place on the Earth.”
Origins of Astrology
There are three main branches of astrology today, namely Western astrology, Vedic astrology, and Chinese or East Asian astrology. The study of Western astrology and the belief in it, as part of astronomy, is first. found in a developed form among the ancient Babylonians; and directly or indirectly through the Babylonians, it spread to other nations. It came to Greece about the middle of the 4th century B.C., reached Rome before the advent of the Christian era.
The history of astrology can now be traced back to ancient Babylonia, and indeed to the earliest phases of Babylonian history, in the third millennium B.C]
In Babylonia as well as in Assyria as a direct offshoot of Sumerian culture (or in general the “Mesopotamian” culture), astrology takes its place in the official cult as one of the two chief means at the disposal of the priests (who were called bare or “inspectors”) for ascertaining the will and intention of the gods, the other being through the inspection of the liver of the sacrificial animal (see omen).
Of the planets five were recognized – Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Mercury and Mars – to name them in the order in which they appear in the older cuneiformliterature; in later texts Mercury and Saturn change places.
These five planets were identified with the gods of the Babylonian pantheon as follows:
§ Jupiter with Marduk;
§ Venus with the goddess Ishtar,
§ Saturn with Ninurta (Ninib),
§ Mercury with Nabu (Nebo),
§ and Mars with Nergal.
The movements of the sun, moon and five planets were regarded as representing the activity of the five gods in question, together with the moon-god Sinand the sun-god Shamash, in preparing the occurrences on earth. If, therefore, one could correctly read and interpret the activity of these powers, one knew what the gods were aiming to bring about.
The influence of Babylonian planetary lore appears also in the assignment of the days of the week to the planets, for example Sunday, assigned to the sun, and Saturday, the day of Saturn.
Today, of course, we know that the Sun and Planets are not gods. Our Earth is a planet and Sun is a star, and the other stars are distant suns. There is no reason to suppose that they control our lives any more than do the trees or the mountains.
Furthermore, modern astrology still uses the constellation dates relating to the Sun’s apparent position in 500 BC!. Since then, the slow wobble of the Earth’s axis has shifted the dates, but the astrologers have not adapted to this!!
What Quran Says About Sun, Moon and the Stars
The Sun Moon and the stars are nothing but Allah’s creation. They are all working under Allah’s command and have been made for the purpose of serving mankind. There is no reason at all to believe that they can somehow control our destiny or effect our lives on earth because as Muslims we should be well aware that the knowledge of destiny is only with Allah and is written in Loh e Mahfooz. (The preserved Tablet in the heavens)
The following are some of the purposes of creating Sun, Moon and Stars as mentioned by Allah Subhana Wa ta’ala in the Quran.
Sun and the Moon are signs of Allah
“And from among His Signs are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon.” [Quran 41:37]
Sun and Moon help in counting Years and Months
“It is He Who made the sun a shining thing and the moon as a light And measured out its (their) stages, that you might know the number of years and the calculation. [Quran 10:5]
Sun and Moon Help in fixing time of Prayers
“Perform As Salât from mid-day till the darkness of the night (i.e. the Zuhr, ‘Asr, Maghrib, and ‘Ishâ’ prayers), and recite the Qur’ân in the early dawn. [Quran 17: 78]
Stars are for the beautification of the sky
“And indeed, We have put the big stars in the heaven and We beautified it for the beholders.” [Quran 15:16]
Stars for decoration and guarding the Heavens
“And We adorned the nearest (lowest) heaven with lamps (stars) to be an adornment as well as to guard (from the devils by using them as missiles against the devils). Such is the Decree of Him the All-Mighty, the All-Knower.” [Quran 41:12]
Stars for finding direction in land and sea
“It is He Who has set the stars for you, so that you may guide your course with their help through the darkness of the land and the sea. [Quran 6:97]
Before GPS ships and people traveling in the desert used stars for finding their way. My father is a sailor and he showed me the instrument used in the olden days for finding direction using stars.
Reading Horoscopes and Astrology leads to Kufr
Astrology is considered Kufr because it destroys Tawheed Al Asma Was-Sifaat (The Unity of Allah’s Names and Attributes . Such beliefs give planets and stars some of God’s unique qualities, most prominent among them “Qadr” –Destiny. It is clearly stated in Holy Quran:
“And with Him are the keys tot he ghayb [all that is hidden], none knows them but He and He knows whatever there is in [or on) the earth and the sea; not a leaf falls, but the knows it. There is not a grain in darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or day, but is written in a clear record.” [6:59]
“Say: None in the heavens and the earth knows the ghaby (unseen) except Allaah, nor can they perceive when they shall be resurrected.” [27:65]
Nay, they have no knowledge of the Hereafter. Nay, they are in doubt about it. Nay, they are blind about it. [Surah Namal 27:66]
Say (O Muhammad Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam): “I possess no power of benefit or hurt to myself except as Allâh wills. If I had the knowledge of the Ghaib (unseen), I should have secured for myself an abundance of wealth, and no evil should have touched me. I am but a warner, and a bringer of glad tidings unto people who believe.” [Surah A’araf 7:188]
In the light of Sayings of Muhammad (Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam):
Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said: “What I fear most for my nation after my time is: the injustice of their leader, the belief in the stars and the denial of divine destiny.” [Ibn Asakir]
One who seeks his horoscope comes under the ruling contained in the Prophet’s (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) statement: ‘The Salaah (daily prayer) of whoever approaches a fortuneteller and asks him about anything will not be accepted for forty days and nights.’ [Saheeh Muslim vol.4,p. 1211, no 5440]
If, however, one believes in the predictions of their horoscope, whether spoken by an astrologist or written in books of astrology, he falls directly into Kufr (disbelief) as stated by the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) “Whoever approaches an oracle or fortune-teller and believes in what he says, has disbelieved in what was revealed to Muhammad.” [Reported by Abu Hurayrah and collected by Ahmad and Abu Dawud (Sunan Abu Dawud (English Trans.), vol. 3, p. 1095, no. 3895).]
It is well established scientifically that stars and planets are not gods and thus there is no possible way that they can control life on earth. More so as Muslims we know very well from the Quran that destiny is controlled only by Allah and the knowledge of the future and the unseen only rests with Allah. Quran makes it very clear the purpose of creating stars and planets and the sun and the moon so there is no possible reason to believe that stars and planets influence our lives.
And most importantly believing in astrology leads to Shirk -Polytheism as it gives divine powers to stars. So all those Muslims who are just reading horoscopes for fun and trying to find out what is in their future through any means like cup reading, palmistry, numbers etc should know they are committing shirk “in fun”.
And Shirk is the one and only sin Allah will never ever forgive unless you Sincerely repent from it and never do such a thing again.
May Allah guide us away from such acts of shirk. Aameen.