Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Sharia Stance on Astrology - II

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Texts on the sharia ruling on astrology:

There are some reported sharia texts that discuss astrology and clarify its relevant rulings and issues. Since it is included in the practice of divination and is part of the world of magic and sorcery, astrology is prohibited under the sharia and is ranked as one of the grave major sins.

It is narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allaah be pleased with them, that the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said: "Whoever seeks knowledge from the stars has sought one of the branches of sorcery, of which he gets more as long as he continues to do so." [Abu Dawood and Ibn Majah with a sound chain of narrators]

Since astrology is a branch of sorcery, it is included in the following threat. It was narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said: "Three types of people will not enter Paradise: the one who is addicted to alcohol, the one who severs kinship ties, and the one who believes in sorcery."[Ahmad]

This blameworthy attachment to the stars is a remnant of the pre-Islamic era which has continued until our times. The Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, expressed his fears in this regard, so he warned his Ummah (nation) against it. It was narrated on the authority of Abu Malik Al-Ash‘ari, may Allaah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said: "My Ummah (nation) has four characteristics that belong to the pre-Islamic era which they will not abandon: boasting of noble ancestries, casting doubts about the integrity of peoples' lineage, seeking rain by stars and wailing."[Muslim]

It was also narrated on the authority of Abu Umamah, may Allaah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said: "What I fear most for my Ummah at the final stage of life is belief in the stars, disbelief in Fate and the injustice of rulers."[At-Tabarani]

The existence of a relationship between the movement of the stars and rain was one of the Arabs' ancient claims. They used to ask the stars for rain, whether directly or indirectly. They used different forms of asking for rain from the stars, so the relevant sharia ruling differs accordingly. Whoever supplicates the stars and asks them for rain has associated others with

Allah in worship, since he dedicates a type of worship to others besides Allah Almighty. This is a type of major shirk (polytheism), as it is indicated by many texts. Allah, the Exalted, says (what means):

{And do not invoke besides Allah that which neither benefits you nor harms you, for if you did, then indeed you would be of the wrongdoers.} [Quran 10: 106]

{And whoever invokes besides Allah another deity for which he has no proof – then his account is only with his Lord. Indeed, the disbelievers will not succeed.} [Quran 23: 117]

Whoever claims that the stars have the ability to send rain associates others with Allah in lordship, since his action contradicts the fact that creation, sovereignty and managing the affairs of the universe exclusively belong to Allah Almighty.

Other practices, however, are considered minor shirk (polytheism) and one is not ruled an apostate due to them. For example, someone believes that the stars influence the fall of rain but does not send it. Such a belief is a form of minor shirk because the stars are not a cause for rainfall, whether by virtue of religious or universal evidence. In some hadiths, these beliefs are called kufr (disbelief) in terms of denial of favors. This will be explained later.

The overall sharia texts that are reported regarding this issue revolve within the scope of this classification. It was narrated on the authority of Zayd ibn Khalid Al-Juhani, may Allaah be pleased with him, that he said:

The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, led us in the Subh (morning) prayer at Al-Hudaybiyah, after a rainy night. When he had finished praying, he turned to the people and said, "Do you know what your Lord Has Said?" They said, "Allah and His Messenger know best." He said, "This morning, one of My slaves became a believer in Me, and one became a disbeliever. As for the one who said, 'We have been given rain by virtue of Allah and His Mercy,' he is a believer in Me and a disbeliever in the stars. But as for the one who said, 'We have been given rain by virtue of such and such a star,' he is a disbeliever in Me and a believer in the stars."[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

It was also narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said: "It has never rained upon a people except that some of them became disbelievers by saying, 'We have been given rain by virtue of such and such a star!''' [Muslim]

In the Quran, Allah Almighty says (what means): {And make your provision that you deny [the Provider]?} [Quran 56: 82] It was said that the reason behind the revelation of this verse is that some of the Companions, may Allaah be pleased with them, attributed rain to the stars by saying "Such and such position of a star sent rain!" [Muslim]

Then this verse was revealed to indicate that attributing the blessing to other than Allah is a form of denial and ingratitude. Such statements also contradict reality. That is why they are expressed in the noble verse with the words {That you deny [the Provider]?} . The prominent scholar of this Ummah, Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allaah be pleased with them, interpreted the verse as: "And you show your gratitude for His blessings by denial!"

It was also narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said:
There is no infection, nor hammah (refers to an Arab tradition described variously as a worm which infests the grave of a murder victim until he is avenged, an owl or the bones of a dead person turned into a bird that could fly), nor (belief in) stars, nor Safar (the month of Safar was regarded as unlucky during the pre-Islamic era). [Muslim]

Imam As-Suyooti, may Allaah Have mercy upon him, explained this hadith by saying: "Do not say, 'We have been given rain by such and such a star.'"

Thus, belief that the stars influence the fall of rain is forbidden under the Islamic sharia, since it is a belief and action of the people of the pre-Islamic era. It also reflects a form of ingratitude to Allah when the blessings that He bestows upon His salves are attributed to other than Him. It is a word which implies major shirk when the sayer means that other than Allah give these blessings. If he just believes that the stars influence the fall of rain, this is minor shirk, because there is neither religious nor universal evidence to prove that the stars can do this. So, the forbiddance in this regard is to block the means that could lead to shirk and to protect Islamic tawheed (monotheism).

The scholars excluded a form where it is permissible to attribute rain to the stars which they called 'the time relation'. It is to link "the times" of the fall of rain with the positions of the stars, according to experience. They allow one to say: "We have been given rain at the time when such-and-such a star is in such-and-such a position." This means the time of the fall of rain, not the influence of stars on the fall of rain. As evidence, they quote the incident when ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab, may Allaah be pleased with him, went out to supplicate Allah for rain along with people in the year of the drought. He said to Al-‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib, may Allaah be pleased with him: "O ‘Abbas, how much time remains for the Thurayya (Pleiades star) to appear?"

He answered: "O Commander of the Believers! Those who have knowledge about it claim that it will show on the horizon in seven days." After only seven days, it rained. [Al-Bayhaqi]
Ash-Shafi‘i, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said:

With the statement "O 'Abbas, how much time remains for the Thurayya to appear?" ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab, may Allaah be pleased with him, wanted to teach them that Allah has preordained the fall of rain at certain times, which they knew based on experience, just as they knew that Allah has preordained heat and cold at certain times, based on experience.

We conclude this topic with a logical argument mentioned by the scholars while refuting the claims of those who believe in astrology. They said:

What would an astrologer say regarding a ship, boarded by one thousand men with different conditions and positions, including the king and ordinary people, the scholar and the ignorant, the rich and the poor, the old and the young, with different fortunes, various birthdates and degrees of stars, and, then, they all drowned in the same hour. If the astrologer would say that they were drowned by the influence of a certain star while they boarded, this means that such a star nullifies the influence of all the other different stars, which entails that judging fortune based on zodiac degrees is groundless and that they can in no way indicate who is happy and who is wretched. If he said that they were not drowned by the influence of any of the stars, this nullifies belief in astrology altogether.

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