The Fiqh of Astronomy & Astrology

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Qibla.com

Answered by Shaykh Ilyas Patel

I wanted to know what the ruling is regarding stars. As you know, in a lot of non-Muslim magazines etc they have a page or so for star signs, which is all to do with your date of birth. They tell you about yourself, your future etc. Can you please tell me what the ruling is for this in Islam?

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Allah Most High said in the Qur’an,

“He is) the Knower of the Unseen, and discloses not His unseen to anyone except to a messenger with whom He is pleased”

(Qur’an 72:26-27)

  The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:

“Whoever goes to a psychic (arraf) or fortune-teller and believes what he says has disbelieved in what has been revealed to Muhammad.”

It is necessary to make clear a very important distinction – that between Astronomy and Astrology. People often confuse the two terms as meaning the same. They cannot be further from each other.

Astronomy is a science and permitted, whereas astrology is a pseudo-science and unlawful to pursue.

Astronomy deals with the study of the heavens in an effort to understand the underlying principles governing the behaviour of the planets, stars and galaxies and the Universe in general.

Astrology claims to predict the destinies of persons as a result of the ‘action’ of planets and so on, on their lives. There has not been to date any contradiction between Astronomy, as we understand it, and the Qur’an.

Allama Ibn Abidin mentions in his colossus under ‘And the Science of Astrology’ a s follows:

“It is a science through which one gets to know the evidence s from the celestial forms about the lower incidents (on the earth). It is mentioned in Mukhta’rat al-Nawazil by the author of Hidaya that ‘Ilmal-Nujum’ (the Science of Stars) is good and not blameworthy, because it is of two types:

  2)       Mathematical Calculations, which is truthful and sound. The Qur’an has mentioned it.

Allah Most High says, “The sun and moon (are subjected) to calculations.” (55:05)

2) Deductional; by the orbiting of the stars and moving of the celestial bodies upon the incidents by the decree and fate of Allah. This is permissible, like the doctor deducing, well-being and illness by checking one’s pulse. If one does not have the belief of the decree and fate of Allah in (the influence of anything) and claims to know the unseen itself, he has committed an act of disbelief. Then, to learn the measure and amount of knowing the times of Salat and qibla (direction) is not a problem.’

It shows that learning more than this amount is a problem. Even, it has been stated in ‘Fusul’ of its prohibition and this is the opinion what the commentator (Allama Haskafi) ha s followed. And what is apparent, it seems that the second type is meant and not the first. This is why Imam Ghazali mentions in ‘Ihya’ that the science of the Stars is not blameworthy in itself, because it is of two types…then he says it is blameworthy in Sharia. Umar (Allah be pleased with him) said, ‘Learn from the stars which you can take guidance from, in the land and sea, then refrain yourself.’

It has been detested because of three reasons:  

a)       It is harmful for the majority of the people, because when they will be told that these effects occur after the illuminating of the stars, they will understand that they are the ‘causal factors.’

b)       The rulings of the stars are mere estimates and calculations. Even though, it was a miracle for Idris (peace be upon him) of what he narrated, but it has been abrogated

c)       There is no benefit at all from it; whatever because has been destined will occur and it is difficult to refrain fro m it.” [Ibn Abidin, Radd-al-Muhtar1: 44]

And Allah alone gives success.

Ilyas Patel,
Abu Zahra Foundation,
Keighley , UK

This answer was indexed from Qibla.com, which used to have a repository of Islamic Q&A answered by various scholars. The website is no longer in existence. It has now been transformed into a learning portal with paid Islamic course offering under the brand of Kiflayn.