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Astrology, Astronomy, and Meteorology

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org

Question: Why is it that astrology is forbidden while astronomy and meteorology are permissible?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Dear questioner,

Thank you for your important question.

The difference between meteorology and astrology is that meteorology is based on science while astrology is based on superstition. Relying on superstition is harmful, forbidden, and can also be disbelief if one ascribes innate power to such “forces”.

Astronomy and Astrology

Studying celestial bodies like the sun, moon, planets, and stars are perfectly fine. In fact, it is not just fine but extremely important because it is needed to know when to pray, fast and perform Hajj, etc. This is called astronomy.

That said, studying the celestial bodies for the sake of predicting the future of human events, who will live and who will die, and whether or not certain risks should be taken at that time is not permissible. It is just like many other pseudo-sciences like sand reading, reading bird omens, and the like that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) forbade.

‘There is no contagion, or taking bad omens from the Hama bird, the month of Safar, or from anything else’ (Bukhari).

The reason for their being forbidden is that they have no scientific basis and are not sound reasons for making judgments.

Imam al Nawawi said, ‘They used to take omens from the way that birds would fly away or by the way gazelles would run away. If they went right, they understood there was baraka and went on with their journeys or whatever it was that they were doing. If they went left, they would stop their journeys, etc. because of the bad luck they saw. This used to frequently stop them from doing things that were actually to their benefit. The Sacred Law annulled such things and labeled them as false, and indeed sinful. Revelation tells us that these things have no benefit or harm’ (Sharh Muslim).

Someone who relies on astrology to make decisions in life while being the same: may well reject a marriage proposal based on the position of Mars, or return from a trip for some similarly illogical reason. This is not healthy.

Meteorology

Meteorology is not like this. It is a science, and although it predicts the future in a not so perfect way, it is based on sound logic and not arbitrary and unfalsifiable connections.

Occasionalism

As Muslims, we believe that Allah Most High is the direct cause of everything. Nothing causes anything apart from Allah’s will. The outward “causes” are merely the cites, scenes, occasions, or times when Allah chooses things to happen. They are not causes.

For example, the apple doesn’t fall out of the tree because of gravity. Rather Allah creates the apple, the earth, the gravitational pull, and then wills that the apple should fall to the ground. The actual cause is Allah’s will, while the gravitational pull is just the “occasion”.

Imam Ahmad al Dardir says in his poem on creed:

Whoever holds that science or nature have ultimate sway
He is a disbeliever according to the people of this way.

If someone genuinely holds that the position of Jupiter is the sole and independent cause of someone’s divorce or of an earthquake, or what have you, then such a person is not a believer. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) mentioned in a hadith Qudsi, ‘As for him who says that rain has come by virtue of Allah’s favor and mercy, such a person believes in Me and disbelieves in the stars. As for he who says that rain has come by virtue of the position of such and such, he is a disbeliever in Me and a believer in the stars’ (Bukhari and Muslim).

However, if they just believe that Allah has made the position of Jupiter a cause of that divorce or earthquake, they are merely foolish and sinful, but they are still a believer.

The same would apply to meteorology: if someone genuinely held that the low pressure was the sole and independent cause of the rain, then they would not be a believer. However, if like all of us, they believed that Allah created the low pressure, and rain, etc., and merely chose that the two should coincide, then he would be wise and not sinful for identifying how the weather works, and he would be a believer.

The point is that everything is directly caused by Allah. The apparent “causes” are just coincidences. Allah may well just for the event to happen without the cause, or for it to not happen even when the apparent cause is there. Miracles, for example, are instances of that.

Conclusion

Omens and superstition are sinful and can lead to disbelief if one sees them as causing harm independently of Allah’s will and power.

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language

This answer was collected from Seekersguidance.org. It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.

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