Wednesday 26th of February 2020

Astronomy and Meteorology

Predictions regarding future events; i.e. price fluctuations of grain, its shortage and abundance, the scarcity and intensity of rain and all other types of good and bad happenings; based on the knowledge of the effect of heavenly bodies on earth is known as meteorology. It is permitted if the one who is predicting only considers them a possibility but not a certainty because the final authority for all cause and effect lies with Allah. Thus there is no harm in predicting the solar and lunar eclipses and the position of stars etc. because such predictions are based on complicated calculations and such predictions are usually true unless there is a mistake in calculation. The movement of the heavenly bodies follows well-defined laws and principles, hence there is hardly any chance of a wrong prediction.

On the other hand to predict future events with a belief that only the stars and heavenly bodies (without any Divine will) govern them is Haraam and a kind of magic.

The Shaykh has concluded his discussion in Makasib by stating that predictions are of four types:
1) It is not Haraam to predict the future position of heavenly bodies and other phenomena like the solar and the lunar eclipse etc.

2) It is also permitted to predict an occurrence if it is caused by the influence of the movement of stars or by the heavenly bodies coming near the earth but it must not be considered a phenomenon independent of the Divine will. It should be looked upon as the will of Allah. In other words one should say that 'when the comet etc. passes near Earth such a thing will happen by the permission of Allah.' The stars must not be considered the sole cause of the phenomena. Even if one makes such predictions by experience and without any scientific knowledge; it is allowed. One who has previous experience can predict that it will rain at night when his pet dog comes down from the terrace and comes inside the house, because this had happened before. Hence the past experience enables some to predict a future event.

3) To attribute the future events solely to the influence of heavenly bodies is considered Haraam by all the jurists. Numerous traditions denounce these kinds of predictions.

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"One who believes an astrologer and soothsayer has disbelieved in whatever was disclosed upon Muhammad (s.a.w.s.)."

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"Accursed is the astrologer and accursed is the soothsayer and accursed is the magician."

When Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) was proceeding for the battle of Nahrawan one of his men who was an expert in astrology restrained him saying, "If you go at this time, I fear that you will not succeed in your aim."

Ali (a.s.) told him that if he thought he could predict the auspicious and the inauspicious times of departure with accuracy, he was in error and said,
"Whoever believes your prediction has denied the Quran." (Because according to Quran success and defeat all are subservient to Divine will). If a person has faith in the astrologer he will not seek Divine help and assistance when the prediction is favourable for him. In this way he will not give Sadqa nor pray for success and will eventually conclude that Allah controls nothing; thus he would become a disbeliever.

If an astronomer predicts with the belief that his predictions are subject to the final will of Allah then there is no harm for one to pray to the Almighty for success when the prediction is good; and in case of an unfavourable prediction invoke Allah for safety.

1) Khwaja Nasiruddin Tusi during one of his journeys stayed for the night at a water mill. The water mill was situated outside the town. Since it was a hot evening the Khwaja decided to sleep in the open. The mill-owner told him that it would rain that night. The Khwaja looked at the sky but could not make out any sign of rain. The mill-owner said, "I have a pet dog who comes down to the house when it is to rain at night." Khwaja did not heed his advice and spent the rainy night in open but he was much amused by the incident.

Four types of beliefs

1) To believe that stars are the supreme controllers of the world is Haraam. A person who has such a belief is a Kafir whether he denies the creator or not. All the jurists are unanimous in this regard.

2) To believe that the heavenly bodies have been bestowed by Allah the power to control the world is not Kufr but it is a foolish notion because we have no proof that the inanimate stars have any intelligence or will to influence the world.

3) The third type of belief is when a person admits that the stars have no intelligence and will power but says that Allah has decreed that when the position of the stars will be such, the following event will take place. It is the law of causation like when fire is brought near something it burns it. Though such a belief is proved correct most of the time, reason does not accept it to be unchangeable.

4) To predict future events on the basis of heavenly occurrences is not Haraam according to most of the scholars. For example if the moon and Saturn come in a line there would be a good rainfall. To interpret such heavenly phenomena is not Haraam but such interpretations can be accurately given only by the Infallibles (a.s.). What the meteorologists predict is based on an incomplete part of this knowledge. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) remarks:
"The complete knowledge of stars cannot be acquired and incomplete knowledge is of no benefit."
(Wasaelush Shia)

After enumerating the different types of astrological sciences, Shaykh Ansari says, "All these traditions imply that whatever the astrologers predict is based on deficient knowledge. They only conjecture and guess on the basis of a little knowhow. People who consult them are rarely satisfied by their predictions but it is possible that he may have experience regarding a particular event and may make an accurate prediction. Hence it is better to refrain from consulting such people and if they make a prediction, one should say, 'It is only a possibility.'"

The prediction did not materialise

The deficiency and inaccuracy of astrological predictions can be gauged from the doubts and wrong predictions of the astrologers. The books of history are replete with such examples. In the second volume of Tatmatal Muntahi it is mentioned that in 582 A.H. seven stars came together in one constellation. Abul Fazl Khwarizmi and other astronomers gave the prediction that the whole world will be destroyed in a cyclone. The people took shelter in the caves and protective spots and also stored their rations to escape the fury of the cyclone. At last the predicted date of 9th of Jamadi ul Aakhar arrived but there was no sign of any cyclone. Not even a soft wind blew. People lit candles and they burnt without even being blown out by a breeze. The poets jumped to the amusing occasion and composed couplets on this incident.

A few years ago there was a similar threat that had the people of the whole world worried. It was predicted that the whole earth would be shaken due to the impact of the collision of a meteor. Some people dived underwater to escape the shock but nothing happened at the appointed time. (The meteor missed the earth by thousands of miles).

Magic and miracles are of two types

If a person is able to perform extraordinary acts due to his excessive piety and abstinence it is known as Karamat but if the said person is a Prophet or an Imam, he is bestowed with this high station by the Almighty and subject to three conditions his act will be construed as a miracle (Mojiza).

1) His claim should be acceptable to reason but if his claim is illogical, whatever action he performs is magic whether one can perceive the mechanics of this act or not. For example it is an accepted fact by every Muslim that prophethood came to an end with Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa (s.a.w.s.) and that his shariah will be in force till Qiyamat; there will be no prophet after him. Hence if someone claims that he is a prophet; his extraordinary acts to prove his claim will not be believed. He would be a cunning magician. Or a person claims Imamat, when according to the proven belief of Shias there are only twelve Imams. The first being Hazrat Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a.s.), and the last Hazrat Hujjat ibnil Hasan (a.s.), who will remain in occultation till the time of his reappearance. Hence the claimant will be an imposter even if he exhibits some mysterious act. Similarly is the position regarding the special representatives of Imam (a.s.) who were four, the last being Ali ibn Muhammad Saymori. If someone comes and says that he is a special representative (Naib-e-Khaas) he cannot be believed and whatever 'miracles' he shows will be considered magical tricks.

2) The person should possess the necessary qualification for being a prophet or an Imam. For example one of the necessary quality of a Prophet or Imam is infallibility (Ismat). That is, he must not commit either a greater or a lesser sin before his declaration or after it. He must be the most righteous and knowledgeable person of his time. One of the signs of such a character is his indifference to material wealth. Thus if there is a claimant who commits sins and lacks knowledge and covets material wealth, then if he exhibits special acts, they are merely magic.

3) It is necessary that the extraordinary act performed by the incumbent should be through the might and power of the Almighty. If he uses some tools and instruments or if he undertakes training for performing the said acts it is obvious that they are not miracles. Miracles are performed by the power of Allah and do not require prior practice and training. This aspect has been analysed in great detail in scholastic theology.

Countering magic

Many jurists are of the opinion that countering one magic spell by another is permitted. If an imposter claims prophethood by performing magical tricks; magic can be used to expose his falsehood. Or if a sorcerer casts a spell on someone or binds him, it is permitted to break this spell and unbind the victim with the help of magic.

It is related that Isa bin Saqafi came to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and said, "May my life be sacrificed for you, I am a magician and magic is my occupation. With the earnings of magic I have even performed the Hajj and now the Almighty has honoured me by your meeting but now I am regretful of my deeds; is there any way I can achieve salvation? Imam (a.s.) said, "Untie and do not tie." The apparent meaning of Imam's remark is that he can use his powers to counteract the magical spells of others magicians but he must not himself initiate sorcery. Some jurists are of the opinion that magic can be used only under special circumstances when there is no other alternative. Initially invocations and amulets must be tried to nullify magical spells.

Let us look at a couple of such incidents in the book Behaarul Anwaar.

A person came to Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) and complained that a spell has been cast on him. Ali (a.s.) told him to write the following dua on the skin of deer and keep it with him so that the spell may not affect him:
êÉé}¼"A øÁænøI åÉé}¼"òA äÕBòòq B¿äË êÉé}¼"A øÁænøI êÉé}¼"ABøI äË êÉé}¼"A øÁænøI

ÉøI æÁåNæ×øU òB¿ Ó{mæÌå¿ ò¾Bä³ êÉé}¼"ABøI úÜêA äÑìÌå³ òÜ äË ò¾æÌäYòÜ

ò½äÀä§ å\ê¼ævåÍ òÜ äÉé}¼"A ìÆêA Éó¼êñæJåÎäm äÉé}¼"A ìÆêA äjæZðn"A

äÆæÌó¼äÀæ¨äÍ CæÌåÃBò· òB¿ ò½òñäI äË íµäZô"A ä©ä³äÌò¯ äÅæÍêfênæ°åÀô"A

äÅæÍøjê"Bäu AæÌåJò¼ä´æÃA äË ò¹ê"BäÄåÇ AæÌåJê¼åò¯

In the Name of Allah and by Allah. In the Name of Allah and as Allah willed. In the Name of Allah. There is no power or might except by Allah. Musa (a.s.) said Allah shall soon falsify the magic of those who have come with magic. Indeed Allah does not improve the affairs of transgressors. Then the truth became manifested and falsified what they had done. The truth triumphed and they were disgraced.

Moreover he advised reciting the following dua seven times to safeguard against magic and the tyranny of the ruler. The same dua can be recited seven times after Namaz-e-Shab and before the morning prayers. It will protect one from the evils of magic:
BäÀó¸ò" ó½ä¨æVäà äË ò¹æÎêaòBøI òºäfåzä§ ífåräÄäm êÉé}¼"ABøI äË êÉé}¼"A øÁænøI

òBÀåNæÃòA òBÄêMBäÍFøI BäÀó¸æÎò"êA äÆæÌó¼êväÍ òÝò¯ BçÃBòñó¼åm

äÆæÌåJê"Bäô"A BäÀó¸ä¨äJéìMA øÅä¿ äË

In the Name of Allah and by the help of Allah. Soon We shall strengthen your hand by your brother. And appoint for you a force. By which their mischief would not harm you. Move ahead with our signs. You and your followers shall triumph.

In the book Qasasul Ulama there is an anecdote of the period of Abbas the Safawid. A Christian king sent a messenger to Abbas with the message that he may be given a chance to debate with Muslim scholars and if he defeats the Muslim scholars they must all accept Christianity. Now the person sent by the Christian king had some powers by which he was able to guess accurately what others held in their fists. The scholars were invited to debate with him and they included Mulla Mohsin Faiz. When the debate began Mulla Mohsin remarked that the Christian king has sent an ordinary man instead of a religious scholar for debate. The envoy brushed the remark aside and told him to hide something in his fist so that he can prove his miraculous powers.

Mulla Mohsin kept the tasbih made of dust from Imam Husain (a.s.)'s grave in his fist and challenged him to guess. The man thought for sometime but kept quiet. When Mulla urged him to speak up he said, "According to my knowledge there is a piece of Paradise soil in your hand but I am astonished as to where it was and how it came into your hands."

Mulla Mohsin said, "You are correct! It is the dust from the grave of Imam Husain (a.s.) who was the grandson of our Prophet (s.a.w.s.). Your statement itself proves that the Imam of Muslims was on the right. Hence, you must accept Islam."

The Christian followed his conscience and became a Muslim. A very suitable method was employed by the late Mulla Faiz to guide the Christian towards salvation. But it must be kept in mind that even under circumstances like the one described, where the person proved superior to the Christians who had extraordinary powers, it is necessary that the person has the three necessary qualifications described earlier, otherwise he is nothing but a sorcerer.


source : GREATER SINS/Al-Haaj Sayed Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi (r.a.)
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