Astronomy and Meteorology By Ayatullah Abdul Husayn Dastaghaib in Greater Sins
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 (S.w.T.). 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 Harām and a kind of magic.
To attribute the future events solely to the influence of heavenly bodies is considered Harām by all the jurists. Numerous traditions denounce these kinds of predictions.
The Holy Prophet (S) says:
“One who believes an astrologer and soothsayer has disbelieved in whatever was revealed upon Muhammad (S).”
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
“Accursed is the astrologer and accursed is the soothsayer and accursed is the magician.”
When Amir ul-Mu’minīn ‘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 Qur’an.” (Because according to Qur’an 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 (S.w.T.) controls nothing; thus he would become a disbeliever.
Four types of beliefs
1) To believe that stars are the supreme controllers of the world is Harām. 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 (S.w.T.) 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 (S.w.T.) 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 Harām 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 Harām 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.”
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.’”
If an astronomer predicts with the belief that his predictions are subject to the final will of Allah (S.w.T.) 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 (S.w.T.) for safety.
A tradition is quoted in the Ihtijaj of Tabarsi from the sixth Imam (a.s.). The gist of the same is as follows:
After the birth of the Holy Prophet (S) the shaitans and the Jinns were denied access to the heavens, hence they were unable to give information about the heavenly affairs. Now they could only inform about the evil magical matters. This information is unreliable because among the jinns too there are liars as well as truthful jinns. Therefore the fortune telling of a diviner is unreliable.