What does Islam say about zodiac signs and do celestial bodies have any effects?


Last Updated on 21st June 2022

A non-Ahmadi Arab lady wrote to Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa […] and requested guidance regarding astrological signs and asked if it was proper for someone to say that such and such was their zodiac symbol. She also asked, what the reality was of the effects of the Sun and other stars as mentioned by the Promised Messiahas. In his letter dated 13 March 2021, Huzooraa replied as follows:

“[…] Heavenly buruj have been mentioned in the Holy Quran in various places. For instance, it states:

وَ‭ ‬لَقَدۡ‭ ‬جَعَلۡنَا‭ ‬فِي‭ ‬السَّمَآءِ‭ ‬بُرُوۡجًا

“‘And We have, indeed, made mansions of (stars) in the heaven.’ (Surah al-Hijr, Ch. 15: V. 17)

“It further states: 

تَبٰرَكَ‭ ‬الَّذِيۡ‭ ‬جَعَلَ‭ ‬فِي‭ ‬السَّمَآءِ‭ ‬بُرُوۡجًا

“‘Blessed is He Who has made mansions in the heaven.’ (Surah al-Furqan, Ch. 25: V. 62)

“It then states:

وَالسَّمَآءِ‭ ‬ذَاتِ‭ ‬الۡبُرُوۡجِ

“‘By the heaven having mansions (of stars).’ (Surah al-Buruj, Ch. 85: V. 2)

“In addition, Allah Almighty has extensively mentioned celestial objects such as the Sun, the Moon and the planets in the Holy Quran.

“In the ahadith of the Holy Prophetsa too, these celestial bodies are mentioned with different connotations. The ahadith mention, for instance, that the Byzantine emperor, Heraclius (who was a great expert in the study of stars) had deduced from the movement of the stars that the appearance of the Holy Prophetsa had taken place or that the time of his appearance was near (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab Bad’ al-Wahy). Then [a statement by Qatada] is also mentioned in a hadith that the stars had been created to adorn the heaven, to strike the Satans and as signs to aid navigation and that whoever tried to find a different interpretation, was mistaken and troubled himself with what was beyond his knowledge. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab  Bad’ al-Khalq, Bab Fin-Nujum) 

“Similarly, [the Holy Prophetsa] said that whoever learned something through stars, attained a share of magic (Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Tibb, Bab Fin-Nujum). Then the Holy Prophetsa also said that the eclipse of the Sun or the Moon had nothing to do with anyone’s birth or death (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Jumu‘ah, Bab al-Salat fi Kusuf al-Shams). However, the eclipses of the Sun and the Moon were described by the Holy Prophetsa as two unique signs of the coming of his Mahdi, which were fulfilled in their time with full glory and affixed their seal of approval on the authenticity of the Muhammadan Messiah. (Sunan al-Daraqutni, Kitab al-Eidain, Bab Sifati Salat al-Khusufi wa al-Kusuf wa Hai’atihima)

“In light of these teachings of the Quran and the hadith, the scholars of the ummah consider the belief in the effects of celestial objects on earthly events without Divine Will to be tantamount to shirk. They also call divination, the idea of seeking the knowledge of the unseen from the movements of these celestial objects, evil and a grave sin. However, they believe in determining the time or an era and the change of seasons through the celestial objects’ speed and movements. 

“The Promised Messiahas, who was the most ardent devotee of the Holy Prophetsa, has given the most enlightening and insightful view of celestial objects in his writings. While responding to an objection by his opponents, Huzooras states: 

“We do not believe that either the Sun, the Moon or any of the stars is self-governing and independent in its actions or exerts any influence by itself or has any intentional authority over any kinds of effects such as the conveying of the light, or causing of the rain, or the growth of the bodies or organisms or the fruits […] And at the same time, we believe that the properties of things are a reality and that they have effects, by the permission of God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise, Who has not created anything in vain […] And the truth is that the effects of the Sun, the Moon and the stars are things that people observe all the time and every moment and there is no room for denying them, for instance, the alteration of seasons and their circumstances and each season being tied with specific diseases, well-known plants and famous insects is something that you know very well […] And you know that when the Sun rises and light spreads, there is no doubt that it has a special effect on plants, inanimate objects and animals […] Then when the Sun is about to set at dusk, there are other kinds of effects at that time. The bottom line is that the distance of the Sun or its proximity has a significant and powerful effect on trees, fruits, rocks and the temperaments of human beings […] And there are so many characteristics of the Moon that farmers and agriculturists are aware of […] And the hukama have come to a consensus that the most well-built of the peoples are comprised of the inhabitants along the equator, and some such special effect is the reason for their perfect health and their elevated understanding and prudence.” (Hamamat-ul-Bushra [Urdu translation] […])

“Mentioning the heavenly buruj, Huzooras states:

“‘“Rahman” is that Being, the Source of abundant blessings and the Fountainhead of perpetual good, who has made mansions in the heaven and has placed in those mansions the Sun and the Moon which shed light for all creatures without discriminating between believer and disbeliever.’ (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Part IV, Footnote number 11, p. 211)

“Then Huzooras says about the effects of these celestial bodies:

“‘These stars are not only for adornment as people generally assume, but they have certain effects as is evident from the word  “hifzan” mentioned in the verse:

‭ ‬وَ‭ ‬زَيَّنَّا‭ ‬السَّمَآءَ‭ ‬الدُّنۡيَا‭ ‬بِمَصَابِيۡحَ‭ ‬وَ‭ ‬حِفۡظًا‭ ‬

“‘[“And We adorned the lowest heaven with lamps (for light) and for protection.” (Surah Ha Mim al-Sajdah, Ch.41: V.13)].

“‘It means that these stars play a role in the protection and preservation of the order of the universe, the same kind of role that medicine and food play in human health. [However, their role] has no share in the divine omnipotence; rather, all these things are as if dead before the Supreme Power of God. These things can do nothing except by the command of Allah. Their effects are in the Hands of God Almighty. Therefore, the actual truth is that stars have effects that manifest themselves on earth. Thus, no one in the world is more ignorant than someone who acknowledges the effects of violets and lilies and turbith and scammonies and cassia fistula but denies the effects of the stars which are the foremost place of the manifestation of the splendour and the wonders of the Hand of Nature and about which God Himself has used the word “hifzan”.

“‘These people who are totally immersed in ignorance consider this intellectual dispensation as shirk. They do not know that the Law of God Almighty in the world is that He did not create anything in vain, useless or ineffective. Since He has declared that everything has been created for mankind, please elaborate, what is the use for mankind of the lowest heaven being filled with millions of stars? Hence, God’s saying that all these things have been created for mankind, certainly draws our attention to the fact that these objects have particular effects that manifest themselves on human life and civilisation such as what the classical thinkers have written that the earth was very uneven in the beginning and God levelled it with the influence of the stars.’ (Tohfah-e-Golarviyyah, Ruhani Khazain Vol. 17, footnote, pp. 282-283)

“Therefore, it can be concluded from the above-mentioned excerpts that the Moon, the Sun, and other stars and planets in heaven, as well as their different stages and positions called buruj that have been created by Allah the Exalted, are not without purpose. Where on the one hand the movements of these celestial objects result in the alternation of day and night on our earth, years, months and days are formed and the seasons change, there on the other hand these objects affect Earth and its inhabitants in many other ways too. We observe some of their effects in our daily lives and there are many of their new effects that science is discovering on a daily basis and many that it may never discover at all.

“Astronomers and astrologers calculated the path of the Sun among the constellations and the Earth’s orbit around the Sun and — corresponding to 12 months — they divided the year into 12 sections and named them the 12 astrological signs [buruj]. There does not appear to be anything wrong with considering a person to have a certain astrological sign according to their date of birth, but the claims of gaining knowledge of the unseen from these imaginary and hypothetical astrological signs or predictions about the next life are all wild guesses and mere conjecture. It has nothing to do with reality or the pure knowledge of the unseen.”

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