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Skyscript Astrology Forum

Question about Al Biruni.

 
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Kylie



Joined: 18 Feb 2008
Posts: 25
Location: east coast australia

Posted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:40 am    Post subject: Question about Al Biruni. Reply with quote

Hi folks,

Look I am wondering if anyone could help me here.......I ask here, in the search for knowledge and truth, and in total respect for the peoples whom I am initiating discussing.

I have been reading about the fact that Muslims are not allowed to dabble in astrology. It is specified to them, that they may not predict anything, as no man is allowed to assume the mantle of a prophet. That seems fair enough. I am wondering though, wasnt Al Biruni a Muslim? I know he was a astronomer and mathematician, but did he read charts? If he did read charts, then how could he?

Does anyone have any ideas?

Looking forward to your opinions.
Kylie

Smile
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Tom
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Posted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good question. I skimmed through some biographical information and every source claimed he was a Muslim, One source made the too typical academic claim that Al Biruni didn't really "believe in" astrology and wrote criticisms of it. This is the same sort of thing we routinely read about Galileo and Kepler. Astronomers can't seem to stand the idea that their heroes may have been practicing astrologers. Al Biruni was critical of some astrologers, but so were a lot of other astrologers.

If we accept the idea that he was not an astrologer, then the question is answered. He didn't violate the teachings of Islam.

If we believe that he was an astrologer, then there is a problem. Perhaps his situation was similar to many Catholics during the Renaissance; the Church disapproved, but did little about it, e.g Cardan. Galileo was never prosecuted for practicing astrology and we know he did. Or perhaps Al Biruni was given a pass because of his vast knowledge and contributions to knowledge. Many of the persecutions of astrologers were simply disguised political persecutions.

Al Biruni is not the only Muslim astrologer. Abu Mashar and Al Khayyat were Muslim. Don't let names fool you though. Masha Allah was a Jew.

Perhaps an historian on the list has seen something that would definitely answer the question. I hope so.

Tom
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Deb
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Joined: 11 Oct 2003
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Location: England

Posted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Perhaps his situation was similar to many Catholics during the Renaissance; the Church disapproved, but did little about it, e.g Cardan. Galileo was never prosecuted for practicing astrology and we know he did. Or perhaps Al Biruni was given a pass because of his vast knowledge and contributions to knowledge. Many of the persecutions of astrologers were simply disguised political persecutions.


I was thinking the same thing Tom, and I noticed this comment in David Plant's biography on Al Biruni, which offrs a similar suggestion:

Quote:
The fatalism implicit in astrology was broadly compatible with the teachings of Islam, which means 'submission' to the Will of Allah. Astrological symbolism became an important element in the esoteric doctrines of the Sufi mystics, though more orthodox Islamic theologians argued that since Allah was all-powerful, astrology was irrelevant at best; at worst it was a dangerous delusion bordering on the magical and demonic. Similar objections were raised by Christian theologians when astrology began to filter into medieval Europe through the Islamic universities of Moorish Spain.
http://www.skyscript.co.uk/albiruni.html


I am sure there is a much more sensitive and detailed answer, but I am still recovering from the great debate about Christianity and astrology, so I intend to be an iinterested observer in this one Smile
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Tom
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Posted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found this in the introduction to The Judgments of Nativities by Al Khayyat. It is written by the translator James Holden.

Quote:
How Astrology Came to the Arabs

The Arabs were theoretically opposed to astrology. Mohammad had said (sic) in the Koran. ‘The astrologers are liars, by the Lord of the Kaaba.’ But the craving for knowledge ultimately proved stronger than strict orthodoxy. By the end of the eighth century, the Arabs had become seekers of knowledge of all sorts. They soon discovered that the Byzantine Empire was a storehouse of information on everything under the sun. A steady stream of Greek books began to flow into Baghdad and other centers of learning. These were translated into Arabic and made available to the public.

There were also Greek, Persian, and Hindu astrologers at court in Baghdad. Their presence gave impetus to the acquisition and translation of astrological literature from their languages. The Arabs obtained the works of Dorotheus, Ptolemy, Vettius Valens, Antiochus of Athens, and other Greek writers. Arabic translations of some Middle Persian and Sanskrit astrological texts wee also made, but the contributions from these two languages are most apparent in Mundane astrology. To these foreign elements, the Arabs added their own traditional lore on the 28 Mansions of the Moon and some other fixed stars.” – The Judgments of Nativities, Abu Ali Al Khayyat translated by James Holden. AFA, 1988, page 14


From this we may conclude that there was quite a bit astrological activity in the Muslim world from the 8th century through Al Biruni’s day despite the religious prohibition. Apparently the prohibition was not rigorously enforced, if it was enforced at all. Al Biruni was simply one in the long line of beneficiaries of the lack of enforcement.

Tom
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astrojin



Joined: 15 Nov 2005
Posts: 459

Posted: Sat May 03, 2008 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello All,

From Tom:
Quote:
I found this in the introduction to The Judgments of Nativities by Al Khayyat. It is written by the translator James Holden.

Quote:
How Astrology Came to the Arabs

The Arabs were theoretically opposed to astrology. Mohammad had said (sic) in the Koran. ‘The astrologers are liars, by the Lord of the Kaaba.’ But the craving for knowledge ultimately proved stronger than strict...


Thank you Tom for quoting the intro to Khayyat by Holden. When I first received the translation of Khayyat's Judgments of Nativities (many years back), I almost lost my respect for Holden's work for making such an emotional but incorrect statement (or perhaps he quoted from someone else?).

I think I should set the record straight here,
Nowhere in the Quran is mentioned "Mohammad has said (sic) in the Koran. 'The astrologers are liars, by the Lord of the Kaaba'.". Nowhere in the Quran!
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astrojin



Joined: 15 Nov 2005
Posts: 459

Posted: Sat May 03, 2008 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Kylie,

Quote:
Quote:
It is specified to them, that they may not predict anything, as no man is allowed to assume the mantle of a prophet.


Most Muslim authorities would say that it is allowed to make certain predictions from one means (and one means only) i.e. dreams if you are knowledgeable enough. This is why Mohammad said (in one of his sayings) that if you had a good dream tell the one whom you love and you if had a bad dream tell nobody and seek protection with Allah.

Quote:
Quote:
as no man is allowed to assume the mantle of a prophet.


I don't know about this but Mohammad did say (in one of his sayings) that true dreams (i.e. dreams that will come true or dreams that are actually command from God) is one of 46 "attributes" of a prophet.
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Draco



Joined: 27 Aug 2005
Posts: 176
Location: England.

Posted: Sat May 24, 2008 6:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I don't know about this but Mohammad did say (in one of his sayings) that true dreams (i.e. dreams that will come true or dreams that are actually command from God) is one of 46 "attributes" of a prophet.


He certainly did not if this comes from the hadiths, which it does:

Quote:
(29:5622) Abu Huraira reported: I love to see fetters but I hate necklaces (in a dream), for fetters signifies one's steadfastness in religion, and he also reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The vision of a believer is forty-sixth part of Prophecy.


The hadiths are wicked fabrications replete with all manner of vulgarities to desecrate the Prophet, and yet they form a bedrock of the Sunni sect of Islam, and the Shi'ites also have their own hadith compilations. It is no coincidence that the horrendous deeds carried out in the world can always be traced back to members of one of these two sects. This is despite the fact that Quran states unequivocally that there are to be no sects, and that nothing is to be followed other than the example of the Prophet, via the Quran.

We can only know what the Seal of the Prophets said, peace be upon him, via the Quran. If it doesn't come from the Quran, it was not uttered by Muhammad. In many places, we know the sayings of Muhammad in that he receives direct guidance upon what to say when he is met with certain inquiries.

For the truth about the hadiths, the so called 'sayings of the prophet', I'll pass you over to Mohammed Abdul Malek, who can explain things a lot better than I can:

http://members.aol.com/MAmalek2/qbook10.htm
http://members.aol.com/MAmalek2/qbook.htm

The Quran forbids the practice of sortilege, such as divination by Tarot cards, runes or any other method of casting fortunes at random, as expressed in this verse:

Quote:
(5:90) O ye who believe! Intoxicants and games of chance and idols and divining arrows are only an infamy of Satan's handiwork. Leave it aside in order that ye may succeed.


The reference to 'divining arrows' refers to methods of sortilege or cleromancy. Astrology however, is not casting fortunes at random, and this is not forbidden in the Quran, but in fact, the Quran implies that perhaps we can and should make use of such knowledge:

Quote:
(3:109) Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alteration of Night and Day - there are indeed signs for men of understanding.


Quote:
(6:96-98 ) He it is that cleaves the daybreak: He makes the night for rest and tranquillity, and the sun and moon for the reckoning. Such is the judgement and ordering of, the Exalted in Power, the Omniscient. It is he who makes the stars for you, that you may guide yourselves, with their help, through the dark spaces of land and sea: We detail Our signs for people who know. It is He who has produced you from a single person: here is a place of sojourn and a place of departure. We detail our signs for people who understand.


Quote:
(10:05) It is He who made the sun to be a shining glory and the moon to be a light; and measured out stages for her; that you might know the number of years and the count. Nowise did God create this but in truth and righteousness. He does explain his signs in detail for those who understand. Surely in the alteration of the Night and the Day, and in all that God has created, in the heavens and the earth, are Signs for those that fear Him.


Quote:
(13:02) God is He who raised the heavens without any pillars that you can see; is firmly established on the Throne; he has subjected the sun and moon! Each one runs for a term appointed. He does regulate all affairs, explaining the Signs in detail, that you may believe in certainty in the meeting with your Lord.


Quote:
(14:33) And He has made subject to you the sun and the moon, both diligently pursuing their courses. And the Night and the Day has He made subject to you. And He gives you all that you ask for. But if you count the favours of God, never will you be able to number them. Surely, man is given up to injustice and ingratitude.


Quote:
(16:12) He has made subject to you the Night and the Day; the Sun and the Moon, and the Stars are in subjection by His Command: surely in this are signs for men who are wise.


Quote:
(21:32) And we have made the heavens as a canopy well guarded: yet do they turn away from the signs which these things point to! It is He who created the Night and the Day, and the sun and the moon, all swim along, each in it’s rounded course.


Quote:
(41:37) Among His signs are the Night and the Day, and the Sun and the Moon, Prostrate not before the Sun and the Moon, but worship God, Who created them, if it is Him you wish to serve.


Quote:
(45:13) And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: behold, in that are Signs indeed for those who reflect.


The Quran also provides this disclaimer:

Quote:
(17:36) And pursue not that of which you have no knowledge; for every act of hearing, or of seeing or of the heart will be enquired into.


According to another translation:

Quote:
(17:36) You shall not accept any information, unless you verify it for yourself. I have given you the hearing, the eyesight, and the brain, and you are responsible for using them.
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astrojin



Joined: 15 Nov 2005
Posts: 459

Posted: Mon May 26, 2008 2:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To Draco,

Very nice!

Very nice indeed!

THOUGH I MUST SAY THAT

not all hadiths are irrelevant and made to desecrate the prophet and not all the evils of this world can be traced to the the sunnis and shiahs...!!!
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Kylie



Joined: 18 Feb 2008
Posts: 25
Location: east coast australia

Posted: Mon May 26, 2008 5:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks everyone for your responses....Sorry I havent replied before now, but I have kind of taken another path, and have attempted to find out for myself

I agree with Draco.....

I have to say Astrojin, not all hadiths are vile and evil, and I agree some of them are nice, and are good stories, but the fact is, it is hard to clarify the truth from fiction, so its probably best to reject the lot and deal with the actual word of God....The Quran....its states quite well in the Quran

Quote:
6:38 There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you. ]Nothing have we omitted from the Book and they (all) shall be gathered to their Lord in the end.


Kind of says right there, to forget the rest......the Quran is complete....

Peace
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Kylie



Joined: 18 Feb 2008
Posts: 25
Location: east coast australia

Posted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,

This is just something I found in relation to Arabic/ early Muslim astrology.....the study of astrology was called ilm al-nujum or ilm al-falak.....believe it or not, wikipedia has a good list of Arabic/Islamic astrologers.
This thread has started a whole new world of study for me....if anyone can help with any links, for online reading, please dont hesitate to let me know....

Many thanks.
Kylie
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Papretis



Joined: 27 Feb 2005
Posts: 346
Location: Finland

Posted: Fri Jun 06, 2008 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ben Dykes is just about to publish his new translation of works of Sahl and Masha'allah, two Arabic astrologers from the medieval period. I've ordered my copy already from the pre-sale. Dykes' work with Bonatti was awesome and worth all support.
http://www.bendykes.com/
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