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Auspicious and Inauspicious Times

Author : Sayyid Jawad Warai
Subject : Auspicious and Inauspicious
Translator : Ahmad Rezwani
Editor : Mahdi Baqi


25 May 2010
Hadith Sciences 1

Abstract

The present paper has the same organization as the treaties Ikhtiyārāt al-Ayyam of the late Āqā Jamāl al-Din Khānsārī, in which the issue of the auspicious and/or inauspicious times are considered from the perspectives of the Quran and hadiths. With the help of various Quranic exegeses, the riter tackles the issue in detail; also, with evidence from the hadiths related from the Infalliables, he stresses on accepting the totality of the case. However, he tries to clear the ground so as to reject some later superstitions created around the theme. Noteworthy is his remarks concerning the role of saying prayer and paying alms in making Inauspicious removed and invalid. Finally, the case of auspicious and inauspicious of heavenly bodies is considered. With references to hadiths, he rejects the practice of those who anticipate things on astrological bases.

Key Words

Auspicious,Inauspicious,Taqwim al-Muhsinin



Body

introduction

One of the most important issues that has been of interest to various nations and communities and more or less believed in by people is the "good luck and bad luck of times", to the extend that some considered certain days, months, weeks, or times of the day as "auspicious and blessed" and others as "inauspicious and ill-fated". This caused people to follow such actions as supplications, worships, interchange of visits, marriage and the like on the blessed days, and to avoid doing certain things at the ill-fated times.

Some instances of such beliefs are also noticed among the Muslims and among us Iranians. Belief in the blessedness of ‘Īd al-Mab‘ath, ‘Īd al-Fiṭr, ‘Īd al-Aḍhā, and Friday and the inauspiciousness of the Day of ‘Āshūra among the Muslims; and similarly, belief in the blessedness and good luck of Nawrūz and the bad luck and ominousness of the thirteenth of Farvardīn amidst many of the Iranians – left over by the Zoroastrian rituals and customs – are among the examples of this issue.

A brief study of this issue, which is sometimes opposed by some who regard the auspiciousness or inauspiciousness of certain days as superstitious, baseless, and valueless and some others who view it as considerable and noteworthy, is among important issues that creates spiritual and social impacts.

This study can be regarded as a deliberative glance at a "social phenomenon" – which is related to the beliefs and behaviors of a large group of people – that can clarify the extent of its validity or baselessness as well as its true or untrue interpretation.

Ill-fatedness in the Qur'an

In the Holy Qur'an, the term "ill-fatedness" has been used in two instances:

First, when the people of ‘Ād became rebellious and arrogant and Divine punishment was sent down upon them:

﴾So We unleashed upon them an icy gale during ill-fated days, that We might make them taste the punishment of disgrace in the life of the world. Yet the punishment of the hereafter is surely more disgraceful, and they will not be helped.﴿[1]

Second, when the people of ‘Ād impugned their Prophet, Hūd (A.S.) and were seized by Divine punishment:

﴾Indeed We unleashed upon them an icy gale on an incessantly ill-fated day.﴿[2]

The "ill-fated days" has been interpreted as inauspicious and ominous days.[3] Some have also rendered it to mean as the windy and dusty days in which people do not see each other and have referred to āyah 24 of Sūrat al-Aḥqāf as confirming this meaning.[4]

When the people of ‘Ād turned down the Prophet Hūd (A.S.)'s invitation to abandon idolatry and to accept Monotheism and ignored his threat as to the Divine punishment and impugned him, they witnessed a cloud over the rivers and presumed it was raining, unaware of the fact that it was Divine punishment being unleashed upon them. The Qur'an puts it this way:

﴾Rather it was what you sought to hasten: a hurricane carrying a painful punishment, destroying everything by it's Lord's command. So they became such that nothing could be seen except their dwellings.﴿[5]

Yet, others have translated the "ill-fated day" as the cold day.[6]

The first meaning is better known among the interpretations and more acceptable by the interpreters; however, when elucidated, various definitions have been given of the same meaning. It is related from some Tābi‘īn (successors to the Ṣaḥāba – the Prophet's companions) that ill-fated is the day that causes evil and auspicious is the day that causes good.[7]

The well-known Shī‘a interpreter, ‘Allāma Ṭabāṭabā’ī, says:

Ill-fatedness is when the events that come to pass ensue nothing but evil and the actions or part of the actions that someone does bring no benevolence or blessings to him or her.[8]

The Intrinsic Auspiciousness and Inauspiciousness of Times

One of the questions that arise in this respect is: "Does the auspiciousness or inauspiciousness of times mean the intrinsic efficacy of a particular time in ill-fatedness and bad luck? And, by the same token, does the intrinsic efficacy of other times have a scientific and logical basis in blessings and auspiciousness?

It goes without saying that the intellect is primarily unable to grasp and accept such a privilege for time and days – which are nothing but the by-products of the earth's rotation and transitional movement. From the viewpoint of intellect, there is no difference between Friday and Monday in terms of the earth's rotation – which causes the making of days and nights – as there is no difference, either, between the seasons and months of the year in terms of the earth's transitional movement. So it is not possible to present intellectual proof, by this meaning, for the auspiciousness or inauspiciousness of times.

The great philosopher and interpreter of the Qur'an, ‘Allāma Ṭabāṭabā’ī, believes that the quantitative nature of time possesses similar components and since we have no mastery over the reasons and causes that create events and actualize actions so as to regard the passage of a day or a piece of time as a cause for auspiciousness or ill-fatedness, therefore sufficient experience is of no avail in this field. For, as there is no way to prove the auspiciousness or inauspiciousness through demonstrative syllogism, there is no way to deny it, as well; although proving auspiciousness or inauspiciousness for times is improbable, and of course improbability is other than transmutation.[9]

Similarly, the martyred thinker Murtaḍā Mutahharī, while rejecting auspiciousness or inauspiciousness of a day since the beginning of creation as being good or evil, presented a logical and sound meaning of auspiciousness or inauspiciousness of times due to the lack of rational or textual evidence[10], which we will deal with further on.

The Auspiciousness and Inauspiciousness of Times by Virtue of the Good and Evil Incidents

If there is no way to prove the auspiciousness or inauspiciousness of times and this claim is lacking rational or textual evidence, or rather the intellectuals deem it as improbable, the what does the Qur'an mean by the "ill-fated days"? Is it possible to present a logical and acceptable meaning for it?

No doubt, attributing auspiciousness or inauspiciousness to days and nights is, like paying homage to the night of ordainment in the Qur'an: ﴾Indeed We sent it down on a blessed night﴿[11], has a logical and acceptable meaning.

The interpreters have regarded the attribution of ill-fatedness or blessedness by virtue of the incidents that have taken place at that particular time. The attribution of "ill-fatedness" to times in the story of the people of ‘Ād, is because of the Divine punishment that descended upon them over a week time period.[12] Likewise, the attribution of "blessedness" to the Night of Ordainment is by virtue of the revelation of the Qur'an in this night and probably due to other events, such as "the descent of the angels and the Spirit" or ordaining the destiny of human beings: ﴾In it the angels and the Spirit descend, by the leave of their Lord, with every command﴿.[13]

As such, the greatness of the Night of Ordainment, which is better than a thousand months: ﴾The Night of Ordainment is better than a thousand months﴿, is viewed by virtue of the practices and worships that the faithful perform in this night, rather than because of the innate superiority of this night's moments hours.[14]

In other words, in case the punishment had not descended on the people of ‘Ād, those days and nights were not likely to be regarded as ill-fated; as – according to the Qur'an – without such events as the occurrence of the Qur'an's Revelation and the ordainment of humans' destiny and the descent of angels to the perfect human being and the proof of God (Ḥujjat Allāh) in any era, this night would appear to be "blessed". Thus, essentially there is no difference between the times of the days in which punishment was descended upon the people of ‘Ād and those of the the4 Night of Ordainment, or at least no rational and scriptural reasons seem to support such difference.

The Auspiciousness and Inauspiciousness of Times According to Traditions

What seems to be more deliberative is the study of "the auspiciousness and inauspiciousness of times" as related in traditions that deal with the auspiciousness and inauspiciousness of times or that of the stars and celestial bodies and recommend taking certain actions on the blessed days and not taking certain actions on the ill-fated and ominous days. Subsumed under the heading Ikhtiyārāt al-Ayyām (Preferences of Times), these traditions have received the attention of traditionists and a group of ethicists and jurists. Tens of books and treatises have been written on this subject and according to the traditions available in ḥadīth sources, people are encouraged to perform certain actions on certain days and times and forbidden to perform certain other things on other days. We will take a brief look at only two works on this topic.

In a treatise entitled Taqwīm al-Muḥsinīn wa Aḥsan al-Taqwīm, Mullā Muḥsin Fayḍ Kāshānī while relating narrations which forbid people from trusting the prophecies of the astrologists, mentions some examples of those prophecies which have not come true. Then, he recounts the events taken place on some days according to the solar and lunar calendars and regards the auspiciousness and inauspiciousness of those days by virtue of the desirable or undesirable incidents and enumerates the proper or improper practices to be taken into consideration for those times. After that, he narrates the incidents that have taken place during the weekdays, such as Monday – which was the day of the Prophet (S.A.W.)'s demise and Revelation cessation – and Friday – which is the master of days. Then, he specifies the good and evil hours during the day and night and presents tables for traveling times, changing residence, starting a job, cutting cloth for making clothes, as well as tables for the time of sleeping, eating, and istikhāra (asking God for guidance); the table for the signs of zodiac and the proper or improper actions for each month and the right time for performing those actions. In the end, the writer relates some traditions explaining how to dispel the inauspiciousness of times. One of these traditions is given below as an example:

Imam Ṣādiq (A.S.) quotes the Prophet (S.A.W.) as saying:

The one who wants his day's inauspiciousness and bad omen dispelled, should start his day with giving alms, as God will remove the inauspiciousness of that day from him; and the one who likes his night's inauspiciousness and bad omen dispelled, should start his night with giving alms so as to fend off inauspiciousness from his night… [Then, Imam Ṣādiq (A.S.) said:] this is better for you than practicing astrology.[15]

At the end of his treatise, Fayḍ Kāshānī advises the readers and says:

O brother in faith! May it never happen that you underestimate and belittle the practicing of this traditions and the like of it, as they have originated from the rising place of Prophethood onto the horizon of Imamate and shined forth from the sanctuary of Divine Revelation. These traditions contain hidden in them secrets and subtleties that may not be understood except by the thinkers and those skillful in Divine verses and ordinances, none of which are devoid of wise reasons and discretion; as such, your ignorance of them would not rule out their fulfillment.[16]

‘Allāma Jamāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Khānsārī, also known as Āqā Jamāl Khānsārī, states in the preface to his treatise Ikhtiyār al-Ayyām:

May it not be hidden to the fact-revealing minds of the possessors of knowledge and the appreciative opinions of the insightful people who are acquainted with the secrets of the written ordinances of the nights and days and knowledgeable in the written ordinances of the months and years, that the Eternal All-Wise and the Uncreated All-Knower, by virtue of the expedience of the matured wisdom and the arraignment of the perennial favor, both advantaged and disadvantaged the individuals born in the book of time and the members of this eternal chain [of creation] with various titles and different qualities; some clothed with the garment of happiness and others the inauspicious signs of "Keep away!" laid on the way; to some the competency of all actions granted and to others alienation with all occupations registered; some are described as being competent in some affairs and others, contrary to the former, are well-known with having the same attribute.

Therefore, the needful on the Threshold of the Creator, Ibn Ḥusayn Jamāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Khānsārī, arranged this treatise on the auspiciousness and inauspiciousness, and the blessing and the ill-fatedness of the days of the week and month, and year in conformity with what have been compiled from the works and traditions of the purified Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.) in the books of our companions – may Allah be pleased with them – such as Li’ālī Manthūr, so that all mankind, both the elite and the public mar refer to it to avoid pursuing their critical tasks on the ill-fated days and ominous nights; rather undertake those tasks on the auspicious days and blessed times. In the end [of this treatise], some invocations and the like of them are given that if, by necessity, people pursued any of those tasks at the inauspicious times, they would be at ease and free-minded [from those times] with the blessing of those invocations.[17]

Then, he organized the treatise in three chapters and an epilogue as follows, respectively: "On Preferences of Time", "On Preference of Days of the Month", "On what is Related Concerning Certain Days of the Year", "On several Undertakings that Dispel the Inauspiciousness of Times".

Examples of Traditions

Before starting the discussion about the auspiciousness and inauspiciousness of times according to the traditions, we relate a sample of each category. The traditions which in terms of hadithology (ḥadīth study) are mostly regarded as mursal (incomplete in chain of transmitters) or marfū‘ (traceable), can not be well-documented for legal ordinances.

The First Tradition: The Inauspiciousness of Monday

Shaykh al-Ṣadūq relates from his father from Sa‘d b. ‘Abd Allāh from Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. ‘Īsā from Mūsā b. Qāsim Bajlī from ‘Alī b. Ja‘far who said someone went to his brother Mūsā b. Ja‘far (A.S.) and said: "May I be your ransom, I am setting out on a trip, pray for me." The Imam said: "When are you leaving?" "On Monday." He replied. The Prophet (S.A.W.) asked why on Monday? He said: "I seek good and blessing from this day, because the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) was born on Monday." The Imam said: "It is a lie, the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) was born on Friday and there is no more ominous day than the day that the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) departed from this world and the Divine Revelation was interrupted and we were afflicted with tyranny and oppression. Shall I introduce to you the day on which the God Almighty softened iron for the Prophet David?" "Yes, my I be your ransom!" the Imam (A.S.) said: "Leave on Tuesday."[18]

The Second Tradition: Alms Avert Inauspiciousness

In his Maḥāsin, ‘Abd Allāh b. Sulaymān has quoted Imam Ṣādiq (A.S.) as saying: "The one who gives alms when waking up in the morning, God would avert inauspiciousness of that day from him."[19]

The Third Tradition: Trusting in God and the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.) Secures one from Evils and Enmities

Sahl b. Ya‘qūb (Abū Nuwās) says one day he said to Imam Ḥasan ‘Askarī: "My master! I have heard reports from our Mawlā Imam Ṣādiq (S.A.) about preferences of times that Ḥasan b. ‘Abd Allāh b. Muṭahhar relates from Muḥammad b. Sulaymān Daylamī from his father from Imam Ṣādiq (A.S.) concerning each month of the year, shall I tell them to you?" the Imam said: "Tell them!". I told them to him and said: "On most of these days I fall short of my goals and tasks because of the inauspiciousness and troubles that they are said to incur. Give me guidance to release me from these troubles." His holiness replied: "O Suhayl! Our Shī‘as are secure in virtue of our wilāyat (devotion to us). If with such an investment they get stuck in turbulent seas and vast desert, or among the predating beasts and wolves, or enemies from among mankind and jinni, the will remain secure from dangers because of their love and devotion to us. So, trust in the Almighty Allah and be sincere in your friendship to the purified Imams (A.S.), then do whatever you intend to do and whenever you get up in the morning read this prayer three times." Then he instructed a prayer in full details to Suhayl.[20]

The Fourth Tradition: Opposition to Auguring Evil

Muḥammad b. Daqqāq says: I wrote a letter to Imam Riḍā (A.S.) and asked him about traveling on the last Wednesday of the (lunar) month. The holy Imam wrote back: "Contrary to what the people who augur evil imagine, whoever travels on the last Wednesday of the month, they will be secure from any calamity, illness, and trouble and God will fulfill his needs.[21]

As it was noticed, there are several categories of traditions on this issue:

A group of the traditions talk about the auspiciousness and inauspiciousness of the days of week and lunar and solar months mostly by virtue of the incidents occurring in these times; the happy incidents that are regarded as the sign of auspiciousness and blessing, and the sad events that are viewed as inauspicious and bad omen.

‘Allāma Ṭabāṭabā’ī has explained the secret of the ill-fatedness or blessedness of these times as follows:

Regarding these times as inauspicious and the necessity of avoiding the affairs which are undesirable to human nature and seeking to satisfy the needs whose fulfillment gives pleasure to human beings, are all for the sake of reinforcement of piety and strengthening religious spirit, so much as their negligence and trying to do whatever is in line with one's sensual and carnal desires is in some ways turning one's back to the truth, violating the sanctity of religion, and disrespecting the religious authorities. Then, what is meant by the inauspiciousness of these times is concerning spiritual aspects originated from unreal causes – somehow related to these times – and ignoring them is a kind of religious heartlessness.[22]

Another group of traditions have encouraged people to pay alms, to read the Qur'an, and pray for getting rid of the inauspiciousness of times and the possible undesirable impacts of certain days.

This group of traditions is regarded to be concerning what is known among the people as taṭayyur (auguring evil).

Such auguring evil used to affect people's spirits since it was common among them in the past to view as bad omen the sighting of a bird such as a raven or an animal like a wolf and knew it as a sign for a mishap in trips.[23] Thus, in order to relieve people from and make them peaceful upon facing such issues, they have prompted them to turn to such acts as giving alms and the like instead of forbidding them from following their routine and daily activities, so that if – according to people – there are undesirable outcomes from such auguring, they would be neutralized and the people may peacefully pursue their daily life; as, otherwise, auguring evils would paralyze people's life.

That if you sneeze, you should avoid doing what you are planning to do, or if you see a sayyid when leaving for a trip you will not return from that trip, so you should change your mind about that trip, are most often baseless and taking them seriously would disturb one's life. Besides, it not implied in any of the traditions that our religious leaders paid any attention to such affairs; rather, on the contrary, they have released people from the possible effects of these superstitions and incorrect conventions.[24]

It is obvious that, due to their religious beliefs, people get rid of the mental effects of the (so called) inauspiciousness of times and auguring evils – which have become common in society – by paying alms, reading the Qur'an, praying, or fasting, and achieve peace of mind. However, it is unlikely to be able to dispel the bad omen of the last Wednesday of the year – as believed by some people – by jumping over fire or defuse the ill-fatedness of the thirteenth of Farvardin (the first month of the Iranian solar year) by tying grass blades!

Experience has shown that sometimes taking these very actions will cause plights and calamities for their perpetrators as well as other people. There have been many people who have gotten into grievous accidents by doing such things as playing with and jumping over play on the last Wednesday of the year and going to the countryside and tying grass blades on the thirteenth of Farvardin, and so many people who avoid these and stay secure from the hazards and spend a good and blissful day. It goes without saying that many Iranian Muslims who follow some of these customs it is not because they believe in the ill-fatedness of these days so that by doing those actions they would dispel the inauspiciousness of those days; rather, they have simply turned to entertainment and pastime for them with no belief behind it.

Some of the traditions that are likely to be credible in their chains of transmission have been taken to be prudential concealments (taqiyya)[25]; since such beliefs had been common among the Arab tribes, as among other nations, and the religious leaders sometimes got into situations that they had to speak the language of the folk.

Drawing a Conclusion about the Traditions

‘Allāma Ṭabāṭabā’ī sums up the traditions in this respect as follows:

In short, such great number of traditions does not signify beyond the fact that the auspiciousness and inauspiciousness of times are based on incidents that are somehow related to religion and cause good or evil in terms of religious intuitiveness or impact on souls and minds. However, characterizing a day or part of a day as happy and blessed, or inauspicious and bed omen and attributing it to the creational properties resulting from the natural causes of creation is not true, and the traditions that are apparently containing this meaning should either be taken as taqiyya or simply regarded as untrustworthy.[26]

Ustād Shahīd Murtaḍā Muṭahharī has likened the auspiciousness and inauspiciousness of times in relation to the pleasant and unpleasant events occurring in them to the relation between the words and their meanings. That is, as some obscene words acquire their obscenity from their meanings and some other words (like Allah) acquire their sacredness from their meaning, so also the auspiciousness and inauspiciousness of times are taken by virtue of the events that has occurred in them, and the religious recommendations in those times ought to be regarded as reasons for the occurring of those events, as well.[27]

He has not said anything about the sanad of the traditions and has proceeded to explain their content presuming the authenticity of these traditions and the existence of such contents in ḥadīth collections.

One of the respected scholars has pointed out useful points in this respect:

Firstly, all the traditions on this issue are mursal (incomplete in chain of transmitters), to the extent that they have not been related in any of the credible ḥadīth book, and are not even as credible as āḥād traditions (those given by a single narrator).

Secondly, it has not been noticed in the sīra of the infallible Imams (A.S.) that they had ever acted upon such affairs as the auspiciousness and inauspiciousness of times and the recommendations given in these traditions, especially the practices recommended to be followed on the days of solar calendar – that are common among Iranians. Nevertheless, if such duties were assumed for people, as a rule, they should have been transmitted as traditions due to the strong motivations among people of all times.

Thirdly, the content of these traditions are somehow similar to the fabricated sayings of those ancient astrologists who had been dealing with astrological properties.

Fourthly, it is not unlikely that the fabrication of these narrations and issues had been motivated by such hidden political motives as reviving ethnic traditions and reinforcing Iranian governments, which is of course not hidden to those familiar with what is common among the domineering forces who rule over even the beliefs, thoughts, and sacred things and employ astrologists and oracles to this end.[28]

It should be said that these explanations are given under the discussion concerning the auspiciousness and inauspiciousness of the days of Arabic months in chapter 21 of the book Al-Samā’ wa al-‘Alam. The narrations in this chapter are mostly related from Makārim al-Akhlāq, Al-Durū‘ al-Wāqiya, Zawā’id al-Fawā’id, and Al-‘Adad al-Qamariya, none of which are regarded to be among the credible ḥadīth books.

Also, referring to the ḥadīth related by Mu‘allā b. Khunayyisfrom Imam Ṣādiq (A.S.) about Nawrūz (the Iranian New Years' Day), which is also mentioned by Fayḍ Kāshānī in his treatise, Some scholars have regarded these words – that are brought up by some of the companions of the Imams (A.S.) – to be due to the bonds and relations existing between then and the ancient Zoroastrians. Motivated to promote among the Arabs what had been normally common among the Iranians, these companions have attributed the words to one of the religious leaders so that they would be influential among the Muslims who would in turn follow them because they had been recommended by the Imams (A.S.).[29]

It is to be said that although due to the weakness of the transmitters of ḥadīth and the anonymity of some of them as well as the past record of such motivations among certain Muslims, such possibility is not unlikely; the evidences that the above writer presented for his claim are surreptitiously altered and unacceptable. Particularly, the ḥadīth that Mu‘allā b. Khunayyishas asked from Imam Ṣādiq (A.S.) about Nawrūz is indeed contradicted by another ḥadīth related by Imam Mūsā b. Ja‘far falsifying the feast of Nawrūz, hence none of these two traditions are not reliable in their chain of transmitters so as to be used as a source of issuing a legal ruling.

However, there are no trustworthy traditions in this respect and the recommended practices can not be taken as obligatory; rather, hoped to be permissible.

The Auspiciousness and Inauspiciousness of Heavenly Bodies

Another discourse set forth about the auspiciousness and inauspiciousness of times is the "auspiciousness and inauspiciousness of heavenly bodies". Astrologists regard some of the planets such as Mars as ill-fated and Jupiter as blessed and lucky, and as the sources of good or evil incidents on earth. Some of them have considered a relation to be between the planets and the earthly incidents; and with the belief in such incidents, the seers would foretell future events and gave certain advice for doing or avoiding some practices. Khāwja Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsī is quoted as saying:

There are phases for the moon in its course of movements and for each phase there exists a statement that is regarded as the cause for events and incidents that occur on the earth; and it is from such different phases of the moon that the astrologists would judge as to what should be right and preferred to do at that time and what would be evil to do and better to be avoided.

Whenever it is destined by the Eternal God

That moon lie in the sun's house, namely Aries

It would be good both to travel and see the face of Amīr,

To wear silk clothes, and hunt games by arrow.[30]

Indian astrologers viewed the earthly incidents as related to the heavenly conditions. Some knew this relation to be between the stars and planets with incidents on the earth, and some considered the earthly incidents to be related only to the planets (aḥkām al-nujūm = rules of astrology) believing that any change in the conditions and positions of the planets would bring about certain effects.[31]

Although the relation between the heavenly bodies and the earthly incidents can not be wholly denied, there are no rational or scriptural reasons for the auspiciousness or inauspiciousness of the heavenly bodies. Of course, if someone maintains an independent effect for their relation – as the Sabians do –, it is undoubtedly rejected by virtue of monotheistic principles.

It is related in a ḥadīth that someone complained about the ill-fatedness of a day when grievous incidents befell him, and Imam Hādī (A.S.) called his a sinner for uttering such words and notified him to repent for that and said:

"Do you not know that Allah is the Reward Giver, the Punisher, and the Judge for man's actions? Do not regard the times as having a role in the happening of incidents and the world of creation."[32]

Although the ḥadīth is about the inauspiciousness of times, it is tantamount to the saying about the inauspiciousness of heavenly bodies in its lack of rational and scriptural reasons. As a particular time by itself can not be the origin of a good or evil incident, the planets too can not by themselves create such impacts.

‘Allāma Majlisī has taken this ḥadīth as evidence to the notion that the constellation movements and time have no interference in the incidents; and, at the same time, does not regard it as incompatible with some of the legal commands as to the abandoning of some affairs on certain days.[33]

Of course, if the religious source of doing certain practices that are recommended on some days is proved to be true and enjoys clear and trustable evidence, no devoted scholar or jurist would hesitate to strive accordingly; although in regard to the sunan (rules of conduct) and mustaḥabbāt (preferable religious acts), many Muslim scholars have allowed negligence and deemed it unnecessary to accurately scrutinize the chains of transmission and content of such traditions on the basis of "negligence in the evidences of sunan". Many of the authors of Ikhtiyārāt al-Ayyām seem to have attempted to write such treatises in view to such a basis, and of course most of them are from among the traditionists rather than jurists.

Condemning Astrological Judgments

When leaving Kūfa for the battle of Nahrawān, Amīr al-Mu’minīn ‘Alī (A.S.) strongly condemned the person who would foretell the future events according to the astrological judgments, predicting that this battle would end up in the defeat of the Imam's army, and told him:

Do you imagine that you can tell an hour at which if one travels, mishaps and disasters will get away from him and beware them of the hour when anyone sets out for a trip, trouble and hardship will accrue? Whoever testifies to this is certainly falsifying the Qur'an and doing away with asking for God's Assistance in achieving their desired objective and warding off the undesirable. What is implied from your words is that whoever listens to you and acts on what you say, should praise you rather than his Lord; since you allege that you have guided them through a time that would benefit them and secure them from harm. [Then he faced toward the people and said:] O people! Beware of learning astrology [science of stars], unless to an extent that is needed to guide you on land or sea; because learning astrology would lead to divining, and the astrologer is a diviner, and a diviner is like a sorcerer, and a sorcerer is like an unbeliever, and the believer would be in the Hellfire. Go on travel in the name of Allah.[34]

Accidentally, Alī (A.S.)'s army won a remarkable victory in that battle and the foretelling of that person was practically nullified.

Similarly, Imam Ṣādiq (A.S.) ordered the person who lived his life in foretelling to burn all his books.[35]

Thus, ‘Alī (A.S.) has deemed learning of astrology as necessary and prescribed it to the extent that would help man in land and sea journeys; but, he has forbidden more that this amount that regards the planetary movements and the interaction of the heavenly bodies as the source of earthly incidents and independent in their impressions leading to foretelling and predicting future events.

Shaykh Muḥammad ‘Abdu, the commentator of Nahj al-Balāgha has presumed astrology to be of two categories according to Imam ‘Alī (A.S.)'s statement: the first is ‘ilm al-hay’a which is known today as astronomy and the Imam has permitted, and the second which has been forbidden by the Imam is ‘ilm al-tanjīm (astrology; the science of fortune-telling), namely, the astrological judgments and foretelling based on the movements of heavenly bodies.[36]

Some of the Sunnī scholars have considered astrology to be the miracle of certain Prophets[37] and attributed it to the Prophet Abraham (A.S.) who, when people were leaving the town, foretold the future with a look at the stars and told of his own illness: ﴾Then he made an observation of the stars [threw a look at the stars] and said, "Indeed I am sick!"﴿[38]; but, over time this science turned obsolete and the true and false mingled with it. As to the meaning of this verse, the interpreters have set forth various probabilities; some of the Sunnī interpreters have counted up to eight probabilities.[39] However, most of them have not regarded Abraham (A.S.)'s throwing a look at the stars like that of the astrologers for accessing to astrological judgments, since such a glance at the stars is false and depraved.[40]

This idea is also noted in some interpretations that "throwing a look at stars" in order to access to astrological judgments and foretelling future events has been common among the Abraham (A.S.)'s people, who were shepherds and farmers and requires to be informed of the future [climatic] events. When Abraham looked at the stars, they presumed that his looking was like their looking. Therefore, when he said he was sick, they left him and went away.[41]

In any case, what people have been forbidden to pursue in astrology is, first, believing in the heavenly bodies' independent impacts on earthly events, as it is incompatible with monotheism principle; and second, attesting to passing astrological judgments by the astrologers, for these judgments are made by believing those bodies' independent impacts and through neglecting Divine Will, which is totally based on their ignorance.

Imam Ṣādiq is quoted as relating from the Prophet (S.A.W.): "Whoever believes in astrology is certainly disbelieving (in God)." This ḥadīth, which considers belief in astrology as kufr, is taken as belief in their [heavenly bodies'] independent effects and negligence of the role of the Causer of causes Who has created them, subjugated them, and caused them to be the arrangers of the affairs (al-mudabbirāt-i amr).



[1] Al-Qur'an, 41: 16.

[2] Al-Qur'an, 54: 19.

[3] ‘Alī b. Ibrāhīm Qumī, Tafsīr-i Qumī, vol. 2, p. 267.

[4] See: Muḥammad Ḥusayn Ṭabāṭabā’ī, Al-Mīzān, vol. 17, 267.

[5] Al-Qur'an, 46: 24.

[6] See: Amīn al-Islām Ṭabarsī, Majma‘ al-Bayān, vol.5, p. 8.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Al-Mīzān, vol. 19, p. 71.

[9] Ibid, p. 72 (abridged).

[10] Āshnā’ī bā Qur'an, vol. 5, p. 237.

[11] Al-Qur'an, 44: 3.

[12] Al-Qur'an, 69: 7: ﴾…which He disposed against them for seven grueling nights and eight days…﴿.

[13] Al-Qur'an, 97: 3.

[14] Al-Nīzān, vol. 20, p. 332; Majma‘ al-Bayān, vol. 5, p. 520.

[15] Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 47, p. 52 (quoted from Uṣūl al-Kāfī).

[16] Taqwīm al-Muḥsinīn wa Aḥsan al-Taqwīm, p. 68.

[17] Āqā Jamāl Khānsārī, Rasā’il (Ikhtiyārāt al-Ayyām), p.312.

[18] Shaykh al-Ṣadūq, Al-Khiṣāl, p. 442, ‘Ilmiyya Islāmiyya [Publications].

[19] Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 56, p. 31.

[20] Ibid, pp. 24-25.

[21] Al-Khiṣāl, p. 444.

[22] Al-Mīzān, vol. 19, p.72.

[23] Ḥurr ‘Āmilī, Wasā’il al-Shī‘a, Āl al-Bayt, vol. 11, p. 9 (quoted from Al-Khiṣāl).

[24] See: Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 56, p. 23.

[25] Al-Mīzān, vol.19, p.74.

[26] Ibid, pp. 74-75.

[27] Āshnā’ī bā Qur'ān, vol. 5, pp. 239-240.

[28] Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 56, p. 90 (the marginal notes of Muḥammad Taqī Miṣbāḥ Yazdī).

[29] Muḥammad Mu‘īn, Majmū‘a-yi Anjuman dar Īrānshināsī (Association of Iranology Collection) No. 1, pp.68-69 (Rūzshumārī dar Īrān-i Bāstān wa Āthār ān dar Adabiyyāt Fārsī – Chronology Recording in Ancient Iran and its Effects on Persian Literature).

[30] Muḥammad Taqī Mudarris Raḍawī, Aḥwāl wa Āthār-i Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsī, pp. 566-567.

[31] Almīzān, vol. 19, p. 75.

[32] Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 56, p. 2 (quoted from Uṣūl al-Kāfī).

[33] Ibid, p.3.

[34] Nahj al-Balāgha, sermon 78.

[35] Wasā’il al-Shī‘a, vol. 11, p. 370.

[36] Nahj al-Balāgha (commented by Shaykh Muḥammad ‘Abdu), p. 128.

[37] See: Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 56, p. 30 (Imam Muḥammad Ghazālī‘s view); Tafsīr Qurṭabī, vol. 15, p. 92 (Ibn ‘Abbās's view).

[38] Al-Qur'an, 37: 88-89.

[39] Fakhr al-Dīn Rāzī, Tafsīr Kabīr, vol.26, p. 147.

[40] Shaykh Ṭūsī, Al-Tibyān, vol. 8, p. 509; Tafsīr Kabīr, vol. 26, p. 92.

[41] Qurṭabī, Al-Jāmi‘ al-Aḥkām al-Qur'an, vol. 15, p. 92.


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