Mystical fascination with the unseen and unknown
May 06, 2011
Interest in the supernatural is no new thing. From time immemorial people have desired to receive special or esoteric information from beyond or to look into the future. They have sought after supernatural visions and the help of prophets, mystics, seers and magicians; they have studied the stars and the moon; and they have used drugs; from which they hoped to gaze into tomorrow.
People have been fascinated, awed and fearful at the unknown and mystical, being heedless of the dangers and harm that they inflict. Since ancient times, people have tried to foretell the future through different means. Ancient Egyptians had their seers, mystics or magicians, the Babylonians their astrologers, and the Assyrians their visionary dream manuals. Today we have a corresponding situation — fortune-tellers and mystic seers are on the increase; charm bracelets are growing in popularity, newspapers and magazines carry "Daily Horoscope” columns and hypnotism is being accepted by the general public as a medical practice.
People undoubtedly draw perceived benefit from having their fortunes told. They want a quick fix to a problem they are having. They are hurting. They are vulnerable. They tend to be naïve and easily duped. They may be emotionally or psychologically incapable to see the root issues or deal with them. Or, they may be mentally lazy or depressed. They may simply be searching and a fortuneteller or psychic is an easy way to find answers. Fortune-tellers use various methods and mediums from which they claim to extract their information. Among them are reading tea-leaves, drawing lines, writing numbers, palm-reading, casting horoscopes, crystal ball gazing, rattling bones, throwing sticks, etc. Typical topics that fortune-tellers make predictions on include future romantic, financial, and childbearing prospects. On a more sinister aspect, people go to fortunetellers to find ways to gain advantage over others, to succeed over others, to coerce others and to control others.
The practitioners of occult arts have no real knowledge or secrets but depend on telling their customers about general incidences which happen to most people. They often go through a series of meaningless rituals, and then make calculatedly general guesses. Some of their guesses, due to their generality, usually come true. Most people tend to remember the few predictions that come true and quickly forget the many which do not. This tendency is a result of the fact that after some time all the predictions tend to become half-forgotten thoughts in the subconscious until something happens to trigger their recall.
Islam has taken a very strong stance on fortune telling because of the sacrilege and heresy involved. Islam opposes any form of association with those who practice fortune-telling, except to advise them to give up their forbidden practices.
The Prophet (PBUH) laid down principles, which clearly forbade any form of visitation of fortune-tellers. Safiyyah (RA) reported from wife of the Prophet (PBUH), Hafsah (RA) that the Prophet (PBUH) said, "The Salaah of whoever approaches a fortune-teller and asks him about anything will not be accepted for 40 days and nights."(Muslim)
Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips in his book “The Fundamentals of Tawheed” notes that the punishment in this Hadeeth is for simply approaching a fortune-teller and asking him questions out of curiosity. An individual that approaches a fortune-teller is still obliged to make his compulsory Salaah throughout the 40 day period even though he gets no reward from his prayers.
Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, who was born in Jamaica and raised in Canada, accepted Islam in 1972, writes: The Islamic ruling with regard to anyone who visits a fortune-teller believing that he knows the unseen and the future is that of Kufr (disbelief). Abu Hurayrah and al-Hasan (RA) both reported from the Prophet (Pbuh) that he said, "Whosoever approaches a fortune-teller and believes what he says, has disbelieved in what was revealed to Muhammad.” (Ahmad, Abu Daawood).
Such a belief assigns to creation some of Allaah's attributes with regard to the knowledge of the unseen and the future. Consequently, it destroys Tawheed alAsmaa was-Sifaat, and represents a form of Shirk in this aspect of Tawheed. The ruling of Kufr includes, by analogy (Qiyaas), those who read the books and writings of fortune-tellers, listen to them on the radio or watch them on the TV, as, these are the most common means used by 20th century fortune-tellers to spread their predictions.
Allaah clearly states in al-Qur'an that no one knows the unseen besides Him. Not even the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Allaah said: “With Him are the keys to the unseen and none knows it except Him alone." (Soorah al-An’aam 6:59)
Then He told the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), "Say! I have no power to bring good to myself nor avert harm but it is only as Allah wills. If it were that I knew the unseen, I would have multiplied the good and no evil would have touched me." (Soorah al-A’raaf 7:188)
And He also said: "Say! None in the heavens nor the earth knows the 'unseen except Allah'." (Soorah al-Nahl 27:65)
“Belief in astrology and the casting of the horoscopes are in clear opposition to the letter and spirit of Islam,” writes Dr Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips. He further writes, “The ignorant believes that if they know what is in store for them tomorrow, they can prepare from today. In that way they may avoid the bad and ensure the good.” Dr Bilal Philips completed a diploma in Arabic and a B.A. from the College of Islamic Disciplines (Usool ad-Deen) at the Islamic University of Madeenah in 1979. At the University of Riyadh, College of Education, he completed a M.A. in Islamic Theology in 1985, and in the department of Islamic Studies at the University of Wales, he completed a Ph.D. in Islamic Theology in 1994.
As regards the use of charms, Dr Philips, who is presently a lecturer of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the American University in Dubai and Ajman University in Ajman, UAE, states that faith in charms, amulets and talismans contradicts true belief in Allaah’s Ruboobeeyah (Lordship) by attributing to created objects the power to avert evil and bring good fortune.
“In fact, they consider the charms to be more powerful than Allaah, because the charms are thought to be able to prevent misfortune which Allaah has destined. Therefore, the belief in charms is an obvious form of Shirk, “says Dr Philips.
The Prophet (PBUH) emphasized the seriousness of wearing amulets by evoking Allaah’s curse on those who do so. Uqbah ibn Aamir (RA) reported that the Prophet (PBUH) once said: “May Allaah cause failure and unrest to whoever wears a talisman or puts it on others.” (Ahmad, Al-Jaakim)
According to Dr Bilal Philips, “The use of a variety of charms is widespread in Western society today in spite of its technological advancements and its scientific achievements. Many talismans have become so interwoven in everyday life that few people stop to think about them, yet when their origins are exposed, the Shirk which lies at their base become quite obvious.”
According to Hadith, Uqbah ibn Aamir (RA) reported that when a group of ten men came to the Prophet (PBUH), he only accepted the oath of allegiance from nine. They asked, “Oh Messenger of Allaah, why did you take the covenant from nine of us and refuse this man?” The Prophet (PBUH) answered, “Verily he has a talisman on him.” The man the put his hand in his clock, pulled out the talisman and broke it. When the Prophet (PBUH) finished taking the oath from him, he turned and said, “Whoever wears a talisman has committed Shirk!”. (Tirimidhi, Ahmad)
Going to soothsayers and believing what they say harm faith because most of their sayings are due to being untruth. If a person believes in soothsayers and prepares his future according to what he hears, either he will believe untruth dreams and useless expectations or will be in hopeless and pessimism. This situation will damage his spiritual life even his family life.
True Muslims are therefore obliged to stay far away from these areas. Thus, rings, chains, etc., which have the signs of the zodiac on them should not be worn, even if one does not believe in them. They are part and parcel of a fabricated system which propagates kufr and should be done away with entirely. No believing Muslim should attempt to guess his sign. Nor should he or she read horoscope columns in newspaper or listen to them read. And, any Muslim who allows astrological predictions to determine his actions, should seek Allaah's forgiveness.