Astrological Musings

From the Kuwaiti Times:

Powerful clerics in Saudi Arabia have warned Arab media against publishing “forbidden” horoscopes, which are hugely popular despite a clerical ban. “This is astrology, which is forbidden and is considered as a form of magic,” a committee of senior Saudi clerics said in a statement published on state news agency SPA late on Saturday. “The committee reminds Muslims and journalists in particular that it is their obligation to take advice from God, His Prophet and the clergy,” it said, adding that all schools of Islamic law forbid such practices.

“Certain newspapers and magazines have adopted the practice of carrying articles on astrology with catchy headlines which trick those who are unaware that astrology, horoscopes and fortune-telling are forbidden,” said the statement. “Certain satellite television channels have also grown accustomed to broadcasting programmes on astrology and fortune-telling,” said the statement carried by Saudi dailies. “All such practices are forbidden as they are a form of magic … that claims to see the unseen world.”

In Saudi Arabia, clerics of a puritanical school of Islam known as Wahhabism oversee the strict application of their reading of Islamic Sharia law. But they are concerned about liberal trends spreading in the Gulf Arab country of 24 million. “Believing that a certain star can be the cause of happiness or misfortune is a superstition from the pre-Islamic age…,” the prominent clerics said. Saudi-owned newspapers based in London such as Asharq Al-Awsat and Al-Hayat have started publishing horoscopes in recent years and fortune tellers appear on Saudi-owned television stations based outside the kingdom.

Papers within the kingdom stick to the Wahhabi line. “Many Saudis don’t know their birth date on the Christian calendar so they don’t care about horoscopes, but the new generation is obsessed by them,” the editor of a popular Saudi daily told Reuters. He did not want to be identified. “It’s blatantly un-Islamic, we won’t do it,” he added.

Isn’t it ironic that during the Dark Ages in Europe when the Roman Church had stifled all learning, in the Arab states the study of astrology, astronomy and other sciences was blossoming. Beginning in the eighth century the Persians, Syrians and Babylonians oversaw a renaissance of scientific study. In today’s world religion threatens to overcome science once again.

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