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Islam and Science (23 Mar 2020 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Astronomy and Astrology Were a Big Part of Islam's Golden Age

By Razan Mneimneh


Thousands of Twitter accounts, hundreds of apps, and countless millennial conversations on the topic. If astrology came to mind after reading that first sentence, then you guessed right. The pseudoscience - that makes predictions and assumptions about human and terrestrial events by studying the movements and relative positions of celestial objects - has got some millennials in a state of obsession.


Celestial map, signs of the Zodiac and lunar mansions in the Zubdat-al Tawarikh, dedicated to the Ottoman Sultan Murad III in 1583 Source: Wikipedia


But while some people may think the study of orbiting moons to tell you everything you need to know about your crush is a modern age phenomenon, you'd be surprised to know it goes a long way back.

In fact, there is a general consensus that both astronomy and astrology arose in the Middle East and later spread to ancient Greeks and Romans. The two fields are, in fact, inter-related as astronomy studies the positions, motions, and properties of celestial objects while astrology delves more into how these movements affect people and events on our dear planet.

Both fields have been of much importance to the Muslim world. For starters, while Europe was in an intellectual coma due to the suppression of secular education by the church during the 13th century, the Islamic empire was entering its own Golden Age, relying upon knowledge of the constellations to make timely calculations for prayers and fasting. Medieval Muslims had to study celestial bodies to make accurate guesses of the direction of the Kaaba (which Muslims face while praying) and predictions on when Ramadan would arrive.

Perhaps one of the most prominent names in the study of the universe is Ibn Yunus, an Egyptian astronomer who found mistakes in his predecessors' calculations about the movement of planets. He discovered that the Earth wobbles one degree every 70 years, and later used that math to conclude that Earth was indeed not the center of the universe, revolutionizing the science of astronomy forever. As time went on, other Islamic scholars advanced Ibn Yunus' work and built upon it to develop theories in trigonometry and algebra.

Muslims may be surprised to find out that astronomical observatories were built in Iraq very early on and were used to study the movement of the stars and neighboring orbiting planets. Subsequent models were later built in Iraq and Iran, way before the telescope was even invented.

Enter Ibn Al-Haytham, who way down on the timeline in the 16th century became a world-famous astronomer for cracking the code about how humans perceive light. You might remember him as the father of optics because he was the one to figure out that light doesn't travel in a straight line out of our eyes.

Does the name camera obscura ring a bell? It's a scientific experiment developed by non-other than Al-Haytham under which light-sensitive materials where placed in the opening of a simple box to reveal a projected reversed and inverted image. Not only did his work later aid in the development of the telescope but he also coined the term "scientific method" to refer to the use of experiments to test a theory.

And honestly, one cannot talk about Muslims and astrology without mentioning the Ottomans. Astrologers were deeply rooted in Ottoman society during the rule of Sultan Mehmet Al-Fatih, or Mehmet the Conqueror, who conquered Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) and brought an end to the long-reining Byzantine Empire when he was just 21 years old.

It is said that during his reign, mathematics, astronomy, and astrology reached their peak, as he would regularly invite and assemble scholars from all over the world to discuss these issues and advance their studies.

Over most of the six centuries of Ottoman rule, both astrology and astronomy were combined into a highly respected discipline; there was even a chief astronomer instituted at the Ottoman court in the mid-15th century who combined astronomical observations for purposes such as drawing up annual calendars and astrological functions. (This role is no longer existent.)

During the Ottoman empire, astrologers played a big role in mosques to determine the times of the five daily prayers. And just like any field, the study of astrology became an intricate one that called for proper education. And without universities, the advancement in the field wouldn't have been possible. All credit goes to one Muslim woman.

In 859, Fatima al-Fihri established the University of Al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco, which is not only the longest-standing university but also the oldest existing educational institution in the world. Al-Qarawiyyin grew to become one of the leading spiritual and educational centers in the Muslim world, attracting scholars and students from various religions and locations. The university expanded its course offerings to include educational subjects apart from religious teachings including astrology, math, and physics.

Thousands of pages can be written on the impact Muslims had had on the study and advancement of both astronomy and astrology, but unfortunately today, the same exhilaration is nowhere to be found.

Most Muslim scholars today make a clear distinction between astronomy and astrology, considering the former lawful for being used in the direction of prayer and the sighting of lunar months. Astrology, on the other hand, is believed to be based on illusions and considered haram (unlawful) for predicting the unknown, which only Allah (God) knows.

No matter what your personal beliefs on astronomy and astrology are, it's safe to say knowing a brief of Islamic history is enchanting at the very least.

Original Headline: Sorry millennials, but Muslims' fascination with astrology goes way back

Source: The Steep Feed

URL:  https://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-science/razan-mneimneh/astronomy-and-astrology-were-a-big-part-of-islam-s-golden-age/d/121382


  • Stone throwing incidents were staged by sanghi bhakts who have become experts in doing things in order to incriminate Muslims.

    News about the BJP buying MLAs were in newspapers. Everyone knows that BJP buys MLAs, thus overturning the will of the people.

    The Shaheen Bagh protest was praised the world over (there were several articles on it in the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Guardian) and were praised and supported by many well-known Hindus in ndia. Only Hindutva hate merchants try to malign those protesters.

    Regarding your hatefulness, you do need to do a lot of introspection. Akso consider consulting a psychologist. Take good care of your health.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 3/31/2020 11:41:05 PM

  • Gulam Mohyuddin lies are spread by this website and you by Blocking the Public Route, and throwing stone on police was used by your Muslim brothers, Delhi has place called Ram Leela Maidan for official protest.
    Haven't you seen your hate monger brother Arshad says lies like Govement was buying MLA's. BJP has come in power wit overwhelming Majority, so what all Hindus will became Shangis and RSS.
    Same on you there genuine concerns of Hindus that has nothing to do with RSS.
    When people like you call Kashmir Mess and never say single world about Kashmiri Hindu exodus was result of Muslim Hate speech in Kashmir valley openly and rest Indian Muslims were observing silently in India in 1990 not single protest come out from Muslims.
    Muslims are facing their karma, if Indian Muslims all over had come in India in protest against Kashmiri Hindus BJP would have not come into existence, no Hindu cars about Ram temple they care about their own existence, because so called fake decisive and hypocritical Indian Muslims are shun on major Issue.
    Haven't you seen outcry of Rohingya on this website but you will some wishper about Kashmiri Hindus.
    So keep lying Mr Gulam Moyuddin, I will keep saying on this website unless Sultan Shahin stops to publish my comment, because lots of naive Hindus come here who do not even understand how Hindus are onslaught systtamaticlly and moderate Muslims will so there crocodile tears.
    By Aayina - 3/31/2020 4:36:51 PM

  • Ayina,  Your hate mail is usually full of lies and ignorance so the question of rebuttal does not arise. For example it is generally agreed that the CAA protests were very peaceful in spite of attempts by some BJP ruffians to provoke violence.
    Hindus and other non-Muslims are not hatemongers; Sanghis are hatemongers.
    Shaheen Bagh protests were not designed to hurt anybody. There were several alternative routes to bypass those protests but the BJP propagandists wanted nothing more than spreading dirt.
    Why do you lie so much? And how come you are so uninformed? Aren't you ashamed to spew hurt in a forum where most people would like to have productive discussions in a friendly fashion? If you have to spread hate, go to a Sanghi or Hindutva website. You will be more at home there.
    This will be my last comment in this thread.
    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 3/31/2020 12:08:04 AM

  • Gulam Mohyuddin you cannot rebuttal my comments so either you will keep on saying you hate or foolish.
    Either you hate us Hindus or you are foolish. But as Hindus we know even if you count you Muslims foolish, they have weapons from stone to gun, haven't you seen in CAA protest how stones were use to kill police who are there to protect their protest if it is done in peaceful manner.
    Same on you guys try to twist your writing and accusing non-Muslim as hate person or hate group, rather than Introsepect that words and action match.
    Keep delving yourself professional deceiver.
    Have'nt you seen the Mr Arshad Article on Shaheen bag showing how peaceful it was, but has never condemn the right of others were violated, Delhi has specific place for protest call Ram Leela Maden, Hindus are not that fool now why that was protest was carried on  commuter road, because Shaheen bag was situated near to Muslim residence and was meant to hurt Hindus who work hard to earn money and run their house.
    Same on Arshad who is not ready to write in violation of other right by blocking the road.
    That how all you Muslims are liar and called yourself that you Muslim of India,  like to live in secular India, one day I am sure even other Muslim world will not like you as Pakistanis as disliked same will be for Indian Muslims. Just twist the words and lie and deceive.
    By Aayina - 3/30/2020 1:58:58 PM

  • True that Aayina's comments are hateful, but they are even more daft than hateful.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 3/29/2020 11:02:40 PM

  • Gulshanin you read this 
    The Auther has not credited Hindus for knowledge taken( actually stealing) from Indian but Rather glorifying only Islam, and one sick Muslims is condemning that is is Haram.
    To be honest for Muslims everything is now haram sit in home.
    Here are thing Muslim should not do because.
    1) Astrology was started by Hindus who are kafir for you all development is because of that, this communication is due to satellite on the space 
    2)The real father of  Comupters was Gay.
    3)Many discoveries was done by women especially in regard to television.
    Many more thing in this down by us Kafir and Dhimmis so stop using that sit in your house, the biggest thing you can do is seduce kafir and Dhimmis girls and marry them and convert them all show them as your achievment.

    By Aayina - 3/29/2020 5:21:20 PM

  • In fact Astrology started by the Hindus and carried on by some Muslims who were away from Islam. True Muslims knew it was haram in Islam.
    By Gulshanin Ismail - 3/27/2020 9:24:11 PM

  • Those parts of Quran which are not factual should be give up faster than astrology.
    By SatishB - 3/24/2020 11:52:50 PM

    By AHMED HUSSAIN - 3/24/2020 7:24:03 AM

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