Islam and fortune-telling
March 27 2020 03:24 AM
Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.

By Dr Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips
There are among mankind people who claim knowledge of the unseen and the future. They are known by various names, among which are: fortune-tellers, soothsayers, foreseers, augurs, magicians, prognosticators, oracles, astrologers, palmists, etc. Fortune-tellers use various methods and mediums from which they claim to extract their information, among which are: reading tea-leaves, drawing lines, writing numbers, palm-reading, casting horoscopes, crystal ball gazing, rattling bones, throwing sticks, etc. Practitioners of occult arts, who claim to reveal the unseen and predict the future, can be divided into two main categories:
1.    Those who 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 calculated general guesses. Some of their guesses, due to their generality, may 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. For example, it has become common practice in North America to publish, at the beginning of each year, the various predictions of famous fortune-tellers. When a survey was taken of the various predictions for the year 1980CE, it was found that the most accurate fortune-teller among them was only 24% accurate in her predictions!
2.    The second group are those who have made contact with the Jinn. This group is of most importance because it usually involves the grave sin of Shirk (associating others with Allah), and those involved often tend to be fairly accurate in their information and thus present a real Fitnah (trial and temptation) for both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Not only is the practice of astrology Haraam (forbidden by Islamic Law), but so are visiting an astrologist and listening to his predictions, buying books on astrology and reading one’s horoscope. Since astrology is mainly used for predicting the future, those who practice it are considered fortune-tellers. Consequently, one who seeks his horoscope comes under the ruling contained in the Prophet’s statement: “The daily prayers of whoever approaches a fortune-teller and asks him about anything will not be accepted for forty days and nights.” [Muslim] 
The punishment in this Hadith is simply for approaching and asking the astrologist, even if one is in doubt about the truth of his statements. When one is in doubt about the truth or falsehood of astrological information, this entails that he is in doubt about whether or not others know the unseen and the future besides Allah. This is a form of Shirk, because Allah has clearly stated (what means): “And with Him [i.e., Allah] are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except Him.” [Qur’an 6:59] As well as (what means): “Say (O Muhammad): ‘None in the heavens and earth knows the unseen except Allah…’” [Qur’an: 27:65]
If, however, one believes in the predictions of their horoscopes, whether spoken by an astrologist or written in books of astrology, he falls directly into Kufr (disbelief) as stated by the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention): “Whoever approaches an oracle or fortune-teller and believes in what he says, has disbelieved in what was revealed to Muhammad.” [Ahmad & Abu Daawood]   
Like the previous narration, this one literally refers to the fortune-teller and it is just as applicable to the astrologist. Both claim knowledge of the future. The astrologist’s claim is just as opposed to Tawheed (Islamic Monotheism) as the ordinary fortune-teller. He claims that people’s personalities are determined by the stars, and their future actions and the events of their lives are written in the stars. The ordinary fortune-teller claims that the formation of tea leaves at the bottom of a cup, or lines in a palm, tell him the same thing. In both cases, individuals claim the ability to read in the physical formation of created objects, knowledge of the unseen.
Belief in astrology and the casting of horoscopes are in clear opposition to the letter and spirit of Islam. It is really the empty soul, which has not tasted real Eemaan (belief) that seeks out these paths. Essentially these paths represent a vain attempt to escape Qadar (fate). 
These ignorant believe 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. Yet, Allah’s Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, was told by Allah to say (what means): “…If I knew the unseen, I could have acquired much wealth, and no harm would have touched me. I am not except a warner and a bringer of glad tidings to a people who believe.” [Qur’an 7:188]
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 ask another what his star-sign is, or attempt to guess what it is. Nor should he or she read horoscope columns in newspapers or listen to them being read. Any Muslim who allows astrological predictions to determine his actions should seek Allah’s forgiveness and renew his Islam.

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Importance of time in the life of the Muslim
Everything, when lost, can be regained, except time. If it is lost, there is no hope to regain it. That is why time is the most precious thing that can ever be possessed in this life.
Islam is a religion that acknowledges the importance of time and appreciates its seriousness. Allah Almighty says (what means): {Indeed, in the alternation of the night and the day and [in] what Allah has created in the heavens and the earth are signs for a people who fear Allah.} [Qur’an 10: 6] Islam distributed its great acts of worship over the parts of the day and the seasons of the year to form an accurate, precise system that organises the Islamic life and measures it with minutes, from the rise of dawn till sunset. Allah Almighty says (what means): {So exalted Is Allah when you reach the evening and when you reach the morning. And to Him is [due all] praise throughout the heavens and the earth. And [exalted Is He] at night and when you are at noon.} [Qur’an 30: 17-18]
Man’s lifespan is his huge capital about which he will be asked on the Day of Judgment. He will be asked about how he spent it and how he dealt with it. It was narrated in Jami‘ At-Tirmithi that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “The feet of a slave will not move on the Day of Judgment until he has been questioned about four things: his life – how he spent it; his youth – how he consumed it; his wealth – from where he earned it and how he spent it; and his knowledge – how he acted upon it.” 
Time has characteristics that are specific to it. They include the following:
* Its quick passage: Time passes like the clouds. No matter how long man lives in this life, his life is short, as death is the end of every living creature. When Nooh (i.e. Noah), may Allah exalt his mention, was asked: “O the longest living prophet, how did you find this world?” He said: “It is like a house that has two doors. I entered from one of them and got out through the other.” This is what the Qur’an expressed, by mentioning one’s regarding of his lifespan as short, upon death and on the Day of Judgment. Allah Almighty says (what means): {It will be, on the Day they see it, as though they had not remained [in the world] except for an afternoon or a morning thereof.} [Qur’an 79: 46]
* Whatever goes by thereof does not return and cannot be compensated for: every day, hour, or moment that passes cannot be regained and thus cannot be compensated for. This meaning was expressed by Al-Hasan al-Basri, may Allah have mercy upon him, when he said: “Every day calls, saying: ‘O son of Adam, I am a new creation and I am a witness on your deeds, so take provisions from me for if I pass, I do not return until the Day of Judgment.’”
* It is the most precious thing that man can ever own: the preciousness of time is attributed to the fact that it is the container of all deeds. In fact, it is the real capital of man, whether the individual or the society. Time is not only gold as the common proverb goes, but it is more precious than gold, pearls, and coral. Time is life. Indeed, man’s life is nothing but the time that he is given from the day of his birth till the day of his death. Al-Hasan al-Basri said: “O son of Adam, indeed you are nothing but some days…whenever a day perishes a part of you perishes.” That is why we should be keen on benefiting from time. ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul-‘Azeez, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “Night and day consume you, so consume them.” Al-Hasan al-Basri said: “I saw a lot of people who were keener on their times than you are on your money.” ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, used to hit his feet with his whip when night came and say to himself: “What did you do today?”
From among the blessings in which many people are heedless and ungrateful about, and ignorant of its value, is the blessing of leisure. It is narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “There are two blessings in which many people incur loss: health and free time.” [Al-Bukhari]
That is why the predecessors used to dislike for a man to be free and not preoccupied by the matter of his religion or the matter of his worldly life. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “I dislike that a man is free and not preoccupied by the matter of his religion or the matter of his worldly life.”
There is no doubt that man loves life and loves to live long, and rather forever, if he can. Long life is considered one of the blessings of Allah Almighty, if one uses it in supporting the truth and doing righteous deeds. At-Tirmithi narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, was asked: “Which among the people is best?” He said: “The one who lives a long life and does righteous deeds.” 
The truth is that the real life of man is not the years that he spends from the day of his birth till the day of his death. Rather, his real age is determined according to the good deeds recorded for him by Allah Almighty. ‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ood, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “I never regretted something like I regretted a day whose sun has set in which my life decreased and my good deeds did not increase.”

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Contentment is a sign of wealth
If people become content with the little they have, then there will be no poor or deprived persons among them. If a person is content with what Allah, The Almighty, has given him, he will be powerful and in no need of others, even if he does not possess a lot in this life.
Ash-Shaafi‘I, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “I knew that contentment is the core of richness, and I adhered to it, so I never stood at anybody’s door, or begged anyone. Consequently, I became rich without a dirham, passing by people as if I were a king.”
The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention),  advised his Ummah (nation) to have contentment when he said: “If you are content with what Allah has given you, you will be the richest person.”
He, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, would supplicate Allah the Almighty, saying: “Allaahuma qanni‘ni bima razaqtani wa baarik li feeh wakhluf ‘ala kulli ghaa’ibatin li bikhayr [O Allah, make me content with what You have provided me, bless it for me and grant me good thing in compensation for whatever I miss].”
A person who is content with what Allah, The Almighty, provides for him, will enjoy tranquility, satisfaction and peace of mind as he does not long for what others have or desire what he does not possess. Accordingly, Allah, The Almighty, as well as people, will love him, and the following Hadeeth of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, would apply to him: “Do not incline to the worldly life and Allah will love you. Have no desire for what people possess, and people will love you.”
Moreover, a person cannot reach the degree of the thankful unless he becomes content with the provision that he receives. This meaning is indicated by the saying of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, to Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him: “O Abu Hurairah! Be pious, and you will be the most worshipping person. Be content, and you will be the most thankful person. Love for people what you love for yourself, and you will be a [true] believer.”
A content person, therefore, has a virtuous self as he does not hurt his pride for the sake of a worldly gain that will soon vanish. Such people are the ones whom Allah, The Almighty, praised in His Saying (which means): {[Charity is] for the poor who have been restricted for the cause of Allah, unable to move about in the land. An ignorant [person] would think them self-sufficient because of their restraint, but you will know them by their [characteristic] sign. They do not ask people persistently [or at all]. And whatever you spend of good - indeed, Allah is Knowing of it.} [Qur’an 2:273]
Also, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, gave us glad tidings as he said: “Successful is the person who adopted Islam, has been provided with what is just sufficient for his needs, and been made content by Allah with what He has given him.”
‘Umar ibn al- Khattaab, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “Greed is [in essence] poverty and despair [of what others have] is richness. Anyone who despairs of [i.e. does not long for] what is possessed by others, becomes in no need of it.”
An amazing story in this regard is mentioned in the book of Al-Ihyaa’:
Al-Khaleel ibn Ahmad al-Faraaheedi, may Allah have mercy upon him, refused to be the private tutor of the son of the ruler of Al-Ahwaaz. He brought out dry bread to show the messenger of the ruler, and said, “As long as I find this, I am in no need of Sulaymaan [the ruler]. Then, he said some poetic verses, which mean,
“Inform Sulaymaan that I enjoy ease and richness, although I have no wealth.
I keep my pride as I see no one die of hunger, or remain in the same state all his life.
We realise that poverty lies in souls not in properties, as does richness.”
Indeed, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, was truthful when he said: “Richness is not the abundance of wealth; rather, it is self-contentment.”
O Allah, make us content with what You have given us and make us the most contented people of what You have decreed to us of provisions!
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A believer should not be stung twice from the same hole!
To be precautious and prudent is a Prophetic directive, especially when dealing with those who have been proven deceitful and dishonest. It is unbecoming of a Muslim to be gullible that he would be deceived twice by the same trick. A person may see things in other than their real form and, thus, he gets deceived by them – and this is normal – but not to be precautious and allow himself to be deceived twice, this is unacceptable naivety that is unbecoming of a believer. This directive is a universal principle and most beneficial advice eloquently coined in a terse statement made by the master of eloquence, Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention).
Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “A believer should not be stung twice from the same hole.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
The Hadith uses the Arabic verb “Yuldagh” which means to be bitten or injured by a venomous creature such as scorpions and snakes; and the term “Juhr” (hole) means the burrow dug by vermin and wild animals.
Commenting on the Hadith, Abu ‘Ubayd, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “This eloquent statement was never uttered by anyone before the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and he first said it to an Arab poet named Abu ‘Azzah al-Jumahi. When this man was taken prisoner by the Muslims during the Battle of Badr, he appealed to the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, to release him without ransom because he was poor and had a family to support. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, granted him his request. When the same man was later taken prisoner by the Muslims in the Battle of Uhud, he again appealed to the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, for his release, mentioning his poverty and dependents. In response, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said to him: “You will not boast in Makkah and say that you had mocked Muhammad twice!’ Thereupon, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, ordered that he be killed. This story was cited by Ibn Is-haaq in Al-Maghaazi.”
Given the richness and depth of the meaning of this succinct Prophetic directive, the commentators of Hadith mentioned many interpretations for it that are all possible despite its brevity.
Al-Haafith Ibn Hajar, may Allah have mercy upon him, cited some of these possible interpretations. He quoted Al-Khattaabi, may Allah have mercy upon him, saying: “The wording of this Hadith is in the form of a statement intended as an imperative, as if saying: let the believer be firm and precautious lest he would be fooled twice by the same source. This applies to one’s religious affairs as much as it applies to worldly ones. In fact, the religious affairs are worthy of precautious and prudence with greater reason. It was also said that the statement: ‘A believer should not be stung twice from the same hole’ means that when a person commits a sin and receives his due punishment in the worldly life, he will not be punished for it again in the Hereafter. I believe that if the sayer meant that the general indication of the Hadith’s wording includes this meaning, then it is possible or else the context of the Hadith does not support this specific meaning. This is further supported by the view that the Hadith included a warning against letting oneself be fooled and a reference to being astute.”
It can be said that the Hadith instructs a Muslim to be precautious of potential harms incurred on his worldly affairs or those of the Hereafter. He is enjoined to be vigilant and prudent regarding all his affairs. The fact that the wording of the Hadith indicates one of them in particular (i.e. the worldly affairs) does not prevent interpreting it to apply to both the worldly and religious affairs. What matters is the general indication of the statement, not the specific context in which it was made.
In his explanation of the Hadith, Ibn al-Humaam, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “The Hadith ‘A believer should not be stung,’ could be read as an imperative statement indicative of the forbiddance in this regard, meaning: Let the believer be heedful and prudent so as not to be harmed twice in the same manner. This is an example of the succinct speech of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, that none had ever coined before him. The intent was to warn the believer against exposing himself to the same harm twice, and this is required of him regarding the affairs of the Hereafter as much as it is required for his worldly affairs. When a believer commits a sin, his heart should ache the same way his body aches when he is stung, and thus he avoids committing the sin again. After the incident when Prophet Yusuf (Joseph), may Allah exalt his mention, almost responded to Zulaykhah’s temptation, he would not speak to a woman except while covering his face.” 
Evidently, a Muslim needs to heed this prophetic directive in all his affairs, especially with people who are principally treacherous and dishonest and known for their evil intentions towards Muslims. A believer should be cautious of the plots of Satan and the enemies of Islam with their different names and ideologies. It is unbecoming of a Muslim to let himself be vulnerable to their scheming and deceit. The basic principle regarding the Muslim’s interactions with them should be extreme precaution, heedfulness and prudence; otherwise, he would be repeatedly harmed by them and vulnerable to serious dangers.

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