October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

tufailThe word astrology comes from the Latin astrologia, deriving from the Greek noun for ‘star, celestial body’ and logia, ‘study of, theory, discourse (about)’.

Historically, the word star has had a loose definition, by which it can refer to planets or any luminous celestial object. The word planet (based on the Greek verb for ‘to wander/stray’), was introduced by the Greeks as a reference to how seven notable ‘stars’ were seen to ‘wander’ through others which remained static in their relationship to each other, with the distinction noted by the terms asteres aplaneis ‘fixed stars’, and asteres planetai, ‘wandering stars’. Initially, texts such as Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos referred to the planets as ‘the star of Saturn’, ‘the star of Jupiter’, etc., rather than simply ‘Saturn’ or ‘Jupiter’, but the names became simplified as the word planet assumed astronomical formality over time.

The seven Classical planets therefore comprise the Sun and Moon along with the solar-system planets that are visible to the naked eye: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. This remained the standard definition of the word ‘planet’ until the discovery of Uranus in 1781 created a need for revision. Although the modern IAU definition of planet does not include the Sun and the Moon, astrology retains historical convention in its description of those astronomical bodies, and also generally maintains reference to Pluto as being an astrological planet.

World traditions

Although most cultural systems of astrology share common roots in ancient philosophies that influenced each other, many have unique methodologies which differ from those developed in the west. Outside of western astrology, the two most significant of these are Hindu astrology (also known as “Indian astrology” and in modern times referred to as “Vedic astrology”) and Chinese astrology. Both of these systems have yielded great influence upon the world’s cultural history.

Western astrology

Western astrology is largely horoscopic, that is, it is a form of divination based on the construction of a horoscope for an exact moment, such as a person’s birth, in which various cosmic bodies are said to have an influence. Astrology in western popular culture is often reduced to sun sign astrology, which considers only the individual’s date of birth (i.e. the “position of the Sun” at that date).

Western astrology is founded on the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies such as the Sun, Moon, and planets, which are analyzed by their aspects (angles) relative to one another. These are usually considered by their placement in houses (spatial divisions of the sky), and their movement through signs of the zodiac (spatial divisions of the ecliptic). Western astrology is largely horoscopic, that is, it is a form of divination based on the construction of a horoscope for an exact moment, such as a person’s birth, in which various cosmic bodies are said to have an influence.


Another Angle on the Moon

August 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Despite ISNA’s endorsement of the moon calculations performed by the Fiqh Council of North America, the debate in the Muslim community over the necessity of physically sighting the moon continues, and an interesting contribution to that debate has been made by Mr. Nabeel Tarabishy, of Goodsamt, LLC.  Mr. Tarabishy spoke Saturday night at the Islamic Cultural Association before a small gathering on the subject “The Moon and the Islamic Calendar.”

Mr. Tarabishy’s speech delved into background issues concerning the astronomy of moon sighting, and then described his own approach to the issue in relation to the ongoing debate.
He began by exploring the Qur`anic Ayas concerning seeking knowledge, pointing out the important issue that Allah in Holy Qur`an said that the intercalation of the months that had been done by the pagan Arabs before Islam was not just wrong, not just kufr, but was “excessive kufr,” thus showing the importance to Allah of our seeking to understand and abide by the underlying structure of the universe determined the Almighty.  “We can’t change the facts of the universe according to our desire, we must accept facts, and truth,” he said.

Allah Himself divided the year into 12 months, the week into 7 days.

Tarabishy also pointed out that no world civilization has existed without a calendar, and he explored the history of the Christian Julian and Gregorian calendars.  He explained that the lunar year is 11 days shorter than the solar year, and he spoke about the intercalation done by the Jewish and Chinese calendars–which he explained is done in a “less chaotic” fashion than was done by the pagan Arabs before Islam.

Then Tarabishy explored the physical dimensions of the lunar and solar progression through the seasons and months and years, and described the physical positions of those three astronomical bodies over the year.

Then he introduced his argument that the Islamic calendar–as a window to our history and culture and more–should be made as predictable as the solar calendar, arguing that it should be possible to plan travel to coincide with any specific day of the Islamic year, thus calculations will be necessary.  He listed extremely prominent Muslim theologians who he said had endorsed calculation, including most notably Imam Shafi’i.

His chief requirements of such a calculation-based Islamic calendar were that “false positives” and “false negatives” contradictory to the physical sightings of the moon should be avoided or excluded.

To learn more, please visit  his website,