Astrology in Islam

  • Richard Lemay
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4425-0_9210

A few considerations about the historical development of the term and concept of astrology as an intellectual discipline are in order, so as to avoid the many misconceptions that prevail in this field of historical enquiry.

The first question concerns the terminology applicable in medieval Arabic culture. What we consider astrology in our epistemology has very little connection with its medieval definition. Horoscope‐making and interpreting are of course part of the game but with a rather remote bearing on its definition as a science in medieval eyes. In the mind of medieval Arab writers there is but one science of the sky with the moving bodies set in it. It was called ˓īlm an‐nujūm (science of the stars) and it consisted of two distinct treatments of the subject matter of the heavens: a purely mathematical one or ˓īlm al‐falakcorresponding to our astronomy, and a humanistic but rather conjectural one which aimed at deducing from the celestial motions their probable significance for...

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Lemay

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