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Title: Astrology in literature : how the prohibited became permissible in the Arabic poetry of the mediaeval period
Author: Al Abbasi, Abeer Abdullah A.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3404 0455
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis is concerned to position the art of astrology within the context of classical Arabic poetry, primarily by investigating and elucidating attitudes to the notion of qadar (fate) and the ideology in which it was embedded. These attitudes were revelatory of the broader world view of the Arabs of those periods, and their shifts from those held in the pre-Islamic and early Islamic eras tell us a good deal about the importance given to the nature and role of fate and about the various understandings of its influence. The pre-Islamic Arab's notion of qadar was in some ways similar to that of the early Muslims: both emphasised predetermination and the irresistible power of fate. But while the jahilf (Pre-Islamic) Arabs identified fate with the malign power of dahr (Time), the Muslims believed the power of fate lies in the hands of God the Omnipotent, who alone is responsible for the fate of the whole universe. Thus the astrology of the pre-Islamic era was one aspect of divination (kihana) and claimed to be able to reveal in advance an individual's destiny, which could be avoided by taking certain precautions. These precautions, however, were considered effective only in relatively trivial cases; they were useless in the areas of major impact: a person's happiness or misery (shaqiiwa aw sa ada), sustenance (rizq) and one's term (ajal), the three inevitable and irresistible manifestations of fate. In the Islamic period not only these major aspects of life are governed and controlled by the Omnipotent; the destiny of the universe, in even its most minute details, is determined and controlled by God alone. Astrology was considered to be of no value whatsoever, and its practitioners were subject to the death penalty. These two irreconcilable views are evident in early Islamic poetry, which reflected clearly the response of poets, and society, to astrology from the perspective of qadar. When the orthodox caliphate was replaced by dynastic rule the status of astrology was changed dramatically. The idea that the stars, as indicators, play a role in the life of human beings found popowerful supporters in some governors of the Islamic world, who allowed astrology to fulfil a public function regardless of the hostility of the official religion of that society. This social phenomenon generated rich material of a controversial character in the realm of literature. Investigating the factors, motivations and impact of mediaeval political, theological and philosophical attitudes to astrology, in relation to the notions of free will and predestination, is the concern of this study.
Supervisor: Salhi, Z. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available