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Last Updated: 2011/03/05
Summary of question
Whose advice should I seek and who gives better advice, a psychologist or a religious expert?
question
I wonder whose advice I should seek and who gives better advice, a psychologist or a religious advisor? Can one change his horoscope which is a prediction of someone's future based on the relative positions of the planets? Is it possible to change one's fortune with the arithmetical arrangement of the Arabic alphabet? For example, according to the arithmetical arrangement of the Arabic alphabet, I will have problem with my wife in the marriage. The prediction which is based on the relative positions of the moon has also said the same thing.
Concise answer

Given the details you have provided in your message a brief answer to your question is as follows:

1 – As for consulting a psychologist or a religious expert, we should say that psychology and religion are two separate and independent disciplines. Hence, if a person is faced with a spiritual or psychological problem, he must turn to an expert in the same field. If it is only a psychological problem and has nothing to do with religion, one must refer to a psychologist or psychiatrist. If the problem is religious or related to matters about which the religion has a "say", he should refer to a religious expert. Given the fact that the religion (Quran and Sunnah) normally has a "say" about all social and individual issues, therefore one should never be negligent of seeking a religious expert's counsel or direction. He must note that the expert who is chosen as a counselor should have extensive knowledge of the religion and of traditions and sayings of the Infallibles (al-Ma'sumeen). He must also have some knowledge of psychology and the ability to analyze and deduce, and to draw a conclusion.

2 – As for your second question, there are many a number narrations in our textual resources that prohibit and denounce geomancy, fortunetelling and palmistry. For further information and in order to get familiar with the related narrations, we request you to read the  following detailed answer.

Detailed Answer

Your question consists of two parts and we will follow the sequence while dealing with them.

1. As for consulting a psychologist or a religious expert, we should say that psychology and religion are two separate and independent fields. In every technical matter, it is necessary to refer to an expert in the same field. For example, if a person is suffering from an optical problem, he should refer to an optician, and if he has a pain in his leg, he should visit an orthopedist or if he has a technical problem with his car, he should take it to a mechanic. Likewise, if a person is suffering from a spiritual or psychological problem, he must turn to an expert. It is therefore necessary to know what kind of advice is needed and what the nature of the problem is. If it is only a psychological problem and has nothing to do with religion, one must refer to a psychologist. If the problem is religious or related to matters about which the religion has a "say", he should refer to a religious expert. Given the fact that the religion (Quran and Sunnah) normally has a "say" about all social and individual issues, therefore one should never be negligent of seeking a religious expert's counsel and advice. He must note that the expert whose is chosen as a counselor should have extensive knowledge of the religion and of traditions and sayings of the Infallibles (al-Ma'sumeen). He must also have relative knowledge of psychology and the ability to analyze and deduce and to draw a conclusion.

2. As for your second question, there are many a number narrations in our textual resources that prohibit and denounce geomancy, fortunetelling and palmistry. Here are a few examples of those narrations:

A) One of the transmitters of hadith named Haytham bin Waqid says:

I said to Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that there is a man among us in the island region who sometimes gives information about a stolen property or something about which the people inquire. Are we allowed to refer to him and ask him such questions? The Imam answered:

The Holy Prophet has said that whoever goes to a magician or sorcerer to learn about a hidden or invisible matter and accepts his view, he has in reality become a heretic as he has falsified the books that Allah has sent down.[1]

 B) When Amir al-mu'minin decided to set out for the battle with the Kharijites someone said, "If you set out at this moment then according to astrology I fear you will not be successful in your aim," whereupon Amir al-mu'minin said:

Do you think you can tell the hour when a man goes out and no evil befall him or can warn of the time at which if one goes out harm will accrue? Whoever testifies to this falsifies the Qur'an and becomes unmindful of Allah in achieving his desired objective and in warding off the undesirable. You cherish saying this so that he who acts on what you say should praise you rather than Allah because according to your misconception you have guided him about the hour in which he would secure benefit and avoid harm.

Then Amir al-mu'minin advanced towards the people and said:

O' People! Beware of learning the science of stars except that with which guidance is sought on land or sea, because it leads to divining and an astrologer is a diviner, while the diviner is like the sorcerer, the sorcerer is like the unbeliever and the unbeliever would be in Hell. Get forward in the name of Allah.[2]

In short, knowledge of the absent and the hidden things of the universe is prerogative of God, the All-Knowing. The competence achieved by the prophets and awliya ullah (friends of God) in speaking about the unseen has been with God's permission. That is to say, if God wills, he acquaints the meritorious people in their wakefulness with some unknown truth and grants them knowledge of hidden things. Sometimes, they are informed about the unseen world in their sleep by way of true dreams due to which part of the unseen becomes visible to them and the hidden reality is manifested. However, the ways that the devious and deceitful people have created to misuse people through sorcery, palmistry, magic and astrology etc. not only do not reveal the unseen but they are also a means for misguidance and corruption which Islam has strictly prohibited.[3]



[1] - Hurr Ameli, Wasail al-Shi'ah, vol.17, pg.150, Aalulbayt Institute, Qom, 1409 A.H.

[2] - Nahjul Balaghah, pg.105, Sermon 79, Darul Hijrah Publications, Qom.

[3] - Falsafi, Muhammad Taqi, Al-Hadith – Educational Narrations, vol.3, pg.37, Tehran Islamic Cultural Publications, 1989.

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