CAIRO: Because of the position of the sun during my birth, I am prone to show tolerance, get dreamy, have beautiful eyes, feel detached, and display paranoia.
This is only based on my sun sign though, not my moon sign, which depends on my exact time of birth – that, I don’t know.
It all sounds quite implausible, in the same league as coffee readings and tarot cards, but the popularity of zodiac signs far surpasses other forms of personality ‘readings,’ perhaps because of the reinforcement that they receive.
When people can repeatedly and accurately guess your ‘sign,’ you begin to wonder.
And that is what Sarah Abdou, 24, started to do. She began by asking people what their signs were until patterns began to emerge and she found she had developed her own characterizations that were not completely dependent on the books she read.
She admits she is not always right with her guesses but her friends say she often is.
She sits down with four strangers and after about 20 minutes of chatting, guesses one on the first guess, two on the second, and one on the fifth.
“Some people are very obvious, says Abdou. She says she can always spot Tauruses, reserved at first, and Scorpios, with their dark shiny eyes. Male Virgos (one-track-minded) and Cancers (outgoing and caring) are also detectable. Other signs are not as clear or predictable however, such as the male Fire Signs (Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius).
Through her experience, Abdou says she has become “convinced of astrology’s validity. “I think that 50 percent of your personality is your horoscope and 50 percent is your environment.
At the same time, Abdou considers herself fairly religious and herein lies a possible source of conflict.
Islam forbids fortune-telling but what does it say about zodiacs as indicators of physical, mental, and psychological characteristics?
“Religion has nothing to do with the science of zodiac signs, says Islamic scholar Gamal El-Banna. He says there is no Islamic support or evidence that proves that people who were born in the same time should have similar characteristics.
As far as the predictive value of zodiacs, as in horoscopes, he says the word “horoscope is neither mentioned in the Holy Quran nor in any of the Prophet Mohamed s (PBUH) sayings, adding that they fall under the category of fortune-telling which is extremely wrong and hated in Islam.
Sheikh Mahmoud Ashour agrees with El-Banna, saying that astrology is a “way of tricking people and exploiting their trivialness. It is more like witchcraft.
“It’s not possible and has no origin in religion. If people discuss signs or horoscopes as a joke, there is no harm, says Ashour, but if they follow it then it is forbidden.
However, not all religious minds are of the same opinion.
Abdou says she was hesitant about asking her certified Quran teacher, who had memorized the entire Quran, about her sign. When she did, however, she discovered that her teacher believed in signs as well.
“It’s not prohibited, it’s an experimental science and there is nothing in Islam that denies it, says Sheikh Khaled El-Guindy. Using the science to predict the future is prohibited but otherwise, El-Guindy says that, while Islam does not mention astrology, “Islam didn’t prohibit new sciences that were unheard of before.
He adds that using astrological signs to understand people’s personalities may help psychologists, detectives, and teachers, as well as helping people and even couples get along better.
Father Morkos Aziz says that Christianity and the Bible do support the 12 astrological signs, explaining how important Christian events are portrayed through each zodiac, such as the birth of Jesus, and how there were 12 disciples of Jesus as there are 12 astrological signs. He cites as explanation the Bible which declares that the “skies speak with God’s glory and that astrology is meant to show God’s work.
Astrologist Dan Furst defends the pseudo-science as “evident. “It’s not a matter of belief, it’s a matter of acceptance. Am I willing to accept what is obviously valid or am I going to deny it for some ego reasons?
The turning point for him came after he had his own chart explained to him which was so accurate he was “amazed.
Rather than fortune-telling, Furst says he believes what astrology does is “tell you what conditions are in your path and what the timing is.
The science itself is quite complicated, further complicating the question of astrology’s validity. Many astrologers believe that “moon signs are a necessary component to understanding a person as the moon sign represents one’s inner personality.
Other astrologers are critical of the common method and description of creating a personality profile, suggesting that more factors need be assessed than usual. Different cultures too have calculated signs and horoscopes differently over the centuries.
Regardless of these discrepancies, some will be convinced by a single lay-person’s accurate summation, while others will never believe in something difficult to explain scientifically or religiously.
Perhaps, after all, it depends on your sign.