Is Weather forecasting really knowing the “Unknown”?

Weather forecasting is “Ghaib”- Unknown?

Some Muslims believe that weather forecasting is haram (forbidden) in Islam because it is the prediction of the unknown. Forecasting the weather does not come under the heading of astrology or claiming to have knowledge of the unseen, rather it is based on physical evidence and experience, and study of the natural laws established by God.

In Pakistan, few Islamic scholars have also declared weather forecasting as predicting the unknown and unseen, what ever the reason is, it is up to you what the people think is rightThe recent example of declaring weather forecasting as “unholy” can be seen in Afghanistan.

Afghan Taliban declares weather forecasting as “Magic”

During the Soviet occupied Afghanistan, the Afghanistan Meteorological Authority (AMA) had one of the most advanced weather stations available at the time. But all was changed when the Taliban took over the country, after nearly destroying everything in the country, the Afghan Taliban eyed AMA. In 1996, Taliban destroyed its office as they though that predicting weather is magic and unholy in Islam. 100 years worth of weather records of Afghanistan were destroyed. Following events took place after the Taliban attack;

  • Few months after that, crops were badly affected due to lack of information of drought.
  • In 1998, an Afghan Airlines flight flew into unexpected weather, causing it to crash into a mountain, killing 45 people.

Is predicting weather really unholy or  fortune-telling?

Clouds surrounding the Mosque

No, Forecasting and predicting the weather that is predicting strong winds and storms or saying where clouds are expected to form or where rain is likely to fall is based on knowledge of the natural laws of God. One who has experience of these laws may say what he expects to happen on the basis of scientific theories or common experience, so he expects that and predicts it on the basis of likelihood, not certain knowledge, and he gets it right sometimes and gets it wrong sometimes. On the other hand, it is based on scientific data which is describing climatic conditions, because climatic conditions have to do with precise measurements that are known to them. Thus they may predict that certain conditions are likely to produce rain or not. That is like the primitive predication that we make when we see clouds forming, and thunder and lightning and thick clouds, and we usually say: “It is going to rain soon.”

In fact, meteorology does not tell us the Unknown. It only allows prediction with the help of apprehension and science that God condescends to us. In addition, this is done by looking at the meteorological maps, not by looking into the sky.

Although there is no doubt that it is God who knows weather better than his creature as weather is in his hands. Mankind has made improvements in weather science, but still 100% right predictions are still hard to make. Especially, as much as time delays, it is much harder to get precise predictions in forecast.. In the holy book of Islam, Quran it is written that;

  1.  “…Have you not seen how God makes the clouds move gently, then joins them together, then makes them into a stack, and then you see the rain come out of it….”
In the holy Bible, it is written that;
  1. “…I will call unto the Lord, and he shall send thunder and rain…and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day….”

Some people suggest that spending money on the latest weather equipments is useless as weather is not in our hands but it is due to our efforts that millions people are saved in the world. Hurricanes, number one natural disaster in America, improvement in meteorological equipments have caused the death toll to decrease from thousand to just hundred, the number is expected to further reduce as mankind further advance into the field of meteorology. So is this all knowing the unknown?

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2 thoughts on “Is Weather forecasting really knowing the “Unknown”?

  1. I wouldn’t look at it in the religious context at all.

    Weather forecasting is not fortune telling, the forecaster does not have a crystal ball from which he infers and guarantees the future. Weather forecasting is simply probabilistic prediction based on current and past events. The forecaster infers that ‘given the past record of this area, looking at the current weather system, its HIGHLY LIKELY or HIGHLY PROBABLE that the weather will be so and so in the coming weeks’.

    I see parallels to weather forecasting and speculating in the stock exchange. A successful stock broker and trader has a vast knowledge of all the stock markets around the world, he monitors the FTSE-100 index in the UK, the KSE index in karachi, S&P-500, pretty much all the markets he can, every minute, every day. He knows about the past record of the companies that have floated their shares, he knows the history about these companies as well as the current political environment surrounding them, from the war in Libya to the current double dip recession. Based on this he ‘predicts’ that their is say a 50-65% chance that certain stocks will rise in value. He may give a wrong analysis, but then again, he is not guaranteeing the future, he is merely assigning a probability to it.

    Same is true for political analysts, they predict the future political environment of the country based on the current events, and the past record of the political parties involved. However in their case they base their prediction on no scientific data at all, so its mere guesses, and their affiliation with a particular party can influence their forecast.

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