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Lunar and Solar Eclipses: An Islamic Perspective

– Prepared by AL-Islaah Publications

Green Deen South Africa Eclipse HadithThe word Khusuf signifies eclipse. According to the majority of learned jurists, prayer (Salaah) on the occasion of an eclipse is Sunnat. According to Abu Hanifa (R.A.), there are two rakaats of Salaah for the solar eclipse in congregation (jamaat) without any sermon (khutba), and two rakaats for the lunar without congregation. According to Imaam Shafiee (R.A.), the Salaah shall be said in congregation with a khutba (sermon).

1. What is an eclipse? (scientific explanation)

Passage of an astronomical body through the shadow of another. The term is usually employed for solar and lunar eclipses, which may be either partial or total, but also, for example, for eclipses by Jupiter of its satellites. An eclipse of a star by a body in the Solar System is called an occultation.

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes in front of the Sun as seen from Earth, and can happen only at new Moon. During a total eclipse the Sun’s corona can be seen. A total solar eclipse can last up to 7.5 minutes. When the Moon is at its farthest from Earth it does not completely cover the face of the Sun, leaving a ring of sunlight visible. This is an annular eclipse (from the Latin word annulus `ring´). Between two and five solar eclipses occur each year.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes into the shadow of the Earth, becoming dim until emerging from the shadow. Lunar eclipses may be partial or total, and they can happen only at full Moon. Total lunar eclipses last for up to 100 minutes; the maximum number each year is three.

2. Ahadeeth on eclipses

Hadith 1

Mughaira bin Shoba (R.A.) reports that in the lifetime of Rasullullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wasallam) the sun eclipsed on the day on which (his son) Ibraheem died, so people said that the eclipse had occurred because of the death of Ibraheem. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wasallam) upon it, observed that: “The solar or lunar eclipse did not take place because of the death or birth of anyone (but it was the sign of the Power and Splendour of Allah). Thus, when you see the eclipse, offer Salaah and remember Allah much.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

Comments:
During the lifetime of Rasullullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wasallam) the sun was totally eclipsed on the day his infant son Ibraheem (R.A.), died at the age of about 1 and half years. Some authorities also say that this took place in 10 A.H. in Rabi-ul-Awwal. Nevertheless, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wasallam) mentioned that, the sun or moon are two signs of Allah Ta’ala which do not eclipse on account of the birth or death of anyone. When such an event occurs, one should turn to Allah Ta’ala and beseech Him for mercy and forgiveness with deep devotion. Increase the recitation of Subhanallah, Allhamdu-lillah, Allahu-Akbar and Istighfaar.

Hadith 2

Ayesha (R.A.) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wasallam) made a prolonged prostration (sajda) at the time of the eclipse. Afterwards he went away while the sun shone fully. He addressed the people and praised Allah and eulogised Him and the said: Verily the sun and moon are signs of Allah. They do not eclipse for the death of anybody,nor after his birth. So when you see that, read Takbeer, send blessings and give alms (charity). Then he said: O People, there is none who is more enraged than Allah (to see) His servant commits fornication. O People,had you known what I know,you would certainly laughed little and wept much.

Hadith 3

Abu Musa (R.A.) reported that the sun(once) eclipsed. Then Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wasallam) stood with horror fearing that the Hour had come.He came to the masjid and prayed with the longest of standing, bowing (ruku) and prostrating (sajda) which I did never see him doing before. He said: These are signs which Allah sends not for death of anybody, nor for his birth but He produces dread therewith His servants. So when you see anything of that, hasten to remember Him and seek forgiveness from Him. (Muslim)

Hadith 4

Abdur-Rahman-bi-Samurah (R.A.) reports that,there was a solar eclipse, when he hurried to Rasulullah(sallallahu alaiyhi wasallam) to enquire what has been revealed about the eclipse of the sun.Then I came to him, while he was in prayer, raising his hands. He began to read Tasbih, Tahlil, Takbir and Tahmid and invoke Allah till he became tired of it. When he was tired of it, he read two chapters(surahs) and prayed two rakaats. (Muslim)

Hadith 5

Asthma -bin-Abu Bakr (R.A.) reported that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wasallam) ordered manumission of slaves at the time of the solar eclipse.

3. What to do during a solar (sun) eclipse?

During the eclipse of the sun (ie.solar eclipse), it is Sunnat to perform two Rakaats of Nafl Salaah, called Salaahul Khusuf. This Salaah will be done in Jamaat (congregation) without azaan and iqaamat. People will be informed of this Jamaat (congregation) through means other than azaan.

Take the opportunity of:

  1. Making Duaa
    2. Think of, ponder on and fear the Day of Judgement
    3. Recite Subhanallah, Allhamdu-lillah, Allahu-Akbar abundantly.
    4. Recite Istighfaar profusely.
    5. Give Sadaqa (charity/alms)

4. What to during a lunar (moon) eclipse?

At the time of an eclipse of the moon (ie.lunar eclipse) it also Sunnat to perform two Rakaats of Salaahul Khusuf, but not in congregational form. Jamaat for this Salaah is NOT Sunnat. Instead people will offer this Salaah individually, in their homes. They should NOT gather in the Masjid to do so.

May Allah (SWT) guide us all. May we take opportunities like this to reflect on his power and educate ourselves of his creations, Aameen.- Green Deen South Africa

Indonesian Fatwa, 2014, Endangered Species, Balanced Ecosystems

One of the few comprehensive environmental, ecosystem related Fatwas was issued on the 22 January 2014 by the Indonesian Council of Ulema, Fatwa Commission, Jakarta. Released in the face of increased rates of threats to natural ecosystems and endangered species, the fatwa has been welcomed in a country where Islam is the faith of the majority. While the actual impact of a such a strong fatwa advocating for natural ecosystems is difficult to predict depending on who you listen to, it is most certainly a positive to see that our ulama are formally advocating for the active protection of Allah (SWT) various creations.

Islam environmental ethics

Interestingly, a lot of media coverage has focused on the fatawa being “against Wildlife Trafficking” (e.g. see National Geographic’s article). The Fatwa however covers a larger spectrum of issues. The main emphasis made is that the fatwa does not only address the endangered “charismatic” animals and plant species (like cycads, rhinos and polar bears), but rather also the underlying and arguably more important ecosystems and their services. Indeed, it is through these ecosystem processes that Allah (SWT) provides for us and show our dependency on Him. If we continue with our “business-as-usual” attitude in our daily activities, continue harming these endangered species and continue being ungrateful of these bounties we are blessed with, we will cripple these supporting ecosystem functions. May Allah (SWT) guide us and protect us, Aameen.

The Fatwa begins with outlining the problem and then proceeds to give the underlying background principles from the Qur’aan, the Haadith [traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) and relevant rules of the Islamic laws and principles of Islamic Jurisprudence. The fatwa then states that it has also taken into consideration Muslim scholars opinions, various conservation laws and principles of the Indonesian government, as well as the results of various meetings between different bodies during the course of formulating the fatwa.

The actual decree “FATWA on protection of endangered species to maintain the balanced ecosystems” consists of:

  • general guideline to understand the fatwa
  • the decreed legal guidelines that must guide a Muslim’s actions
  •  recommendations to government, to legislators, to regional administrators, to businesses, to religious leaders and to the community
  • and lastly closing off by saying the fatwa is immediately effective as well as inviting the public to comment.

You can download the fatwa here: Indonesian Fatwa, 2014, Endangered Species, Balanced Ecosystems

May Allah (SWT) guide us all and let this fatwa be part of the beginning of constructive discourse and action in Indonesia and the rest of the world. Aameen.

If you would like to give your opinion on this fatwa and on the role of ulema bodies in general in environmental conservation, please feel free to comment below or send us an email at info@greendeensa.org Please try to be respectful in all your comments. Shukran