Lunar and Solar Eclipses: An Islamic Perspective
– Prepared by AL-Islaah Publications
The 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
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)
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.
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.
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)
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)
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:
- 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