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Aspects of Islamic Faith — 66: Prayer At The Time Of Solar Eclipse

Islamic Perspectives - Muslim Journals

Arab News & Information - By Adil Salahi

EVERY few years an eclipse of the sun or the moon occurs. Many people try to monitor such events, particularly if the sun is to be totally eclipsed.

They even travel to the spots where the eclipse is best monitored. There is no doubt that for many people, this is a unique experience, which might not be repeated in their lifetime. Hence, they are keen to ‘live’ it in full. Muslims, however, have been guided by the Prophet to treat this event in a different light. We will explain his guidance first and end with outlining the proper behavior at such times.

Al-Mugheerah ibn Shu’bah reports: “The sun went into eclipse during the lifetime of God’s messenger, on the day when Ibraheem (his infant son) died. People said that the sun was eclipsed because of Ibraheem’s death. The Prophet said: ‘The sun and the moon are two of God’s signs. They are not eclipsed for the death or the birth of anyone. If you see them eclipse, offer prayers and supplication to God’.” (Related by Al-Bukhari).

This took place toward the end of the Prophet’s blessed life. He had received a gift from the ruler of Egypt which included a bondswoman called Maria. She gave him his last child, a boy whom he named Ibraheem, the Arabic version of Abraham. Ibraheem lived only 18 months. When he died, the Prophet was very grieved and he wept. People wondered at him weeping. He said: “The heart is in tremor, the eye is tearful, but we say only what pleases God. We are grieved for parting with Ibraheem.”

People were very distressed to see the Prophet grieving for his young son. He previously lost his two sons in infancy, before the start of his message. By the time he lost Ibraheem, he had also lost three of his four daughters. Of his seven children, only Fatimah survived him, and she also died a few months after he had passed away. In their sorrow, some of the Prophet’s companions felt that the solar eclipse that occurred that day was also a sign of universal grief at the Prophet’s loss of his son. When they suggested this, the Prophet corrected them, indicating that the eclipse was an aspect of universal phenomena which had no relation to people’s life or death. At the same time, the Prophet advised his followers to pray when they saw a solar or lunar eclipse. Thus, he indicated that there is no harm in looking at such an eclipse, but people should not spend much time in doing so, because this is an unusual event. We do not know whether it might be ushering a greater celestial event that may bring a catastrophe for the inhabitants of our planet. Hence, the need to pray and appeal to God to have mercy on mankind.

The prayer at the time of a solar eclipse is a very special one. It is not meant to appeal to God to end the eclipse, for it occurs and ends in accordance with the laws of nature He has set in operation. The prayer is an acknowledgement that God is the owner of the universe who controls everything that happens in it. The time range of this prayer is from the start of the eclipse until it finishes. Should it be very short and end within a few minutes, then the prayer should be short.

When the Prophet offered this prayer, he made it very long. He stood in his first rak’ah, reading a very long surah, then he bowed for ruku’ and made it very long, glorifying and praising God, then he stood up again and read a very long surah, but a bit shorter than the first one. He then did another ruku’ almost as long as the first one. He then did his two prostrations making them long. He stood up then for his next rak’ah offering it in the same pattern. The prayer is thus two rak’ahs, standing up twice with two ruku’s in each rak’ah. After the prayer, the prayer gave a sermon, reminding the people of God’s power and the hereafter



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