Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Islam and the Solar Eclipse

"The Sun and the Moon are two of the Signs (Ayat) of Allah: they do not darken for the death or birth of any person, but Allah strikes fear into His servants by means of them. So when you see them darken, remember and mention Allah, declare His Greatness, offer prayer, give in charity, and supplicate to Him and seek His forgiveness."



These words were said by the noble prophet Muhammad s.a.w.s, when a solar eclipse took place on the very day that his infant son Ibrahim passed away: 29th Shawwal 10 H / 27th January 632 C.E. A false prophet would undoubtedly have claimed that such a magnificent celestial event was a sign of heavenly mourning for the loss of his loved one, but not the final Messenger of God, who led the community of Muslims in prayer for as long as the eclipse lasted, then admonished them regarding their reckoning with their Lord on the Day of Judgment.



The Muslim reaction to lunar and solar eclipses in general, according to accurate astronomical calculations -- can be summarised as follows:



   1. Solar and lunar eclipses are reminders of the Day of Judgment, when the sun, moon and stars will all lose their light.


"When the sight is dazed, and the moon is buried in darkness, and the sun and moon are joined together: Man will say on that day, 'Where is the refuge?'" (Surat al-Qiyamah, the Resurrection)


   2. Being a reminder of the Last Day, the eclipse is a time for prayer, charitable acts, freeing slaves and generally remembering Allah and seeking His forgiveness.


   3. To have belief in heavenly bodies (sun, moon, planets, stars) as having power over events and people's fates and fortunes is to reject Allah by ascribing partners to Him.


"And among His Signs are the night and the day, the sun and the moon. Prostrate neither to the sun nor to the moon, but prostrate to Allah who created them, if it is truly Him you worship." (Surat Fussilat, the Signs Explained)


Thus one cannot worship God by worshipping creation –whether the devotions are offered to Nature, heavenly bodies, idols or human beings. The worship of something or someone created in whatever form, Muslims consider to be an underlying error of many groups active in the UK, from pagans, Druids and New Age cultures (for whom the eclipse is a sacred event) to the numerous Christian denominations. The popular but false, empty faith in astrology, so widespread in the popular press, is also condemned in Islam. Islam teaches people to constantly turn to the Source of all events: Allah.



   4. Salat al-Kusuf (The Eclipse Prayer)



Ruling: Most of the people of knowledge ('ulama') regard it as an important sunnah (mu'akkadah); Imam Abu Hanifah said it was obligatory (wajib), whilst Imam Malik regarded it as equal to Salat al-Jumu'ah (Friday Prayer) in importance.



Form: The eclipse prayer consists of two rak'at. Various forms of the rak'at have been narrated, but the most authentic ahadith indicate that each rak'at has two standings (qiyam), two instances of recitation from the Qur'an (qira'ah), two bowings (ruku') and two prostrations (sujud). This is the view of the majority of the people of knowledge, including Imams Malik, Shafi'i and Ahmad. The number of ruku' in each rak'at has also been narrated as three, four or more; the Hanafi 'ulama' prefer only one ruku', just as for the daily prayers. However, the most authentic ahadith support the majority view, given above.



Congregation: The Sunnah is for the prayer to be held in congregation in the masjid, although individuals who cannot reach the congregation may pray alone. Women may pray at home or attend the congregation.



Khutbah (Sermon): The Imam gives this after the congregational prayer, based on the admonition of the Messenger of Allah s.a.w.s. part of which is quoted at the beginning of this article. The khutbah is recommended (mustahabb) according to Imam al-Shafi'i and the majority of the other Imams of Hadith, whilst the Hanafi 'ulama' say that the khutbah is not part of the eclipse prayer – they regard the Messenger's admonition as a general reminder and not a formal sermon. If delivered, the khutbah should contain praise of Allah, the two testimonies of faith (shahadatayn) and reminders about Paradise and the Fire. The Prophet's admonition also included warnings about unlawful sexual relations and general frivolity about life (both widespread in contemporary British society), and special advice to women regarding ingratitude to their husbands.



Timing: The time for the eclipse prayer lasts throughout the eclipse. The prayer must be started during the eclipse, although it can end after the eclipse is over. The khutbah is delivered after the prayer, whether or not the eclipse is still in progress. After the eclipse, the requirement and time for the prayer no longer exists and therefore it is invalid to pray Salat al-Kusuf outside the time of the eclipse. Imams Abu Hanifah and Ahmad have stipulated that the eclipse prayer cannot be held during times when prayer is normally discouraged (makruh), i.e. when the sun is rising or setting over the horizon, or when it reaches its zenith. Other Imams say that the recommendation of the eclipse prayer takes precedence over these discouraged times.



Length: The eclipse prayer should be longer than normal daily, weekly or annual prayers. The eclipse prayer performed by the Messenger of Allah s.a.w.s. was extremely long: it started soon after the beginning of the eclipse and ended after the eclipse was over. His prayer included four instances of recitation from the Qur'an, with the first and longest of them being reckoned as "about as lengthy as Surat al-Baqarah." Further, the qiyam, ruku' and sujud were described as longer than any others seen performed by him s.a.w.s. However, the Imam should as always bear in mind the capabilities of his congregation, and the prayer should not be prolonged excessively for the old and weak amongst them. There is no requirement to prolong the prayer throughout the eclipse, nor to pray extra rak'at. The two-rak'at prayer is made as long as is reasonable, and the remainder of the eclipse is spent in supplication (du'a), general mention and remembrance of Allah (dhikr, including recitation of the Qur'an) and giving charity.



Detailed description of the prayer



   1. There is no adhan or iqamah for the prayer, although the prayer can be announced by calling, "As-salat jami'ah" ("The congregation is gathering for prayer").


   2. The Imam begins the prayer with takbir, as usual, followed by recitation of Surat al-Fatihah and one or more further surahs. The recitation can be loud (majority view) or silent.


   3. The Imam does ruku' with takbir, as usual.


   4. The Imam rises from ruku' saying "Sami' Allahu li man hamidahu", followed by the usual dhikr.


   5. Remaining in the standing posture, the Imam begins to recite again: Surat al-Fatihah and one or more further surahs.


   6. The imam goes into ruku' with takbir.


   7. The Imam rises from ruku' saying "Sami' Allahu li man hamidahu", followed by the usual dhikr.


   8. The Imam performs the two sujud as usual, except that the prostrations should be lengthy, as should be the sitting in between them.


   9. The Imam rises for the second rak'at, which is performed in the same manner as the first.


  10. Hence there are a total of four of each of the following: qiyam (with recitation), ruku' and sujud. The Sunnah is for each qiyam, ruku' and sajdah to be shorter than the previous one.



General issues


   1. DO NOT LOOK AT THE SUN! This is dangerous for prolonged periods of time, either during the eclipse or at any other time. It could cause complete or partial blindness. This applies to sunglasses and cameras and especially to binoculars and telescopes. The safest way to view the progress of the eclipse is by projection using a pinhole camera. "Eclipse glasses" are not 100% safe, although ones with Mylar filters are better than most. Mylar filters may also be used with cameras. Many of the cheap eclipse glasses (cardboard with plastic filters) are dangerous: always check for a trusted safety inspection mark. Even officially "safe" glasses can be dangerous, since a tiny scratch can allow in enough solar radiation to burn the retina. Be very careful, especially with children. This is also a reminder that just as the sun is too bright for the eyes, creation has to be veiled from Allah, otherwise the Divine Light would burn and consume all of existence.


InshaAllah, most of the Muslims, will witness this awesome event and have the opportunity to perform special devotions to Allah the Majestic. We ask Allah to enable us to heed His Signs and turn to Him always, Aameen.


Mujhe jannat say zyada masjid mein bethna acha lagta hai 

kyun ke jannat mein mera nafs khush hoga, 

jab ke masjid mein mera rabb khush hoga

.    Jab tum namaz na padho to matt socho ke waqt nahi mila, Balke ye socho ke tumse kaunsi galti hui ke, ALLAH ne tum ko apne saamne khada karna pasand nahi kiya.............

.    Har koi chahta hai k mujhey KAMIYABI mil jaye, lekin jab masjid sey din main 5 dafa awaz ati hai "HAYYA ALAL FALAH",, "Aao Kamiyabi ki Taraf".... to us taraf janey ki hum zehmat nahi kertey... afsos k jis cheez ko wo sari zindagi har jagah talash kar k bhi hasil nahi ker saka, wo to khud usey apney paas bula rahi hai ....... 

Zuni Ayesha

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