Solar Eclipse Brings Muslims Together with Neighbors to Pray for Our Future and Our Planet
On the eve of a rare natural phenomenon in the heavens, a total solar Eclipse anticipated Monday August 21, 2017, I would like to share the following thoughts and reflections.
Human beings have always looked up to the star filled Heavens in amazement. For Muslims, the Heavens and all that is contained therein are among the greatest Ayaat (Signs) of Allah (SWT-God Almighty) in Nature and should be a cause of deep reflection and glorification of Allah (SWT).
As Muslims, we recognize that everything in the heavens and on earth is created and sustained by the Lord of the universe, Allah Almighty. Throughout the Qur'an, people are encouraged to look around them, observe and reflect on the beauties and wonders of the natural world as signs of Allah's majesty and the inter-connectivity of all of creation. This type of reflection is especially critical during times as these when forces seek to deny the truth that is anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change and obfuscate our moral responsibility as Khulafa’al-ard (Stewards and Caretakers of the Earth).
These are often the same forces and drivers of evils of racial hatred and religious bigotry the end result of which is chaos, wanton destruction and death and destruction of human life, as most recently played out in the cowardly attacks and tragic murders in Charlottesville, Virginia (Our sincerest prayers and condolences go out to the victims and their families).
There is a link between the negative effects of climate change and our physical/mental health and spiritual wellbeing as human beings, for to harm the earth is to harm ourselves. Astute observers note that there is a link between those who violate the sacredness of the earth, causing her harm and destruction, and those who are then able to engage in horrific acts of violence and destruction including the unjustifiable murder of their fellow human beings.
As Allah (SWT) says in the Holy Quran: Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day,- there are indeed signs for people of understanding,- Those who celebrate the praises of Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth, (With the thought): "Our Lord! Not for naught Hast Thou created (all) this! Glory to Thee! Give us salvation from the penalty of the Fire. (Holy Quran 3:190-191)
Selected Quranic Verses Regarding The Heavens, Sun and Moon:
- "Blessed is the One Who placed the constellations in heaven and placed therein a lamp and a moon giving light." (Holy Quran 25:61)
- "For you (Allah) subjected the night and the day, the sun and the moon; the stars are in subjection to His Command. Verily in this are signs (Ayaat) for people who are wise." (Holy Quran 16:12)
- "(Allah) appointed the night for rest and the sun and the moon for reckoning." (Holy Quran 6:96)
- "For you (Allah) subjected the sun and the moon, both diligently pursuing their courses. And for you He subjected the night and the day." (Holy Quran 14:33)
- "And for the moon We have appointed mansions till she returns like an old shriveled palm branch." (Holy Quran 36:39)
- "Allah is He, who created the sun, the moon, and the stars -- (all) governed by laws under His commandment." (Holy Qur'an 7:54)
- "It is He who created the night and the day and the sun and the moon. All (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its orbit." (Holy Qur'an 21:33)
- "The sun and the moon follow courses exactly computed." (Holy Qur'an 55:05)
In remembrance and gratefulness for all of His favors, Muslims all over the world bow down in prayer five times each day in the Fard Salah (Daily obligatory prayers). At a time of a solar or lunar eclipse (Kusuf), there is a recommended prayer (Salatul-kusuf) that is performed by the Muslim community in jamaah (congregation). If you are able, you and your family are encouraged to witness the upcoming solar eclipse Monday August 21, 2017 and perform this sunnah prayer.
See the article and information available in the link below for more details about where, when and how to witness the upcoming solar eclipse.
How to Watch the August 21 Total Solar Eclipse:
From the Seerah (Life history) and Sunnah (Sacred Traditions) of the Prophet Muhammed (SAAWS) we find the following information regarding Solar and Lunar eclipses:
During the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), there was a solar eclipse on the day that his son Ibrahim died. Some superstitious people said that the sun eclipsed because of the young child's death and the Prophet's sadness on that day. The Prophet corrected their understanding:
Narrated Al-Mughira bin Shu'ba: On the day of Ibrahim's death, the sun eclipsed and the people said that the eclipse was due to the death of Ibrahim (the son of the Prophet). Allah's Apostle said, "The sun and the moon are two signs amongst the signs of Allah. They do not eclipse because of someone's death or life. So when you see them, invoke Allah and pray till the eclipse is clear."
Reasons that Muslims should be humble before Allah during an eclipse:
An eclipse is a sign of the majesty and power of Allah.
Narrated Abu Masud: The Prophet said, "The sun and the moon do not eclipse because of the death of someone from the people but they are two signs amongst the signs of Allah. When you see them, stand up and pray."
An eclipse can cause people to become frightened. When frightened, Muslims turn to Allah for patience and perseverance.
Narrated Abu Bakr: Allah's Apostle said: "The sun and the moon are two signs amongst the signs of Allah and they do not eclipse because of the death of someone, but Allah frightens His devotees with them."
An eclipse is a reminder of the Day of Judgment.
Narrated Abu Musa: The sun eclipsed and the Prophet got up, being afraid that it might be the Hour (i.e. Day of Judgment). He went to the Mosque and offered a prayer with the longest Qiyam, bowing and prostration that I had ever seen him doing. Then he said, "These signs which Allah sends do not occur because of the life or death of somebody, but Allah makes His worshipers afraid by them. So when you see anything thereof, proceed to remember Allah, invoke Him and ask for His forgiveness."
How the Prayer is performed:
The eclipse prayer is offered in congregation.
Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Amr: When the sun eclipsed in the life-time of Allah's Apostle an announcement was made that a prayer was to be offered in congregation. (This can be done at the time of a partial or full eclipse of the sun or moon).
The eclipse prayer is two rakats (cycles of prayer).
Narrated Abu Bakr: In the life-time of the Prophet the sun eclipsed and then he offered a two Rakat prayer.
Each rakat of the eclipse prayer has two bowings and two prostrations (for a total of four).
Narrated Aisha: The Prophet led us and performed four bowings in two Rakat (units of Prayer) during the solar eclipse, and the first Raka was longer.
Narrated 'Aisha: In the life-time of Allah's Apostle, the sun eclipsed, so he led the people in prayer, and stood up and performed a long Qiyam (Standing), then bowed for a long while. He stood up again and performed a long Qiyam but this time the period of standing was shorter than the first. He bowed again for a long time but shorter than the first one, then he prostrated and prolonged the prostration. He did the same in the second Raka as he did in the first and then finished the prayer; by then the sun (eclipse) had cleared. He delivered the Khutba (sermon) and after praising and glorifying Allah he said, "The sun and the moon are two signs amongst the signs of Allah; they do not eclipse on the death or life of anyone. So when you see the eclipse, engage in Dhikrullah (God’s Remembrance) and say Takbir (Declare His Greatness), pray and give Sadaqa (charity – to help those in need)."
In modern times, superstitions and fear surrounding solar and lunar eclipses have diminished. In fact for many it has become significant not only because of its scientific import, but also because it represents a new type of environmental tourism.
Muslims will continue the tradition of praying during an eclipse, invoking His grace and seeking His forgiveness, for Allah alone has power over all things, in the heavens and on earth and we seek His power and guidance to bring about peace and justice and to heal a fractured and broken world and people.