Hat-tip to Shaykh Abul-Hussein. Tomorrow early morning, inshallah, a lunar eclipse is expected and we have the opportunity to engage in a rare Sunnah, the Salat-al-Kusuf.
The Earth’s shadow will creep across the moon’s surface early Tuesday, slowly eclipsing it and turning it to shades of orange and red. West Coast folks will have it better because the sun will be rising. Here are more details on the timing in all zones. This website offers more info.
The total lunar eclipse, the second this year, will be visible in North and South America, especially in the West. People in the Pacific islands, eastern Asia, Australia and New Zealand also will be able to view it if skies are clear.
People in Europe, Africa or the Middle East, who had the best view of the last total lunar eclipse in March, won’t see this one because the moon will have set when the partial eclipse begins at 4:51 a.m. EDT. The full eclipse will begin an hour later at 5:52 a.m. EDT.
Some ahadith related to this:
Yahya related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn Urwa from his father that A’isha, the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “There was an eclipse of the sun in the time of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, led the people in prayer.
He stood, and did so for a long time. Then he went into ruku, and made the ruku long. Then he stood again, and did so for a long time, though not as long as the first time. Then he went into ruku, and made the ruku long, though not as long as thefirst time. Then he rose, and went down into sajda. He then did the same in the second raka, and by the time he had finished the sun had appeared.
He then gave a khutba to the people, in which he praised Allah and then said, ‘The sun and the moon are two of Allah’s signs. They do not eclipse for anyone’s death nor for anyone’s life. When you see an eclipse, call on Allah and say, “Allah is greater” and give sadaqa.’ Then he said, ‘O community of Muhammad! ByAllah, there is no-one more jealous than Allah of a male or female slave of his who commits adultery. O community of Muhammad! By Allah, if you knew what I knew, you would laugh little and weep much’.”
Here is more detailed information on the Sunnahs related to this prayer. Some tid-bits:
- 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)
- 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.
- Format: The eclipse prayer consists of two rak’at.
- 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 attend the congregation or pray at home individually.
- Khutbah (Sermon): This is given by the Imam after the congregational prayer, based on the admonition of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, part of which is quoted at the beginning of this article. The khutbah is recommended (mustahabb)
- Timing of the prayer: 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.
- Length of the prayer: The eclipse prayer should be longer than normal daily, weekly or annual prayers.