Solar and Lunar Eclipse as two important signs of Almighty Allah
Dr. Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi
According to the reports, the lunar eclipse was seen twice this year on January 10-11 and June 5-6, 2020. And there will be two lunar eclipses on July 4-5 and November 29-30, 2020. Also this year the solar eclipse will be seen twice (June 21 and December 14, 2020). The solar eclipse on June 21 will be observed in Asia and Africa, while the solar eclipse on December 14, 2020 will be observed in South American countries.
Why does solar or lunar eclipse take place? There are various reasons given for their occurrence. As per science, the moon revolves around the earth and, just like earth, the moon too is without light. It takes light from the sun. While revolving around the sun, when the moon comes between the sun and the earth, sunlight is barred from reaching earth’s surface. This is called a solar eclipse. When the earth comes in between the sun and the moon as a result of which the moon is deprived of the sunlight, it is called lunar eclipse. In the days of ignorance, it was maintained that sun or moon was eclipsed because of the death of someone or some extraordinary incident. In the subcontinent, people are of the view that on these occasions pregnant women should not use a knife because solar or lunar eclipse can cause a cut in the lips or some other organ of the foetus in the mother’s womb. However, this has no connection whatsoever with the reality, be it from the vantage point of Shariah or science. This is simply superstitious thinking of the people and signals their ignorance. We believe that the Islamic Shariah spells out clearly the complete way in which we are to live our lives. In case it was actually harmful to a pregnant woman to use a knife on the occasion of a solar or lunar eclipse, the Prophet of the entire universe Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) would have most certainly instructed the believers about it. Once, when the sun was eclipsed during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), his (PBUH) son Ibraheem (RZA) died the same day and some people held the view that the eclipse was because of the death of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) son. Opposing this view, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “The sun and the moon are two of the many signs of Almighty Allah. They do not get eclipsed because of someone’s death”. On this very occasion, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) offered a very long prayer. As per the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the entire Muslim community follows the same practice of offering Salaat on these occasions, remembering Almighty Allah and praying to Him (for forgiveness).
The system of the world is so magnificent that the rise and setting of sun at the right time, presence of moon and billions of stars in the expanse of the universe, the movement of air, light from the sun and the moon, numerous treasures beneath the earth, presence of numerous mountains on earth, rain from the clouds, the ability in the soil to grow and produce, presence of variety of tastes in fruits, presence of water and fire, similarly the presence of countless species of herbivores, carnivores and birds, all of this is a clear proof of the fact that there is someone behind the existence of all this. How else did this entire system come into being and to what end? In the times we live in, even if we do something really insignificant, we do it for some purpose. Moreover, we have to do a lot of other things for that and then one day it is over. Rulers of magnificent empires were buried in yard-long graves. Strong forts turned into ruins and the palaces and mansions are now all deserted. Verily it is Almighty Allah Who has created not only humans and jinns but also the entire universe and it is none but He who runs the system of the entire universe. We are all His bondsmen. There are countless things in the world we accept without understanding. Therefore, whether we are able to understand this or not, we have firm belief that this exceptionally large universe could not have come into being on its own and such an extraordinarily large system cannot survive on its own. The system of the sun and moon is so astonishing that even after the passage of thousands of years it has not changed even by seconds. Just the way the sun and the moon get momentarily eclipsed by Almighty Allah’s commandment, there will most certainly come a time when, instead of the east, the sun will rise from the west, something that contemporary scientists have now accepted as a possibility though the Islamic Shariah had mentioned this as many as 1400 years ago. After this, the entire world will end following which each and every human being (from the inception of the world all the way to its end) will be rewarded or punished for their deeds. What needs to be understood is that neither does anyone have any say in solar or lunar eclipse nor can the entire universe stop these events from happening at the time they are supposed to occur. Therefore, at the time of solar or lunar eclipse, we should only seek refuge in Almighty Allah, bow down before none save Him, and the forehead be laid before Him because it is He who is the Creator, Master and Provider of the entire universe. At the time of solar eclipse, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) entered the mosque and offered Salaat. So, on such an occasion, in case we avoid going out and do not look directly at the sun, this will be considered as a cautious act because even from the scientific point of view this kind of precaution is required. However, there is no need to get worried because it is our belief that we will face whatever pain or relief is destined for us by Almighty Allah. That said, we must employ means and develop strategies to relieve ourselves from pain and attain ease and comfort in our lives.
Therefore, whenever there is a solar eclipse Muslims must direct themselves towards the Master of the Universe, offer two Rakaat Salaat in congregation, without the customary call to prayer and the Iqaamah right before starting the prayer, and pray to Almighty Allah as much as possible. Few learned scholars of Islam hold the opinion that one can offer more than two Rakaat as well. The Quran must be recited silently although few learned scholars are of the view that loud recitation is also permissible. On the event of a lunar eclipse, we should offer Salaat on our own (on an individual basis), although there are few learned scholars who claim that prayer in congregation too is permissible. These prayers should not be offered during the forbidden hours (during which offering of Salaat is forbidden) though as per the opinion of few learned scholars these prayers could be offered during those hours. The prayer that is offered on the occasion of a solar eclipse is called Salaat-ul-Kusoof whereas the one offered on the occasion of a lunar eclipse is called Salaat-ul-Khusoof. During these prayers, recitation of the Holy Quran, bowing down (Rukoo’) and prostration should be of such long duration that the eclipse should get over in the course of performing the Salaat because Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to do it exactly that way. This prayer is offered just the way two Rakaat Salat is offered in ordinary circumstances, even though there are few learned scholars who maintain that in every Rakaat one should bow down twice. The crux of the matter is that as per the opinion of learned scholars of Hanafi school of jurisprudence, on occasions of this nature two Rakaat should be offered just the way they are offered on normal basis, on the occasion of solar eclipse this prayer should be offered in congregation while the Imam will recite the Quran silently, whereas on the occasion of lunar eclipse this prayer should be offered on individual basis. That said, in case the prayer for lunar eclipse is being offered in congregation – the way it is in Saudi Arabia – one could join the congregation. For both of these prayers, bowing down and prostration should be of long duration, Almighty Allah should be remembered and everyone should pray for His forgiveness as much as possible.
Abu Bakrah (RZA) narrates that once there was a solar eclipse during the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) went to the mosque dragging the sheet draped around his body (since he was in a hurry). The noble companions (RZA) gathered around him (PBUH). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) led two Rakaat prayer and the eclipse too got over (by the time the prayer was finished). Following this, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “The sun and the moon are two of the many signs of Almighty Allah. They do not get eclipsed because of someone’s death (instead, just the way it is in the case of other creatures of the planet, these two are also subject to commandment of Almighty Allah) so whenever you witness solar or lunar eclipse you should, stay engaged in offering Salaat and praying before Almighty Allah till the time the eclipse does not get over”. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said these words because his (PBUH) son Ibrahim (RZA) died that very day and few people had started saying that the eclipse was because of his death (Bukhari). Ayesha (RZA) narrates that there was solar eclipse during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). After finishing Salaat Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “The sun and the moon are two of the many signs of Almighty Allah. These two do not get eclipsed because of someone’s death or birth. O people! Whenever you face any such occasion, busy yourself in remembrance of Almighty Allah, pray to Him, glorify Him, offer Salaat, and do charity” (Muslim). Nauman bin Basheer (RZA) narrates that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Whenever the sun or the moon get eclipsed, you should offer Salaat as if it is your last Salaat (like Fajr Salaat)” (Sunan an-Nasa’i). Qabeesah (RZA) said, “We were with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in Madinah and there was a solar eclipse. The Prophet (PBUH) stepped out of his house dragging his clothes, anxious and worried and offered two Rakaat Salaat that was extremely long” (Sunan an-Nasa’i).