On the morning of Wednesday, August 11th, 1999 the moon’s shadow will sweep westward across the Atlantic, reaching our shores at around 10am. Throughout Britain there will be a partial eclipse – the moon will obscure part of the sun – but soon after 11am, Cornwall and Devon will experience up to two minutes of ‘totality’, during which the sun is obscured completely. After passing over Britain, the moon’s shadow will move onward at more than 2000 miles an hour across Rouen, Amiens, Stuttgart, Munich and Bucharest; and then on through Asia to Karachi. On that single day, more people may experience a total eclipse than have done in all earlier history.
The eclipse of the sun or the moon is amongst the signs of the power and majesty of Allah, which are revealed occasionally within his creation. When such events occur, the bondsmen should bow down, in all humbleness, before the Absolute, the All-powerful One and beseech Him for mercy and forgiveness.
THE ACTION OF THE PROPHET OF ALLAH (SAW) AT THE TIME OF A SOLAR ECLIPSE
A solar eclipse once occured at the Prophet’s time. The Sahabah (RA) left their jobs. Even young boys who were practising archery hastened towards the mosque to see what the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam would do at that time. The Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam started two rak’ats of Salaah, which were so long that some people fainted and fell down. He wept in his Salaah and said, “O, my Lord! Thou hast said that thou wouldst not punish them as long as I am amongst them and so long as they seek forgiveness”. He then addressed the people saying, “You should hasten for Salaah whenever you happen to find the sun or moon in eclipse. If you happen to know the signs of the last day as I do then surely you would weep more and laugh less. In all such happenings, make haste towards Salaah; pray to Allah and distribute alms to the poor”.
The hadith of eclipse is repeated many times. In another quotation from Mughira bin Shu’ba (RA) it is narrated, “The sun eclipsed in the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam on the day when his son Ibrahim died. So the people said that the sun had eclipsed because of the death of Ibrahim. The Prophet of Allah said, “The sun and the moon do not eclipse because of the death or life (birth) of someone. When you see an eclipse, offer Salaah and invoke Allah”.
THINGS TO DO DURING THE ECLIPSE
It is narrated by Abu Musa (RA) that once the sun was eclipsed and the Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam got up, fearing that it may be the final hour (i.e. The day of judgement). He went to the mosque and offered Salaah with the lengthiest qiyam (standing posture), ruku and sajda 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 frightens his worshippers with them. So when you see anything thereof, proceed to remember Allah, invoke Him and ask for his forgiveness.
A list of things to do during an eclipse:
Engage in performing Salaah
To offer 2 rak’ats of prayer at the time of a solar eclipse is Sunnah. It will be performed just like 2 rak’ats of Nafl Salaah. The solar eclipse prayer should be offered in congregation provided the Imaam of the congregation is the Imaam of Jumma prayer. Azaan and iqamat should not be given for such a prayer, but to call the people to such a prayer, an announcement should be made in this manner; ‘Gather for Prayer’. It is Sunnah to recite lengthy surahs in such prayers and stay longer in Ruku and Sajdah. It is optional to recite aloud or quietly. Immediately after concluding the prayer, the Imaam should devote himself to Dua and the Dua should continue up to the end of the eclipse. But if in this condition the sun sets or the time of any prescribed prayer comes, the Dua should be concluded and the prayer of the time should be offered.
Note: If for some reason, the Imaam is not available, then people should perform Salaah individually.