Answered by Shaykh Yūsuf Badāt
On the 21st of August, there is a forecasted solar eclipse. This will also be visible in Toronto to some degree. Do we as Muslims pray at an eclipse?
Jazākumullahu Khayran/ Thank you for your question.
Solar Eclipse (Kusūf al Shams)
A solar eclipse takes place when the sun is obscured and or blocked partially or completely by the moon. The sun, the moon, and the earth line up and the moon then blocks the sunlight hitting the earth. This results in the moon’s shadow falling on Earth.
God’s Creation, Power and Control
As believers, the first duty we have is, while marveling at the amazing spectacle, one acknowledges that this is all in the Control, Will and Power of the Almighty. These are all creations of Allāh and under His command. These occurrences should certainly remind one of God’s power and the fact that He is the only one entitled to worship.
إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لَآيَاتٍ لِّأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ الَّذِينَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّـهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَىٰ جُنُوبِهِمْ وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَـٰذَا بَاطِلًا سُبْحَانَكَ
“Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding who remember Allāh while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], “Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You” (Qur’an 3:190)
The Solar Eclipse Prayer
Prayer during solar eclipse is an established sunnah (prophetic practice) according to majority schools of jurisprudence. Some jurists have also deemed it wājib (necessary) to offer units of prayer during a solar eclipse. (See: I’ilā al Sunan)
“We were with Allāh’s Messenger (peace and blessings upon him) when the sun eclipsed. Allāh’s Messenger (peace and blessings upon him) stood up dragging his cloak till he entered the masjid. He led us in a two rakā`at prayer till the sun (eclipse) had cleared. Then the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) said, “The sun and the moon do not eclipse because of someone’s death. So whenever you see these eclipses pray and invoke (Allāh) till the eclipse is over.” (Bukhārī)
Multiple Methods of the Solar Eclipse Prayer
Since there are many reports describing various methods of the solar eclipse prayer, there are a number of ways to offer this prayer. All are acceptable and found in the known fiqh manuals.
Some narrations point out additional bowings in each rakā’ah, up to five in some reports. Some also suggest audible recitation. Others also indicate a sermon after the prayer. Some also indicate individual prayers.
One suggested way to pray would be to have a congregational prayer during the eclipse in the masjid, led by an imam. Two units of prayer similar to any two regular units of prayer be offered with silent recitation as would be in dhuhr. A supplication can be included with the prayer and a brief reminder afterwards. It is preferred for the imam to lengthen the recitations, as well as the bowings and prostrations. (I’ilā al Sunan)
Supplication, Remembrance, Charity and Prayer
The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him) said,
فإذا رأيتم ذلك فادعوا الله وكبروا وتصدقوا وصلوا
“When you experience the eclipses, supplicate to Allāh, exalt His name, give charity and offer ṣalāh (prayers).” (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim)
And Allāh Knows Best