Sunday, April 20, 2014

Eclipses in Islam

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Eclipses in Islam
Multiple Responses:
1.
According to NASA, lunar eclipses are not a strange phenomenon as there are two eclipses per year. Blood moon happens when the moon slide into Earth’s shadow, casting a reddish hue on the moon.
For Muslims, lunar and solar eclipses are definite signs of the power and mighty of God. Cosmetic events and natural phenomena have scientific reasons that people may know by means of scientific research and study. Muslims, however, don’t connect such events to the life, birth, death, or return of anybody.
Responding to your question, Dr. Wael Shihab, PhD in Islamic Studies, Al-Azhar University, and the Head of the Shari`ah Dept. of Onislam.net website, stated,
Thank you for your question.
Solar and lunar eclipses are signs of the power and mighty of Allah Almighty. They, like other cosmetic events, are not connected to the birth, death, life, or return of anybody. In such times, a Muslim resort to Allah and pray to Him Almighty for the wellbeing all creatures.
During the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), a solar eclipse happened. People hurried to link this to a worldly event, namely, the death of the Prophet’s son, Ibrahim. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) refused their understanding of that event and explained the truth of this matter to them.
In his Sahih, Imam Muslim reported:
`A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: There was a solar eclipse in the time of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). He stood up to pray and prolonged his standing very much. He then bowed and prolonged very much his bowing. He then raised his head and prolonged his standing much, but it was less than the (duration) of the first standing. He then bowed and prolonged bowing much, but it was less than the duration of his first bowing. He then prostrated and then stood up and prolonged the standing, but it was less than the first standing. He then bowed and prolonged his bowing, but it was less than the first bowing. He then lifted his head and then stood up and prolonged his standing, but it was less than the first standing. He then bowed and prolonged bowing and it was less than the first bowing. He then prostrated himself; then he turned about, and the sun had become bright, and he addressed the people. He praised Allah and lauded Him and said: “The sun and the moon are two signs of Allah; they are not eclipsed on account of anyone's death or on account of anyone's birth. So when you see them, glorify and supplicate Allah, observe the Prayer, give alms…”
Moreover, Muslims are recommended to pray particular prayers for the solar and lunar eclipses. These prayers have a special way explored in the Islamic jurisprudence books. The eclipse is a time for prayer, charitable acts, and generally remembering Allah and seeking His forgiveness.
As for Prophet `Isa (Jesus), Muslims believe that he is a Prophet of Allah as belief in his prophethood is an essential condition of sound Islamic faith. Jesus, like all Prophets, called for belief in the One God, good morals, and submission to the will of Allah. Muslims, moreover, believe that Jesus (peace and blessings be upon him) was one of the great Prophets of God.
The second coming of Jesus is proved by authentic hadiths. Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) quoted the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying:
By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, son of Mary (Jesus) will shortly descend amongst you people (Muslims) as a just ruler and will break the Cross and kill the pig and abolish the jizyah (a tax taken from the non-Muslims, who are in the protection, of the Muslim government). Then there will be abundance of money and nobody will accept charitable gifts.
Then, Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: 'Read if you wish,{There is not one of the People of the Scripture but will believe in him before his death, and on the Day of Resurrection he will be a witness against them.} (An-Nisaa’ 4: 159)
Imam Muslim has reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,
“How (happy) will you be when the Son of Mary will come down among you and your Imam will be from amongst you.”
So, Muslims believe that Jesus will descend (yanzil) and his return will be "a sign of the approaching Day of Judgment". However, Muslims don’t link solar or lunar eclipses to the second coming of Jesus (peace be on him).
2.
Muslims 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.
"Allah is He, who created the sun, the moon, and the stars -- (all) governed by laws under His commandment." 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." Qur'an 21:33
"The sun and the moon follow courses exactly computed." 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. At a time of a solar or lunar eclipse, there is a recommended prayer (salatul-kusuf) that is performed by the Muslim community in congregation.

The Prophet's Tradition (peace be upon him)

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.
  • 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 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, 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, remember Allah and say Takbir, pray and give Sadaqa (charity)."
In modern times, superstitions and fear surrounding solar and lunar eclipses have diminished. However, Muslims continue the tradition of praying during an eclipse, as a reminder that Allah Alone has power over all things, in the heavens and on earth.

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