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The Eclipse Prayer

May 20, 2012

kr’s note: We are told there will be a solar eclipse today that will be visible in many parts of the world. This is a wonderful opportunity to pray salat al-kusuf (the eclipse prayer), and fulfill one of the great practices of the Prophet. I hope the following will be useful for those who are interested. The translation and any resulting errors are mine.

Note: the time for the eclipse, at least in the Chicago area where it may be barely visible, is during the Asr to Maghrib window. It should be remembered that per the Hanafi school it is strongly undesirable to pray any superogatory prayer after Asr. Hence, one may delay Asr until the eclipse starts, pray the eclipse prayer and then pray Asr with enough time left before Maghrib. However, if the time is insufficient such that delaying Asr is not possible, then one should pray Asr (as that is fard) and leave aside the eclipse prayer and instead make du’a/dhikr during this time. One should not miss Asr for the sake of a superogatory prayer, no matter how virtuous it may be. Finally, if it is the makruh time before Asr, one should forego the eclipse prayer and instead make du’a/dhikr instead.

(The following is the Hanafi method for salat al-kusuf (the eclipse prayer) taken from al-Hidayah by Imam al-Marghinani. The original text of Quduri is underlined, my comments are in brackets)


When the sun is eclipsed, the imam should lead the people in two rak’ahs of superogatory prayers with one prostration in each rak’ah. Imam al-Shafi`i (may God have mercy on him) said that there are to be two prostrations, relying on the narration of Aishah (may God be pleased with her) [this hadith is found in all the six major collections]. We (the Hanafis) rely upon the narration of Samurah b. `Umar (may God be pleased with him). The outward state of the Prophet (may God’s peace and blessings be upon him) was more evident to the men (ie, those Companions present with him at the time of the prayer) who were close to him. Therefore, the narration of Samurah is preferred.

The recitation in both rak’ahs is to be prolonged and silent according to Imam Abu Hanifah (may God have mercy on him). The two Companions (Sahibayn) said that it should be recited aloud. There is also an opinion from Imam Muhammad that is like that of Abu Hanifah. What is meant be prolonged recitation is that it is a description of that which is better, and it is not a required criteria. The imam may shorten the prayer if he wishes because the practice is that the entire time of the eclipse should be spent in prayer and supplication. It he makes one of them shorter (ie, either the prayer or the supplication), then he should lengthen the other. As for silent and loud recitation, the two Companions (Sahibayn) use the narration of Aishah that the Prophet recited aloud [this is found in the collections of Imam Bukhari and Muslim]. Abu Hanifah uses the reports of Abdullah b. `Abbas and Samurah b. Jundub (may God be pleased with them both) [this is found in the collection of Imam Ahmad and the four Sunan]. The reason for silent recitation has been mentioned earlier. In addition, how could he have recited aloud when it was a daytime prayer, which are usually silent?

He should make the spplucation after the prayer till the sun becomes bright again. This is due to the hadith of the Prophet, إذا رأيتم من هذه الأفزاع شيئا فارغبوا إلى الله بالدعاء “When you something from these fright-inducing things, then turn towards Allah with supplication” [this is narrated by Abu Musa al-Ash`ari in the collections of Bukhari and Muslim].

The sunnah for supplications is that they are after the prayer. The imam that leads this prayer should be the same imam that usually leads them in the Friday prayer. If he is not present, the people should pray individually so as to prevent confusion/disorder [ie, so that there is no argument over who is the rightful leader of prayer in a given community. The Hanafis were very particular in avoiding disputation over leading the prayer. For example, this is why the dominant opinion amongst the Hanafis is that if one misses the congregational prayer in a masjid with an established imam, one is not allowed to make a secondary congregation, lest people think that one purposely did not pray behind the imam or that the second imam is demanding the place of the proper imam. There is more on this topic for another time].

There is no congregational prayer for a lunar eclipse due to the hardship in assembling a prayer in congregation at night or to the fear this may cause hardship. Each person should pray individually as per the hadith of the Prophet,إذا رايتم شيئا من هذه الأهوال فافزعوا إلى الصلاة “When you see something from these happenings, then seek comfort in prayer.” [a version of this appears in the collections of both Bukhari and Muslim].

There is no sermon in eclipses as none have been transmitted. [According to the other schools, however, there is a mention of a sermon]


From → Islam

One Comment
  1. Azam Hussain permalink

    Jazakallah khairun for posting this!

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