Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Why some Islamic countries perform a special prayer during an eclipse

Salat al kusoof is not mandatory but advised because the Prophet Mohammed performed it as a reminder of God's greatness

The longest lunar eclipse of the century, seen in the UAE in 2011. Satish Kumar / The National 
The longest lunar eclipse of the century, seen in the UAE in 2011. Satish Kumar / The National 

As stargazers look to the sky to watch solar or lunar eclipse, some Muslims perform a special prayer known as the Salat al kusoof.

What is salat al kusoof?

The eclipse prayer is not mandatory (fardh), rather advised (sunnah) because Prophet Mohammed was said to do it.

Muslims perform it whenever an eclipse occurs. It is typically performed in groups, in mosques lead by an imam.

What does it entail?

Salat al kusoof is slightly different than the mandatory five daily prayers prescribed to Muslims.

It is not preceded by an athan, or call to prayer, and the recitation of Quran is typically longer than standard prayers.

It comprises two rakats, each of which includes two ruko (bows) and two sujood, where the forehead is placed on the ground.

Muslims hold these prayers and recite duaa because this phenomenon is considered to be a sign of Allah’s power and a time to remember His greatness.

When was salat al kusoof introduced to Islam?

It is said that the sun was eclipsed the day that Ibrahim, the son of Prophet Mohammed died. This led people to believe that it happened because of Ibrahim’s death.

In response, the Prophet is believed to have said: “The Sun and the Moon are two signs from Allah, and they do not become eclipsed for the death or the birth of anyone. If you see that, hasten to remember Allah and to pray."

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