Al-Mugheerah ibn Shuâbah reports: âThe sun went into eclipse during the lifetime of Godâs messenger, on the day when Ibraheem (his infant son) died. People said that the sun was eclipsed because of Ibraheemâs death. The Prophet said: âThe sun and the moon are two of Godâs signs. They are not eclipsed for the death or the birth of anyone. If you see them eclipse, offer prayers and supplication to Godâ.â (Related by Al-Bukhari).
This took place toward the end of the Prophetâs blessed life. He had received a gift from the ruler of Egypt which included a bondswoman called Maria. She gave him his last child, a boy whom he named Ibraheem, the Arabic version of Abraham. Ibraheem lived only 18 months. When he died, the Prophet was very grieved and he wept. People wondered at him weeping. He said: âThe heart is in tremor, the eye is tearful, but we say only what pleases God. We are grieved for parting with Ibraheem.â
People were very distressed to see the Prophet grieving for his young son. He previously lost his two sons in infancy, before the start of his message. By the time he lost Ibraheem, he had also lost three of his four daughters. Of his seven children, only Fatimah survived him, and she also died a few months after he had passed away. In their sorrow, some of the Prophetâs companions felt that the solar eclipse that occurred that day was also a sign of universal grief at the Prophetâs loss of his son. When they suggested this, the Prophet corrected them, indicating that the eclipse was an aspect of universal phenomena which had no relation to peopleâs life or death. At the same time, the Prophet advised his followers to pray when they saw a solar or lunar eclipse. Thus, he indicated that there is no harm in looking at such an eclipse, but people should not spend much time in doing so, because this is an unusual event. We do not know whether it might be ushering a greater celestial event that may bring a catastrophe for the inhabitants of our planet. Hence, the need to pray and appeal to God to have mercy on mankind.
The prayer at the time of a solar eclipse is a very special one. It is not meant to appeal to God to end the eclipse, for it occurs and ends in accordance with the laws of nature He has set in operation. The prayer is an acknowledgement that God is the owner of the universe who controls everything that happens in it. The time range of this prayer is from the start of the eclipse until it finishes. Should it be very short and end within a few minutes, then the prayer should be short.
When the Prophet offered this prayer, he made it very long. He stood in his first rakâah, reading a very long surah, then he bowed for rukuâ and made it very long, glorifying and praising God, then he stood up again and read a very long surah, but a bit shorter than the first one. He then did another rukuâ almost as long as the first one. He then did his two prostrations making them long. He stood up then for his next rakâah offering it in the same pattern. The prayer is thus two rakâahs, standing up twice with two rukuâs in each rakâah. After the prayer, the prayer gave a sermon, reminding the people of Godâs power and the hereafter. ¬