Not only does this affect their agriculture; it also affects their livestock, let alone their personal and domestic needs. Pasture land becomes infertile and cattle and other livestock suffer and give less milk and even dwindle in numbers. This is particularly true of areas where the volume of rainfall is small, but is absolutely necessary for both agriculture and animal life. The Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us a special prayer for rain to perform whenever this happens.
Scholars mention three forms for the prayer for rain. The first can be said at any time and place, by anyone, either individually or in congregation. The second is included in oneâs supplication after ordinary prayers, both obligatory and voluntary, particularly Friday prayer. The third, which is preferable, involves that people should gather in an open area, either outside the city or in a park. People should come wearing simple clothes and showing humility. A Hadith related by Al-Bukhari mentions that âthe Prophet went out with many people to pray for rain. He turned so as to face the Kaaba and prayed for rain. He switched his robe so as to wear its right side on his left and the left side on his right.â Perhaps this was a sign of hope that the situation of drought would soon be changed into one of a heavy rainfall. Other reports mention that the Prophet showed great humility when he went out to pray for rain, wearing very simple clothes.
It begins with offering two rakâahs of voluntary prayer. This is followed by a short speech, in which the person leading the prayer reminds the congregation that they need to repent of their sins and to appeal to God with humility and sincerity. He tells them the obvious truth that only God can send rain. Therefore, they appeal to Him knowing that they need His favor and blessings.
The person to lead the prayer should be either the head of the state or someone known to be of good faith, piety and nobility of character. When people suffered drought during the Prophetâs lifetime, it was the Prophet who led the prayer. No one else could have been chosen. Every prayer the Prophet said was answered. Hence, every time he prayed for rain, it was soon forthcoming.
Eight years after the Prophet had passed away, there was no rain in Madinah for nine months. Umar, the then Caliph, went at the head of most of the population of Madinah to pray for rain. As they were on their way, Umar thought hard on who should lead the prayer. He felt that he could not stand in the Prophetâs position. Therefore, he asked Al-Abbas, the Prophetâs uncle, to lead the prayer. Umar appealed to God: âMy Lord, we used to pray to You with our Prophet and You would send us rain. Now we are praying to You with our Prophetâs uncle. Please send us rain.â (Related by al-Bukhari).
Al-Abbas came forward, lifted his hands, and said in humility: âMy Lord, every trial is the result of a sin, and its removal is always in consequence of repentance. These people are appealing to You with me because of my relation to Your Prophet. We stretch our hands admitting our sins. We put forward our faces declaring our repentance. Please send us rain.â Soon the sky was overcast, and rain was pouring heavily. This was the end of that period of drought. ¬