For the first time in 456 years North Americans are going to have the opportunity to witness a full lunar eclipse on the same day as the winter solstice; Tuesday December 21 2010. The eclipse is scheduled to begin at 02:41 EST and is expected to last for just over an hour. While star gazers will marvel over this spectacle Muslims will be engaged in the remembrance of the very being that is responsible for creating this phenomenon; Allah.
Allah’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم once stated in a sermon following a solar eclipse that occurred on the very day his son, Ibrähëm passed away, “The sun and the moon are signs among Allah’s signs. They do not go into an eclipse due to the death or birth of any individual [as was the popular pre-Islamic notion in those days]. Hence when you witness [a solar or lunar eclipse], pray until it clears up.” [Nasa’ië: 1464]
The prayer that is observed is a supererogatory one (nafl) that consists of two raka’ät. It is performed individually at one’s residence as opposed to the solar eclipse prayer that is observed in congregation at the Masjid [Badäi’ Al Sanäi’ p. 253-257 vol.2, Abu Bakr ibn Mas’ōd Al Käsäni, Dar Al Kotob Al Ilmiyah, Beirut Lebanon 1997]
It is also recommended for one to engage in Allah’s remembrance as the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم pointed out,
“These signs that Allah sends are not due to the death or birth of any person. Rather through them Allah inserts [His fear in] His servants. When you witness anything of this nature then hasten to remember Allah. Supplicate to Him and seek His forgiveness.” [Bukhäri: 1059]
Opportunities of this nature are extremely rare and hence every Muslim is encouraged to take advantage of such golden chances to gain Allah’s proximity and pleasure.