Lunar Eclipse Prayer (Salatul Khusuf) as prayed by the Prophet (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam)
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“It is He Who made the sun a shining thing and the moon as a light and measured out for it stages that you might know the number of years and the reckoning. Allaah did not create this but in truth. He explains the Ayaat in detail for people who have knowledge.” [Yoonus 10:5]
“And from among His Signs are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. Prostrate yourselves not to the sun” nor to the moon, but prostrate yourselves to Allaah Who created them, if you (really) worship Him” (Fussilat 41:37)
Salaat al-Khusuf is Sunnah mu’akkadah (a confirmed Sunnah) according to the consensus of the scholars. The daleel (evidence) for this is the Sunnah reported from the Messenger of Allaah (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam)
When the sun was eclipsed at the time of the Messenger of Allaah (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) , he went out rushing nervously to the mosque, dragging his cloak behind him, and led the people in prayer. He told them that the eclipse was one of the signs of Allaah, with which Allaah makes His slaves afraid, and that it may be the cause of punishment coming upon the people. He commanded them to do that which could prevent the punishment, so he commanded them to pray when an eclipse happens, and to make du’aa’, seek His forgiveness, give charity, free slaves and do other righteous deeds so that the punishment would go away and not befall the people. So the eclipse is a reminder to people, making them afraid so that they will turn back to Allaah and pay attention to Him.
Imaam al-Bukhaari and Muslim narrated that Ibn Mas’ood al-Ansaari said: “the sun was eclipsed the day Ibraaheem the son of the Messenger of Allaah (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) died, and the people said, ‘The sun is eclipsed because of the death of Ibraaheem.’ The Messenger of Allaah (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: ‘The sun and the moon are two signs from Allaah, and they do not become eclipsed for the death or the birth of anyone. If you see that, hasten to remember Allaah and to pray.’”
According to another hadeeth in al-Saheehayn: “Call on Allaah and pray until [the eclipse] is over.”
The time for Salaat al-Khusuf lasts from the beginning of the eclipse until it is over, because the Prophet (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam)said: “When you see that, then pray.” (Agreed upon). According to another hadeeth, “If you see anything of that, then pray until it is over.” (Reported by Muslim).
Salaat al-Khusuf should not be done once the eclipse is over, because the time has gone. If an eclipse ends before one knows about it, one does not have to pray, because the reason for this prayer is no longer there.
How to perform Salatul Khusuf ( the prayer on a lunar eclipse)?
The following is the description of Salaat al-Khusuf as prayed by the Messenger of Allaah (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) , as was reported with a number of isnaads.
The way in which Salaat al-Khusuf is done is to pray two Rak’ahs in which Qur’aan is recited aloud, according to the correct one out of the two scholarly opinions. In the first Rak’ah, one should recite al-Faatihah and a long soorah such as Soorat al-Baqarah or the equivalent, then do a long rukoo’, then raise one’s head and say, “Sami’a Allaahu liman hamidah, Rabbanaa wa laka’l-hamd (Allaah listens to the one who praises Him; our Lord to You be praise)” after standing upright, as in other prayers. Then one should then recite al-Faatihah and another long soorah, shorter than in the first recitation, equivalent in length to Soorat Aal ‘Imraan. Then one should do another long rukoo’ shorter than the first, and when raising one’s head, say, “Sami’a Allaahu liman hamidah, Rabbanaa wa laka’l-hamd hamdan katheeran tayyiban mubaarakan fih, mal’ al-samawaati wa mal’ al-ard wa mal’ ma shi’ta min shay’in ba’d (Allaah listens to the one who praises Him; our Lord to You be praise, much good and blessed praise, filling heaven and earth and whatever You will besides that).” Then he should do two lengthy sujoods, without making the sitting between them too long. Then one should pray the second rak’ah like the first, with two long rukoo’s and two long sujoods, as he did in the first rak’ah. Then he should recite the Tashahhud and say the salaam.
Some of these reports are in al-Saheehayn, including the hadeeth narrated by ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her): “The sun was eclipsed at the time of the Messenger of Allaah (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) , and the Messenger of Allaah (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) went out, stood up and said Takbeer (‘Allaahu akbar’), and the people formed rows behind him. The Messenger of Allaah (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) recited a lengthy recitation and did a lengthy rukoo’, then he raised his head and said, ‘Sami’a Allaahu liman hamidah, Rabbanaa wa laka’l-hamd.’ Then he stood upright and recited another lengthy recitation, shorter than the first. Then he said ‘Allaahu akbar’ and did another lengthy rukoo’, shorter than the first. Then he said, ‘Sami’a Allaahu liman hamidah, Rabbanaa wa laka’l-hamd.’ Then he did sujood. Then in the second rak’ah he did likewise, until he had completed four rukoo’s and four sujoods, and the eclipse was over before he had finished.” (Agreed upon).
It is sunnah to pray Salaat al-Khusuf in jamaa’ah (congregation), because this is what the Prophet (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) did, but it is permissible to pray it individually, as with all other naafil prayers. However, praying it in congregation is better. (Kuwait Masajids in which the Lunar Eclipse prayer will be held)
It is sunnah for the imaam to address the people after the prayer, and to warn them against negligence and being led astray, and to tell them to make lots of du’aa’ and ask for forgiveness. In al-Saheeh it is narrated from ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) finished his prayer then addressed the people and started by praising Allaah then he said, “The sun and the moon are two of the signs of Allaah, and they do not become eclipsed for the death or the birth of anyone. If you see that, then call on Allaah, perform salaah, give charity…”
If the prayer ends before the eclipse does, then remember Allaah (dhikr) and call on Him (du’aa’) until the eclipse ends. The prayer should not be repeated. If the eclipse ends before the prayer, then the prayer should be completed quickly, but it should not be stopped or cut off abruptly, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “and render not vain your deeds” [Muhammad 47:33]. The prayer should be at the time of the eclipse, because the Prophet (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “… until it (the eclipse) is over…” and he also said, “… until what you are going through is over …”
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: “Sometimes eclipses last for a long time, and sometimes for a short time, depending on how much of the sun or moon is eclipsed. The entire sun or moon may be eclipsed, or only half of it, or one-third. If it is a total eclipse, then the prayer should last long enough for all of al-Baqarah or something of similar length to be recited in the first rak’ah, and in the next rak’ah a shorter recitation is made. There are saheeh ahaadeeth narrated from the Prophet (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) , as we have mentioned, and it is prescribed to shorten the prayer if the reason for it [i.e., the eclipse] is no longer there. So if it is known that the eclipse will not last for long, or if it started to get less, one should still pray, but the prayer should be shortened. This is the opinion of the majority of scholars, because this prayer is prescribed for a specific reason, and if the reason is no longer there and the eclipse is over, one should not pray.”