Friday, 1 August 2008

Eclipses: Special prayers by Muslims

August 1, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 31: It's not just Hindus, but Muslims too attach religious significance to celestial events like solar or lunar eclipses.
Muslims offer special congregational prayers on solar and lunar eclipses to invoke the Blessings of the Almighty.
Though they do not attach any superstitious belief to eclipses, it has been a practice since the times of the Holy Prophet to offer special prayers during the celestial event.
"Muslims look at any cosmic event as a sign of the power and existence of the Almighty God. During the time of the Prophet, a solar eclipse occurred. People hurried to link this to a worldly event, namely, the death of the Prophet’s
son, Ibrahim. But the Prophet said eclipses have nothing to do with it. He said when you see them glorify and supplicate God, observe prayer and give alms," said Moulana Hafiz Syed Shujath Hussain.
According to senior Islamic scholar Shaik Tajjuddin Shuaib, Muslims should offer special prayers, Salat al-kusoof (during solar eclipse) and salat al khusoof (during lunar eclipse). "It is better to offer it congregationally in the mosque. There is no adhan (general call to prayer). The time for the eclipse prayer lasts throughout the eclipse. The Prayer must be started during the eclipse, although it can end after the eclipse is over," he said.
Several mosques in Andhra Pradesh make special arrangements for the exclusive prayers for the benefit of the devout. Women are also allowed for the congregation, though most of them prefer to offer prayers at home.
Unlike temples, mosques are not closed to enable the devout to turn in large numbers. Many Muslims in India prefer to offer charity to ward off any evil, though Muslims in other countries do not attach bad omen to the celestial event.
"Though Islam does not encourage superstition, some Muslims in the country still feel that eclipses bring bad omen and to avoid it, they should keep indoors. Like orthodox Hindus, they keep pregnant women indoors fearing that children will be born with deformities if the mothers are exposed to the bad rays from the eclipse. We regularly come across many such Muslim families here," said Moulana Muhammad Abdul Karim.

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