Why do some Muslim countries perform a special prayer during an eclipse?

Salat al kusoof is not mandatory but advised because the Prophet Mohammed performed it as a reminder of God's greatness

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates-December  10, 2011: View of  Lunar Eclipse  from Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi .   (  Satish Kumar / The National )
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As stargazers look to the sky to watch solar or lunar eclipse on Tuesday, some Muslims perform a special prayer known as the Salat al kusoof.

The partial solar eclipse on October 25 will peak just before 4pm in the UAE, with the next one not visible in the country until 2027.

But why do some Islamic countries perform the special prayer?

What is salat al kusoof?

The eclipse prayer is not mandatory (fardh), rather it is advised (sunnah) because Prophet Mohammed was said to do it, as a reminder of God's greatness.

Muslims perform it whenever an eclipse occurs. It is typically performed in groups, in mosques lead by an imam.

What does it entail?

Salat al kusoof is slightly different than the mandatory five daily prayers prescribed to Muslims.

It is not preceded by an athan, or call to prayer, and the recitation of Quran is typically longer than standard prayers.

It comprises two rakats, each of which includes two ruko (bows) and two sujood, where the forehead is placed on the ground.

Muslims hold these prayers and recite duaa because this phenomenon is considered to be a sign of Allah’s power and a time to remember His greatness.

When was salat al kusoof introduced to Islam?

It is said that the sun was eclipsed the day that Ibrahim, the son of Prophet Mohammed died. This led people to believe that it happened because of Ibrahim’s death.

In response, the Prophet is believed to have said: "The Sun and the Moon are two signs from Allah, and they do not become eclipsed for the death or the birth of anyone. If you see that, hasten to remember Allah and to pray."

How to watch the solar eclipse

The eclipse will peak at 3.51pm in the UAE, and will be visible for around two hours, until roughly 4.54pm.

The Dubai Astronomy Group is hosting a viewing event at the Al Thuraya Astronomy Centre in Dubai's Mushrif Park.


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