Q. Is it permissible to look at the sun during a solar eclipse?
A. The Sunnah practice of our Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) was that whenever there was a fearful natural occurrence, he would hasten towards the Musjid and perform Salaat. With regard to the solar and lunar eclipse as well, the Sunnah practice was to perform Salaat. Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said:
“The sun and moon are two signs from amongst the signs of Allah. When you see them (in eclipse) then seek refuge in the Remembrance of Allah and Salaat.”
The practice of the Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) teaches us that these are occasions when a Mu`min should display fear for Allah Ta`ala. Looking directly at the eclipse demonstrates the opposite. The Salaat of the eclipses should be made extraordinarily long. In fact, the Salaat should last as long as the eclipse. It starts when the eclipse begins and ends with the completion of it. This is the original Sunnat and the best method. However, it is permissible to perform a shorter Salaat.
This practice in itself will demonstrate to us that during the occurrence of the eclipse a Mu`min should be engaged in Salaat and not stand outside gaping at the sun. These events should instil fear for Allah Ta`ala in hearts of Muslims. It is a demonstration of Allah Ta`ala’s Qudrat (Power), that He can alter the norm of things. We are supposed to hasten towards Salaat and supplicate for His Mercy and Forgiveness. Even the scientists and doctors say that to look directly at the sun during an eclipse, is extremely harmful to the eyes. Therefore it is not permissible to look at the eclipse.
Q. Some people say that an eclipse of the moon signifies punishment for the moon. Is this true?
A. All the funny stories you hear about eclipses are baseless superstition. An eclipse is a sign of Allah Ta’ala. Two raka’ts with long Surahs should be performed during an eclipse.
ADDENDUM – SOME RULES OF PRAYER DURING ECLIPSE[Extracted from Beheshti Zewar]
1. At the time of solar eclipse (kusoof) two rakaats of salaat are sunnah.
2. Salaatul kusoof has to be offered with jama’at on the condition that it is led by the imam of jumu’ah salaat, the ruler of that time or his deputy. According to one narration, it is permissible for the imam of every musjid to perform this salaat in his musjid.
3. There is no adhaan or iqaamah for salaatul kusoof. But in order to gather the people, this announcement can be made: “as-Salaatu jaami’atun” i.e. the salaat is about to commence with jama’at.
4. It is sunnah to recite lengthy Surahs such as Surah Baqarah in salaatul kusoof, and also to lengthen the ruku and sajdahs. The qira’at should be made silently.
5. After the salaat, the imam should occupy himself in dua and the muqtadis should continue saying aameen to his duas. This dua should continue until the eclipse disappears. However, if in this state, the sun sets or the time of a certain salaat enters, the dua should be stopped and the salaat should be offered.
6. Two rakaats of salaat are also sunnah at the time of lunar eclipse (khusoof). However, jama’at is not sunnah for this salaat. The people should offer this salaat at their homes individually. It is not preferable to go to the musjid.
7. In the same way, if some fear or calamity is experienced, it is preferable to offer salaat. For example: there is a severe hurricane, an earthquake, lightning, thunder storms, a lot of snow falls, very heavy rain falls, a certain disease such as cholera becomes rife or there is a fear of a certain enemy. However, whatever salaat that is offered in this time should not be offered with jama’at. Each person should offer his salaat at home individually. When Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam experienced any difficulty or sorrow, he used to occupy himself in salaat.
8. Apart from these salaats that have been mentioned, the more optional salaats a person engages in, the more reward he will receive and he will reach higher stages. Especially salaats in those times for which certain virtue has been mentioned in the Hadith. And also in which Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam has urged us to engage in some ibaadah or the other. For example, in the last ten nights of Ramadaan and the fifteenth of Sha’baan. Many virtues and a lot of reward has been mentioned in the Hadith for engaging in ibaadah in these days and nights. We have avoided going into details so that this chapter does not get too lengthy.
* Ghusl is mustahab for offering the salaats of Kusuf (solar eclipse), Khusuf (lunar eclipse) and Istisqaa’ (salaat read for rains).