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The Prayer of the Eclipses

The four Sunni schools observe: The solar- and lunar- eclipse prayer is an emphasized sunnah, but not wajib.The Imamis state: It is obligatory for every mukallaf (sane mature person).

It does not have a special form in the opinion of the Hanafis; rather it is to be performed in two rak’ahs like a nafilah prayer, each rak’ah comprising a single qiyam and ruku’. The musalli is free to perform it in two, four, or more rak’ahs.

According to the Hanbalis, Shafi’is and Malikis, it has two rak’ahs, with each rak’ah having two qiyams and two ruku’s. After the takbirat al-ihram, al-Fatihah and another surah will be recited, followed by ruku’: After rising from the ruku’al-Fatihah and another surah will be recited, followed by ruku’ and sujud. Then standing up for the second rak’ah, it will be performed like the first, and the salat completed. It is also valid to perform it in the manner of a nafilah salat.

There is consensus that it can be performed singly as well as in jama’ah, except that the Hanafis observe regarding the lunar eclipse prayer: It has not been enacted for jama’ah, and has to be performed singly, at home.

As to its time, all the schools excepting the Malikis concur that it begins and ends with the eclipse. The Malikis say: Its time begins when the sun is at a spear’s height above the horizon and continues until noon.

The Hanafis and the Malikis say: A two-rak’ah salat is recommended at the time of any fearsome incident, such as an earthquake, thunderbolt, unusual darkness, epidemic, etc.

According to the Hanbalis, it is recommended only for earthquakes. The schools concur that this salat does not have an adhan and Iqamah, though an announcer will call out "al-salat” three times according to the Imamis, and "al-salat jami’ah” according to the other schools.

The Imamis observe: The salat is wajib upon every individual during solar and lunar eclipses, earthquakes, and on the occurrence of all unsettling celestial phenomena such as the sky’s darkening or becoming extraordinarily red, strong winds, big sounds, etc.

If performed in jama’ah, the imam will recite only the surahs on behalf of those following him, just as in the daily prayers.The time for performing the salat for solar and lunar eclipses is the period of their occurrence, and one who does not perform them at that time will perform them later as qada’.

There is no specific time for salats to be performed consequent to earthquakes and similar fearsome incidents; rather, it is wajib to perform these salats as soon as they occur, though in the event of delay they can be performed as ada’ as long as one is alive.

Its mode of performance is that after takbirat al-ihram, al-Fatihah and another surah are recited, followed by ruku’. Upon rising from the ruku’, al-Fatihah and a surah will be repeated, followed again by ruku’. This will continue until five ruku’s are performed, and they will be followed by two sajdahs. On standing up for the second rak’ah, al-Fatihah and another surah will be recited, followed by a ruku’; this will be repeated till five ruku’s are performed in the second rak’ah as well. Then will follow two sajdahs, tashahhud, and tasleem.

Thus altogether there are ten ruku’s, and every five of them is followed by two sajdahs, both in the first and the second rak’ahs.