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Published on 15th June, 2002

Celestial Alignments and Al-Quoran

By M. Al-Zahra

Total Solar Eclipse in Iran.

It is stated in our Holy Quoran:

"If indeed thou ask them who has created the heavens and the earth and subjected the sun and the moon (to His Law); they will certainly reply Allah.
(29:61)

Aim:

The aim of this article is to provide readers with a greater understanding of  varying types of Eclipses,  the significance of an Eclipse in Islam and what is required of us as Muslims.

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Definition of an Eclipse

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Firstly, an Eclipse is a celestial alignment in which two celestial bodies lie on a line passing through the position of the observer. Eclipses may also occur when the shadow of the closer body occults the farther body. 

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Types of Eclipses

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There are several types of Eclipses. They are detailed below:

  • Solar Eclipse

  • Lunar Eclipse

  • Total Eclipse

  • Partial Eclipse

  • Annular Eclipse

  • Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

  • Umbral Eclipse

Solar Eclipse

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"And the suns runs towards its destination (resting place) ...." (36:38)

A solar eclipse is an occultation of the Sun by the Moon, whereby the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, which can only take place during daylight hours and can occur only at a new moon (new moons occur on Julian days). 

"And the moon when becomes full." (84:18)

The Moon's shadow sweeps across a portion of Earth's surface and an eclipse of the Sun is seen from that region.

Solar eclipses may be total or annular whereby total solar eclipses can last up to 7.6 minutes, while annular solar eclipses can last up to 12.5 minutes.

Records show that 240 solar eclipses occur every century.

The cycle of eclipses repeats itself within a period of 223 synodic months, known as the Saros cycle. This period spans 18 years,11 days, and 8 hours if the 18 years include four leap years. If it contains five leap years, the period spans 18 years,10 days, and 8 hours.

"Allah is He who raised heavens without pillars that you can see; Then He established Himself on the throne; And He subjected the sun and the moon (to his law); each one runs its course for a term appointed." (13:2)

Solar Eclipse

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Lunar Eclipse

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A lunar eclipse is an occultation of the Moon by the Earth's shadow, whereby the earth passes between the Sun and the Moon, and can occur only at a full moon ( a full moon occurs on Julian days).

"And the moon when becomes full." (84:18)

The Earth's shadow sweeps across a portion of Moon's surface and an eclipse of the Moon is seen.

Lunar eclipses can be either total or partial whereby total lunar eclipses can last up to 2 hours, while partial lunar eclipses can last up to 4 hours.

Records show that 150 lunar eclipses occur per century.

The cycle of eclipses repeats itself within a period of 223 synodic months, known as the Saros cycle. This period spans18 years,11 days, and 8 hours if the18 years include four leap years. If it contains five leap years, the period spans 18 years, 10 days, and 8 hours.
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Lunar Eclipse

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Time Between Solar and Lunar Eclipses

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The closest time between solar and lunar eclipses is 2 weeks as a solar eclipse is related with the beginning of the Islamic month, but occurs at the end of previous month and a lunar eclipse occurs only in the middle of Islamic month.

"And He who made the night for rest and sun and moon for reckoning of time. This is the decree of the Exalted, the All-knowing." (6:96)

"We made night and day two signs. The sign of night we made dark and sign of day we made bright. That ye may seek bounty from your lord and ye may know number of years and count (of time)." (17:12)

"It is He who made sun a lamp, and moon a light and measured stages so you know number of years and count (of time)." (10:5)

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Total Eclipse

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A total eclipse is either a lunar or solar eclipse in which the Moon or the Sun is completely eclipsed.

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Partial Eclipse

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A partial eclipse is either a lunar or solar eclipse in which the Moon or the Sun are not completely eclipsed.

.

Annular Eclipse

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An annular eclipse is a partial solar eclipse in which the Sun, Earth, and Moon lie on a straight line, but the Moon is farther away from the Earth than usual. This results in an incomplete covering of the Sun with a bright ring left around the edges of the Moon.

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Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

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A Penumbral Lunar Eclipse occurs when the moon passes through the penumbra but does not enter the umbra. 

An umbral eclipse happens when the moon passes through the umbral portion of the earth's shadow. During an umbral eclipse, a dark shadow is cast on the surface of the moon. 

In order to enter the umbra, the moon must first pass through the penumbra, consequently every umbral eclipse has a penumbral phase, when the moon first enters the penumbra.

This is followed by an umbral phase, during which the moon is in the shade of the umbra, followed by another penumbral phase, when the moon leaves the umbra. [
Wolfram Research]

Umbral Eclipse 

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An umbral eclipse is total if the moon moves entirely inside the umbra. During a partial lunar eclipse part of the moon's disk does not enter the umbra and will be visible during the entire eclipse.

Unlike the total phase of a solar eclipse which is only visible to observers located inside a small eclipse track, the total phase of a lunar eclipse can be viewed by anyone who can see the moon at the moment it becomes full.

The Significance of Astronomy in Islam

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Two issues are important in relation to astronomy, eclipses and signs in Islam.

Firstly, in regards to the solar eclipse. 

A solar eclipse occurred at the time when baby Ibrahim, the son of the Holy Prophet of Islam ('s) died. This occurred on 29th Shawwal, 10 AH, being January 27th, 632 AD. 

It was significant at the time as the Holy Prophet ('s) did not want the people to associate the eclipse with the death of his son and then be superstitious in relation to eclipses. He ('s) went directly to the mosque and performed salat.

[Ref: http://www.moonsighting.com/eclipses.html]

Secondly, astronomy and signs in Al-Quoran indicate occurrences as Signs of Qiyamah or the Day of Judgment.

Some quotes are as follows: 

"
And the moon is buried in darkness. And the sun and moon are joined together." (75:8-9)

"When the stars are put out and when the sky is cleft asunder." (77:8-9)

"When the sun is folded up and when the stars loose their lustre." (81:1-2)

"When the sky is cleft asunder and the planets are scattered and the oceans are forced to join." (82:1-3)

"
When the sky is split asunder and attentive to her lord, and it must do so." (84:1-2)

"One day the Earth will be changed to a different Earth and so will be the Heavens and (men) will be marshalled forth before Allah the One the Irresistible." (14:48)

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What is Required of us as Muslims

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At the time of a solar eclipse, 2 Rak'aats in congregational prayer, should be performed as performed by the Prophet Muhammad ('s). 

Independent prayers are encouraged when lunar eclipses occur.

Namaz-e-Ayaat is Obligatory

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Rules in accordance with Ayatullah al Uzama Syed Ali al-Husaini Seestani are as follows:Ayatullah al Uzama Syed Ali al-Husaini Seestani

1500. * Namaz-e-Ayaat whose methods will be explained later, becomes obligatory due the following four things:

(The prayer becomes Wajib even if the moon or the sun are partially eclipsed, and even if they do not engender any fear. )

Namaz-e-Ayaat during an earthquake, as an obligatory precaution, even if no one is frightened as well as thunder and lightning, red and black cyclones and other similar celestial phenomena, which frightens most of the people. Similarly for the terrestrial events like receding sea water, or falling mountains which engender fear in these circumstances, as per recommended precaution, Namaz-e-Ayaat be offered.

1501. If several events which make Namaz-e-Ayaat obligatory occur together, one should offer Namaz-e-Ayaat for each of them. For example, if a solar eclipse as well as an earthquake takes place, one should offer separate Namaz-e-Ayaat for each of these two occurrences.

1502. If a number of qadha Namaz-e-Ayaat is obligatory on a person, irrespective of whether they have become obligatory due to one and the same thing, like, solar eclipse occurring three times, or due to different events like solar eclipse, lunar eclipse and earthquake, it is not necessary for him while offering the qadha prayers to specify the event for which he is offering the prayer.

1503. Offering of Namaz-e-Ayaat is obligatory for the residents of only that town in which the event takes place. It is not obligatory for the people of other towns.

1504. * The time of Namaz-e-Ayaat sets in as the eclipse starts, and remains till the eclipse is over.  It is better, however, not to delay till the reversal of eclipse commences, though completion of Namaz-e-Ayaat may coincide with the time of reversal.

1505. If a person delays offering of Namaz-e-Ayaat till the sun or the moon starts coming out of eclipse, the niyyat of Ada (i.e. praying within time) will be in order, but if he offers the prayers after the eclipse is over, he should make a niyyat of qadha.

1506.* If the duration of solar or lunar eclipse allows time for one or less Rak'at, Namaz-e-Ayaat can be offered with the niyyat of Ada. Similarly, if a person has enough duration of eclipse at his disposal, but if he delays till the time to offer one Rak'at remains before the eclipse is over, he will pray with the niyyat of Ada (i.e. within time).

1507. * When earthquakes, thunder or lightning and other similar events take place, a person should offer Namaz-e-Ayaat immediately, not allowing undue delay. But if these occurrences continue for a protracted time, praying immediately is not obligatory. If one delays when one should not, then, as per recommended precaution, Namaz-e- Ayaat should be offered without the niyyat of ada or qadha.

1508. If a person did not know about the sun or the moon eclipse, and came to know after the eclipse was over, he should give its qadha if it was a total eclipse. And if he comes to know that the eclipse was partial, qadha will not be obligatory.

1509. * If certain people say that the sun or the moon has been eclipsed, but a person hearing that is not satisfied with what they say, and consequently does not offer Namaz-e-Ayaat, if it transpires later that what they said was true, the person should offer Namaz-e- Ayaat if it was a total eclipse. And if it was a partial eclipse, it is not obligatory upon him to offer Namaz-e-Ayaat. The same rule applies if two persons who he does not consider Adil, say that the sun or the moon has been eclipsed and it transpires later that they are Adil''.

1510. * If a person is satisfied with the statement of persons who know the time of solar or lunar eclipse according to scientific calculation, he should pray Namaz-e-Ayaat. Also, if they inform him that the sun or moon will be eclipsed at a particular time, and give him the duration of the eclipse, he should accept their words and act
accordingly, provided he is fully satisfied with them.

1511. If a person realises that Namaz-e-Ayaat offered by him was void, he should offer it again. And if the time has passed, he should offer its qadha.

1512. If Namaz-e-Ayaat becomes obligatory on a person at the time of daily prayers, and if he has enough time at his disposal for both, he can offer any of them first. If the time for one of them is short, he should offer that prayers first, and if the time for both of them is short, he should offer the daily prayers first.

1513. If a person realises during the daily prayers that the time for Namaz-e-Ayaat is short, and if the time for daily prayers is also short, he should complete the daily prayers and then offer Namaz-e- Ayaat. But if the time for daily prayers is not short, he should break that prayers and first offer Namaz-e-Ayaat and then offer the daily prayers.

1514. If a person realises while offering Namaz-e-Ayaat, that the time for daily prayers is short, he should leave Namaz-e-Ayaat and start offering the daily prayers. After completing the daily prayers, and before performing any act which invalidates the prayers, he should start Namaz-e-Ayaat from where he left.

1515. * If solar or lunar eclipses, thunder, lightning or any other similar events take place when a woman is in her menses or nifas, it will not be obligatory for her to offer Namaz-e-Ayaat, nor is there any qadha upon her.

Method of Offering Namaz-e-Ayaat

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1516. Namaz-e-Ayaat consists of two Rak'ats, and there are five Ruku in each. Its method is as follows: After making niyyat of offering the prayers, one should say takbir (Allahu Akbar) and recite Surah al-Hamd and the other Surah, and then perform the Ruku. Thereafter, he should stand and recite Surah al-Hamd and a Surah and then perform another Ruku. He should repeat this action five times, and, when he stands after the fifth Ruku, he should perform two Sajdah, and then stand up to perform the second Rak'at in the same manner as he has done in the first. Then he should recite tashahhud and Salam.

1517. * Namaz-e-Ayaat can also be offered in the following manner:

After making niyyat to offer Namaz-e-Ayaat, a person is allowed to say takbir and recite Surah al-Hamd and then divide the verses of the other Surah into five parts, and recite one verse or more or less, and thereafter perform the Ruku. 

He should then stand up and recite another part of the Surah (without reciting Surah al-Hamd) and then perform another Ruku. 

He should repeat this action, and finish that Surah before performing the fifth Ruku. For example, he may say: 

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim with the niyyat of reciting Surah al- Ikhlas, and perform the Ruku. 

He should then stand up and say, Qul huwallahu Ahad, and perform another Ruku. 

He should then stand up and say, Allahus Samad, and perform the third Ruku. 

Thereafter he should stand up again and say, Lam yalid walam yulad, and perform the fourth Ruku. 

Then he should stand up again and say, Walam yakullahu Kufuwan ahad, and then perform two Sajdah and then rise for the second Rak'at, the same way as the first Rak'at. 

At the end, he should recite tashahhud and Salam after the two Sajdah.

It is also permissible to divide a Surah into less than five parts. In that event, however, it is necessary that when the Surah is over, one should recite Surah al-Hamd before the next Ruku.

1518. There is no harm if in one Rak'at of Namaz-e-Ayaat, a person after Surah Al Hamd recites another Surah five times, and in the second Rak'at recites Surah Al Hamd, and divides the other Surah into five parts.

1519. * The things which are obligatory and Mustahab in daily prayers are also obligatory and Mustahab in Namaz-e-Ayaat. However, if Namaz- e-Ayaat is offered in congregation, one may say 'As-salaat' three times in place of Adhan and Iqamah. If the prayer is not being offered in congregation, it is not necessary to say anything.

1520. It is Mustahab that the person offering Namaz-e-Ayaat should say takbir before and after Ruku, and after the fifth and tenth Ruku he should say Sami'allahu liman hamida before takbir.

1521. It is Mustahab that qunut be recited before the second, fourth, sixth, eighth and tenth Ruku, but it will be sufficient if qunut is recited only before the tenth Ruku.

1522. If a person doubts as to how many Rak'ats he has offered in Namaz-e-Ayaat, and is unable to arrive at any decision, his prayer is void.

1523. * If a person doubts whether he is in the last Ruku of the first Rak'at, or in the first Ruku of the second Rak'at, and he cannot arrive at any decision, his Namaz-e-Ayaat is void. But if he doubts whether he has performed four Ruku or five, and if the doubt takes place before he goes into Sajdah, he should perform the Ruku about which he is doubtful. But if he has reached the stage of Sajdah, he should ignore his doubt.

1524. * Every Ruku of Namaz-e-Ayaat is a Ruku, and if any addition or deduction takes place in them, the prayer is void. Similarly, if an omission takes place inadvertently, or, as a precaution, an addition is made to it unintentionally, the prayers will be void.

Other Science and Astronomy References in Al-Quoran

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The Big Bang Theory - Creation of the heavens and earth
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"To Him is due the primal origin of the heavens and the earth; when He decrees a matter He said to it: "Be"; and it is." (2:117)

"Don't the Unbelievers see that the universe was once joined together, then We burst it apart. We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe." (21:30)

Creation of the Heavens and Earth
"In the creation of the heavens and earth, and the alternation of the night and day, and the ships which sail the seas to people's benefit, and the water which Allah sends down from the sky -- by which He brings the earth to life when it was dead and scatters about in it creatures of every kind -- and the varying direction of the winds, and the clouds subservient between heaven and earth, there are signs for people who use their intellect." (2:164)

Stars as Guides for Travellers In the Land and the Sea
"And it is He who ordained the stars for you that you may be guided thereby in the darkness of the land and the sea." (6:97)

"And marks and sign-posts and by the stars, (men) guide themselves." (16:16)

Constellations of the Stars
"And verily in the skies We have set constellations and beautified it for beholders." (15:16)

Creation of Mankind and Heavens By Allah
"See they not that Allah Who created the heavens and the earth has power to create the like of them (anew)?...." (17:99)

Gaseous state of universe
"Then He turned to the sky when it had been gas and said to it and the earth, condense willingly or unwillingly. And they said, "We condensed willingly." (41:11)

Expansion of the universe
"And the universe, we constructed with power and skill and verily we are expanding it." (51:47)

Other galaxies
"God is the One Who created seven heavens and of the earth a similar number. The command descends upon them so that you know that God has power over all things and comprehends all things in His knowledge." (65:12)

Seven Heavens, Stars, and the skies
"He Who created the seven heavens, one above another: No want of proportion will you see in the creation of Most Gracious, so turn your face again; Do you see any flaw ....... And We have adorned the lowest heaven with lamps ...." (67:3-5)

"See ye not how Allah has created the seven heavens one above another." (71:15)

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The Moon in the Holy Quoran

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Crescent moon as the standard to be used for reckoning of time
"They ask you about new crescent moons, say they are to mark fixed times for mankind and Hajj." (2:189)

Sun and Moon to be used for reckoning of time
"And He who made the night for rest and sun and moon for reckoning of time. This is the decree of the Exalted, the All-knowing." (6:96)

Sun, moon, and the stars governed by laws
"Allah is He, who created the sun, the moon, and the stars (all) governed by laws under His commandment." (7:54)

Allah created Sun and moon, and He made them subject to you
"It is Allah Who hath created the heavens and the earth and sendeth down rain from the skies......... He has made subject to you, the night and the day; the sun and the moon; and the stars in subjection by His command." (14:32-33)

Day and night, sun and moon, and stars made for you
"He has made subject to you, the night and the day; the sun and the moon; and the stars in subjection by His command." (16:12)

Orbits of celestial bodies
"It is He who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon, all (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its orbit." (21:33)

All things bow down to Allah
"See you not that to Allah bow down in worship all things in the heavens and on earth, the sun, the moon, the stars." (22:18)

Celestial bodies tied to orbits
"The sun and the moon follow courses exactly computed." (55:05)

Moon follows the sun
"By the sun and its radiant brightness; By the moon as she follows him." (91:1-2)

References:

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The Council of European Jamaats
The Eclipse Zone
Wolfram Research
Moonsighting.com
Astronomy

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