SALAAT-UL-KUSUF AND SALAAT-UL-KHUSUF
Salaat-ul-Kusuf (Prayer on a solar eclipse) and Salaat-ul-Khusuf (Prayer on a lunar eclipse) are each comprised of two Ra…k‘ahs (units of Prayer). Recitation in both Salahs (Prayers) is performed out loud. In each Rak‘ah, there are two Ruku‘s (bowing), the second of which is always shorter than the first, and there are also two recitations. After the Takbirat-ul-Ihram (saying: “Allaahu Akbar [Allaah is the Greatest]” upon starting Prayer), Surah Al-Fatihah and a long Surah are recited.
After the first Ruku‘, Surah Al-Fatihah and a long Surah are recited, which is shorter than the preceding recitation. There are two Sujoods (Prostrations) in each Rak‘ah. This is the most authentic report mentioned regarding this Salah.
Narrated Abu Bakr(R A):
We were with Allaah’s Apostle(SAWS) when the sun eclipsed. Allaah’s Apostle stood up dragging his cloak till he entered the Masjid . He led us in a two-Rakat prayer till the sun (eclipse) had cleared. Then the Prophet (SAWS) said, “The sun and the moon do not eclipse because of someone’s death. So whenever you see these eclipses pray and invoke (Allaah) till the eclipse is over.”
[Bukhari :: Book 18 :: Volume 2 :: Hadith 150 ]
Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr(R A) :
“When the sun eclipsed in the life-time of Allaah’s Apostle (SAWS), an announcement was made that a prayer was to be offered in congregation.”
[Bukhari :: Book 18 :: Volume 2 :: Hadith 155 ]
Narrated ‘Aisha(R A): In the lifetime of the Prophet(SAWS) the sun eclipsed and he went to the Masjid and the people aligned behind him. He said the Takbir (starting the prayer) and prolonged the recitation (from the Qur’an) and then said Takbir and performed a prolonged bowing; then he (lifted his head and) said, “Sami Allaahu liman hamidah” (Allaah heard him who sent his praises to Him). He then did not prostrate but stood up and recited a prolonged recitation which was shorter than the first recitation. He again said Takbir and then bowed a prolonged bowing but shorter than the first one and then said, “Sami ‘Allaahu-Liman hamidah Rabbana walak-lhamd, (Allaah heard him who sent his praises to Him. O our Sustainer! All the praises are for You)” and then prostrated and did the same in the second Raka; thus he completed four bowing and four prostrations. The sun (eclipse) had cleared before he finished the prayer. (After the prayer) he stood up, glorified and praised Allaah as He deserved and then said, “The sun and the moon are two of the signs of Allaah . They do not eclipse because of the death or the life (i.e. birth) of someone. When you see them make haste for the prayer.” Narrated Az-Zuhri: I said to ‘Ursa, “When the sun eclipsed at Medina your brother (‘Abdullah bin Az-Zubair) offered only a two-Rakat prayer like that of the morning (Fajr) prayer.” ‘Ursa replied, “Yes, for he missed the Prophet’s tradition (concerning this matter).”
[Bukhari :: Book 18 :: Volume 2 :: Hadith 156 ]
The Prophet (SAWS) said: “The sun and the moon are two signs from the signs of Allaah. They do not eclipse for the death of anyone neither their life (i.e. birth). Allaah uses these to strike fear into His slaves. So when you see them offer the prayer and supplicate until the eclipse passes away.”[ Reported by An-Nasaai’ 3/152, Shaikh Al-Albaanee says Saheeh in Sunan An-Nasaai’ (#1502).]
How should Salaat-ul-Kusuf be done?
The most authentic reports concerning this Salah show that it consists of two Rak’ahs and that in each Rak’ah one should make two recitations and perform two Ruku’ (bowings) and two Sujood (prostrations). The person should make lengthy recitation, Ruku’ and Sujood . The first recital and Ruku’ should be longer than the second ones. Similarly, the recitation in the second Rak`ah should be shorter than the second recital in the first Rak`ah. The person should make Ruku’ in the second Rak`ah for a shorter time than the two Ruku’ in the first one. During the second Rak`ah, the person should make a second recital and Ruku’ for a shorter time than the first in the same Rak`ah.
Narrated Aisha(R Anha):
The Prophet (SAWS) led us and performed four bowing in two Rakat during the solar eclipse and the first Raka was longer. [Bukhari :: Book 18 :: Volume 2 :: Hadith 171 ]
As for the two Sujood , it is a Sunnah (recommended) to be lengthy providing that this does not cause any difficulty to the Ma’mums because this was the Prophet’s (SAWS) way.
Upon completing Salah, the Imam, if he is knowledgeable, is allowed to give a sermon and tell people that the solar and lunar eclipse are two signs of Allaah (Exalted be He) by which He frightens His servants.
The astronomical reports about the timing of the eclipse must not be taken as the basis for offering Salaat-ul-Kusuf. Some people of knowledge, including Shaykh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah and his knowledgeable disciple Ibn Al-Qayyim, , supported this view saying that the astronomers may sometimes be wrong and then these reports are not reliable and people should not offer Salaat-ul-Kusuf depending on them. Rather, they have to offer the Salaah upon seeing the eclipse when it is happening.