Shaykh Bin Baz was asked:
How should Salat-ul-Kusuf (Prayer at the time of a solar eclipse) and Salat-ul-Khusuf (Prayer on a lunar eclipse) be performed? Is there any difference between them? What is your opinion on the reports published by the papers about the timings of a solar or lunar eclipse?
There are authentic Hadiths in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) showed how Salat-ul-Kusuf can be performed. He (peace be upon him) ordered that people should be called to it by announcing As-salatu Jami`ah “Gather for Prayer”.
The most authentic reports concerning this Salah show that it consists of two Rak`ahs (units of Prayer), and in each Rak`ah one should make two recitations and perform two Ruku`s (bowings) and two Sujuds (prostrations). The person should make lengthy recitation, Ruku` and Sujud. In the meantime, the first recitation and Ruku` should be longer than the second ones. The person should make Ruku` in the second Rak`ah for a shorter time than the two Ruku`s in the first one. During the second Rak`ah, the person should make the second recitation and Ruku` for a shorter time than the first in the same Rak`ah.
As for the two Sujuds, it is a Sunnah (action following the teachings of the Prophet) to be lengthy provided that this does not cause any difficulty to the Ma’mums (people being led by an Imam in Prayer) because this was the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) way. Upon completing the Salah, the Imam (the one who leads congregational Prayer), if he is knowledgeable, is allowed to deliver a sermon and tell the people that the solar and lunar eclipses are two signs of Allah (Exalted be He) by which He frightens His Servants. The Muslims, upon seeing it, are prescribed to offer Salah, remember Allah (Exalted be He), make Du`a’ (supplication) and Takbir (saying: “Allahu Akbar [Allah is the Greatest]”), give in charity, and emancipate a believing slave until the end of the eclipse. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Verily the sun and the moon are two signs among the signs of Allah by which He frightens His Servants and they do not eclipse on account of the death or birth of anybody. So when you see either of them, observe Prayer, and supplicate to Allah (Exalted be He) till it is cleared from you. Another narration reads: So whenever you see them, haste to remember Allah, invoke Him and ask Him for forgiveness. It is narrated in some Hadiths that the person should give in charity and emancipate slaves.
The astronomical reports about the timing of the eclipse must not be taken as the basis for offering Salat-ul-Kusuf. Some people of knowledge, including Shaykh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah and his knowledgeable disciple Ibn Al-Qayyim (may Allah be merciful to both of them) supported this view saying that the astronomers may sometimes be wrong; thus, these reports can not be reliable, and people should not offer Salat-ul-Kusuf depending on them. Rather, they have to offer the Salah upon seeing the eclipse when it is happening.
The publications of the astronomers’ reports about the timing of eclipse should be banned by the Ministry of Information, lest some people should be deceived by them. These publications may make people less frightened upon seeing the eclipse. Allah (Exalted be He) has made them to frighten the people. Therefore, they remember, fear, invoke Allah, and treat His Slaves properly. May Allah grant us success.
Majid Jawed Al-Afghanee