My Dear Members of PAAMA,
Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah.
May the Lord of mankind open unto you the gates of His mercy and may He so ordain that you are always accompanied by the supplication of His angels. Ameen.
As many of you know, tomorrow Friday 20th March, all parts of the UK are set to witness a partial solar eclipse, starting about 08:30 GMT and peaking about 09:35 GMT. It is reported that the amount of the sun’s disc which will be obscured will vary from 96% in Northern Scotland to 83% in Southern England. The solar eclipse, which is caused when the moon gets directly between earth and the sun, will also be visible in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa.
Witnessing a phenomenon such as a solar eclipse is a rare and memorable experience. I remind myself that the last time it happened in the UK was in August 1999 so one can fully appreciate the eagerness to glance up into the sky to behold the solar corona shining around the moon as it gradually comes between the sun and the earth. However, without the right precautions, looking directly at the sun during an eclipse can be dangerous. Experts inform us that the sun’s rays are so intense you can feel their warmth from 150 million km away. This is why looking at the sun directly, even for a few seconds, can seriously damage your eyes. It allows ultraviolet (UV) light to flood in and burn the light-sensitive cells causing potentially permanent blurry vision and blind spots. Please, therefore, bear this in mind and caution children especially that they must avoid looking directly at the sun during the eclipse even momentarily.
For us Muslims, however, there is another important requirement to be observed during an eclipse based on the Sunnah (Tradition) of the Holy Prophet (saw):
“The solar eclipse is called Kusoof and the lunar eclipse is called Khusoof. This visual change in the heavenly bodies reminds the faithful that just as the sun and the moon appear to have lost their light to a considerable extent during the eclipses, so can various kinds of spiritual ills result in a reduction of the spiritual light that illuminates the believer’s heart. Only God’s mercy can protect one from such a spiritual eclipse. Hence a two Raka’at Prayer is prescribed on the occasion of solar or lunar eclipses as a reminder to believers that they should seek God’s blessings and God’s mercy if they want to scale spiritual heights.
The inhabitants of a town or city offer two Raka’at in congregation, either in a mosque or outside in the open. Sura Fatiha and long passages from the Holy Quran should be recited aloud in this Prayer. In every Rak’at, two Ruku’ are performed. After the recitation of some passages of the Holy Quran, a Ruku should be performed, then the Imam should go back in Qiyam position and recite some other passages from the Quran and then go into Ruku for the second time. Some Traditions even tell us that the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, performed three Ruku in one Rak’at. Then the Imam should go into Sajdah position. Lengthy supplications should be made in Ruku as well as in Sajdah of this Prayer. At the end of the Prayer, the Imam should deliver a sermon, in which he should draw the attention of people to the subject of asking forgiveness from God Almighty and he should discuss ways and means of reforming society.” (Quoted from Salat – Muslim Prayer Book: http://www.alislam.org/books/salat/13.html)
Based on this Sunnah, Hadhrat Ameerul Mumineen, Khalifatul Masih V (aba) has directed that Salat Kusoof be offered at 09:00 GMT on Friday 20th March at both Masjid Fazl and Baitul Futuh Mosque. Members who live remotely should contact their local mosques or mission houses to confirm arrangements. Huzur Aqdas further directed that Sadaqah should be offered on that day.
It is my sincere hope and prayer that notwithstanding the Salat Kusoof being during what will be working and school hours, the majority of PAAMA members will be able to join in these very rare and hence very special prayers tomorrow. May Allah so ordain and bless you all profoundly. Ameen.
President Pan-African Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK