This post was originally written by Chicago physician and writer, Hesham A. Hassaballa on BeliefNet.
Today is a special day: a good deal of the United States will witness a total solar eclipse. It hasn’t happened in decades, and it won’t happen again in decades. Unfortunately, I have to work at the time, but I pray I will still be able to witness the special event.
Throughout history, both solar and lunar eclipses have been met with awe, trepidation, and amazement. I imagine the same will be with this current solar eclipse.
All across the country, there will be solar eclipse viewing parties galore, and I saw signs in St. Louis a week ago warning of the heavy traffic. Muslims will no doubt be a part of those gatherings.
Many American Muslims will mark the eclipse with a special ritual prayer. It hearkens back to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself, who marked a solar eclipse during his life with this ritual prayer.
In fact, the eclipse happened to occur the same day his son had died, and many of his companions remarked that the eclipse was in response to this event. The Prophet, however, denied the eclipse had anything to do with this terribly sad event:
“The sun and the moon are two signs amongst the signs of God; they do not eclipse because of the death of someone, and so when an eclipse occurs, pray and invoke God until the eclipse is over.” (Bukhari)
Still, many Muslims will follow the tradition of the Prophet by performing this special ritual prayer on August 21. It is nice opportunity to commemorate a celestial event with a beautiful way to adore the Maker of said celestial event.
However you choose to mark this special heavenly occasion, it is something that will be an amazing sight to see and an amazing thing to remember for years to come. Let us try not to miss it.