Partial Penumbral Lunar Eclipse,
Should We Perform Kusuf Prayer?
It was stated in the Muhammadiyah calendar that a penumbral lunar eclipse will occur on March 23rd (and on September 16th and 17th). In light of what is going to happen, is it necessary to perform prayer on that day? What is the Fatwa of Muhammadiyah? [Management of Masjid Al-Jihad, District Board of Muhammadiyah Situbondo, East Java, 12-03-2016]
Thank you for your question. Before answering your question, it is worth to clarify the notion and the incidence of eclipses, both solar and lunar eclipses. Simply, in daily language, solar eclipse occurs when the solar disc is blocked by the lunar disc as seen from the earth. The closing of the disc of the sun could be total, so it is called total eclipse. It could also be the solar disc was covered partially, the so-called partial solar eclipse. Furthermore, it could also be that the solar disc was covered only the middle part, while the edges around the disc were not closed, so the sun looks like a circular ring. This is called annular eclipse. According to Muhammadiyah’s understanding, when the three types of solar eclipses occur, it is encouraged to perform kusuf (eclipse) prayers.
We can also explain the term eclipse in another simple way. An eclipse occurs when an object in the sky passes into dark shadows or imaginary (unreal) shadows of other celestial bodies. Keep in mind that every celestial object in the sky has shadows that it is pulled any time in its orbit as a result of sun exposure to it. We know that all objects of any kind will have shadows when exposed to sunlight, like a tree in the garden on a hot day has its shadows used by farmers as a shelter. Solar eclipse occurs when certain parts of the earth are affected by, or entered into, dark shadows or imaginary (unreal) shadows of the moon as explained in following diagram 1
Diagram 1 above shows the darkest part of moon’s shadows (called the umbra) touching the face of the earth and the earth is hit by the umbra experiencing a total solar eclipse. This means that people who are in the region will see that the entire disc of the sun is covered by the disc of the moon. Then there is also a part of the earth affected by the imaginary (unreal) shadows called the penumbra. Part of the earth affected by the penumbra is experiencing a partial solar eclipse. This means that people who are in the region will see the solar disc covered in part by a disc of the moon.
Diagram 2 shows three kinds of shadows of the moon, namely the umbra (dark shadows), the penumbra (fake shadows), and antumbra, fake shadows but also located at the end of the dark shadows of the moon. In the diagram, it can be seen that the umbra does not reach the earth, but hanging in the sky. The one that reaches the earth is antumbra. The region affected by the antumbra is experiencing an annular solar eclipse. This means that people in the region will see that only the center part of the solar disc is covered by a disc of the moon.
It should be noted that the body of the moon is much smaller than the body of the earth and so, the dark shadows of the moon may not cover the entire face of the earth. Only a small portion of the earth is covered by the umbra. Therefore, a total eclipse is only one narrow area on earth with a width of about 250 km, and the shadows run from west to east.
Regarding the lunar eclipse, it can be explained that the event occurred at the time of the opposition (the opposite of conjunction) namely during the full moon, when the earth is between the sun and the moon. But not every time the opposition takes place a lunar eclipse occurs, because the earth is not always exactly located on a straight line between the center point of the moon and the center point of the sun. Only when it is touching the straight line an eclipse occurs. This means that during the full moon a lunar eclipse occurs only when the nodal line pointing straight toward the sun.
The occurrence of a lunar eclipse is caused by the entrance of the moon into the earth’s shadow. Because the ball of the earth is greater than the ball of the moon, so it is possible that the entire body of moon enters into the dark shadows of the earth (umbra), resulting in a total lunar eclipse that is being observed from the entire face of the earth, and from the surface of the earth the disc of the moon is covered by the darkest part of the earth’s shadows (number 8 in diagram 3). Or it could be that only part of the body of the moon that enters into the dense shadows of the earth (umbra), resulting in a partial lunar eclipse. In this case, the disc of the moon seen from the surface of the earth is not completely round because part of it is covered by the dark shadows of the earth (number 9 in diagram 3). In fact, it could be that the body of the moon does not enter at all into the dark shadows of the earth (umbra), but only enters into the imaginary (unreal) shadow of the earth (penumbra), and that is why it is called a penumbral eclipse (number 7 in diagram 3). In this case, as seen from the earth there is no portion of the disc of the moon that is covered by the earth’s dark shadows (umbra). The disc of the moon looks intact (round), just a little dim. It may also happen that the body of the moon only partially enters into the imaginary shadows of the earth (penumbra), so it is called a partial penumbral lunar eclipse (number 10 in diagram 3).
It should be noted that in its rotation around the earth, when an eclipse occurs, the moon does not always cross the dark shadows of the earth (umbra), but could be just passing in the imaginary (fake) shadows of the earth (penumbra). In this case, umbral eclipse does not occur. What happens is just penumbral eclipse. A lunar eclipse happened on March 23, 2016, and another lunar eclipse will occur on September 16, 2016.
To add an explanation about the possibility of the moon to pass into the shadows of the earth, see diagram 4.
During the time of Prophet Muhammad (saw) in the Medina period, there were 4 solar eclipses which could be seen in Medina. They were all partial solar eclipses. During the same period, there were 17 lunar eclipses: four total eclipses, seven partial, and six penumbral. But the Hadith paid a lot of attention to solar eclipse. It had always been the case throughout the history of human civilization. Solar eclipse always gets more attention. Almost no Hadith recorded a lunar eclipse at the time of the Prophet. Of the four solar eclipses that happened in Medina during the time of the Prophet, the last eclipse that occurred on Monday, January 27, 632 AD (29 Shawwal 10 H) got more attention in the Prophet’s Hadiths. This was mainly due to the fact that on the day, his son, Ibrahim, died at the age of 22 months. Moreover, it was a partial eclipse he experienced most. The eclipse began at 07:15:57, Madinah Time, and ended at 09:54:29, Local Time. This eclipse was annular. The trail of the eclipse did not pass through the city of Medina, but through the south of the Arabian Peninsula, so people in Medina experienced only a partial eclipse.
No doubt that the Prophet was performing prayers on the occasion of the partial solar eclipse as what he experienced in Medina and Mecca were all partial solar eclipse. The partial solar eclipse was experienced by region of the earth that goes into the imaginary shadows of the moon (penumbra). The difference with the penumbral lunar eclipse is that when the body of the moon enters into the imaginary shadows of the earth (penumbra), the disc of the moon is visible from the surface of the earth as intact and round. Only the light of the disc of the moon looks a little dimmer, but it is not pronounced. So, there is no part of the disc of the moon that is being covered that makes it seem incomplete. The disc of the moon looks closed when the body of the moon enters the dark shadows (umbra) of the earth. When it is fully entered, then a total lunar eclipse occurs (see number 8 in diagram 3 and number 2 in diagram 4). If only a portion of it enters, then there is a partial eclipse (see number 9 in diagram 3, and number 3 in diagram 4). It is no doubt that when a partial lunar eclipse takes place, kusuf prayer is being performed as the Prophet did it during the time when a partial solar eclipse happened.
Here is Hadith narrated by Aisha that forms the basis for doing prayers on the occasions of both solar and lunar eclipses:
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ زَوْجِ النَّبِىِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَتْ خَسَفَتِ الشَّمْسُ فِى حَيَاةِ النَّبِىِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَخَرَجَ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ فَصَفَّ النَّاسُ وَرَاءَهُ ، فَكَبَّرَ فَاقْتَرَأَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قِرَاءَةً طَوِيلَةً ، ثُمَّ كَبَّرَ فَرَكَعَ رُكُوعًا طَوِيلاً ، ثُمَّ قَالَ سَمِعَ اللهُ لِمَنْ حَمِدَهُ . فَقَامَ وَلَمْ يَسْجُدْ ، وَقَرَأَ قِرَاءَةً طَوِيلَةً ، هِىَ أَدْنَى مِنَ الْقِرَاءَةِ الأُولَى ، ثُمَّ كَبَّرَ وَرَكَعَ رُكُوعًا طَوِيلاً ، وَهْوَ أَدْنَى مِنَ الرُّكُوعِ الأَوَّلِ ، ثُمَّ قَالَ سَمِعَ اللهُ لِمَنْ حَمِدَهُ ، رَبَّنَا وَلَكَ الْحَمْدُ . ثُمَّ سَجَدَ ، ثُمَّ قَالَ فِى الرَّكْعَةِ الآخِرَةِ مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ ، فَاسْتَكْمَلَ أَرْبَعَ رَكَعَاتٍ فِى أَرْبَعِ سَجَدَاتٍ ، وَانْجَلَتِ الشَّمْسُ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَنْصَرِفَ ، ثُمَّ قَامَ فَأَثْنَى عَلَى اللهِ بِمَا هُوَ أَهْلُهُ ثُمَّ قَالَ هُمَا آيَتَانِ مِنْ آيَاتِ اللهِ ، لاَ يَخْسِفَانِ لِمَوْتِ أَحَدٍ وَلاَ لِحَيَاتِهِ ، فَإِذَا رَأَيْتُمُوهُمَا فَافْزَعُوا إِلَى الصَّلاَةِ [رواه البخاري والنسائي وأحمد
From ‘A’isyah, the wife of the Prophet, it was reported that he said: A solar eclipse occurred during the time of the Prophet, then he came out to the mosque and the pilgrims were standing in line behind him. Rasulullah (saw) uttered Allahu Akbar, recited long verses of the Quran (qiraat) and uttered again Allahu Akbar and bowed down in worship. Then he said sami’allāhu liman hamidah, stood up straight, no prostration, but reading long verses, but shorter than first one, then he was bowing down a long time, but shorter than the first bowing. Then he recited sami’allāhu liman Hamidah, Rabbana wa lakal-Hamd. Then he bowed again. Then in the second rakah (the last rakah),) he uttered words like during the first rakat, so he fulfilled four bowings and four prostrations. Then, before he finished, the sun off of the eclipse. Then he stood up and said tahmid to praise God in accordance with what became propriety for him, and he said: Verily the sun and the moon are two signs of Allah’s greatness. The two do not eclipse because of the death and life of a person. If you see them, immediately perform prayer [Narrated by al-Bukhari, an-Nasa’i, and Ahmad].
According to this Hadith, when a solar eclipse or a lunar eclipse occur, prayers are performed. The word “see” in the above Hadith does not mean see physically, but it is interpreted as experience which is the area where we are hit by a dark shadow (umbra) or imaginary shadow (penumbra) in the case of a solar eclipse, or hit by the dark shadow (umbra) of the moon in the case of a lunar eclipse. So, although we do not see the eclipse physically, because heavy rain is falling for example, or the sky is being covered with dark clouds preventing us from seeing the eclipse, we are encouraged to do prayers because we are experiencing it, even though we cannot see the eclipse physically because of the thick clouds.
Questions arise with regard to the case of numbers 7 and 10 in diagram 3 or numbers 1 and 4 in diagram 4, namely when a penumbral lunar eclipse, both total penumbral (number 7 in diagram 3 or 1 in diagram 4) or a partial penumbral (number 10 in diagram 3 or number 4 in diagram 4), is kusuf prayer also being performed? To answer this, it is necessary to investigate the meaning of the word “khusuf” and “kusuf” being used to refer to an eclipse in Hadith. Yet, it should be emphasized that in Islamic fiqh, a solar eclipse is called kusuf and a lunar eclipse is called khusūf. Meanwhile in Hadith there was no such specificity. In the Hadith, the two words are used interchangeably, as the Hadith quoted above called a solar eclipse khusūf.
The word “khusūf” overall implies disappear or lost, diminished, to make a hole, tear. The words of Allah: fa khasafnā bihi al-arda [Qur’an, chapter 28, verse 81] means, “So We (Allah) buries him (Karun) and his house into the earth.” The sentence khasafa al-makānu means ‘the place is lost’ (in the sense of sinking due to water or other reasons). Khasafat al-‘ainu (خسف العينُ) means blind eyes, dark and cannot see. Al-Khasīf min as-sahab (الخاسف من السحب) means black cloud that contains water. In terms of a lunar eclipse it means that the moon disappears in the dark shadows of the earth so it is missing and out of sight.
Khasafa al-‘aina (خسف العينُ) means cutting off eyeballs, so that the face has no longer eyeballs. Khasafa al-bi’ra (خسف البئرَ) means digging stones to deepen the well in order to add depth. Khasafa ash-syai’a means making a hole on something or cutting it. Khasafa ash-syai’u (خسف الشيء) means something is reduced (because there are parts that are missing or cut off). Khasafa al-badanu (خسف البدن) means a thin body. The body is being reduced or lost most of its weight. This link with the lunar eclipse is that some of the disc of the moon look toothless or cut off and incomplete (not full) because some of the disc of the moon enter into the dark shadows (umbra) of the earth. So, khusūf (الخسوف) means that the disc of the moon is missing in the umbra or lost in part so that its disc looks like being cut off and incomplete because it partially enters into the earth’s umbra.
As for the word “kusūf (كسوف),” it means covering, cutting, or gloomy, somber or discolored face. Kasafa asy-syai’a (كسف الشىء) means gaṭṭāhu (غطاه) which means to cover up something. Kasafa as-ṡauba (كسف الثوب) means cutting the fabric. Kasafa al-wajhu (كسف الوجه) means somber face, the color of face turns sour, gloomy. So, the core meaning of kusūf (كسوف) is covered, or cut off. In relation to an eclipse, it means that the sun or the moon is covered closed or its disc is cut off, resulting in its light turns into grim.
Based on the discussions above, we can conclude that an eclipse which is called khusūf or kusūf in the Hadith, means that the disc of the sun or the moon is covered and missing or cut off and does not look intact. In the case of a solar eclipse, the earth passes through the umbra, antumbra or penumbra. In the case of a lunar eclipse, the loss of the disc of the moon appears to be cut off or missing and incomplete because the moon disc enters into the umbra. If it does not get into the umbra, and only enters into the penumbra, the disc of the moon will still look intact (round) and no part of it appears to be cut off. Only the moonlight looks a little dim, but it is difficult to distinguish it from the absence of an eclipse.
Based on the semantic analysis of the word “khusūf” and “kusūf” above, the Majelis Tarjih and Tajdid (the Council of Fatwa and Islamic Research) of Muhammadiyah was of the opinion that kusuf prayer is done in the case of an eclipse in which the disc of two celestial bodies appear decreased or incomplete or missing entirely. It should be noted that prayers are performed regardless whether we see physically or not because there is a thick cloud, for example. This means that kusuf prayers are performed because our region is experiencing an eclipse, though we cannot see the eclipse with the naked eye because the sky is being covered with thick clouds.
In the case of penumbral eclipse, the disc of the moon appears complete and round, did not appear cut off, the moonlight looks a little dim, and sometimes people in this case cannot distinguish between the occurrence and absence of an eclipse. Therefore, in the case of penumbral lunar eclipse, Majelis Tarjh and Tajdid does not require people to do prayers.
[Issued in Yogyakarta on Friday, March 18, 2016 M / 9 Jumadil Akhir1437 H
Translated on Thursday, September 8, 2016/6 Dzulhijjah 1437 H by Zulkarnain Tajibnapis. For original version in Indonesian click here
and for short version in Arabic click here