Salat-ul-Kusuf is prescribed upon seeing the eclipse, not upon hearing news of it from
the astronomers

Praise be to Allah, may peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad, his
family, his Companions, and those who are guided by his guidance.

According to `Abdul-`Aziz ibn Sultan Al-Shimmary, the director of Hilal observatories in the Astronomy and Geophysics Research Institute in King `Abdul-`Aziz City for Science and Technology, Al-Riyadh newspaper issue dated Sunday, 14th of Jumada Al-Awwal, 1416 A.H. Published that a lunar eclipse will occur in the evening of the said day. It also published in issue dated Monday, 29th of Jumada Al-Awwal, 1416 A.H. that `Abdul-Rahman ibn Muhammad Abu `Ammah, the Dean of Faculty of Science in King Saud University, stated that a solar eclipse will occur in the morning of Tuesday corresponding 30th of Jumada Al-Awwal, 1416 A.H.

I was informed that some Imams (the ones who lead congregational Prayer) performed Salat-ul-Kusuf (Prayer at the time of a solar eclipse) based on the announcements of astronomers published in the newspaper although the eclipse did not take place. I find it imperative to explain the ruling in Islam on this matter.

There are authentic Hadiths according to which the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) enjoined offering Salat-ul-Kusuf and reciting Dhikr (Remembrance of Allah) and Du`a’ (supplication) when the Muslims see a solar or lunar eclipse. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:

"The sun and the moon are two of the signs of Allah and they do not become eclipsed for the death or birth of anyone. But Allah sends them to make His slaves fear (Him), so if you see that, then pray and make Du`a' until it is over. Another narration reads: So if you see that, then hasten to remember Allah and call upon Him and seek His Forgiveness."[1]

So, he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) made the command of offering Salah (Prayer), making Du`a’, remembering Allah, and asking for forgiveness conditional upon the actual sighting of the eclipse and not on the reports of the astronomers.

Every Muslim must adhere to the Sunnah (acts, sayings or approvals of the Prophet) and act in accordance with it, and beware of everything that is contrary to it.

Hence, we know that those who offer Salat-ul-Kusuf on the basis of astronomical reports are making a mistake and going against the Sunnah.

It should also be noted that it is not prescribed for the people who live in a country where the eclipse is not happening to offer the Salah, because the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) made the command of offering this Salah conditional upon the actual sighting of the eclipse, not upon astronomical news that an eclipse is going to happen or on its happening in another country. Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) says:

{And whatsoever the Messenger (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) gives you, take it; and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain (from it).} [Surah Al-Hashr 59:7]

Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) also says:

{Indeed in the Messenger of Allâh (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) you have a good example to follow.} [Surah Al-Ahzab 33:21]

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) offered Salat-ul-Kusuf when that happened in Al-Madinah and the people saw it. Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) says:

{And let those who oppose the Messenger’s (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) commandment (i.e. his Sunnah - legal ways, orders, acts of worship, statements) (among the sects) beware, lest some Fitnah (disbelief, trials, afflictions, earthquakes, killing, overpowered by a tyrant) should befall them or a painful torment be inflicted on them.} [Surah An-Nur 24:63]

It is known that he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was the most knowledgeable and most sincere of people, and that he was the one who conveyed the rulings from Allah (عز وجل). If it was prescribed to offer Salat-ul-Kusuf on the basis of astronomers’ reports, or when an eclipse occurs in another region that is only seen by the local inhabitants, then he would have said so and would have guided his Ummah (nation based on one creed) to do that. Since he did not say that, rather, he said the opposite, and he told his Ummah to base their actions on actual sighting of the eclipse, we know that this Salah is only prescribed for those who see the eclipse and in whose land it occurs.
Since Allah (عز وجل) has ordained us to explain the truth, advise one another, call to the path of guidance, and has warned against anything that opposes it, I find it imperative to write this speech.

May Allah guide us and all Muslims to useful knowledge and act upon it, and protect all of us from speaking about religious matters without knowledge. We ask Allah to set right the affairs of all Muslims, grant them deep understanding in religion, and rectify their rulers for He is Able to do this. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, Companions, and followers in righteousness.

[1] Al-Bukhari, Sahih, Book on Friday, no. 1048; Al-Nasa'y, Sunan, Book on eclipse, no. 1502; and Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 5, p. 37.

Shaykh 'Abdul-'Azeez bin 'Abdullah bin Baaz

Source: – Fatwas of Ibn Baz, Volume 13