The sign prayer (Namaz-e-Ayaat) is one of the obligate prayers for Muslims due the solar or lunar eclipse, earthquakes, thunder.
A total eclipse of the moon on the night of September 27-28, 2015 was happened. It happens to be the closest supermoon of 2015. It’s the Northern Hemisphere’s Harvest Moon, or full moon nearest the September equinox. It’s the Southern Hemisphere’s first full moon of spring. The total lunar eclipse was visible from the most of North America and all of South America after sunset on September 27. From eastern South America and Greenland, the greatest eclipse was happened around midnight September 27-28. In Europe, Africa and the Middle East, the total eclipse took place in the wee hours of the morning, after midnight and before sunrise on September 28. A partial lunar eclipse was seen after sunset on September 27 from western Alaska, or before sunrise September 28 in far-western Asia.
Sign Prayer (Salat al-Ayaat) becomes obligatory due the lunar eclipse. The following are some practical laws of Grand Ayatollah Sistani about Sign Prayer:
Method of offering Namaz-e-Ayaat:
- – Sign Prayer consists of two Rak’ats, and there are five Ruku in each. Its method is as follows: After making niyyat of offering the prayers, one should say takbir (Allahu Akbar) and recite Surah al-Fatiha and the other Surah, and then perform the Ruku. Thereafter, he should stand and recite Surah al-Fatiha and a Surah and then perform another Ruku. He should repeat this action five times, and, when he stands after the fifth Ruku, he should perform two Sajdah, and then stand up to perform the second Rak’at in the same manner as he has done in the first. Then he should recite tashahhud and Salam.
- – Sign Prayer can also be offered in the following manner:
After making niyyat to offer Sign Prayer, a person is allowed to say takbir and recite Surah al-Hamd and then divide the verses of the other Surah into five parts, and recite one verse or more or less, and thereafter perform the Ruku. He should then stand up and recite another part of the Surah (without reciting Surah al-Fatiha) and then perform another Ruku. He should repeat this action, and finish that Surah before performing the fifth Ruku. For example, he may say: Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim with the niyyat of reciting Surah al-Ikhlas, and perform the Ruku. He should then stand up and say, Qul huwallahu Ahad, and perform another Ruku. He should then stand up and say, Allahus Samad, and perform the third Ruku. Thereafter he should stand up again and say, Lam yalid walam yulad, and perform the fourth Ruku. Then he should stand up again and say, Walam yakullahu Kufuwan ahad, and then perform two Sajdah and then rise for the second Rak’at, the same way as the first Rak’at. At the end, he should recite tashahhud and Salam after the two Sajdah. It is also permissible to divide a Surah into less than five parts. In that event, however, it is necessary that when the Surah is over, one should recite Surah al-Fatiha before the next Ruku.
- – There is no harm if in one Rak’at of Sign Prayer, a person after Surah al-Fatiha recites another Surah five times, and in the second Rak’at recites Surah al-Fatiha, and divides the other Surah into five parts.
- – The things which are obligatory and Mustahab in daily prayers are also obligatory and Mustahab in Sign Prayer. However, if Sign Prayer is offered in congregation, one may say ‘As-salaat’ three times in place of Adhan and Iqamah. If the prayer is not being offered in congregation, it is not necessary to say anything.
- – It is Mustahab that the person offering Sign Prayer should say takbir before and after Ruku, and after the fifth and tenth Ruku he should say Sami’allahu liman hamida before takbir.
- – It is Mustahab that qunut be recited before the second, fourth, sixth, eighth and tenth Ruku, but it will be sufficient if qunut is recited only before the tenth Ruku.
- – If a person doubts as to how many Rak’ats he has offered in Sign Prayer, and is unable to arrive at any decision, his prayer is void.
- – If a person doubts whether he is in the last Ruku of the first Rak’at, or in the first Ruku of the second Rak’at, and he cannot arrive at any decision, his Sign Prayer is void. But if he doubts whether he has performed four Ruku or five, and if the doubt takes place before he goes into Sajdah, he should perform the Ruku about which he is doubtful. But if he has reached the stage of Sajdah, he should ignore his doubt.
- – Every Ruku of Sign Prayer is a Rukn, and if any addition or deduction takes place in them, the prayer is void. Similarly, if an omission takes place inadvertently, or, as a precaution, an addition is made to it unintentionally, the prayers will be void.
- – Sign Prayer becomes obligatory due the following four things:
Solar Eclipse Lunar Eclipse
The prayer becomes Wajib even if the moon or the sun are partially eclipsed, and even if they do not engender any fear.
Earthquake, as an obligatory precaution, even if no one is frightened. Thunder and lightning, red and black cyclone and other similar celestial phenomena, which frightens most of the people; similarly for the terrestrial events like receding sea water, or falling mountains which engender fear in these circumstances, as per recommended precaution, Sign Prayer be offered.
- – If several events which make Sign Prayer obligatory occur together, one should offer Sign Prayer for each of them. For example, if solar eclipse as well as an earthquake take place, one should offer separate Sign Prayer for each of these two occurrences.
- – If a number of qadha Sign Prayer is obligatory on a person, irrespective of whether they have become obligatory due to one and the same thing, like, solar eclipse occurring three times, or due to different events like solar eclipse, lunar eclipse and earthquake, it is not necessary for him while offering the qadha prayers to specify the event for which he is offering the prayer.
- – Offering of Sign Prayer is obligatory for the residents of only that town in which the event takes place. It is not obligatory for the people of other towns.
- – The time of Sign Prayer sets in as the eclipse starts, and remains till the eclipse is over. It is better, however, not to delay till the reversal of eclipse commences, though completion of Sign Prayer may coincide with the time of reversal.
- – If a person realises during the daily prayers that the time for Sign Prayer is short, and if the time for daily prayers is also short, he should complete the daily prayers and then offer Sign Prayer. But if the time for daily prayers is not short, he should break that prayers and first offer Sign Prayer and then offer the daily prayers.
- – If a person realises while offering Sign Prayer, that the time for daily prayers is short, he should leave Sign Prayer and start offering the daily prayers. After completing the daily prayers, and before performing any act which invalidates the prayers, he should start Sign Prayer from where he left.
- – If solar or lunar eclipse, thunder, lightning or any other similar events take place when a woman is in her menses or nifas, it will not be obligatory for her to offer Sign Prayer, nor is there any qadha upon her.
- – If a person delays offering of Sign Prayer till the sun or the moon starts coming out of eclipse, the niyyat of Ada (i.e. praying within time) will be in order, but if he offers the prayers after the eclipse is over, he should make a niyyat of qadha.
- – If the duration of solar or lunar eclipse allows time for one or less Rak’at, Sign Prayer can be offered with the niyyat of Ada. Similarly, if a person has enough duration of eclipse at his disposal, but he delays till the time to offer one Rak’at remains before the eclipse is over, he will pray with the niyyat of Ada (i.e. within time).
- – If a person did not know about the sun or the moon eclipse, and came to know after the eclipse was over, he should give its qadha if it was a total eclipse. And if he comes to know that the eclipse was partial, qadha will not be obligatory.
- – If certain people say that the sun or the moon has been eclipsed, but a person hearing that is not satisfied with what they say, and consequently does not offer Sign Prayer, if it transpires later that what they said was true, the person should offer Sign Prayer if it was a total eclipse. And if it was a partial eclipse, it is not obligatory upon him to offer Sign Prayer. The same rule applies if two persons who he does not consider Adil, say that the sun or the moon has been eclipsed and it transpires later that they are Adil”.
- – If a person is satisfied with the statement of persons who know the time of solar or lunar eclipse according to scientific calculation, he should pray Sign Prayer. Also, if they inform him that the sun or moon will be eclipsed at a particular time, and give him the duration of the eclipse, he should accept their words and act accordingly, provided he is fully satisfied with them.
- – If a person realises that Sign Prayer offered by him was void, he should offer it again. And if the time has passed, he should offer its qadha.
- – If Sign Prayer becomes obligatory on a person at the time of daily prayers, and if he has enough time at his disposal for both, he can offer any of them first. If the time for one of them is short, he should offer that prayers first, and if the time for both of them is short, he should offer the daily prayers first.