PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — While thousands grabbed special visors and ran outside to see the solar eclipse, area Muslims went inside a half-dozen mosques for a special prayer service.
It was standing room only at the United Muslim Masjid on South 8th Street near Fitzwater in South Philadelphia.
“It’s a pretty day, at least in the United States. The word has been going out at least over Facebook,” says Raqiwwa Ali, who was one of several dozen women who packed into the second floor of the mosque to stand, bow and then kneel with their foreheads on the ground. They followed along, reciting two units of the Quran beginning at 2:44 p.m. EST, the peak of the eclipse in Philadelphia.
“When the eclipse comes we stand and we pray for it, because it is a sign from God,” says Emir Qasim Rashad. He says the Profit Muhammad instructs Muslims to perform the special mercy prayer during solar and lunar eclipses, as well as during prolonged earthquakes.
“There is nothing spooky about it,” Rashad says. “It is not performed at the birth or death of a loved one. Instead, we simply follow the Profit to perform these prayers at the special occasions.”
Given the timing, it means Muslims miss the celestial event, well, almost.
“I like how it is a contradiction, a little bit of irony in this,” says Juaria, a Muslim woman who pulled out her special visor and took a peek at the eclipse on her way into the prayer service.
“I had to come out and see it,” she says. “I definitely wanted everyone to see it if they could.”
The significance of a solar eclipse varies based on religion.