It was unsettling. Two nights back, I was up on my rooftop taking a night stroll and doing what I liked the most at that time of the night: star-gazing. Everything felt kind of perfect- it was cold, the skies were starry, the moon was full- it was just that right winter night that makes you wish you were some place out in the wilderness. There was just one weird problem. Something was odd with the moon and it definitely did not feel right. The moon with all its fullness, appeared dim with a reddish tint to it. And that is why it was so unsettling. Like it was obscured by some black mist. I had this strange urge to reach out and clear this darkening to get the moonlight I so wanted to see.
Then later, it dawned on me that I had just witnessed a full-blown lunar eclipse- a cosmic, rusty-red lunar light spectacular. Did I mention I like star-gazing? Correction-I’m an avid star-gazer who didn’t know she was looking at an eclipse in progress when she was trying to figure out why the full-moon appeared shadowed and a deep coppery shade with a mystical red glow to it until after it almost passed. Oh well, I had never seen an eclipse that clear before and I wasn’t keeping tabs on it either.
This was a one-time thing. Really. Looking at an eclipse and knowing that you’re watching a perfect sun-earth-moon alignment is one thing. But looking at an eclipse in progress not knowing what has gone awry with the heavenly bodies is a totally different feeling. It just didn’t occur to me that it could have been an eclipse. And I have to say, the sight was disturbing, sort of. Now I see why the ancients had made such a great hype about this bit of astronomy- the eclipse with all the nonsensical string of myths attached to it. Though I dwelled in my confusion just for a few minutes (before realizing it was an eclipse), I guess those were the minutes that were priceless. Those were the minutes that brought my thoughts crashing to a standstill, that made me see things differently because there’s more to a lunar eclipse than just the Sun, the Earth and the Moon aligned with each other. Nope, piquing man’s curiosity to explore the galaxy is not the only Divine reason behind this mighty phenomenon. It’s one of the signs of the Almighty- a reminder, a sort of a warning bell of the approaching inevitable: the Day of Judgement- when the sun, moon and stars will all lose their light and glory. And man will be in a state of utter confusion and hysteria.
فَإِذَا بَرِقَ ٱلۡبَصَرُ (٧) وَخَسَفَ ٱلۡقَمَرُ (٨) وَجُمِعَ ٱلشَّمۡسُ وَٱلۡقَمَرُ (٩) يَقُولُ ٱلۡإِنسَـٰنُ يَوۡمَٮِٕذٍ أَيۡنَ ٱلۡمَفَرُّ (١٠) كَلَّا لَا وَزَرَ (١١) إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ يَوۡمَٮِٕذٍ ٱلۡمُسۡتَقَرُّ (١٢)
So, when the sight shall be dazed, and the moon will be eclipsed, and the sun and moon will be joined together (by going one into the other or folded up or deprived of their light).On that Day man will say: “Where (is the refuge) to flee?” No! There is no refuge! Unto your Lord (Alone) will be the place of rest that Day. [Al Qiyamah, 75:7-10]
I guess my few moments of total blankness from the science behind eclipse really served the purpose. Earlier I had watched eclipses in total awe complete with a portable telescope but had never been able to “see” anything beyond the programmed astronomical happening. The point is, we’ve got to open our eyes and really look at all that’s happening around us. Science is just an apparent reason. There’s always a deeper meaning to everything. We’re not a part of some cosmic coincidence. It’s time we snap out of the comfort zones that we’ve built around us, and respond to the call of the Reckoning. It’s all around us- in the stillness of the dawn, in the settling darkness of the afterglow… and especially in the shadows of the eclipses.
P.S: To read more about eclipse and its significance in Islam, follow this link.