What the Holy Quran Says About the Miracle of the Moon Splitting?
By: Nabil Haroun
Let us first examine closely the first verse of Surat Al-Qamar (chapter 54) and read it in context of the following verse(s) and the whole surah. The first verse says what means: “The Hour has drawn near, and the moon has been cleft assunder.”
The verse refers to the cosmic event that occurred in the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), by Allah’s will, in order to support His prophet against the arrogant pagan Arabs in Makkah, at the peak of their resistance and hostility, and in response to their challenging the Prophet to bring them a sign.
This is supported by careful reading of the rest of Surat Al-Qamar, as follows:
1. The following two verses of Surat Al-Qamar say what means:
“And if they see a sign, they turn away and say, “This is continuous magic. They denied (the Verses of Allah – this Quran) and followed their own lusts. And every matter will be settled (according to the kind of deeds: good deeds will take their doer to Paradise , and similarly evil deeds will take their doers to Hell).” (54:2-3).
So, the pagans of Makkah belied what they had already seen with their own eyes, claiming that what they actually did see was merely a sort of witchcraft that affected either their own sight, or the appearance of the moon in their eyes.
2. The following paragraphs of Surat Al-Qamar highlight the similitude between the situation of Arab pagans and that of the previous nations, who belied the visible signs and miracles of the respective prophets: Noah (8-16), Hud (17-21), Salih (22-31), Lut (32-39), and, finally, Moses (40-42). This similitude is introduced by the following verses, which say what means:
“And indeed there has come to them news (in this Quran) wherein there is enough warning to check (them from evil). Perfect wisdom (this Quran), but (the preaching of) warners benefit them not. (54:4-5)
3. Hence, the first verse of Surat Al-Qamar documents an actual event, and not something that would occur in the future towards the end of the world. Towards that time a totally different event will occur, which is that the moon will be attracted to the sun. The Quran says what means:
“He asks, “When will be the Day of the Resurrection?” So, when the sight shall be dazed. And the moon will be eclipsed. And the sun and the moon will be joined together.” (75:6-9)The meaning of this verse is in agreement with modern science.
It is now known that the moon has been gradually moving away from the earth at the rate of 3 centimeters per year. One day it should fall within the stronger gravity of the sun, pulling the moon to it.
3. The statement “The Hour has drawn near” is apt. The earth and universe are billions of years old, so the past 15 centuries since the moon splitting are a minute fraction of the long history of the universe from creation to the Last Day, which could still come at any moment. This is in line with the Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him):
Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “I and the Last Hour have been sent like this…” (By “this” he means to indicate the short time between his mission and the Day of Judgment.)
Evidence from Authentic Prophetic Hadith
The event of the moon splitting has been reported in a number of authentically-reported Hadith narrations, through more than three different chains of narration (that is, almost mutawatir):
Narrated `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud: “During the lifetime of the Prophet, the moon was split into two parts and on that the Prophet said, ‘Bear witness [to this]’” (Al-Bukhari).
Narrated Anas ibn Malik: ”The Makkan people requested Allah’s Messenger to show them a miracle, and so he showed them the splitting of the moon.” (Al-Bukhari)
Narrated `Abdullah ibn `Abbas: “The moon was split into two parts during the lifetime of the Prophet.” (Al-Bukhari)
Other Supporting Arguments
A miracle, by definition, is a supernatural event beyond the laws of science; it is fulfilled only by Allah’s will and power. It has significance and can be confirmed only by those who directly witnessed the event in time. So, why should we seek material proofs of the occurrence of the moon division some 15 centuries ago?
Of interest, however, are some recently related observations made during exploration of the lunar surface. Enormously long (hundreds of kilometers) and deep (ranging hundreds of meters to tens of kilometers) ruptures, straight and curved, were detected. These ruptures are traversed with huge depressions such as Mare Orientalis, which is 1,000 km in diameter 9 km deep. It has been argued that such phenomena cannot be explained by the impact of asteroid-size objects or as being lunar rills induced by tensional cracks. One suggested explanation was that these could result from a splitting and reassembling event. (Reported by Dr. Zaghlul An-Naggar, Al-Ahram newspaper, Cairo , Sept. 23, 2002; Signs of Scientific Inimitability of the Noble Qur’an, 4th ed., pp .49-52.
In the same work, Dr. Zaghloul also cited an Indian historical manuscript (India Office Library, London, manuscript #2807/152-173), which says that this incident —observed by the Indian king of Malibar, Chakrawati Farmas—was the starting point of Islam spreading to India. When he heard that this was a miracle seen by Makkan pagans to support the Prophet, he and all his people embraced Islam.
Also of interest could be a similar event of a moon splitting, recently observed by the space ship Voyager in 1986. Miranda, one of the five moons of the planet Uranus, was hit by a large piece of planetary debris that split it into a number of fragments, which later reassembled by gravity. Photographs of the event were recorded and published in the National Geographic magazine (August 1986).