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In sura Al-Qamar 54:1-2, it is evident that the Quran says:

The Hour has come near, and the moon has split [in two]. And if they see a miracle, they turn away and say, "Passing magic."

Did this phenomena ever happened? Who witnessed it if it ever happened? What were the circumstances under which it happened? I would like to know the history behind it.

Or, it just never happened. In that case, what does 54:1-2 mean?

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Narrated Ibn `Abbas:

The moon was split into two parts during the lifetime of the Prophet.

Reference: Sahih al-Bukhari 3638

Narrated `Abdullah bin Masud:

During the lifetime of the Prophet the moon was split into two parts and on that the Prophet said, "Bear witness (to thus).

Reference: Sahih al-Bukhari 3636

Note: Both Abdullah ibn Masud and Ibn Abbass were companions of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wassalam) and also, one of the greatest scholars of Islam.

The History is :

Al-Bukhari recorded that Anas bin Malik said, "The people of Makkah asked the Messenger of Allah to produce a miracle, and he showed them the splitting of the moon into two parts, until they saw (the mount of) Hira' between them.'' This Hadith is recorded in the Two Sahihs with various chains of narration.

and Allah said what you quoted from Surah Al-Qamar 54:1-2

Narration of Jabyr bin Mut'im

Imam Ahmad recorded that Jubayr bin Mut'im said, "The moon was split into two pieces during the time of Allah's Prophet ; a part of the moon was over one mountain and another part over another mountain. So they said, Muhammad has taken us by his magic.' They then said, `If he was able to take us by magic, he will not be able to do so with all people.''' Only Imam Ahmad recorded this Hadith with this chain of narration. Al-Bayhaqi used another chain of narration in a similar Hadith he collected in Ad-Dala'il.

Source: Tafsir of Surah Qamar


Apart from that,

You might be knowing the fault line in the moon that splits it. NASA says it appears all over the moon. Not that I am claiming evidence that it happened during the splitting of moon by Prophet (Peace be upon him), but it can be a food for thought. NASA doesn't have any concrete evidence regarding how it happened.

Annemarie Schimmel (a non-Muslim author of "And Muhammad Is His Messenger: The Veneration of the Prophet in Islamic Piety", University of North Carolina Press, 1985, p.69–70) quotes Qadi Iyaad in support of this miracle as follows:

"It has not been said of any people on the earth that the moon was observed that night such that it could be stated that it was not split. Even if this had been reported from many different places, so that one would have to exclude the possibility that all agreed upon a lie, yet, we would not accept this as proof to the contrary, for the moon is not seen in the same way by different people.... An eclipse is visible in one country but not in the other one; in one place it is total, in the other one only partial."

I, also, have storyline with references (in the link to source), but I am not sure about the authenticity of the all. Most of references are known to me as authentic like Sahih Bukhari, Tirmidhi, Muslim, Musnad Ahmad, Tafsir of Tabari, Qurtubi etc and I am not sure about the rest. But, if you are curious:

The miracle of the splitting of the moon occurred before the migration to Medina upon the demands of the polytheists with the permission of God and it was shown by the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as narrated by many companions like Anas b. Malik, Hz. Ali, Huzayfa b. Yaman, Abdullah b. Mas’ud, Abdullah b. Abbas, Abdullah b. Umar, Abdullah b. Amr b. As , Jubayr b. Mut’im (May Allah be pleased with all of them).

Among Quraish polytheists, Walid b. Mughira, Abu Jahl. As b. Wail, As b. Hisham, Aswad b. Abdi Yaghus, Aswad b. Muttalib, Zama b. Aswad, Nadr b. Harith and others said to the prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

“If you truly are a Prophet that has been appointed by Allah, then split the moon in half. Let it be in such a way that one half will appear over the Mount Abu Qubais and the other half will be seen over Mount Quayqian.”

The prophet Muhammad (PBUH) asked:

“If I do it, will you become Muslims?”

The polytheists answered:

“Yes, we will.”

On the 14th night, when it was full moon, the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) wanted Almighty Allah to give him the miracle which the polytheists demanded from him.

When the Gabriel (AS) informed the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that God had accepted his prayer, he announced it to the Meccans. The polytheists witnessed the splitting of the moon on the 14th night.

When Almighty God let the moon split in half, one half standing over Mount Abu Qubais and the other half over Mount Quayqian, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) shouted at Muslims:

“O Abu Salama b. Abdulasad! Arqam b. Abi’l Erqam! Bear witness!

And to the polytheists, he said, “Bear witness! So and so!

However, the polytheists said “This is one of the spells of Abu Kabsha’s Son.” “The son of Abu Kabsha cast a spell on you!” They said “Muhammad cast a spell on us!”

Some of them also said:

“If Muhammad had cast a spell on us then, He couldn’t have cast a spell on everyone! Let us ask the wayfarers who came from the surrounding areas if they saw what we saw.”

They asked the people who came from every everywhere.

“Yes! We also did see the moon in that state! We saw the moon as split! They informed that the moon was split. Among the people who came from everywhere and seen the moon split, there was no one who had not informed them about it.

However, the polytheists rejected to be Muslims and to believe by saying:

“This is a prevalent magic!” , they said “Abu Talib’s orphan affected the sky with his spell!” .

Source: splitting of the moon

  • Aren't there narrations from people in Syria and Kerala who also saw this? – Ansari Aug 31 '12 at 18:38
  • @Ansari Narration? I am not aware. – Abdullah Aug 31 '12 at 18:40
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    Not sure if there are narrations strictly, but I do remember reading that someone in Syria at the time reported seeing it. Also isn't this the beginning of the story about the king in Kerala who sent his son to check out what was happening in Arabia and then built the first masjid in the subcontinent? – Ansari Aug 31 '12 at 18:48
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    @Ansari Okay, I see there is lot of mention of that story online. But, since it is not mentioned in Seerah or Hadith, I intend not to use it as a proof. Also because there are articles refuting that claim and such [Mostly hostile to Islam]. – Abdullah Aug 31 '12 at 18:52
  • Are there any more details available? Something can tell the story line or how how it happened? How it looked? Since the Quran is witness to it, it must have some strong proof. The proof that is in hadith is simply saying yes it simply happened. The question is which prominent sahabi witnessed it, who else witnessed it and how it looked. How cum there is only 2 or 3 sahaba that can relate to it. – muslim1 Aug 31 '12 at 23:50
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Moon WILL split and NOT that it already has.

So the Moon splitting is a future event - NOT PAST

Firstly the ayahs about the moon splitting in context Surah 54 [54.1] The hour drew nigh and the moon did rend asunder. [54.2] And if they see a miracle/sign they turn aside and say: Transient magic. [54.3] And they call (it) a lie, and follow their low desires; and every affair has its appointed term. [54.4] And certainly some narratives have come to them wherein is prevention-- [54.5] Consummate wisdom-- but warnings do not avail; [54.6] So turn (your) back on them (for) the day when the inviter shall invite them to a hard task, [54.7] Their eyes cast down, going forth from their graves as if they were scattered locusts, [54.8] Hastening to the inviter. The unbelievers shall say: This is a hard day.

I have read many sites in the past that continually say as the hadiths do, that Prophet Muhammad split the moon (there is also some minority Shia groups who like to argue it was Imam Ali)

There are many fallacies to such an idea.

The greatest problem is the idea that the prophet had other “miracles” not mentioned in the Quran. The word for “Miracle” in Arabic is Ayat also meaning sign and importantly VERSE. (To see an example of the word “āyatan” read [54:2] in the above narration).

The prophet was given 6236 AYATS/VERSES/SIGNS/MIRACLES.

It goes against the whole concept of Islam to think the prophet had more ayats than the Quran.

Some supporting ayats (that the prophet had no other ayats/verses/signs/miracles)

[13:7] And those who reject say: “If only a sign was sent down to him from his Lord.” You are but a warner, and to every people is a guide.

[3:183] Those who said: “God has pledged to us that we should not believe in a messenger unless he brings us an offering which the fire will devour.” Say: “Messengers have come to you before me with clarity and with what you have said, so why did you kill them if you were truthful?”

[30:58] And We have put forth for the people in this Qur’an of every example. And if you come to them with a sign, those who rejected will say: “You are bringing falsehood!”

[20:133] And they said: “If only he would bring us a sign from his Lord!” Did not proof come to them from what is in the previous scripts?

[6:124] And if a sign comes to them they say: “We will not believe until we are given the same as what the messengers of God were given!” God is fully aware of where He makes His message; those criminals will have debasement with God and a painful retribution for what they had schemed.

[6:35] And if their aversion has become too much for you, then perhaps you could make a tunnel in the earth, or a ladder to the heavens, and bring them a sign. Had God willed, He would have gathered them to the guidance; so do not be of the ignorant ones.


The other problem with such an idea is we also MUST agree that if the moon splits, it must/can/will be witnessed by other nations and not just to a few in the desert. In fact many people believe a big party of people witnessed this event, where as in their hadiths three around a mountain witnessed this event. Those being Abdullah bin Masud, Anas bin Malik and Ibn ‘Abbas (according to hadiths)

If only they saw it and it really did happen THEN this incident actually becomes an illusion for the eye or as the Quran states, Transient Magic.

What is magic? It is when the eye is tricked into believing something goes against the natural law. The Quran mentions magic as the eye being deceived, deluded, beguiled or bewitched.

Here is an example in the Quran where Allah mentions what magic is. Trickery of the eye

[7:116] He said, "Throw." Then when they threw, they bewitched (the) eyes (of) the people, and terrified them and came (up) with a magic great.

Therefore in this ideology based on Hadith, Prophet Muhammad deceived (done magic) to these 3 people because no one else in the world witnessed this ayat/verse/miracle/sign happening. If the moon splits the lost of the gravitational pull alone will cause major catastrophes on earth. The earth itself will lose its tilt and will ultimately begin spinning uncontrollably (east may become west). None of these expected catastrophes were experienced around the world when the prophet apparently split the moon.

Nobody besides 3 people saw it or felt it.


Ayats of consideration:

Before I begin explaining why it is a future event, I want to begin by removing the misconception that this is a past event.

1.

[54.1] The hour drew nigh and the moon did rend asunder.

Here it does mention the moon is mentioned splitting in past context. “Wa-inshaqqa” is past tense and translates to “and has split”

Sometimes the Quran gives future events in past tense, in order for the reader to feel as if they are experiencing it as it is happening

This can be seen in other ayats such as the one below

[78:19-20] The heaven was opened (futihat) like gates. The mountains were removed (suyyirat), as if they were a mirage.

Also in regards to [54:1], there is a sequence of events where it doesn’t just say the moon has split BUT it begins with “The Hour” or Judgement Day has come close, THEN it mentions the moon has split.

2.

[54.3] And they call (it) a lie, and follow their low desires; and every affair has its appointed term (Mustaqirrun).

In the Quran there are many examples of decrees coming to pass and something reaching its "appointed time”, in all instances on thing is for certain, there is no possibility of return.

The word used in [54.3] for "appointed term” or settlement is Mustaqirrun.

The same word is used later on in the Surah

[54:38] And certainly seized them in the morning early a settled punishment

In [54.3] we clearly see the moon has reached this pinnacle point. This means this ayat is mentioning the death of the moon and not like hadiths say it was put back together (or it has already split).

3.

[54.7] Their eyes cast down, going forth from their graves as if they were scattered locusts,

This ayat is clearly speaking about resurrection. NOBODY mentions the resurrection of the dead in hadiths.

This ayat alone clearly shows its a future event.

Now to the more plausible explanation of this Surah. Inshallah you all understand my perspective.

I see the Quran is explaining the story as though you are living that moment.

BEFORE YOU READ THIS SURAH, try doing to imagine yourself on that day (in future not past) when we ourselves witness the moon splitting and the hours is drawing near.

The Quran is explaining it from your own perspective.

[54.1] You just watched the moon split

[54.2] Others saw it but are calling it Transient Magic or CGI People are watching it on the news, YouTube, media or any other medium and saying it's a lie. Even those that look up in the sky believe it is just an illusion

[54.3] People continue their normal task due to claiming its a lie

[54.4-5] Can not comment if this has been given yet or if its in the future, but I can guess it may be in regards to the current moon splitting situation called "Lunar Graben". It is well documented that the crust of the moon is being stretched.

[54.6] Now it commands the successful to turn their backs on them when the inviters/callers are approaching those who claimed the end will never happen.

[54.7-8] Here the realization of their resurrection is cemented and they realise their error in assuming it would never come.

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