Continued serialisation of the English rendering of Hadhrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad(ra)’s outstanding biography, Seerat Khatamun Nabiyyin, on the life and character of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw). Seerat Khatamun Nabiyyin has been translated into English for the first time, and is being serialised in The Review of Religions. This section analyses the miracle of the splitting of the moon, did the moon literally break apart?
Translated from the Urdu by Ayyaz Mahmood Khan
Miracle of the Shaqqul-Qamar (Splitting of the Moon)
The Holy Prophet(saw) was perhaps still in the Valley of Abu Talib when the renowned miracle of the Shaqqul-Qamar took place. A few among the infidels sought a miracle of the Holy Prophet(saw) so he showed them the miracle of the moon breaking into two pieces. The Holy Qur’an makes mention of this occurrence in the following words:
The Hour has drawn nigh, and the moon is rent asunder. And if they see a Sign, they turn away and say, ‘A passing feat of magic and such has been done before.’ They denied our messengers and followed their own greed and lust, but for everything is an appointed time. We have given them such news as provides them a warning and means of awareness.1
Mention of this miracle is found in the following words in Hadith:
‘The infidels of Makkah sought a sign from the Holy Prophet(saw), upon which he showed them the moon in two pieces. Thus, they saw one piece of the moon to one side of Mount Hira, and the other piece to the other side.’2
In another narration related by ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ud(ra), the following words are recorded:
‘We were at Mina with the Holy Prophet(saw) when the moon was rent asunder, upon which the Holy Prophet(saw) said, ‘Look and bear witness.’ One piece of the moon was towards the top of the mountain and the other towards the bottom.’3
In addition to this, there are many other narrations recorded in Hadith and books of Sirat regarding the Shaqqul-Qamar, in which other details have also been recorded. However, the more authentic narrations are those which have been mentioned above. Moreover, since our purpose is not to take up this issue here in the form of a debate, the mere allusion of the above mentioned narrations will suffice. However, it is necessary to present a brief explanatory note regarding this issue, in order to present the actual truth behind this miracle. Did the moon in fact split into two pieces or were the eyes of the spectators supernaturally overpowered such as the moon appeared to them split in two? Moreover, what was the purpose behind this miracle?
Hence, on this subject, it should be known that before the power of God, nothing is impossible. One who believes that this entire universe came into being by the Hand of God cannot show reluctance in believing, even for a moment, that if God Wills, He can annihilate the whole of it by a single command. However, as far as this occurrence is concerned, the established belief is that the moon did not actually split into two pieces; rather, it appeared to spectators as if it had been rent asunder, by the power of God. This is not surprising, because if a trained individual can project a visible object in an unreal state, through mental power i.e., by hypnotism, then before the power of God and the spiritual power of His messenger, it is not impossible that at that time, the eyes of the spectators were overpowered by a supernatural power, and they saw the moon split into two pieces. In any case, to us, the definite reality is that the moon did not actually break into two, but only appeared to spectators as breaking into two pieces.
If one ponders closely, the words of Hadith also allude to this actuality, that this was the Divine influence of God, which was impressed upon the sight of spectators. Most research scholars have accepted this explanation as true. However, if hypothetically, we accept this miracle in its physical sense, even then there is no room for objection. The powers of God are infinite, and human sights cannot comprehend even its simplest dimensions. Just recently in 1928, an occurrence took place in South America in the country of Le Plata, where a star was seen splitting into two pieces. The name of this star was the Nova Pictoris, and the largest observatory in southern Africa, situated in Johannesburg, also confirms this occurrence. Scientists assert the possibility that in the past perhaps other heavenly bodies have also broken into two.4 Therefore, it is not surprising if in the era of the Holy Prophet(saw), by the supernatural power of God, a piece of the moon broke off, or if the moon was broken into two pieces and then joined together. No scientist can object to this. However, the truth of the matter is that which has been mentioned above.
Now the second question remains: what was the purpose of this miracle? In actuality, this is the real and significant question, because only it can reveal the reality and grandeur of this miracle. As such, in this regard, it should be comprehended that according to ‘Ilm-e-Ta‘bir-e-Ru’ya,5 the moon is symbolic of sovereignty and reign, whether it be just and equitable or cruel and despotic.6 Numerous examples of this interpretation can be found in history. Thus, we shall see ahead that when Safiyyah(ra), the daughter of a Jewish Cheiftain of Khaibar, Huyaiyy bin Akhtab, saw a dream that the moon had fallen in to her lap, her father also interpreted that one day Safiyyah(ra) will come into the matrimonial tie of an Arab ruler. Therefore, it so happened that after the victory of Khaibar, Safiyyah(ra) came into the matrimonial tie of the Holy Prophet(saw).7 Similarly, when Hadhrat ‘A’ishah(ra) saw in a dream that three moons had fallen into her chamber, the course of events substantiated this dream, by the same interpretation, the actual purport of which was that the Holy Prophet(saw), Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) and Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) were to be buried there.8
In this case, the purpose of showing the miracle of the moon being rent asunder to the infidels of Makkah was an insinuation that now their rule was about to end and the rule of Islam would be established in its place. In other words, when the infidels of the Quraish demanded a sign from the Holy Prophet(saw), God the Almighty showed them the moon rent asunder, so as to inform them that you ask for a sign, while the hour of your death draws near. Therefore, with reference to this miracle, where the Holy Qur’an uses the words (i.e., the Hour draws nigh), the purpose is to hint towards this very actuality. In other words, when the infidels demanded a sign, by showing them the miracle of the Shaqqul-Qamar, they were informed that, with the end of your reign, the rule of Muhammad(saw) shall now be established, which shall be evidence of the Holy Prophet(saw) being sent from Allah. Moreover, since the Quraish understood this indication well, they powerlessly cried out, meaning, ‘O Muhammad[sa]! If this actually happens, considering your current state of weakness, then this shall be great magic indeed.’ In short, the true purpose behind the miracle of the Shaqqul-Qamar was to illustrate before the infidels of Makkah that now your rule comes to an end. It is this very elucidation which makes the Shaqqul-Qamar a grand miracle. Although literally breaking the moon into two pieces without purpose would prove to be a wonder in light of astronomy, it would hold no weight in the spiritual realm. For this reason, past research scholars the like of Imam Ghazali and Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dehlvi, have also expressed a similar ideology that this was merely a supernatural influence, under which the infidels witnessed the moon breaking into two pieces, but the moon did not actually break into two.9 Moreover, when the moon did not actually break into two, rather, only seemed that way to spectators, without question, there must be a deeper wisdom behind it. That very wisdom is the one we have mentioned above.10 Allah knows best. The miracle of the Shaqqul-Qamar took place approximately five years prior to the migration, in 9 Nabawi.11
- Al-Qamar (54:2-5)
- * Sahih Bukhari, Kitabu Manaqibil-Ansar, Babu Inshiqaqil-Qamar, Hadith No. 3868
* Sahih Muslim, Kitabu Sifatil-Qiyamati wal-Jannati wan-Nar, Babu Inshiqaqil-Qamar, Hadith No.7076
- * Sahih Bukhari, Kitabut-Tafsir Suratul-Qamar, Babu Wanshaqqal-Qamar, Hadith No. 4864
* Sahih Muslim, Kitabu Sifatil-Qiyamati wal-Jannati wan-Nar, Babu Inshiqaqil-Qamar, Hadith No.7072
- Refer to Hindustan Times Delhi dated April 29, 1928
- Science of the Interpretation of Visions (Publishers)
- Ta‘Tirul-Anam fi Ta‘biril-Manam, p. 279, Babul-Qaf, under the word “Qamar”, Beirut (1996)
- * Usdul-Ghabah, Vol.6, p. 172, Babu Safiyyah bint Huyaiy bin AkhTab, Darul-Fikr, Beirut (2003)
* Sharhul-‘Allamatiz-Zarqani ‘alal-Mawahibil-Ladunniyyah, by Muhammad bin ‘Abdul-Baqi Az- Zarqani, Vol.4, pp. 428-429, Babu Safiyyati Ummil-Mu’minin, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (1996)
- Mu’atta Imam Malik, Kitabul-Jana’iz, Babu Ma Ja’a fi Dainil-Maiyyiti, Hadith No. 546
- Siratun-Nabisa (Urdu), by Shibli Nu‘mani, ‘Allamah Syed Sulaiman Nadvi, Vol.3, p. 295, Bab Shaqqul-Qamar, published by the Hudhaifah Academy, Urdu Bazar, Lahore (2000)
- For an elaborate discussion on this issue, refer to Surmah-e-Chashm-e-Aryah, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol.2, pp. 108-116, written by the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Community. (Author)
- Tarikhul-Khamis, by Husain bin Muhammad bin Hasan Dyar Bakri, Vol.1, p. 298, Inshiqaqul- Qamar, Muwassasatu Sha‘ban, Beirut