Splitting Of The Moon
The splitting of the moon is an assumed event that took place during the Meccan period in Arabia, and there is a notion that it was a granted miracle of The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ who split it himself. Some Muslims used images of the moon’s fault line in order to prove it. Unfortunately, this has been thoroughly ridiculed by academics and critics alike as several astronomical events caused the fault lines. However, the matter of him splitting the moon is doubtful within Islam itself.
The hour had approached, and the moon has been split. And if the see a miracle, they turn away and say “Passing magic.” (Surah Al-Qamar, Verse 1-2)
Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: "The moon was split into two parts during the lifetime of the Prophet.” (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 832)
Narrated Anas: “The people of Makkah asked the Prophet to show them a sign (miracle). So he showed them (the miracle) of the cleaving of the moon.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 6, Hadith Number 390)
Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas: “During the lifetime of Allah's Apostle the moon was split (into two places).” (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 210)
Inconsistency of translators
The word “inshaqqa” as many words in the Arabic language pose several meanings. The translators have added the words (Into two pieces) and rendered the word inshaqqa to mean a full division dependently relying on a hadith. Some scholars will argue that the word inshaqqa only means a full division. Which is still invalid in the context of Surah Al-Qamar as the Qur’an had previously used several Arabic words that imply a full division or separation. Nowhere in the Surah is Muhammad’s ﷺ name directly mentioned nor does the Qur’an even claim he split the moon with his “fingers” nor is there any sufficient evidence of the Prophet s.a.w himself claiming to do so.
ثُمَّ شَقَقْنَا الْأَرْضَ شَقًّا فَأَنْبَتْنَا فِيهَا حَبًّا وَعِنَبًا وَقَضْبًا وَزَيْتُونًا وَنَخْلًا
“Then we broke open the earth, splitting [it with sprouts], and caused to grow within it grain, and grapes and herbage.” (Surah ‘Abasa, 80:26-28)
This verse which is directly referring to the current human-inhabited earth, not only uses the word “Inshaqqa” but also the action and process of it happening. Which cannot mean the earth has been split into two pieces but rather small cracks and fissures. The word was translated to “broke”. Therefore the word “inshaqqa” by context does not mean a full separation. Moreover, in the Qur’an there are a various amount of words which imply a complete separation. Such as Falaqa, Maqsoom, Farqat , Fataqnahoma , Fanfalaq , infatarat, yatafarqoon and fasil.
إِنَّ اللَّهَ فَالِقُ الْحَبِّ وَالنَّوَى
“Indeed, Allah is the cleaver of grain and date seeds.” (Surah Al-An'am, 6:95)
وَقَطَّعْنَاهُمُ اثْنَتَيْ عَشْرَةَ أَسْبَاطًا
“And we divided them into twelve decedent tribes.” (Surah Al-A’raf, 7:160)
كَمَا أَنْزَلْنَا عَلَى الْمُقْتَسِمِينَ
“Just as we had revealed [scriptures] to the separators.” (Surah Al-Hijr, 15:90)
أَنْ تَقُولَ فَرَّقْتَ بَيْنَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ وَلَمْ تَرْقُبْ قَوْلِي
“That you would say, “You caused division among the Children Of Israel, and you did not observe [or await] my word.” (Surah Taha, 20:94)
Furthermore, Surah Al-Anbya, verse 30 uses the word فَفَتَقْنَاهُمَا
Surah Al-Infitar, verse 1 uses the word انْفَطَرَتْ
Surah Al-Hijr verse 44 uses the word مَقْسُومٌ
فَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَى مُوسَى أَنِ اضْرِبْ بِعَصَاكَ الْبَحْرَ فَانْفَلَقَ فَكَانَ كُلُّ فِرْقٍ كَالطَّوْدِ الْعَظِيمِ
“Then we inspired to Moses, “Strike your staff with the sea, and it parted, and each portion was like a great towering mountain.” (Surah Ash-Shu’ara 26:63)
The Qur’an gives clear examples as to when Prophets perform miracles; it would not give a vague description in the case of Muhammad ﷺ Therefore in this context, the word Inshaqqa could be rendered as Cracked or “broke” as it did in Surah ‘Abasa, 80:26-28
Moon’s fault line
Otherwise called linear rilles, the most prominent one being the Rima Ariadaeus which is over 300km long. According to NASA, Some scientists believe that the linear rilles might have formed after large impact events, while others believe that the rilles were formed as a surface manifestation of deep-seated systems when the Moon was still volcanically active. Which has no connection in regards to The Messenger Muhammad ﷺ.
The chain of transmission concerning the Companions is considered authentic by modern Muslim scholars; On the contrary, none of the Companions were direct eye-witnesses to the event as two of the Hadiths state it happened during the life time of The Prophet. Ibn Abbas would’ve been between the ages of 1 or 2 years old during the Meccan period. Ibn Abbas’ transmission is indeed authentic. However; that does not necessarily prove the second-hand testimony to be 100% correct.
Scholars conflicting opinions
Scholars Against The Moon Split
Scholars have varying opinions on whether or not the splitting of the moon happened or was a granted miracle of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ For instance the Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of London, Hafiz of the Qur'an and Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) Muhammad A. S. Abdel Haleem argues that this matter will occur during the day of Judgement, he stated:
“The Arabic uses the past tense, as if that Day were already here, to help the reader/listener imagine how it will be. Some traditional commentators hold the view that this describes an actual event at the time of the Prophet, but it clearly refers to the end of the world.”
Which he mentions in his Oxford University Press published book The Qur'an: a New Translation.
Muslim Scholar and Translator Yusuf Ali in one of his three interpretations has also stated that the moon split could be metaphorical or will occur on the Day of Judgement.
Pakistani scholar Maulana Maududi although he believed the Moon had split into two, he asserted that this was not a granted miracle of The Prophet ﷺ. He has stated:
"Some traditions which have been related from Hadrat Anas give rise to the misunderstanding that the incident of the splitting of the Moon had happened twice. But, in the first place, no one else from among the Companions has stated this; second, in some traditions of Hadrat Anas himself also the words are marratain (twice), and firqatain and shaqqatain (two pieces);. As for the stories which are current among the people that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) had made a gesture towards the Moon and it split into two parts and that one part of the Moon entered the breast of the garment of the Holy Prophet and went out of the sleeve, have no basis whatever."
"A large group of the Muslim scholars regards it as among the miracles of the Holy Prophet and holds the view that it had been shown on the demand of the disbelievers. But this view is based only on some of those traditions which have been related from Hadrat Anas. Apart from him, no other Companion has stated this."
According to Fath al-Bari, Ibn Hajar says: “Apart from the narration by Hadrat Anas, in no other narrative of this story have I come across the theme that the incident of the splitting of the Moon had taken place on the demand of the polytheists." (Bab Inshiqaq al-Qamar).
"Abu Nu’aim Isfahani has related a tradition on this subject in Dale il an-Nubuwwat, on the authority of Hadrat ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas also, but it has a weak chain of transmitters and none of the traditions that have been related with strong chains of transmitters in the collections of Hadith on the authority of Hadrat ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas, contains any mention of this. Furthermore, neither Hadrat Anas nor Hadrat `Abdullah bin `Abbas was a contemporary of this incident." Some philosophers argued that the verse should be interpreted metaphorically (e.g. the verse could have referred to a partial lunar eclipse in which then earth obscured part of the moon).
Scholars for The Moon Split
Other Muslim scholars such as Mufti Menk, Nouman Ali Khan, and Zakir Naik hold the view that The Moon Split already happened and was a granted miracle of The Prophet ﷺ on the basis of the provided Hadiths. They consider it to be a sign of the hour of Judgement Day and as a warning for the disbelievers of Mecca.
- The Noble, Qur'an. "Surah Al-Qamar".
- Ibn, 'Abbas. "Sahih Bukhari".
- The Noble, Qur'an. "Surah 'Abasa".
- The Noble, Qur'an. "Surah Al-An'am".
- The Noble, Qur'an. "Surah Al-A'raf".
- The Nobel, Qur'an. "Surah Al-Hijr".
- The Nobel, Qur'an. "Surah Taha".
- The Nobel, Qur'an. "Surah Ash-Shu'ara".
- SA, NA. "Rima Ariadaeus, a Linear Rille".
- Abdel Haleem, Muhammed A.S. "Profile Of M.A.S. Abdel Haleem". Wikipedia.
- Abdel Haleem, M. "The Qur'an, a new translation, note to 54:1".
- A., M. "The Qur'an: A New Translation". Oxford University Press.
- Ali, Yusuf. "Yusuf Ali, Meaning of The Noble Qur'an, Sura 54, v.1".