Wednesday, April 30, 2014

‘Shaqqul Qamar’ as a Miracle of Islam

The Hour draws near; the Moon is split. Yet whenever the disbelievers see a sign, they turn away and say, ‘Same old sorcery!’ ” (Surah Qamar, 54: 2-3)

In the Islamic sacred tradition, this verse of the Qur’an is generally associated with a special miracle of the Holy Prophet of Islam (sa), known widely as the event of “Shaqqul Qamar”, or the ‘splitting’ of the Moon. There are several Ahadith that confirms the miracle. The authenticity of these traditions are beyond reproach as the transmission chains and channels pertaining to them go all the way to the great companions of the Holy Prophet (sa), such as Ibn Abbas, Anas bin Malik, Abdullah bin Masud and others. The traditions on the subject can be seen in all the major collections of Ahadith: Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, etc. 

For instance, in Sahih Al Bukhari, one can read several traditions being reported on Shaqqul Qamar:

1.  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).'"

2.  Narrated Anas:  "That the Meccan people requested Allah's Apostle to show them a miracle, and so he showed them the splitting of the moon."

3. Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: "The moon was split into two parts during the lifetime of the Prophet." (Volume 4, Book No:56,  Traditions: 830-832)

4. Narrated Anas bin Malik: "The people of Mecca asked Allah's Apostle to show them a miracle. So he showed them the moon split in two halves between which they saw the Hiram' mountain."

5. Narrated 'Abdullah: "The moon was split ( into two pieces ) while we were with the Prophet in Mina. He said, "Be witnesses." Then, a Piece of the moon went towards the mountain."

6. Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas: "During the lifetime of Allah's Apostle the moon was split (into two places)."

7.  Narrated 'Abdullah: "The moon was split (into two pieces)."  (Volume 5, Book No:58,  Traditions: 208-211)

Hadhrat Ali (ra) is reported to have affirmed to have heard the account from several persons that once a number of polytheists came to the Prophet Muhammed (sa), and said, 'If you claim to be a prophet, split the moon which is now in the sky into two parts.'

The Holy Prophet (sa) asked them, 'If I do so, will you then believe?' and on their answering in the affirmative, he stretched out his hands in prayer, or, according to another account, he made a sign to the moon with his fore-finger, when instantly the moon became divided in two, one part remaining where it was and the other descending behind the mountain and disappearing; or, according to another account, one half was seen over one mountain and the other half over another mountain; or, according to still another account, the moon was divided in such a manner that the mount Hira could be seen between the two halves. But the unbelievers said, 'Mohammed has used magic before us.'

Rumi on ‘Shaqqul Qamar’

Non-Muslim scholars have always been sceptical about claims of the splitting of the Moon in the time of the early believers. They point to the lack of corroborative evidence from other traditions and cultures in independently verifying the claims of this heavenly phenomenon. One of the greatest Sufi saint of medieval Islam, Hadhrat Jalal-ud-Din Rumi (ra) (1207-1273) in his magnum opus “The Mathnawi” spoke about the mystical dimensions of Shaqqul Qamar and the limits of mundane logic in reaching the profound depths of this miracle of the Holy Prophet (sa). He states on The Masnavi, Book One at p.44:  

 “A donkey stuck in mud is logic’s fate---
Love’s nature only love can demonstrate:
Sunshine reveals its nature in each ray,
So if it’s proof you want just look this way!
Shadows can indicate what’s shining bright
But it’s the sun which fills your soul with light,
Shadows like late-night chat make people doze,
The moon was split when that divine sun rose!
Eternal sun––there’s nothing quite so strange,
The soul’s sun has no past, it doesn’t change,”

Again on p.102, one can read:

“…If you have problems in perceiving it
You’ll also doubt the fact the moon was split,
Revive your faith, but not just with your tongue,
Secretly to your lusts why have you clung?
When lusts are fresh, faith can’t be any more,
Lust is the very key that locks the door!
Now you are judging God’s inviolate word––
Examine your own soul, not truths you’ve heard!
Since you read through desire the Holy Verse
You make its meaning wretched and perverse!”

Jalal-ud-Din Rumi’s The Masnavi, Book One: A New Translation by Jawid Mojeddedi, Oxford World’s Classics series (edn.2004)

The Promised Massih on Splitting of the Moon

The Promised Massih Hadhrat Ahmad (as) also shared the same perspective on the matter. He writes:

“Let it be known that the miracles of Prophets are of two kinds:

(1) Those that are purely heavenly phenomena, in which human design and reason play no part, such as the miracle of the splitting of the moon, a miracle of our lord and master, the Holy Prophet (sa). God manifested this miracle through His infinite power to manifest the majesty of His true and perfect Prophet (sa).
(2) Miracles of wisdom. These are manifested with the help of extraordinary wisdom that only comes from Divine revelation. An example of this is the miracle of Solomon referred to in the verse (“A palace paved with smooth with slabs of glass”- Al Naml, 27: 45) which was witnessed by Queen Sheba and she was consequently blessed with faith”.   -  (Izala-e-Auham, RK, Vol. 3, pp.253-254, footnote)

2. “The truth of the matter is that God Almighty does not do anything against the law of nature. What He does is that He creates the causes, whether we know of them or not, and these are always present. Hence, miracles such as splitting of the moon and the miracle mentioned in Surah Al Anbiya’ (of fire turning cold when Abraham (as) was thrown into it, 21:70, “Turn cold O Fire, and be a source of peace) are also no exceptions. Rather, they too resulted from some very subtle and hidden means, and were based on true and factual science. Short sighted people and those who are enamoured of dark philosophy cannot comprehend these things” - (Malfuzat, vol. 1, p.72)

Ustaad Said Nursi on Moon Splitting

The well-known Turkish Muslim divine Bediuzzaman Ustaad Said Nusri (1876-1960), in his great commentary of the Holy Qur’an entitled RISAL-E-NUR, links the miraculous event as a way to distinguish between true believers and arrogant sceptics in the claims of a Divine Messenger:

Miracles take place in order to prove the claim of prophethood and to convince deniers, but not to force them to believe. This miracle was needed to convince those who had already heard of the prophethood of Muhammad. To let it be seen from other parts of the world, or to demonstrate it in an undeniably obvious way, therefore, would have been contrary both to the wisdom of the All-Wise Creator and to the purpose of humanity's function in the universe, which is to open the way for the mind without disabling the free will. If the All-Wise Creator had, in accordance with the whims of materialist philosophers, left the Moon in the same condition for a few hours to show it to the entire world, and if this fact had thereby been recorded by all historians, it would have been treated among other astronomical incidents, without being restricted to the messengership of Muhammad and without being considered a proof of his prophethood. Or, it would have been such an obvious miracle that it would have forced minds to believe and deprived them of free will. As a consequence, coal and diamonds (or Abu Jahl and Abu Bakr) would have been the same and the purpose of humanity's function in the universe would have been lost... 

On the significance of Shaqqul Qamar for the true believers, Said Nursi wrote:

The Seal of the Office of Prophethood, who was the luminous moon of its heaven, proved his sainthood through his Ascension. This was the greatest wonder and supreme miracle of sainthood, achieved through his worship, which was so elevated as to make him God’s beloved. That is to say, by travelling with his earthly body through the heavens, his superiority and his being God’s beloved were demonstrated to the dwellers of the heavens and inhabitants of the lofty worlds. So too, through the moon, which is bound to the earth and suspended in the heavens, being split into two halves at the sign of an inhabitant of the earth, a miracle indicating to that earth-dweller’s messengership was displayed to the other inhabitants of the earth. Thus, the person of Muhammad (PBUH) flew to the very summit of perfections on the two luminous wings of messengership and sainthood — like the two luminous unfolded wings of the moon; he ascended to the distance of two bow-lengths; he became the cause of pride of both the inhabitants of the heavens and the inhabitants of the earth....

Khalifa Sani on the Splitting of Moon

In his larger, Five-volume Commentary of the Holy Qur’an, while explaining the relevant verse of Surah Al Qamar, where it is stated“The Hour draws near; the Moon is split”, Khalifa Sani Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad (ra) (1889-1965) explains it as a vision of the Holy Prophet in which the Companions of the Holy Prophet and some of the Quraish were made to share-just as the rod turning into a serpent was a vision of Moses in which the magicians were made to share...” (Volume 3; pp.2523-24). 

As Hadhrat Khalifa Sani further indicated in his Commentary, the Divine signs have a metaphorical dimension as well. As the moon is the symbol of Arab pride, the “splitting” also alluded to the loss of prestige and grandeur of the Arab unbelievers, with the birth and progress of the small army of the Holy Prophet (sa) and the several battles of the period.  

David Samuel Margoliouth (1858-1940), the distinguished Laudian Professor of Arabic (1889-1937) at the University of Oxfordvisited Lahore in 1916 at the invitation of the University of Punjab. On the occasion, he visited Qadian to meet and to have discussions with Hadhrat Khalifatul Massih II. In the course of the conversation, the renowned Professor who made seminal contributions to the study of the history of the Muslim and Arab peoples in the last century, asked the Khalifa Sahib about the miraculous sign of “Shaqqul Qamar” that had been reported to have taken place during the time of the Holy Prophet (sa). In response to this, the second Khalifa said that such signs and miracles could indeed take place and that it would be possible to show them even today.  - (Adapted from the Book:  Miracles of the Promised Massih” written by Marhoom Janab N. Abdur Rahim Sahib, p.xi-xii, Kannur: Crescent Book Centre (2005). 
‘Shaqqul Qamar’ as a Sign of Our Times

In the context of our own times, it is interesting to note that learned divines in the Muslim Ummah looks upon the opening verses in Surah Al Qamar as containing a promised sign of the Later Days. For instance, in his recent Oxford English Translation of the Qur’an, the distinguished scholar of Arab-Islamic studies, Professor MAS Abdul Haleem adds the following explanatory note to the verse on “Shaqqul Qamar’:
 “One of the signs of the Day of Judgement. The Arabic use of 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: cf. the same expression with reference to the sky, 55:37; 84: 1.”  (The Qur’an: a new translation, Oxford World’s Classics series, p.350; edn. 2010).

The other verses of the Qur’an, referred above, reads as follows: “When the sky is split and turns crimson, like red hide” (Surah Ar-Rahman: 55:37); When the sky cracks…” (Surah Al-Inshiqaq (The Cracking), 84:1).  

Prophecy on "Splitting the Moon"
In his Friday Sermon of March 25, 2011 the Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Sahib (atba) of Mauritius made a prophecy regarding “Shaqqul Qamar” as a sign of our times in a context where he was speaking about the precarious state of the world and the heavenly signs that had emerged in support of his Divine Mission. He states:
“Likewise, all round the world there have been manifestation of such like phenomena, so that they act as an eye-opener that all these rare occurrences in this special era (2000-till now – in my times). And now, I am going to prophecy yet another heavenly phenomenon, which is the splitting of the moon into two. Such phenomenon has happened in the times of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saws) and in my times also, such sign shall be witnessed by my friends and foes alike as a proof of my truthfulness as the Chosen Messenger of Allah of this era, the second Muhammad (saws) whose advent has been prophesised in the Holy Quran in Chapter 62. This prophecy (moon splitting) shall be physical and spiritual, both literal and metaphorical.”  ( For the speech, click here ).

The Divine Sign of “Shaqqul Qamar”  is being fulfilled in some ways in our own times. It was by the second half of the Fourteenth Century of Islamic Era that scientific exploration of the Moon and other celestial bodies have become possible for man. In our prophesised times, as per the Qur’anic view, when the times of “SAA’ATH” (End of Times) has arrived, a man from this earth went to the Moon. After splitting the rocks of the Moon surface, a part of the rock, he brought down to the Earth. This was indeed a Manifestation of the “Shaqqul Qamar”. It is indeed a first of its kind of great, miraculous event in the entire human history. Man has also undertaken space visit in our times. (About this also, the Qur’an prophesizes), Going beyond the Earth orbit and gravitational field, one man goes into the Moon’s surface and brings back a rock formation. Who can deny that it was indeed a miraculous event?  

At the turn of the Fifteenth Century of Islamic Calendar, in 1979, the international community came together and agreed upon a legal framework for the exploration of Moon and other celestial bodies. This international agreement is entitled as the Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, better known as the Moon Treaty. Under Article 11 of the Moon Treaty, the moon and its natural resources are the common heritage of mankind. The moon is not subject to national appropriation by any claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means. It further envisages that States Parties to the Treaty will have to establish an international regime, including appropriate procedures, to govern the exploitation of the natural resources of the moon as such exploitation is about to become feasible. 

The direction of scientific and technological developments in the contemporary times, when viewed in their accompanying political and transnational legal context, leaves one with the profound conviction that the spiritual prophecy on "Shaqqul Qamar" is going to be fulfilled in even more magnificent, metaphorical ways. Already, scientists believe that precious metals and Helium-3, a rare isotope that has potential for power generation, could be extracted from the Moon’s surface. Also,  a base built on the Moon could be used as a launch pad for a flight to Mars. As big powers in space technology arena and in space faring activities such as the United States, Russia, China and India and the European Space Agency, gear up for increased resource commitments and research agenda for celestial exploration and exploitation, international law will evolve further for defining and refining the legal norms applicable for both the exploration and the exploitation of commonly-held natural resources in the Moon. Put differently, just as nation-states 'split' or share common properties and natural resources down here in the Earth among themselves based on equitable principles and legal arrangements, it is likely that an international legal regime can eventually emerge for what the experts and the scientists may literally call, a framework for "Splitting the Moon" among the member states of the wider international community. 
The Holy prophet (sa) spoke about several Mahdis coming in the Later Daysa fact confirmed by the Promised Massih (as) as well, as we have noted here. The present Divine Manifestation in Mauritius confirms that the prophecies of the Holy Prophet (sa) and the Promised Massih (as) have been fulfilled in own times, Alhamdulillah. As miracles are the testimonials to the veracity of Divine Existence and the truthfulness of the revelations being received by the Divine servants, the extraordinarily rare heavenly sign of the total eclipses of the sun and the moon in the same Holy Month of Ramadan in November 2003, as we have shown here, testified to the truth of the Divine Servant in our midst. Likewise, the different manifestations of "Shaqqul Qamar" unfolding in our times also bear witness to the truth of the Khalifatullah (atba) and thereby, stands resplendent as an indicator of the vitality of the Islamic spiritual system to produce spiritual moons to defend Islam against all other ideological systems and thereby, illuminate the morally-darkened skies of our lives and timesInsha Allah, Aameen.