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Biography-Prophetic Biography-Understanding the Prophet's Biography- (Lesson 35-57): The Splitting of the Moon
In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, Most Merciful  
Honorable brother, here we are with a new lesson in the series ‘Understanding the Prophet’s Life and Deeds’.
Before we move on to the arrival of the Prophet, peace be upon him, to Medina, it is necessary to conclude with some of the events that took place before the Emigration (Hegira).

Events of the pre-Hegira period:

The Splitting of the Moon

 There has been strong disagreement as to the meaning of this Ayah:

﴾ The hour drew nigh and the moon was rent in twain. And if they behold a portent they turn away and say: Continuous magic ﴿

 Did the phenomenon actually take place or not?
First, for clarification: supernatural phenomena that defy norms and rules, are miracles (Mu'jizat), if they come from Prophets or Messengers. For other than Prophets and Messengers, they are divine gifts or charisms (Karamat). And, if they appear at the hands of those in error, they are errancies. They can be miracles, divine gifts, or errancies.

Miracles are Divine Assignments to Prophets for Challenging

 Prophets have the Divine obligation to challenge their people with miracles. When the Prophet, peace be upon him, was taken from Holy Mecca to Jerusalem, then up to the Heavens, then down to Jerusalem and back to Mecca, where he found his bed still warm, he wished not to tell anyone, for people already had trouble believing his prophethood. But as a Prophet he is instructed by Allah Almighty to challenge his people with miracles, because miracles are Allah’s evidence to humans that the person at whose hands they appear is truly sent by The Creator of humanity.
 The righteous Virgin Mary conceived a child without a father. Because she was not a prophetess, this phenomenon must be seen as a divine gift.
But if a human predicts the future with the help of a jinni, then it is an errancy.
 In other words, if the purpose of the non- prophet is to strengthen the faith, then his gift is a charism, and if his purpose is to alienate people from Allah Almighty, then it is straying from the right path.
 Pay heed to these words: we are not asked to believe in charisms unless reported in authenticated scriptures, otherwise we will disfigure our religion and turn it into a religion of charisms and dreams. Furthermore, scholars have established that holy men (Wali) are embarrassed showing their gifts like women are embarrassed showing what they must conceal. The position of the Islamic law on this issue is that charisms should be acknowledged because they are facts, and that they should not be spoken of, because holy men are not asked to reveal their gift, but should rather conceal it as a private matter between them and Allah Almighty.

The Greatest of Divine Gifts: the Gift of Science

 Heed these words: the greatest of all charisms, and not supernatural either, is the gift of science. Allah Almighty says:

﴾ He has taught you what you did not know, and Allah's grace on you is very great﴿

(Surat Al Nisa’, 113)

 Let us look at this Ayah carefully. If a child tells you: ‘I have a great sum of money’, you would probably estimate that he has 200 Liras. But if in a superpower, a high figure in the ministry of war says: ‘we reserved a great sum for this war’, your estimate would be 200 billion units of their currency. So if The King of kings, The Creator of the heavens and the earth says:

﴾ He has taught you what you did not know, and Allah's grace on you is very great ﴿

 then you can be certain that the greatest gift is the gift of science.

﴾ Are those who know equal with those who know not?﴿

(Surat Al Zumar, 9)

﴾ Allah will exalt those of you who believe, and those who are given knowledge, in high degrees; and Allah is Aware of what you do﴿

(Surat Al Mujadala, 11)

Evidence and Texts Proving the Splitting of the Moon

 The splitting of the moon is one of the Prophet’s visible miracles, and here are the texts supporting it:

(( Anas Ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the people of Mecca asked the Prophet, peace be upon him, ‘to show them a sign, so he showed them the moon split in two halves, and they could see Haraa between them))

(Narrated by Ibn Masoud from Anas)

 This tradition (Hadith) was narrated by Ibn Masoud in the book of virtues. And it was reported by the Bukhari in his Sahih (book of authenticated traditions), and it is well established that this book is one of the most accurate after Allah’s Book.
 - It was reported that Abd Allah Ibn Masoud said:

((The moon split in two in the lifetime of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and the Prophet, peace be upon him, , said to us:‘Bare witness’.))

 - Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

((The people of Mecca asked the Prophet, peace be upon him, to show them a sign, so he showed them the splitting of the moon))

 - Anas also said:

((The people of Mecca asked the Prophet, peace be upon him, to show them a sign, so he showed them the splitting of the moon twice’, then this Ayah was revealed))

﴾ The hour drew nigh and the moon was rent in twain. And if they behold a portent they turn away and say: Prolonged illusion ﴿

(Surat Al Qamar, 1-2)

 This is a trustworthy tradition considered authentic because of the multiplicity of its chains of narration, narrated by Ahmad in his Musnad.
 - Ibn Masoud said:

((while we were in Mina with the Prophet, peace be upon him, the moon split in two halves, one half beyond the mountain, and one in front. So the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:‘Bare witness))

 Aside from Sahih Muslim, the splitting of the moon was related in other repertories of prophetic traditions and biographies by a number of Companions like Abd Allah Ibn Omar, Abd Allah Ibn Abbas and sh3er, may Allah be pleased with all. And what further strengthens these texts, is that the phenomenon was mentioned in Indian and Chinese history annals.
Here’s now some present-day comments.

Contemporary Scientific Commentaries on the Splitting of the Moon

 Dear brother, a few years back, during a lecture at the Cardiff University in Wales county, western England, an Egyptian scholar who distinguished himself in the field of scientific miracles, was asked by a Moslem in the audience about the first Ayahs of Surat Al Qamar:

﴾ The hour drew nigh and the moon was rent in twain ﴿

 and whether it is representative of the scientific miracles in the Holy Quran. So he answered: ‘This is one of the perceptible miracles in support of the Prophet, peace be upon him, against the infidels and the polytheist of Mecca’.
Before I continue, a few clarifications are needed.

The Scientific Explanation of Phenomena

 Honorable brother, we should distinguish between the following three expressions: scientific explanation, scientific miracle, and prophetic miracle, for each has its own definition and extent.
 Scientific explanation: There was a solar eclipse in the lifetime of the Prophet, peace be upon him, which concurred with the death of his son Ibrahim. The noble Companions, without thinking, driven by their love of the Prophet, peace be upon him, attributed the eclipse to the death of Ibrahim. When the Prophet, peace be upon him, knew about this, he harangued his Companions in these words:

((O you people, the sun and the moon are two of Allah’s signs, they do not eclipse to anybody’s death or to anybody’s life))

[Related by Bukhari and Muslim, from Aisha]

 In other words, nothing connects this eclipse with the death of Ibrahim. What the Prophet, peace be upon him, gave here, was a scientific explanation.
 Once, while in Mecca on a minor pilgrimage (Umra), I heard lots of talk about a light rising high in the sky from the grave of the Prophet, peace be upon him. Now when I arrived to Medina between the sunset and the evening prayers, there was an eminent scholar giving a lesson in jurisprudence. He is departed now, may Allah have mercy on his soul. I listened to this lesson at the end of which he said: ‘The Emir of Medina told me that the administration of Mecca and Medina (al Haramain) installed a laser above the grave of the Prophet, peace be upon him. It is a beacon which will serve to indicate the location of the grave to aircraft flying at high altitudes. This was the scientific explanation, while what I had heard in Mecca was not a scientific explanation: The light of the Prophet, peace be upon him, shooting into the heavens was actually an apparatus generating a laser beam.
 We should always look for the scientific explanation.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, honest, and true to the Revelation, clarified: there is no relation between the eclipse of the sun and the death of his son. The more god-fearing you are, the truer you are to the Revelation. Do not mix facts and fancies, seek the scientific explanation.

Scientific Explanation doesn’t contradict Theological Explanation

 Incidentally, taking by the scientific explanation, we should also acknowledge the dogmatic explanation. When an earthquake strikes, the scientific explanation attributes the quake to the friction between the moving earth plates. But who created all the agencies? Allah Almighty, in His a divine wisdom. Consequently, there is no conflict between the scientific and the dogmatic explanations.
 As for the scientific miracle, it is something else. I will explain.

Scientific Ie’jaz and Miracles

Example of the Scientific Miracles:

﴾ Our eyes have been covered over ﴿

 When a certain astronaut was sent out to space, and reached the outer space beyond the earth’s 65 km thick atmosphere, he shouted at the top of his voice,
saying: ‘We have gone blind!’. Down on earth, you can see areas hit by sunlight, and areas illuminated indirectly. This is because air particles have the ability to scatter solar radiation in all directions. This phenomenon is called the ‘scattering of light’. But in the vacuum, beyond earth’s air layer, the astronauts found themselves in total darkness.
 When an eminent Egyptian nuclear scientist, present at the launch headquarters, heard the astronaut’s words, he said: ‘This is a scientific miracle’. Why? Because Allah Almighty says:

﴾ And even if We open to them a gateway of heaven, so that they ascend into it all the whileThey would certainly say: Only our eyes have been covered over, rather we are an enchanted people. ﴿

(Surat Al Hijr, 14-15)

 This was said 1400 years ago, and consequently, only He Who created the universe could have revealed these Quranic words.
 There is scientific miracle when the message concerning the cosmos that the Ayah carries, is impossible to interpret at the time of its revelation, but can be understood at a far subsequent time.
 As for the miracles of prophets, this is a yet different matter that has no connection with the first two: it transcends natural laws, and is hence impossible to explain by the laws of the universe. Allah Almighty says:

﴾Glorified be He Who carried His servant by night from the Inviolable Place of Worship to the Far distant place of worship the neighborhood whereof﴿

(Surat Al Isra’, 1)

The Night Journey and Ascension is a Miracle

 The Night Journey and Ascension to the Heavens cannot be explained by physical laws which it totally transcends, and is therefore a miracle. It is actually Allah’s testimony that this man is His true sent messenger. As for the scientific miracle, it is a very early mention of a phenomenon that will be subsequently recognized. As for the scientific explanation, the Prophet, peace be upon him, practiced it and every true missionary must follow in his steps.

Is the Splitting of the Moon a Prophetic or a Scientific Miracle?

 Now back to the Moslem in the audience… He asked: ‘Is the Ayah

﴾ The hour drew nigh and the moon was rent in twain ﴿

 an example of the scientific miracles found in the Holy Quran? The scholar answered: The event is one of the perceptible miracles brought about to support the Prophet, peace be upon him, against the infidels and the polytheist of Mecca when they denied his prophethood, to him the best of prayers and the perfect greetings. And miracles transcend earthly norms, which are consequently unable to explain them. And if they were not mentioned in Allah’s Book and in the Prophet’s biography, we Moslems would not have had to believe in them. I only believe in miracles mentioned in authentic scriptures, Allah’s Book and the Prophet’s life. But to slacken the reins, and believe everything that people say, would be play with Allah’s religion.
 The text of the Ayah:

﴾ The hour drew nigh and the moon was rent in twain. And if they behold a portent they turn away and say: Prolonged illusion. They denied (the Truth) and followed their own lusts. Yet everything will come to a decision. And surely there hath come unto them news whereof the purport should deter, Effective wisdom; but warnings avail not.﴿

(Surat Al Qamar, 1-5)

 The scholar says: ‘When I finished, an Englishman from the audience rose and asked to speak. When I gave permission, he started by introducing himself, that his name was Dawood Mousa Biskok, a Moslem, president of the Islamic British Party. Then he added that the opening Ayahs of Surat Al Qamar were behind his entering Islam in the late seventies. He was researching world religions, and a Moslem gave him a translation of the meanings of the Holy Quran. He opened a random page which happened to be the translation of Allah’s words:

﴾ The hour drew nigh and the moon was rent in twain. And if they behold a portent they turn away and say: Prolonged illusion﴿

 Of course he thought it was mere myths, closed the translation, put it away, and that was that.
 It is a big mistake to use logic to understand miracles. Reason is confined to the laws of the universe, while miracles are Divine, and Allah is Omnipotent.
 Then Allah so willed that this man, who now is a Moslem, that he watch a program about space exploration on BBC television, hosted by the well known James Black with three guest space specialists. That was back in 1978. Now mind this: during the interview, the host criticized the excessive spending in the area of space exploration, the Apollo expedition in July having cost 25 billion dollars, in a time when people on earth are starving, and millions are in dire need of these funds, and diseases, ignorance and underdevelopment are ravaging the planet. The scientists retorted that many important technologies were developed owing to these expeditions, which are applied in diagnostics, medical therapy, manufacturing, agriculture and other areas. That a tissue is grown in outer space that can be used to patch a damaged heart, and that can sustain contractions and expansions for decades on end. The sums spent were enormous but the benefits were sizable too.
 Soon during the interview, they came to discuss the first flight to the moon and man’s first steps on its surface, and the hundred billion dollars the program cost. This revived the host’s criticism, and the scientists came back in defense: ‘This expedition helped establish a truth that nobody would otherwise have believed, were we to spend many times that amount trying to convince them’. The host replied: ‘And what is that truth?’. They said: ‘The moon was once split and resealed!’.
 The show was not about religion, nor was it about Islam or the Quran, but a discussion between the three space scientists and their host on BBC, and they affirmed that the moon was once split and then resealed, and that there are tangible evidence found on the moon’s surface supporting this fact. Photos of these traces were sent to earth and examined by the world most eminent scientists who unanimously concluded that the moon was once split and resealed.
 This Mr. Biskok who was given the Quran translation, who opened it randomly to find Allah’s words:

﴾ The hour drew nigh and the moon was rent in twain.﴿

 who cast it aside, this Mr. Biskok said: ‘When I heard these words I jumped out of my seat in front of the TV set and said: a miracle given to Mohammad 1400 years ago, described in amazing detail by the Quran, and Allah commits people in this era of science and technology and at such a high price to provide proof for Moslems? This has to be a true religion indeed! And I went back to the translation, reading it with great enthusiasm where the opening Ayahs of Surat Al Qamar finally convinced me to enter into Islam’.
 This is why Allah Almighty says:

﴾ We shall show them ﴿

(Surat Fussilat, 53)

 It is Allah Almighty, telling the believers about those who do not believe:

﴾We shall show them Our portents on the horizons and within themselves﴿

(Surat Fussilat, 53)

 And what is incredibly amazing is that all the West’s discoveries were mentioned in one way or another in the Quran, for instance:

The Speed of Light in the Quran and Modern Science

 Einstein’s Theory of Relativity which was a major turning point in understanding movement, light and speed, states that the speed of light is the maximal speed in the universe, and that any object with the velocity of light will become light, its mass becomes infinite and its volume becomes zero, and that if we travel at light speed, time stops.
 This lesson is a source of light which our faces reflect towards the outer space. Someone on a vessel travelling at the speed of light should be able to see this scene for a million years to come, while we will all be dead and gone in less than a hundred years.
 If we move with the speed of light, time stops. And if we were to exceed that speed, we should be able to witness the battle of Badr as it took place, and the battles of Uhud, the Trenches, Al Qadisiyya, Yarmouk, … If we overtake light, we go back in time, and if we fall short, time retreats.
 This theory which turned the notions of classical physics upside down is mentioned in a few numbered words of a single Ayah. Allah be He Exalted says:

﴾ a Day in the sight of thy Lord is like a thousand years of your reckoning﴿

(Surat Al Hajj, 47)

Arabs use the lunar calendar

 The Arabs addressed by the Quran made use the lunar calendar, and the moon orbits the earth in one month. So if we imagine a line running from the center of the earth to the centre of the moon, this line would represent the radius of the moon’s orbit around the earth. How do we calculate its length? It is equal to ‘the distance from the earth to the moon’ + ‘the radius of the earth’ + ‘the radius of the moon’. This number multiplied by 2 gives us the orbit’s diameter, times 3.14 and we get the circumference of the orbit, the distance the moon travels in one month. If this is multiplied by 12 then by 1000, this number would represent the distance the moon travels in a thousand years. This is a basic calculation which any high school student is able to make.
 Allah be He Exalted says:

﴾ a Day in the sight of thy Lord is like a thousand years﴿

 The distance the moon travels in its journey around the earth in one thousand years, is traveled by light in a single day. And if this number is divided by the number of seconds in the day, we get the exact speed of light.
 This giant theory is embodied in the numbered words of a single Ayah of the Holy Quran.
 Dear brother, this man who considered the splitting of the moon a myth, and cast the book aside, when he heard space scientists confirming to their on BBC television that the moon once actually split and resealed, and that all who saw the photos agreed to that, and that this corroborates the words of Allah Almighty:

﴾ The hour drew nigh and the moon was rent in twain.﴿

 he believed, for Allah Almighty says:

﴾ Those truly fear Allah, among His Servants, who have knowledge﴿

(Surat Fatir, 28)

 And there’s the case of that atheist in San Francisco, in the USA, atheist because as a youngster, his father threw him out of home, out of sheer fanatism, because he criticized his religion instructor, with whom he was at odds. So he rebelled against all religions and professed atheism. He was however a very bright fellow, he continued his education and managed to enter college and enroll in the faculty of mathematics.
An amusing anecdote they tell about him, is that he so embarrassed his teacher in class, that the teacher would propose: ‘If you stay out of the classroom, I’ll give you the perfect grade’.
 He was an atheist, and one of the most eminent lecturers in mathematics at the University of San Francisco
Then it happened that a young Middle Eastern woman sought one of his old professors at the university, with the view of preparing a PhD in mathematics. It was a hot summer day, American girls went around half naked, but she wore the full Islamic veil. Finding it a little more than he can handle, the professor sent her to one of his old students, our young atheist, the professor of mathematics at the University Of San Francisco. He says: When I looked at the young woman, heavily veiled, and knew that she was from the Middle East, it changed how I looked at Middle Eastern women. She was all veiled, at a time American girls go about nearly naked. I couldn’t examine her face closely, out of the reverence she inspired. She had determination and seemed like a saint. I wanted to help her in anyway I could. Still, that same day, I started a serious reading of the Quran, trying to find in it some myths or scientific errors, for I had rejected all religions.
 Indeed he found the error, or rather what he thought was an error in Allah’s words:

﴾ But We will this day deliver you with your body … ﴿

 Allah addresses Pharaoh:

﴾… that you may be a sign to those after you﴿

(Surat Yunus, 92)

 He shared his finding with a friend of his, who is the head of the Paris morgue, saying: ‘You always maintained that sacred books have a Divine origin, what do you say of this Ayah:

﴾ But We will this day deliver you with your body that you may be a sign to those after you﴿

 this happened six thousand years ago’.
His friend replied: ‘The person you are talking about was sent to us, from Egypt to Paris, where he was received like kings. I personally reconditioned the body of which I kept a photograph’.
 It was Pharaoh, with traces of salt in his mouth, the drowned Pharaoh of Moses whose body is still intact. A few years back the body was sent to Paris to be cleansed.
 This professor of mathematics is called Jeffrey Lang. He wrote a book about Islam entitled ‘Why I became a Muslim’ which he dedicated to his daughters. He is today one of Islam’s most eminent heralds in the USA. I had arranged to meet with him in the USA, but our rendezvous finally conflicted with my departure date.
 His book was translated into Arabic. I taught long passages of this book in Osman’s mosque in Damascus. It was a journey from atheism to faith.
 When master Khaled entered into Islam, the Prophet said in a mild reproach:

((I am amazed at you Khaled, you are intelligent though))

 This is to say that superior understanding, perception and judgment, lead inevitably to Islam.
In this sense it is reported in the tradition that ‘the most intelligent are the stauncher in their love to Allah’.
 So if it this worldly existence that you are after, hold fast to science. And if you seek the hereafter, hold fast to science. And if you want both, hold fast to science:

﴾ Those of His servants only who are possessed of knowledge fear Allah﴿

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