The Nineteenth Letter: Appendix 2
The miracle of splitting the moon
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
The Hour has approached, and the moon split. But whenever they see a sign, they turn away, saying: “This is evidently part of (his) magic.” (54:1-2)
QUESTION: MATERIALIST PHILOSOPHERS AND THEIR IMITATORS, WHO want to deny this bright miracle of Prophet Muhammad, say: “If the event had really happened, it would have been known all over the world and related in all historical documents.”
ANSWER: This miracle occurred before a group of people to convince them of his Prophethood. It happened momentarily at a time of night when people were sleeping; such obstacles as mist, clouds, and time differences prevented others from seeing it; and, moreover, at that time science and civilization were not yet advanced or widespread. Thus the practice of observing the sky was quite limited. Last but not least, there is no reason why it should have been seen worldwide. To remove such clouds of delusion, consider the following five points:
FIRST POINT: The stubbornness of Muhammad’s unbelieving contemporaries is well-known and recorded. When the Qur’an announced this incident in the moon split, not one unbeliever dared contradict it. If they had not seen this event, they would have used this verse as a pretext to attack the Prophet more formidably. However, neither biographies of the Prophet nor history books report anything that even suggests their denial of this event. Their reaction was recorded as: This is evidently part of his magic. They declared the event to be magic, and added further that if caravans in other places had seen it, it had truly happened; otherwise, the Prophet had bewitched them. When the Meccan caravans arriving the following morning from Yemen and other places announced that they had seen this miracle, the unbelievers replied: “The magic of Abu Talib’s orphan has affected even the heavens!”
SECOND POINT: The majority of the foremost scholars of meticulous research, such as Sa‘d al-Din al-Taftazani, concluded that, like the earlier mentioned miracles of water flowing from the Prophet’s fingers and the audible grieving of the wooden pole against which the Prophet used to lean while delivering sermons, when it was separated from him following the construction of a pulpit, the splitting of the moon is mutawatir. This means that it has been transmitted down the generations by one truthful group after another, and that the transmitters form such a vast community that they are unable to agree on a lie. It is as certain as Haley’s comet, which appeared 1,000 years ago, or the existence of the island of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) we have not seen. Therefore it is unreasonable to foster baseless doubts about such certain, witnessed matters. In fact, it is enough for their acceptability that they are not impossible. Splitting the moon is just as possible as splitting a mountain by a volcanic eruption.
THIRD POINT: Prophets work miracles to prove their claim of Prophethood and to convince deniers, not to compel belief. Thus every miracle is shown to convince those who heard the claim of Prophethood. If they somehow forced everyone to see or believe in them, the All-Wise’s wisdom, the Divine purpose for creating us with free will and sending religion, which entails that the ground be prepared for the conviction of mind and the free acceptance of human soul, would be violated.
Thus if the All-Wise Creator had left the moon split for several hours so that everyone could see it and record it in their historical records, it would have been only another astronomical event instead of an event unique to Muhammad’s Messengership or an evidence of his Prophethood. If everyone had been compelled to believe, free will would be annulled and Abu Jahl’s coal-like spirit would be equal to Abu Bakr’s diamond-like spirit. Thus the purpose of creating humanity with a special function and responsibility, as well as the purpose for sending Revelation, would be negated. That is why this miracle was not shown worldwide so that it could be recorded.
FOURTH POINT: Some argue that if this event really occurred, it would have been mentioned in Chinese, Japanese, and Native American historical accounts.327 But how could they have seen it for, in addition to other obstacles, it was barely sunset in such European countries as Spain, France, and England (all enveloped in mists of ignorance), daytime in America, and morning in China and Japan.
FIFTH POINT: This miracle is not an ordinary incident that happened due to particular causes or randomly so that it should be criticized based on the law of cause and effect. Rather, the All-Wise Creator of the sun and the moon made it an extraordinary event to confirm His Messenger’s Prophethood and support his claim. Therefore it was shown as a convincing proof to certain people and specified by Divine Wisdom, for the nature of Divine guidance and human responsibility as well as the reason for raising a Messenger required this. If it had been seen by those who were not intended to see it and who had not yet heard of Muhammad’s Prophethood, and if it had occurred according to the law of cause and effect, it would have been an ordinary astronomical event instead of a miracle specific to and connected with his Messengership.
In conclusion, these arguments are enough for any mind to be convinced of the possibility that this miracle occurred. Out of many evidences of its occurrence, we shall mention only six, as these six have the strength of a six fold consensus:
•The Companions, all people of justice and truthfulness, agree that it took place.
•All exacting Qur’anic interpreters agree that the moon split indicates that a gesture of Muhammad’s fingers caused this event.
•All truthful Traditionists narrated this incident through various authentic channels of transmission.
•All people of truth and sainthood, as well as of inspiration and spiritual discovery, testify that this event took place.
•All foremost theologians and learned scholars confirm this event, despite their other differences of opinions.
•Muhammad’s community, which an authentic Prophetic Tradition states can never agree on an error, accepts its occurrence.
These six evidences clearly prove the splitting of the moon.
Thus we have established this miracle’s reality by refuting objections to its possibility. In a few concluding sentences, we will speak in the name of the truth and for the sake of belief.
The Seal of the Prophets, the luminous moon of the heaven of Messengership, proved his sainthood to the inhabitants of the heavens through his Ascension. His sainthood’s greatest miracle, achieved through the quality of his worship, elevated him to the status of God’s beloved. In other words, by making Muhammad travel through the heavens, God showed its dwellers and those of the highest realms that he is their superior and His beloved.
By allowing a man’s gesture to split the moon, which is set in the sky and bound to Earth, people saw another great evidence of his Messengership. Thus Prophet Muhammad flew to the summit of perfections on the two brilliant wings of Messengership and sainthood (like the moon’s two bright halves), ascended to two bows’ length (the highest rank and nearest station to God), and became the cause of pride for all inhabitants of the heavens and Earth.
Upon him and his Family be blessings and peace such as to fill Earth and the heavens. Glory be unto You. We have no knowledge save what You have taught us. You are the All-Knowing, All-Wise.
O God, for the sake of him by a gesture of whom the moon split, make my heart and the hearts of the Risale-i Nur’s students as devoted and loyal to the “sun” of the Qur’an as the moon is to the sun. Amen.
The Everlasting: He is the Everlasting.
327 Some books also state that the moon fell to Earth after it split into two parts. Truthful scholars have rejected this, for it was added by a hypocrite who intended to reduce this evident miracle’s value to nothing.