54 - Al Qamar (The Moon)

5 Tafsir(s) related to verse 54.1


The Hour has drawn near, the Resurrection is close at hand, and the moon has split, it broke in two at [Mount] Abū Qubays and Qu‘ayqa‘ān, as a sign for the Prophet (s), for it had been demanded of him, and [when it took place] he said, ‘Bear witness [now]!’ — as reported by the two Shaykhs [al-Bukhārī and Muslim].


The Hour has drawn near and the moon has split.During the time of the Messenger of God, when it was cleft into two segments, such that one segment disappeared behind Mount al-Ḥirāʾ. This was the first of the signs [of the approach] of the Hour. The following is related from Abū ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Sulamī: "Once I was with my father in town when the time for the Friday prayer came, so he took me by the hand and went with me to the Friday prayer. Then Hudhayfa b. al-Yamān rose to the pulpit, praised God and extolled Him, and said, "The Hour has drawn near and the moon has split. Is not the Hour drawing nigh? Has the moon not been cleft asunder? Is this world not fading into decline? Is it not so, that the race track is set today and the race will be on the morrow?" When we went outside again I said, "O Father, will people race each other tomorrow?" He replied "O my son! It"s clear you don"t realise [what he meant by] "The race is on the morrow". He is just saying that whoever works [righteousness] today will excel in the Hereafter."" His words, Exalted is He:

Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi

(The hour drew nigh and the moon was rent in twain) [54:1]. Abu Hakim "Aqil ibn Muhammad al-Jurjani informed us (through verbal authorisation)> Abu"l-Faraj al-Qadi> Muhammad ibn Jarir> al-Husayn ibn Abi Yahya al-Maqdisi> Yahya ibn Hammad> Abu "Awanah> al-Mughirah> Abu"l-Duha> Masruq> "Abd Allah who said: "The moon was split at the time of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, so the Quraysh said: "This is an act of sorcery from the son of Abu Kabshah; he has cast a spell on you. Ask, therefore, the travellers whether they saw the moon split". They asked some travellers and they confirmed it. Allah, exalted is He, then 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) [54:1-2]".

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

That is, "The splitting of the Moon asunder is a portent that the Hour of Resurrection of which you are being foretold, has drawn near at hand, and the order of the Universe has begun to be disrupted. Moreover, the incident that a great sphere like the Moon's has split into two distinct parts, is a specific proof of the fact that Resurrection of which you are being forewarned can take place. Obviously, when the Moon can split, the earth also can split, the orbits of he stars and planets also can change and the whole system of the heavens also can be disturbed. There is nothing eternal and everlasting and stable here so that Resurrection may be improbable."

Some people have taken this sentence to mean: "The Moon will split. " Although according to Arabic usage it is possible to take this meaning, the context clearly rejects it. In the first place, if this were the meaning, the first sentence would become meaningless. If the Moon had not actually split at the time when this Revelation was made, but it was going to split some time in the future, it would be absurd to say on the basis of this that the Hour of Resurrection had approached near at hand. After all, how can an incident that is to take place in the future, be regarded as a sign of Resurrection's being near at hand, and how can such a testimony be put forward as a rational argument? Second, with this meaning in mind when we read the following verses, they appear to be altogether incoherent. The verses that follow clearly show that the people at that time had witnessed a sign that was a manifest portent of the possibility of Resurrection, but they rejected it as a magical illusion, and persisted in their belief that Resurrection was not possible. In this context, the words inshaqq-al-Qamar can be meaningful only if they are taken to mean: "The Moon split asunder." If they are taken to mean: "The Moon will split asunder," the whole following theme becomes disjointed. It will Took like this:

"The Hour of Resurrection has drawn near and the Moon will split asunder. Yet whatever sign these people may see they turn away and say: `This is current magic!' They have denied and followed only their own lusts. "

Therefore, the truth is that the incident of the splitting of the Moon is confirmed explicitly by the words of the Qur'an and it is not dependent upon the traditions of the Hadith. However, the traditions supply its details, and one comes to know when and how it had taken place. These traditions have been related by Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Abu `Uwanah, Abu Da'ud Tayalisi, `Abdur Razzaq, Ibn Jarir, Baihaqi, Tabarani, Ibn Marduyah, and Abu Nu'aim Tsfahani with many chains of transmitters on the authority of Hadrat `Ali, Hadrat `Abdullah bin Mas'ud, Hadrat `Abdullah bin `Abbas, Hadrat' Abdullah bin `Umar, Hadrat Hudhaifah, Hadrat Anas bin Malik and Hadrat Jubair bin Mut`im. Three of these authorities, viz, Hadrat `Abdullah bin Mas'ud; Hadrat Hudhaifah, and Hadrat Jubair bin Mut`im, state that they were the eye-witnesses of this event; two of them cannot be its eye-witnesses, for this event took place before the birth of one (i.e. 'Abdullah bin `Abbas) and at a time when the other (i.e.. Anas bin Malik) was yet a child. But since both these scholars were Companions, obviously they must have reported this event after they had heard it from the aged Companions who had direct knowledge of it.

The information that one gathers from the various traditions is that this incident occurred about five years before the Hijrah. It was the 14th night of the lunar month; the Moon had just risen when it suddenly split and its two parts were seen on either side of the hill in front. Then after a moment or so they rejoined. The Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) at that time was at Mina. He told the people to mark it and be witnesses to it. The disbelievers said that Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) had worked magic on them; therefore, their eyes had been deceived. The other people said: "Mnhammad could have worked magic on us but not on all the people. Let the people from other places come: we shall ask them if they also had witnessed this incident. " When the people from other places came, they bore evidence that they also had witnessed the same phenomenon.

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 in sane firqatain and shaqqatain (two pieces); third, the Qur'an mentions only one incident of the Moon's splitting asunder. The correct view therefore is that this incident happened only once. As for the stories which are current among the people that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) had matte 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.

Here, the question arises: What was the real nature of this incident. Was it a miracle that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) performed on the demand of the disbelievers of Makkah as a proof of his Prophethood? Or, was it only an accident that occurred on the Moon by the power of Allah and the Holy Prophet had only called the peoples attention to it and warned them to mark it as a Sign of the possibility and nearness of Resurrection? 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 somc 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 narration 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 transrmitters and none of the traditions that have been related with strong chains of tranamitters 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. On the contrary, none of the Companions from among Hadrat `Abdullah bin Mas'ud, Hadrat Hudhaifah, Hadrat Jubair bin Mut`im, Hadrat 'Ali, Hadrat `Abdullah bin 'Umar, who were contemporaries of the incident, has stated that the pagans of Makkah had demanded a Sign of the Holy Prophet to testify to his Prophethood on which he might havc shown the miracle of the splitting of the Moon. Above all, the Qur'an itself also is presenting this event not as a Sign of the Prophethood but as a Sign of the nearness of Resurrection. However, this was indeed conspicuous proof of the Holy Prophet's truthfulness because it testified to the news that he was giving to the people of the coming of Resurrection.

The critics raise two kinds of objections against it. In the first place, they say it is impossible that a great sphere like the Moon should split asunder into two distinct parts, which should get hundreds of miles apart and then rejoin. Secondly, they say if it had so happened, it would be a well-known event in the world and would have found mention in the books of History and Astronomy. But, in fact, both these objections are flimsy. As for the discussion of its possibility, it could perhaps find credibility in the ancient days but on the basis of what man has cane to know in the present day about the structure of the planets, it can be said that it is just possible that a sphere may burst because of its internal volcanic action and its two parts may be thrown far apart by the mighty eruption, and then may rejoin under the magnetic force of their center. As for the second objection, it is flimsy because the event had taken place suddenly and lasted a short time only. It was not necessary that at that particular moment the world might be looking at the Moon. There was no explosion either that might have attracted the people's attention; there was no advance information of it that the people might be awaiting its occurrence and looking up at the sky. It could not also be seen everywhere on the earth but only in Arabia and the eastern (ands where the Moon had risen and was visible at that time. The taste and art of writing history also had not yet developed so that the people who might have witnessed it, should have made a record of it and then sane historian might have gathered the evidence and preserved it in some book of History. However, in the Histories of Malabar mention has been made of a native ruler who had witnessed this phenomenon that night. As for the books of Astronomy and Calendars, this event might have been mentioned in them only if the event had affected the movement of the Moon, its orbit and the times of its rising and setting. As no such thing happened, it did not attract the ancient astronomers' attention. The observatories also were not so developed that they might have taken notice of everything happening in the heavens and preserved a record of it.

The words sihr-um mustamirr of the Text can have several meanings:

(1) That, God forbid, this magical illusion also is one of those magical performances that Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) has been performing day and night;

(2) that this certainly is a work of magic which has been performed with great expertise; and

(3) that just as other works of magic have passed, so will this also pass without leaving any lasting effect behind.

That is, "They still persisted in the same decision that they had made of denying the Hereafter and have not changed their mind even after having witnessed this manifest Sign, mainly because it clashed with their desires of the flesh. "

That is, "It cannot be so endlessly that Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) should go on inviting you to the Truth while you persist in your falsehood stubbornly and his Truth and your falsehood should never be established. All affairs ultimately have to reach an appointed end. Likewise, inevitably this conflict between you and Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) has also to reach an end. A time will certainly come when it will be clearly established that he had been in the right and you in the wrong throughout. Likewise, the worshipers of the Truth shall one day see the result of their worshiping the Truth and the worshipers of falsehood of their worshiping the falsehood."

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

And from his narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that he said in the interpretation of Allah's saying (The hour drew nigh): '(The hour drew nigh) He says: the coming of the Hour drew nigh by the advent of Muhammad (pbuh) and the coming down of the smock (and the moon was rent in twain) this is also another sign of the closeness of the Day of Judgement.