The Quran

Commentaries for 54.2

Al Qamar (The Moon) - القمر

54.2 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And if they behold a portent) like the splitting of the moon (they turn away) they deny the sign (and say:) this sign is nothing but (Prolonged illusion) which will vanish.
54.2 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
And if they, the disbelievers among Quraysh, see a sign, a miracle of the Prophet (s), they turn away and say, this is: ‘A powerful sorcery!’ (mustamirr, ‘powerful’, derives from al-mirra, meaning ‘strength’; or it [mustamirr] means ‘incessant’).
54.1-5 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
The Hour draws near; the cleaving of the Moon
Allah informs about the approach of the Last Hour and the imminent end and demise of the world,
أَتَى أَمْرُ اللَّهِ فَلاَ تَسْتَعْجِلُوهُ
(The Event ordained by Allah will come to pass, so seek not to hasten it.)(16:1),
اقْتَرَبَ لِلنَّاسِ حِسَـبُهُمْ وَهُمْ فِى غَفْلَةٍ مُّعْرِضُونَ
(Draws near for mankind their reckoning, while they turn away in heedlessness.)(21:1)
Hadiths about the Last Hour
There are several Hadiths with this meaning. Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Al-Bazzar recorded that Anas said that one day, when the sun was about to set, the Messenger of Allah gave a speech to his Companions, saying,
«وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ مَا بَقِيَ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا فِيمَا مَضَى مِنْهَا إِلَّا كَمَا بَقِيَ مِنْ يَوْمِكُمْ هذَا فِيمَا مَضَى مِنْه»
(By He in Whose Hand is my soul! Not much of this world is left compared to what has already passed of it, except as much as what is left in this day of yours compared to what has already passed of it.) Anas said, "We could only see a small part of the setting sun at the time.'' Another Hadith that supports and explains the above Hadith is recorded by Imam Ahmad that `Abdullah bin `Umar said, "We were sitting with the Prophet while the sun was rising above Qu`ayqa`an, after `Asr. He said,
«مَا أَعْمَارُكُمْ فِي أَعْمَارِ مَنْ مَضَى إِلَّا كَمَا بَقِيَ مِنَ النَّهَارِ فِيمَا مَضَى»
(What remains of your time, compared to what has passed, is as long as what remains of this day compared to what has passed of it.)'' Imam Ahmad recorded that Sahl bin Sa`d said that he heard the Messenger of Allah say,
«بُعِثْتُ أَنَا وَالسَّاعَةُ هكَذَا»
(I was sent like this with the Last Hour.) and he pointed with his middle and index finger. The Two Sahihs also recorded this Hadith. Imam Ahmad recorded that Wahb As-Suwa'i said that the Messenger of Allah said,
«بُعِثْتُ أَنَا وَالسَّاعَةُ كَهذِهِ مِنْ هذِهِ، إِنْ كَادَتْ لَتَسْبِقُنِي»
(I was sent just before the Last Hour, like the distance between this and this; the latter almost overtook the former.) Al-A`mash joined between his index and middle fingers while narrating this Hadith. Imam Ahmad recorded that Al-Awza`i said that Isma`il bin `Ubaydullah said, "Anas bin Malik went to Al-Walid bin `Abdul-Malik who asked him about what he heard from the Messenger of Allah about the Last Hour. Anas said, `I heard the Messenger of Allah say,
«أَنْتُمْ وَالسَّاعَةُ كَهَاتَيْن»
(You and the Last Hour are as close as these two (fingers).)''' Only Imam Ahmad collected this Hadith. There is proof to support these Hadiths in the Sahih listing, Al-Hashir (literally the Gatherer), among the names of the Messenger of Allah ; he is the first to be gathered, and all people will be gathered thereafter (for the Day of Judgement). Allah's statement,
وَانشَقَّ الْقَمَرُ
(and the moon has been cleft asunder.) It occurred during the time of Allah's Messenger, according to the authentic Mutawatir Hadiths the scholars agree that the moon was cleft asunder during the lifetime of the Prophet, and it was among the clear miracles that Allah gave him. Hadiths mentioning that the Moon was split
The Narration of Anas bin Malik
Imam Ahmad recorded that Anas bin Malik said, "The people of Makkah asked the Prophet for a miracle and the moon was split into two parts in Makkah. Allah said,
اقْتَرَبَتِ السَّاعَةُ وَانشَقَّ الْقَمَرُ
(The Hour has drawn near, and the moon has been cleft asunder.)'' Muslim also collected this Hadith. Al-Bukhari recorded that Anas bin Malik said, "The people of Makkah asked the Messenger of Allah to produce a miracle, and he showed them the splitting of the moon into two parts, until they saw (the mount of) Hira' between them.'' This Hadith is recorded in the Two Sahihs with various chains of narration.
The Narration of Jubayr bin Mut`im
Imam Ahmad recorded that Jubayr bin Mut`im said, "The moon was split into two pieces during the time of Allah's Prophet ; a part of the moon was over one mountain and another part over another mountain. So they said, `Muhammad has taken us by his magic.' They then said, `If he was able to take us by magic, he will not be able to do so with all people.''' Only Imam Ahmad recorded this Hadith with this chain of narration. Al-Bayhaqi used another chain of narration in a similar Hadith he collected in Ad-Dala'il.
The Narration of `Abdullah bin `Abbas
Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, "The moon was split during the time of the Prophet.'' Al-Bukhari and Muslim collected this Hadith. Ibn Jarir recorded that Ibn `Abbas commented on Allah's saying:
اقْتَرَبَتِ السَّاعَةُ وَانشَقَّ الْقَمَرُ - وَإِن يَرَوْاْ ءَايَةً يُعْرِضُواْ وَيَقُولُواْ سِحْرٌ مُّسْتَمِرٌّ
(The Hour has drawn near, and the moon has been cleft asunder. And if they see a sign, they turn away and say: "This is magic, Mustamir.'') "This occurred before the Hijrah; the moon was split and they saw it in two parts.''
The Narration of `Abdullah bin `Umar Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr
Al-Bayhaqi recorded that `Abdullah bin `Umar commented on Allah's statement:
اقْتَرَبَتِ السَّاعَةُ وَانشَقَّ الْقَمَرُ
(The Hour has drawn near, and the moon has been cleft asunder.) "This occurred during the time of Allah's Messenger ; the moon was split in two parts. A part of it was before the mount and a part on the other side. The Prophet said,
«اللْهُمَّ اشْهَد»
(O Allah! Be witness.)'' This is the narration that Muslim and At-Tirmidhi collected. At-Tirmidhi said, "Hasan Sahih.''
The Narration of `Abdullah bin Mas`ud
Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn Mas`ud said, "The moon was split in two parts during the time of Allah's Messenger, and they saw its two parts. Allah's Messenger said,
(Be witnesses.)'' Al-Bukhari and Muslim collected this Hadith. Ibn Jarir recorded that `Abdullah (Ibn Mas`ud) said, "I saw the mountain between the two parts of the moon when it was split.'' Imam Ahmad recorded that `Abdullah said, "The moon was split during the time of Allah's Messenger and I saw the mount between its two parts.
The Stubbornness of the idolators
Allah said,
وَإِن يَرَوْاْ ءَايَةً
(And if they see an Ayah), if they see proof, evidence and a sign,
(they turn away), they do not believe in it. Rather, they turn away from it, abandoning it behind their backs,
وَيَقُولُواْ سِحْرٌ مُّسْتَمِرٌّ
(and say: "This is magic, Mustamir.'') They say, `the sign that we saw was magic, which was cast on us.' Mustamir, means, `will soon go away', according to Mujahid, Qatadah and several others. The Quraysh said that the cleaving of the moon was false and will soon diminish and fade away,
وَكَذَّبُواْ وَاتَّبَعُواْ أَهْوَآءَهُمْ
(They denied and followed their own lusts.), they rejected the truth when it came to them, following the ignorance and foolishness that their lusts and desires called them to. Allah's statement,
وَكُلُّ أَمْرٍ مُّسْتَقِرٌّ
(And every matter will be settled.) means, the good deeds will take their doers to all that is good and righteous, and similarly evil deeds will take their doers to all that is evil, according to Qatadah, while Ibn Jurayj said, "will settle according to its people.'' Mujahid commented on the meaning of,
وَكُلُّ أَمْرٍ مُّسْتَقِرٌّ
(And every matter will be settled.) by saying, "On the Day of Resurrection.'' Allah's statement,
وَلَقَدْ جَآءَهُم مِّنَ الاٌّنبَآءِ
(And indeed there has come to them news); in this Qur'an, there has come to them the news of the earlier nations that disbelieved in their Messengers and the torment, punishment and affliction that befell them,
مَا فِيهِ مُزْدَجَرٌ
(wherein there is Muzdajar), wherein there are warnings and lessons to stop them from idolatry and persisting in denial,
حِكْمَةٌ بَـلِغَةٌ
(Perfect wisdom,) in that Allah guides whomever He wills and misguides whomever He wills,
فَمَا تُغْنِـى النُّذُرُ
(but warners benefit them not.) but the preaching of warnings does not benefit those upon whom Allah has written misery and sealed their hearts. Who can guide such people after Allah This Ayah is similar to Allah's statements,
قُلْ فَلِلَّهِ الْحُجَّةُ الْبَـلِغَةُ فَلَوْ شَآءَ لَهَدَاكُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ
(Say: "With Allah is the perfect proof and argument; had He so willed, He would indeed have guided you all.'')(6:149) and,
وَمَا تُغْنِى الآيَـتُ وَالنُّذُرُ عَن قَوْمٍ لاَّ يُؤْمِنُونَ
(But neither Ayat nor warners benefit those who believe not.)(10:101)
54.1-3 Maududi - 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."