Witnessing the Moon Splitting Miracle
The literal splitting of the moon is a miracle attributed to Prophet Muhammad by early traditions transmitted on the authority of the companions of Muhammad such as Ibn Abbas, Anas bin Malik, Abdullah bin Masud and others.
Many Muslims, to counter the fact that he had apparently performed this miracle without any of the great astronomy/astrology cultures like the Chinese, Indians, Persians, Romans and Greeks noticing, have come up with the legend of Cheraman Perumal, the last King of Malabar (now Kerala).
Moon Splitting Hadiths
According to Muslim legend, Cheraman Perumal (aka Chakrawati Farmas) was supposed to have witnessed this splitting of the moon.
CHAKRAWATI FARMAS KING OF MALABAR, INDIA
The incident relating to King Chakrawati Farmas is documented in an old manuscript in the India Office Library, London, which has reference number: Arabic, 2807, 152-173. It was quoted in the book "Muhammad Rasulullah," by M. Hamidullah:
"There is a very old tradition in Malabar, South-West Coast of India, that Chakrawati Farmas, one of their kings, had observed the splitting of the moon, the celebrated miracle of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) at Mecca, and learning on inquiry that there was a prediction of the coming of a Messanger of God from Arabia (Detail given below), he appointed his son as regent and set out to meet him. He embraced Islam at the hand of the Prophet, and when returning home, at the direction of the Prophet, died at the port of Zafar, Yemen, where the tomb of the "Indian king" was piously visited for many centuries."
The old manuscript in the 'India Office Library' contains several other details about King Chakrawati Farmas and his travel.
The king spent weeks in seclusion. In the midst of his quiet life, he set out on the journey along with the Arab travelers who'd promised him earlier. On the way, they stopped by Koylandi and from there to Dharmapatnam where they halted for 3 days. Then they set out to Shehr Muqalla. On reaching there, they set for the Hajj pilgrimage and thereafter returned to Malabar. He aspired to spread the message of Islam. But on the way, he fell sick and breathed his last.A tradition of the Holy Prophet has also been reported from one of the companions, Abu Saeed al Kaudri, regarding the arrival of Cheraman Perumel. "A king from India presented the Messenger of Allah with a bottle of pickle that had ginger in it. The Holy Prophet distributed it among his companions. I also received a piece to eat ". (Hakim reports in 'Al Musthadrak)
Muhammad Sarosh Butt, Understanding Islam, July 11, 2002
Is Cheraman Perumal the same person as Chakrawati Farmas?
The evidence that they are the same people comes from the fact that the above story relates to both Chakrawati Farmas and Cheraman Perumal. Also, the account of Cheraman Perumal is identical or very similar to that of Chakrawati Farmas, particularly with respect to the Hajj.
Cheraman Perumal is also thought to be Rajasekhara Varman (820-844).
What do the Religious Legends say about when Cheraman Perumal lived?
According to the Muslims, Cheraman Perumal lived during Muhammad’s lifetime as they claim he witnessed the ‘splitting of the moon’ incident.
Dr. Z. Haq, The Modern Religion
Built in 629 AD, this is the first mosque in India and the second in the world where Juma prayers were started. People from far and near irrespective of caste and creed visit this holy place and pay their homage. This mosque has a unique specialty. Mosques built all over the world face the direction of Mecca, but this particular one faces along the east.The first mosque in India is Situated in Kodungalloor, Legend says King Cheraman Perumal of Kodungallur left for Mecca, embraced Islam, accepted the name Thajudeen, married the sister of the then King of Jeddah. Before his death Thajuddeen handed over to the King of Jeddah several letters addressed to Kerala Kings seeking their help to propagate Islam. The Jiddah king came to Kerala and met the then king of Kodungalloor who helped the former to build a Juma Masjid.The first mosque in India.
India Travel Times
A new discovery suggests Cheraman Perumal left for Mecca sometime around 642-643 AD.
They presented themselves in the court of Cheraman Perumal, a Zamorian dynasty king, in 642-43 AD or Hijia 22 (22 years after the prophet's migration from Mecca to Madina).
An epigraph about the Islamic mission, written in difficult-to-read, ancient version of Arabic language, was founded executed on a wooden Lintel of the Jami mosque at Kasargod in Kerala…
…The Kasargod mosque lintel inscription bears out the earliest reference to Islam in Kerala in an ancient Arabic book, "Tohafatul Mujahideen" written by Zainuddin Malabari. It narrates the story of arrival of what could be the first Islamic mission to Kerala by sea, led by Maalik Bin Dinaar.
According to the book, a Zamorin dynasty king, Cheraman Perumal, was ruling then and the missionaries presented themselves in his court in the year 642-43 AD or Hijra 22.
The king welcomed the mission and asked about Islam. So impressed was he with Malik's interpretation of the religion that he embraced Islam, the book says.Cherman Perumal became Abdullah Sameri and undertook Haj pilgrimage to meet prophet Mohammed at Mecca. On his way back, Sameri died at Zulfar, a coastal town in Yemen, where records show that a grave with the name of Sameri engraved on it still exists.
B.S. Rao, Muslim Online
Alas, this Muslim discovery proves the Muslim legend in error as Muhammad died in 632 AD, thus making it impossible for Cheraman Perumal to have personally witnessed the ‘moon splitting’ incident at least a decade after his death.
The Christians, however, believe Cheraman Perumal lived when St Thomas migrated to Malabar in the fourth century.
So we have conflicting religious sources as to when Cheraman Perumal lived. If he lived in the period ascribed to him by the Christians, he could not have witnessed the ‘moon splitting’ incident as he would have predated Muhammad by almost three centuries.
Nevertheless, there are conflicting Muslim accounts of when he left for Mecca, namely around 629 AD or 643 AD.
When did this ‘Moon Splitting’ incident allegedly occur?
Mustafa Mlivo, dipl. ing.
As Hijra is traditionally accepted to have occurred in the year 622 AD, the ‘moon splitting’ incident must have occurred sometime around 617 AD. This means that Malik bin Dinar’s arrival in Malabar in 629 AD was about 12 years too late for Cheraman Perumal to have witnessed the ‘moon splitting’ incident. More likely Malik bin Dinar told the king this lie, rather than the king himself witness the incident. Through time, the legend transmutated from Cheraman Perumal being told the incident to him witnessing the incident.
When did the Historical Cheraman Perumal live?
The established historical sources from Kerala suggest that Cheraman Perumal lived in the ninth century.
Kerala History, Kerala Cafe
Dr P K John
So it would appear that the historical facts do not support Cheraman Perumal ever having witnessed the ‘moon splitting’ incident.
What the Muslim Historian have said about Cheraman Perumal
Muslims claim that Cheraman Perumal aka Chakrawati Farmas personally witnessed the ‘moon splitting’ incident, based on legend.
At least one historian disagrees. In fact, it is undeniable that far from witnessing the incident, Cheraman Perumal was told of it and this gullible king converted to Islam on the basis of this supernatural tale. The folly of humans, even kings, is boundless, as evidenced by the number of Muslims past, present and future who believe this tale.
History of Dharma, The Hindu Universe
This fits with the time frame of the historical facts of Cheraman Perumal’s lifetime and the discrepancy between the arrival of Muslim missionaries in Malabar and the putative date of the ‘moon splitting’ incident.
Religious sources seem contradictory with respect to when Cheraman Perumal lived and whether he did witness the ‘moon splitting’ incident. It must be noted that Cheraman Perumal was a legendary king of Kerala and it is unsurprising that various religions, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam, try to associate themselves with his renown, regardless of historical facts.
It is apparent that the historical facts do not support the Muslim legend that Chakrawati Farmas (aka Cheraman Perumal aka Rajasekhara Varman) personally witnessed the ‘moon splitting’ incident as he is thought to have lived about two centuries after the death of Prophet Muhammad, whose followers most likely made up the ‘moon splitting’ miracle in order to compete with the variety of miracles attributed to the founders of earlier faiths.
So why would anyone believe a man living in the ninth century could personally witness a miracle performed by a man who lived in the seventh century, an event not witnessed by anybody else?
Responses to Apologetics
- "The hadiths were only referring to the new moon"
The hadiths clearly refer to this incident as somehow miraculous. The new moon occurs every month and thus is not miraculous; certainly not miraculous enough to convince anyone into believing that Muhammad is Allah's prophet.
- "The hadiths were only referring to the moon setting behind a mountain."
There is nothing miraculous about the moon setting behind a mountain. In fact, this phenomenon can be seen in many places and will recur with great frequency as the orbit of the moon is roughly stable around the earth. The earth may wobble and so may the moon's orbit but there is nothing to say that the moon will one night set behind a mountain and then the next night set beside it. The hadiths clearly depict the moon splitting incident as something miraculous that Muhammad created to convince some people.
- "It is a metaphor for the end of the culture of pagan Arabs whose symbol was the moon"
Multiple sahih hadiths describe the moon split as a literal event. None describe it as a metaphor.
- "A large asteroid hit the moon, and the resulting plume and debris made it appear as if the moon had split in two."
The Qur'an and multiple sahih hadiths state that the moon had literally split, not that the moon "appeared" to have split. Only a human standing on the earth and lacking basic knowledge of astronomy could mistake an asteroid impact for a miracle. This means that those who accept this explanation must also accept that Allah was mistaken and Muhammad deceived his followers into believing he had performed a miracle.
- Moon Split Miracle - A hub page that leads to other articles related to the Moon Split Miracle
- Ibn Kathir, Tafsir ibn Kathir, Sura Qamar, verse 54:1-2
- "According to al-Tabari, all the expositors (ahl al-ta'wil) agree on essentially this same account for the occasion for the revelation of these verses." cf. Thomas E. Burman, Religious Polemic and the Intellectual History of the Mozarabs, C.1050-1200, p.150
- "Cheraman Perumal The First Indian to accept Islam", Jaihoon, December 6, 2009 (archived), http://www.jaihoon.com/454.htm.
- "Chera Times of the Kulasekharas", Kerala Cafe, accessed September 23, 2013 (archived), http://www.kerala.cc/keralahistory/index20.htm.