During the Makkan era, the infidels of Quraish asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) to show them a sign to prove the authenticity of his prophethood, whereupon Allah split the moon into two halves.
The Qur’an mentioned that miracle and recorded it in the verse:
The hour drew nigh and the moon was rent in twain. (Al-Qamar 54:1)
The infidels were perplexed when they saw the miracle; they have nothing to say about but to claim that it was an act of magic. Allah (Exalted be he) says:
The hour drew nigh and the moon was rent in twain. And if they behold a portent they turn away and say: prolonged (1) magic. They denied (the truth) and followed their own lusts. Yet everything will come to a decision. (Al-Qamar 54:1)
Historical documentation of the splitting of the moon:
The Indian history has recorded the name of one of their kings, Chakrawati Farmas, who is claimed to have witnessed the event of the splitting of the moon. An Indian historical manuscript (The Indian manuscript is kept in the India Office Library, London, which has reference number: Arabic, 2807, 152-173.
It is quoted in the book Muhammad Rasulullah, by M. Hamidullah (2) that:
“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 Prophet (peace be upon him) at Makkah, and learning, on inquiry, that there was a prediction of the coming of a Messenger of God from Arabia, 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, he died at the port of Zafar. This information is in an Indian manuscript kept in the ‘India Office Library’, which contains several other details about King Chakrawati Farmas.
The Indian king that visited the Prophet is mentioned in the Books of Hadith. In Al-Hakim’s Mustadrak (3) it is reported that Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri said: ‘Then the King of India gave Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) a gift, a bottle of pickle that had ginger in it. The Holy Prophet distributed it among his Companions. I also received a piece of it to eat’.
It is known that the king became a Companion through meeting the Messenger and believing in him and dying as such.
Islamic references preserve the story of this Companion, who came from India. Imam Ibn Hajar Al-`Asqalani has mentioned him in Al-Isabah and in Lisan al-Mizan. (4) He says that his name was Sirbanak, the name he is known by among the Arabs.
Related article (The Moon Cleft Asunder)
1. ‘Prolonged’ means strong and intensive overriding all kinds of sorcery, as al-Shawkani says. There are other interpretations also.
2. The Indian manuscript is kept in the India Office Library, London, which has reference number: Arabic, 2807, 152-173. It is quoted in the book Muhammad Rasulullah, by M. Hamidullah.
3. Mustadrak al-Hakim/ kitab al-‘At’imah, Vol. 4, p. 150.
4. Al-Iasabah, Vol. 3, p. 279; Lisan al-Mizan, vol. 3, p. 10