A bitterly divided America came together last week under the darkening sun. As the crowds gathered in parks, on sidewalks, and on rooftops, watching the moon hide the sun, the woes were forgotten. For two brief darkening moments, America was one again.
At the Writers Circle at Yorkville library, our instructor asked us to write about the solar eclipse. I was one of those very few who had not witnessed the once-in-a-lifetime moment. So I decided to tell the story of a similar, but not-so-similar event.
When I was a little girl, growing up in Pakistan, my grandfather told me a story.
“Once upon a time, centuries ago, in the land of Arabia, lived a man by the name of Muhammad. He was a prophet of God. Some people believed him, but the pagans did not. They called him an imposter. One day, they decided to test him.
‘If you are a prophet,’ they said, ‘then perform a miracle.’
It was a beautiful night, with a full moon.
Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him, looked up at the sky and pointed to the moon. The moon split in two parts. A minute later, he pointed to the moon again, and the two parts of the moon merged into one.
People were stunned. Stunned into belief.”
I loved this story of the splitting of the moon. Decades later, I wondered about it. Did this supernatural phenomenon bring the people of Mecca together? I don’t know. Did it even happen? Or is it folklore? And if it did happen, is there a scientific explanation for it?
I think there is.
And, maybe we need another one of God’s cosmic events, a longer than two-minute event, to bring America together again.