Miracle (mujiza in Arabic) means “a wonderous event that can not be imitated and makes people feel powerless.” However, this frequently encountered word is not used in the Quran or in the hadiths (sayings of the Prophet). Instead, the words ayet (sign), ayat (signs), beyyine, delil(proof), delail (proofs) are adopted in the Quran to designate a miracle.
Miracle, as a term denotes an extraordinary action that is realized with the will of Allah and with the help of the power Allah bestowed on a person. It is an action that normally surpasses human capacity and that cannot be acquired by human effort. It is an act performed –with the help of Allah- by a prophet who is challenging the infidels to support his claims and his beliefs and to prove that his declarations are true. Other people are unable to perform the same extraordinary act. Miracles are beyond the rules of nature and they have two essential qualities:
- They are challenging.
- They impoverish the infidels.
These are some of the requirements of the miracles:
- Miracles are the works of Allah, because Allah is fail-i muhtar; that is, He can whatever He wants. He only confirms the truth of an act that is d by Him. For example, the acts in the miracles of Moses who turned his cane to a snake, or Jesus who revived the dead are indeed the acts of Allah who d and willed. Attribution of these miracles to prophets is only a metaphor. The doer is Allah.
- Miracles must be extraordinary and above the laws of nature. In acts that happen according to the laws of nature (i.e. sunrise, etc.) there is nothing extraordinary.
- Miracles cannot be denied, because a miracle’s aim is to impoverish disbelief in people by revealing their inferiority.
- Miracles can be performed by a person who is claiming to be a prophet in order to prove the confirmation of Allah.
- Miracles should be identical with the act a prophet promised to perform. If a person performs an extraordinary act different than the one he d that he will perform, that is not a miracle.
- A miracle should not be discrediting the prophet who performed the miracle.
- Miracles should not be executed too soon or too late than the promised timing. They should be performed right after the promise (that is his claim).
The Provision of Believing a Miracle
It is obligatory for every Muslim to believe that the prophets sent by Allah can perform miracles to prove that they are truthful on their path. Allah confirmed all His prophets by granting them miracles. The miracles of each prophet is mentioned and explained in the related Quranic verses. Therefore, believing in the miracles is supported by the Holy Book, by the sunnah (practices of the Prophet) and by the Icma-i Ummah (the consensus of the Ummah). It is necessary to believe in the concrete and universal miracles such as Isra and Inshikak-ı Kamer (splitting of the moon into two).
There are many verses confirming that each prophet is granted a miracle. Also in a hadith Prophet Muhammad indicated that: “Each prophet is bestowed with an ayat (miracle) in a form that could amaze his own people. However the ayat bestowed upon me is revelation and Allah sent down revelation to me. Hence I am hoping I will be the prophet with the most followers compared to other prophets on the Day of Judgement.” (Buhari, Fezailu'l-Kur'an, 4981; I'tisam, 7274; Muslim, Iman, 152)
The Types of Miracles
There are two main types of miracles according to the ulema (scholars) of kelam (Islamic theology).
- Concrete and universal miracles (about the universe, observable)
- Intellectual (spiritual) miracles
Concrete and universal miracles are also grouped under two categories:
- This category entails the wonderful states, superb talents and qualities that Allah bestowed on the prophets He chose.
- Miracles that are bestowed upon each prophet apart their characteristics and personalities. These miracles are extraordinary acts that could be observed with the five senses of people of a prophet’s age. These are wonderfully unique events that each prophet performed with the help of Allah in order to prove their true callings. These miracles amaze people and make them admire the work of Allah on one hand and make them feel impoverished on the other hand.
Concrete and Universal miracle
All prophets performed concrete miracles in order to prove that they are messengers sent by Allah. These extraordinary acts were in keeping with the age in which a prophet lived and his people considered them unique and impossible to be imitated by others. Thus the miracles amazed people. Most of the concrete and universal miracles, both in terms of quality and content, are explained in the Quran. Some of these miracles that are performed by Abraham, Moses and Jesus are explained in the Quran:
- When Abraham was thrown into the fire by the pagans, he did not burn.
- Moses’ cane turned into a dragon that swallowed the snakes cast by the magicians, and then it turned back into a cane. When he touched the Red Sea with the same cane, the sea was split and Moses and the Jewish people could walk to the other side of the sea safely. Whereas the pharaoh and his men were drowned when they tried to follow them.
- Jesus revived the dead and healed the sick.
Prophet Muhammad also has many concrete miracles.
Almost hundred observable miracles are narrated in the sources. Isra, Miraj and the splitting of the moon are the most famous ones that are referred to in the Quran or narrated via hadith (sayings of the Prophet).
An intellectual miracle is a wonder that speaks to the mind and conscience and is valid for all times. The best example for this type of a miracle is the Quran which is revealed only to Prophet Muhammad and is accepted as his greatest miracle. The Quran is the most efficient miracle that represents his prophethood extending to all ages and everywhere. The function of the concrete miracles that were bestowed on preceding prophets ended with the Quran. The previous miracles that are mentioned in the Quran, in hadith and in the books of siyer (life story of the Prophet) came to be perceived as amazing cases and memories and lost their significance. There is a great wisdom behind the giving of a miracle as great as the Quran to Prophet Muhammad instead of other prophets; while their prophethood would serve for a limited time in a specific community until the arrival of the next prophet, the prophethood of Muhammad would last until the Day of Judgement. This is why he is given the Quran, a unique and intellectual miracle valid for all times and for all people. Hence the greatest miracle of the last prophet is the Quran.