MIRACLES. Supernatural powers given to men are spoken of by Muslim lexicographers as khariqu ‘l-’adat خارق العادة, or “things contrary to custom.” In Muslim theology, they are expressed by eight terms: 1) Ayah , pl. ayat, “a sign”; the only word used in the Qur’an for a miracle (see Surahs xiii. 27: xxix. 49; lii. 2). (2) Mu’jizah معجزة, pl. mu’jizat, making weak or feeble,” or that which renders the adversaries to the truth weak and feeble; a term used only for miracles performed by prophets; (3) Irhas ارهاص pl. irhasat, lit. “laying a foundation”; used for any miracle, performed by a prophet before his assumption of the prophetical office. (4) ‘Alamah علامة, pl. ‘alamat, “a sign,” the same as ayah, and used for the signs of the coming Resurrection. (5) Karamah كرامة pl. karamat, lit. “beneficence”; wonders wrought by saints for the good of the people as well as in proof of their own saint-ship. (6) Ma’unah معونة pl. ma’wanat, lit. “help or assistance;” used also for the wonders wrought by saints. (7) Istidraj استدراج lit. “promoting by degrees “; a term employed to express the miracles wrought by the assistance of the Devil with the permission of God. (8) Ihanah اهانة pl. Ihanat, lit. “contempt”; miracles wrought by the assistance of the Devil, but when they turn out to the disdain and contempt of the worker.
It does not appear from the Qur’an that Muhammad ever claimed the power of working miracles, but, on the contrary, he asserted that it was not his mission to work signs and wonders in proof of his apostleship. This seems to be evident from the following verses in the Qur’an :—
Surah xxix. 49: “They say, Why are not signs (ayat) sent down to him from his Lord? Say: Signs are in the power of God alone, and I am only an open warner.”
Surah xiii. 27—30: “And they who believe not say, Why is not a sign (ayah) sent down to him from his Lord? Say: God truly misleadeth whom He will, and guideth to Himself him who turneth to Him. . . – If there were a Qur’an by which the mountains would be set in motion, or the earth cleft by it, or the dead be addressed by it, they would not believe.”
Surah xvii. 92—97: “And they say, By no means will we believe on thee till thou cause a fountain to gush forth for us from the earth, or till thou have a garden of palm trees and grapes, and thou cause gushing rivers to gush forth in its midst, or till thou make heaven to fall upon us, as thou hast given out in pieces; or thou bring God and the angels to vouch for thee; or thou have a house of God, or thou mount up into heaven; nor will we believe in thy mounting up until thou send us down a book which we may read. Say: Praise be to my Lord! Am I more than a man, and an apostle? And what hindereth men from believing, when she guidance bath come to them, bat that they say, hath God sent a mere man as an apostle? Say: Did angels walk the earth as its familiars, we had surely sent them an angel-apostle out of heaven.”
But notwithstanding these positive assertions on the part of their Prophet against him ability to work miracles, there are at least four places in the Qur’an where the Muslims believe that miracles are referred to 1. The clefting of the moon (Surah liv. 1. 2): “The hour hath approached, and the moon hath been cleft. But if the unbelievers see a sign (ayah), they turn aside and say, Magic! that shall pass away!”
Al-Baizawi says, in his commentary on this verse, “Some say that the unbelievers demanded this sign of the Prophet, and the moon was cleft in two; but others say it refers to a sign of the coming Resurrection, the words ‘will be cleft’ being expressed in the prophetic preterite.”
Rodwell renders it “hath been cleft,” as he thinks Muhammad may possibly allude to some meteor or comet which he fancied to be part of the moon.
2. The assistance given to the Muslims at the battle of Badr. Surah iii. 120, 121: “When thou didst say to the faithful: -’Is it not enough for you that your Lord aideth you with three thousand angels sent down from on high?’ Nay; but if ye be steadfast, and fear God, and the foe come upon you in haste, your Lord will help you with five thousand angels with their distinguishing marks.”
These “distinguishing marks,” say the commentators, were when the angels rode on black and white horses, and had on their heads white and yellow turbans, the ends of which hung down between their shoulders.
3. The celebrated night journey. Surah xvii 1: “We declare the glory of Him who transports his servant by night from the Maajid ‘l-Haram to the Masjidu ‘l-Aqsa (i.e. from Makkah to .Jerusalem).”
4. The Qur’an itself. which the Muslims say is the great miracle of Islam, the like of which has not been created, nor ever will be, by the power of man. In proof of this they quote Surah xxix. 48: “It is a clear sign (ayah) in the hearts of whom the knowledge hath reached.”
Although these very doubtful assertions in the Qur’an fall to establish the miraculous powers of the Prophet, the Traditions record numerous occasions when he worked miracles in the presence of his people.
The following are recorded in the traditions of al-Bukhari and Muslim:-
(1) On the flight from Makkah, Suraqah being cursed by the Prophet, his horse sank up to its belly in the hard ground.
(2) The Prophet marked out at Badr the exact spot on which each of the Idolaters should be slain, and Anas says not one of them passed alive beyond the spot marked by the Prophet.
(3) He cured the broken leg of ‘Abdu’llah ibn Atiq by a touch.
(4) Reconverted hard ground into a heap of sand by one stroke of an axe.
(5) He fed a thousand people upon one kid and a sa’ of barley.
(6) He gave a miraculous supply pf water at the battle of al-Hudaibiyah.
(7) Two trees miraculously moved to form a shade for the Prophet.
(8) He made Jabir a good horseman by his prayers.
(9) A wooden pillar wept to such-an extent that it nearly rent in two parts because the Prophet desisted from leaning against it.
(10) A sluggish horse became swift from being ridden by the Prophet.
(11) Seventy or eighty people miraculously fed on a few barley loaves and a little butter.
(12) Three hundred men fed from a single cake.
The following are recorded by various writers:-
(1) The Prophet was saluted by the hills and trees near Makkah, with the salutation, “Peace be to thee, O Messenger of God!”
(2) A tree moved from its place to the shade when the Prophet slept under it.
(3) The Prophet cured a maniacal boy by saying. “Come out of him.”
(4) A wolf was made to speak by the Prophet.
(For further information, see Kitabu ‘l-Mu’jizat, Sahihu ‘l-Bukhari, Mishkatsu ‘l-Masabih, Sahihu Muslim.)
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam