A miracle is a divine act which defies and transcends universal norms and laws, which God grants to His messengers and apostles in order to convince people of the truth of their message. Knowing that His messengers would inevitably be challenged to perform such miracles, God bestowed upon them this power. Thus was Abraham (AS) able to withstand burning by the fire; Jesus (AS) restored sight to the blind and raised the dead; and Moses (AS) parted the Red Sea. The Holy Quran is the living miracle bestowed by God upon the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and it was revealed to him through the Holy Spirit (Gabriel). Today, approximately 1412 years have passed, and nobody has been able to change a single letter or produce its imitation as it is said in the Quran (See Sura Higr, 15:9), and the statement of the Prophet (pbuh):
"Before me, every prophet was given a miracle and they practiced it during their lifetime: i.e., Jesus used to cure the sick and make the dead alive, etc., Moses was given the stick, etc., and I have been given the permanent miracle of the Quran till The Hour is established, so I hope that my followers will be more in number than all the other apostles' as my miracle will last till the Day of Resurrection, and it is a Glorious Book; when anyone reads it, even if he is a pagan, etc., he is convinced that it was not written by any human being or any created thing (angels, etc.,) but it is from the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth." (Bukhari)
Actually the scholars who allege that Muhammad (pbuh) was the author of the Quran claim something which is humanly impossible. Could any person of the sixth century C.E. utter such scientific truths as the Quran contains? Could he describe the evolution of the embryo inside the uterus so accurately as we find it in modern science? Secondly, is it logical to believe that Muhammad (pbuh), who up to the age of forty was marked only for his honesty and integrity, began all of a sudden the authorship of a book matchless in literary merit and the equivalent of which the whole legion of the Arab poets and orators of highest caliber could not produce? And lastly, is it justified to say that Muhammad (pbuh) who was known as Al-Ameen (The trustworthy) in his society and who is still admired by the non-Muslim scholars for his honesty and integrity, came forth with a false claim and on that falsehood could train thousands of men of character, integrity, and honesty, who were able to establish the best human society on the surface of the earth? Surely, any sincere and unbiased searcher of truth will come to believe that the Quran is the revealed Book of God.
The exact object of each Messenger's miracle was a challenge to the particular traits of each of the groups of people to whom they were sent. A miracle would be futile if it did not achieve its desired effect on its witnesses. For it to have full impact, it should relate to an area of knowledge in which its intended audience is well versed. For example, if the people for whom a Messenger has been sent excel in medicine, the miracle should also concern these fields. Only in this way can a miracle fulfill its purpose. This rule has been observed in all the divine miracles performed by the Messengers and Prophets of God.
Divine miracles are also designed to provide people with the capacity to perceive them as signs of His power over all things in the Universe. This was shown by the miracles in which God protected Abraham from the burning fire, and caused Moses the infant to be rescued from drowning in the Nile. In both these miracles, the laws of nature were suspended, through the will of God. Abraham's miracle was designed to challenge the idolaters who by burning him alive sought revenge against him after he had insulted their idols. But one might ask, why would God leave His servant Abraham to go through this horrifying experience? Had God helped Abraham to escape this, the idolaters would have had reason to continue believing in the superiority of their idols, over the power of God. Also, they would have persisted in believing that Abraham was incapable of escaping their idols wrath. Abraham's ordeal by fire was necessary to demonstrate to the idolaters the falsity of their idols. Any heavenly assistance to Abraham before actually being forced into the fire would have deprived the miracle of its full impact. The idolaters would have then been able to attribute their idols' inability to destroy Abraham, to such an intervention. Thus, when Abraham was hurled into the fire, God caused its nature to burn to be suspended, enabling Abraham to stand within the flames unharmed as a challenge to the idolaters. The purpose behind this miracle was not to save Abraham from his fate, because if this had been God's wish, He would not have enabled the idolaters to capture him. He actually wanted them to watch Abraham standing in the burning fire unharmed, in defiance of their idols. This proved that the idols were incapable of inflicting harm on the apostle who had insulted them. Only in this way could the idolaters be convinced of the falsehood of their idols and of the truth of Abraham's God. Of this miracle God says in the Quran:
"We said: O fire, be coolness and peace for Abraham." (Surah Al-Anbiya' 21:69)
There is a great similarity between Abraham's miracle and that of the rescue of Moses from the Nile. In this miracle, Moses' mother was inspired by God to abandon him on the river so that he would be spared certain death by the Pharaoh. To abandon a helpless infant to a turbulent river prey to all its hazards was the last thing a mother could possibly ever do. She could have chosen to hide the child or flee with him out of Egypt. Instead Moses' mother was inspired to choose this option despite the obvious hazards.
The Islamic Bulletin
P.O. Box 410186, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186
|July / August 1991|
|Letters to the Editor|
|Islamic World News|
|Happy New Year|
|The Kid's Corner|
|Women in Islam|
|Qur'an and Science|
|Teachings of the Prophet|
|Why I Embraced Islam|
|The Islamic Calendar|
|The Prophet Salih|
|Stories of the Sahabah|
|Islamic Dietary Laws|