Each messenger brought to his people a miracle commensurate with the kind of knowledge they most excelled in. Thus, because the people to whom Moses was sent excelled in magic, the form of the miracle which he challenged them with was of a magical nature. The magicians who observed Moses performing his miracle were among the first to believe in him and in God. Being in a better position than others to judge that the miracle was the supernatural work of a divine power and not the result of a magical skill, they were overwhelmed by what they witnessed. In recognition of the true faith that Moses was commanded to convey to them they fell on their knees in prostration. The Quran says:
"But the sorcerers fell down prostrate, in adoration. Saying, "We believe in the Lord of the Worlds, the Lord of Moses and Aaron." (Qur'an Al-A'raf 7:120-2)
Being better acquainted with the art of magic, the magicians could distinguish between what was artifice and what was a divine miracle. And so they were the first to declare their faith in the God of Aaron and Moses. Overwhelmed by the new revelation, the magicians forgot the Pharaoh's promise of gold and silver, as well as the torture that awaited them for their failure to defeat Moses. Pharaoh's might and oppression paled before the power of this true God and His faith. This was the greatness of the divine miracle and its holding power on people's minds and souls. Through such miracles, the vehement antagonists were instantaneously converted into faithful believers, ready to relinquish all mundane wealth and power.
Similarly, the challenging miracles of Jesus focused on medical phenomena because his people were well advanced in medicine. He restored sight to the blind, cured lepers, revived the dead and demonstrated powers beyond human knowledge.
Because the Arabs at the time of Muhammad (pbuh) were masters in elocution, the miracle therefore came in the form to challenge their understanding from the vantage of their linguistic skills. The Quran with its literary inimitability was all the more astonishing because Muhammad (pbuh) himself was illiterate when the Quran was revealed to him. When the Arabs failed to match the language of the Quran, they accused Mohammed (pbuh) of sorcery and even of being insane.
The miraculous features of the Quran are not confined to its linguistic inimitability. Indeed, it is filled with miraculous signs that will remain a challenge to mankind for eternity. One of the miraculous features of the Quran lies in the ever-expanding nature of the meanings contained in its verses and their inexhaustible capacity to accommodate even the most recent scientific discoveries.
A miracle can transcend the laws of nature or defy the characteristics of natural phenomena without posing a specific challenge to man. In this kind of miracle, God does not seek to challenge mankind, but to show His domination over the universe and man's incapacity to understand such occurrences in terms of cause and effects. Consequently, a true believer should always be prepared to attribute those happenings which he cannot find an accountable cause to the will of God.
The Islamic Bulletin
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