Islamic view of miracles
Miracle in the Qur'an can be defined as a supernatural intervention in the life of human beings. According to this definition, miracles are present "in a threefold sense: in sacred history, in connection with the Islamic prophet Muhammad himself and in relation to revelation." The Qur'an does not use the technical Arabic word for miracle (مُعْجِزَة Muʿjiza) literally meaning "that by means of which [the Prophet] confounds, overwhelms, his opponents". It rather uses the term Ayah (literally meaning sign). The term Ayah is used in the Qur'an in the above-mentioned threefold sense: it refers to the "verses" of the Qur'an (believed to be the divine speech in human language; presented by Muhammad as his chief miracle); as well as to miracles of it and the signs (particularly those of creation).
In order to defend the possibility of miracles and God's omnipotence against the encroachment of the independent secondary causes, medieval Muslim theologians rejected the idea of cause and effect in essence, but accepted it as something that facilitates humankind's investigation and comprehension of natural processes. They argued that the nature was composed of uniform atoms that were "re-created" at every instant by God. Thus if the soil was to fall, God would have to create and re-create the accident of heaviness for as long as the soil was to fall. For Muslim theologians, the laws of nature were only the customary sequence of apparent causes: customs of God.
A systematic definition of miracles performed by apostles can be found in the work of the Muslim scholar al-Īd̲j̲ī Mawāḳif, historian A.J. Wensinck states. The main purpose of miracle is to prove the sincerity of the apostle and has to satisfy the following conditions:
- It must be performed by God
- "It must be contrary to the usual course of things"
- It should be impossible to contradict it
- "It must happen at the hands of him who claims to be an apostle
- "It must be in conformity with his announcement of it, and the miracle itself must not be a disavowal of his claim"
- "It must follow on his claim"
The Qur'an does not mention any miracle for Adam (Adem) as he was not supposed to convince anybody. Sura (verse) 11 (Hūd) and 23 (Al-Mu’minoon) mention miracles of Noah (Nuh), "The oven (tannur) out of which the water burst and announced the flood". Hud, the first of five Arabian prophets of the Qur'an, prophet for the ancient tribe of ʿĀd does not have any particular miracle (thus according to historian Denis Gril prefiguring Muhammad). See sura 7 (Al-A'raf) for his response when he was rebuked for not producing a miracle.
According to historian Denis Gril, the Qur'an does not overtly describe Muhammad performing miracles. The supreme miracle of Muhammad is finally identified with the Qur'an itself. However, Muslim tradition credits Muhammad with several supernatural events. For example, many Muslim commentators and some western scholars have interpreted the sura 54 (Al-Qamar) to refer to Muhammad splitting the Moon in view of the Quraysh when they had begun to persecute his followers. This tradition has inspired many Muslim poets, especially in India.
- Denis Gril, Miracles, Encyclopedia of the Qur'an
- A.J. Wensinck, Muʿd̲j̲iza, Encyclopedia of Islam
- Robert G. Mourison, The Portrayal of Nature in a Medieval Qur’an Commentary, Studia Islamica, 2002
- 11:40, 23:27
- Quran 54:1–2
- Encyclopedia of the Qur'an, Moon
- "Muhammad", Encyclopedia of Islam Online