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The Miracles of Prophets -1

16 Nov 2018
The Miracles of Prophets -1

MOSES was sent to Pharaoh to invite him to two things; first, to surrender himself to God (i.e. Islam); and second, to release the Israelites - who were already Muslims - from his oppressive bondage. The Qur'an refers occasionally to both these objectives, and occasionally confines itself to mentioning either of the two.

Qur’an (7:106): Pharaoh said: if you have brought a sign, then bring it forth if you are truthful.'

 

Qur’an (7:107): Thereupon Moses threw his rod, and suddenly it was a veritable serpent.

 

Qur’an (7:108) Then he drew out his hand, and it appeared luminous to all beholders.

 

Moses was granted these two miraculous signs in order to provide testimony to his being a Messenger of God, the creator and sovereign of the universe. Whenever the Prophets introduced themselves as God's Message-bearers, people asked them to produce some miraculous sign, to perform something supernatural. In response to those demands the Prophets produced what the Qur'an terms as 'signs', and which are called 'miracles' by theologians. 

Those who tend to play down the supernatural character of such signs or miracles, and who try to explain them in terms of natural laws of causation, in fact attempt to build a mid-way house between believing and disbelieving in the statements of the Qur'an. Such an approach can hardly be considered reasonable. What it does demonstrate, however, is how such people can be pulled in two opposite directions. On the one hand, they are not inclined to believe in a Book which abounds in narrations of a supernatural kind. On the other hand, being born followers of their ancestral religion, they are not inclined to reject the Book which carries supernatural narrations. 

With regard to miracles, there are two basic questions that people should ask themselves. Did God, after creating the universe and establishing a system of natural causations therein, suspend Himself such that it is no longer possible for Him to interfere in the workings of the universe? Or does He still hold the reins to His realm in His owns Hands so that His command is enforced every moment, and He does retain the power to alter the shape of things and the normal course of events - either partially or fully, - as and when He wills? 

It is impossible for those who respond in the affirmative to the first question to accept the idea of miracles. For clearly miracles do not fit in with their concept of God and the universe. Honesty demands that instead of indulging in far-fetched explanations of Qur'anic statements on miracles, such people should clearly declare that they do not believe in the Qur'an. For quite obviously the Qur'an is explicit, even quite emphatic in affirming the former concept of God. 

As for those who, being convinced by Qur'anic arguments, respond in the affirmative to the second question regarding God and the universe, for them there is no difficulty in accepting miracles. Let us take the instance mentioned in verse 107, namely, that the rod of Moses turned into a serpent. Now, there are those who believe that serpents can come into being only through one process - the known biological process. Such people are bound to reject the statement that Moses' rod changed into a serpent and later reverted to its original shape. On the contrary, if you are fully convinced that it is God's command alone which causes life to arise from lifeless matter, and that God has full power to confer whichever kind of life He wills, the transformation of the rod into a serpent and its subsequent reversion to its original state is no stranger than the transformation of any other lifeless matter into a living entity. The fact that the latter happens virtually every day whereas the former took place only a few times in history is not enough to declare the first as incredibly, strange and the second as 'natural'.1

(Qur’an 18: 22, Surah Al-Kahaf; the cave) Say: "My Lord knows their number best. Only a few know their correct number. So do not dispute concerning their number, but stick to what is evident, and do not question anyone about them.” 

This is meant to impress that the real thing in this story is not the number of the sleepers (of cave) but the lessons it teaches. (1) A true believer should not on any account turn away from the truth and bow before falsehood. (2) A believer should not merely rely on the material means but on Allah. He should trust in God and follow the right way, even though the outward adverse circumstances might appear to be unfavorable. (3) It is wrong to suppose that Allah is bound by any so called law of nature, for He is able to do anything He wills even though that might seem to be against some common experience. He has the power to change any so called law of nature, whenever and wherever He wills and bring about any extraordinary supernatural thing. So much so that He can raise up anyone who might have been asleep for two hundred years, as if he had slept only for a few hours, without letting any change take place in his appearance, dress, health, indeed in anything, during the passage of time. (4) This teaches us that Allah has the power to bring to life all the generations past, present and future all together as asserted by the Prophets and divine Scriptures. (5) It teaches us that ignorant people have always been perverting the signs of Allah which are sent for the right guidance of the people. That is how the miracle of the sleepers of the cave, which had been shown as a proof of the Hereafter, had been turned into a means of shirk, as if they were some saints who had been sent only for this purpose.3

In this world of God strange happenings are not rare. Wherever one may look one will see extraordinary manifestations of His power. The occurrence of certain events and things in a usual form and manner is no proof that the event or thing cannot happen in an unusual and extraordinary way. To break these assumptions there exists a long list of unusual events and things that have taken place in every kind of creation in every part of the universe. In particular, the person who has a clear concept of God’s being All- Powerful, cannot be involved in the misunderstanding that it is not possible for God, Who is the Creator of life and death, to grant a life of a thousand years or so to any man. The fact is that man of his own will and wish cannot live even for a moment, but if Allah wills, He can make him live for as long as He pleases.4

 

  1. Surah Al-Ar’af, Explanatory Note 87
  2. Surah Kahaf N. 23
  3. The miracle of Ashabe-e Kahaf (people of cave) revealed by Allah to people to make believe in the day of judgement. But the ignorant people made them other "idols" (great) to worship.
  4. Surah Al-Ankabut N. 22

 (From Urdu book Seerat e Sarwar Alam vol. 1, by Syed Abul A'ala Maududi (b.1903 –d.1979), compiled in Urdu by Naeem Siddiqui and Abdul Wakeel Alvi)

Syed Jawed Anwar

jawed@seerahwest.com

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