What Is A Miracle?
A miracle is an extraordinary accomplishment, which God Almighty brings about at the hands of a Messenger in order to prove his Messengerhood, strengthen the faith of believers, and break the obstinacy of unbelievers.
The universe operates according to fixed laws that God has determined. But for these laws and the uniform character of natural events, everything would be happening in a continuously changing, unstable flux and we could therefore not have found out the Divine laws of nature or realized any scientific developments. Although recent discoveries in atomic physics have made it clear that whatever exists is a wave in continuous motion and therefore it is not possible to say that a second later its existence will be in the same state as it is in now, on the surface everything occurs according to the principles which the ‘classical’ or Newtonian physics established.
Normally, life has its own laws according to which we behave. We need certain amount of food and water to satisfy our hunger and thirst and go to a doctor when we are ill. We use animals to do certain kinds of labor for us but we cannot talk to them. Trees are fixed in their places and neither they nor stones and mountains give us greetings. We act in conformity with the laws of gravitation and repulsion and we do not attempt to rise upwards into the sky without first making calculations based upon those laws.
See also: Miracle
God is not dependent on or bound to any “natural” laws
All these and other laws are for us; but for them, as we pointed out above, life would be impossible for us. However, since it is God Who has determined them, He is not dependent on or bound to any of these laws at all. Therefore, He may sometimes annul any of these laws or change the ordinary flux of events and create an ‘extraordinary’ occurrence at the hands of a Messenger, either to provide a proof for his Messengerhood or to show that He is able to do whatever He wills at whatever time He desires. We call such an occurrence a ‘miracle’. A miracle literally means something, which makes others unable to produce a like of it. If God creates such an occurrence at the hands of a saint, not a Messenger, then it is called ‘extraordinary favor’. These favors constitute another proof for the Messengerhood of Muhammad and the truth of Islam.
All of the Messengers were favored with miracle-working
God Almighty favored all His Messengers with miracle-working. However, since all the previous Messengers were sent to a certain people and their Messengerhood was restricted to a certain time and people, the miracles they worked pertained to the arts or crafts widespread in the time of each. For example, since at the time of Moses sorcery enjoyed great prestige in Egypt, God Almighty favored Moses with a ‘staff.’ which would change into a snake which swallowed all the products of sorcerers. Likewise, at the time of Jesus the healing arts enjoyed great prestige and most of the miracles Jesus worked pertained to healing. As for the Messenger Muhammad, since his Messengerhood is universal and the ‘door’ of Messengerhood was closed forever after him, the miracles he worked are very diverse and connected with nearly all species of creation.
When the aide-de-camp of a glorified ruler enters a city, bearing diverse gifts from the ruler, a representative from each of the different peoples or from each of the professional groups or societies or associations of that city welcomes him cheerfully, each in his own way. Similarly, when the supreme Messenger of the Eternal Sovereign honored the universe as an envoy to the inhabitants of the earth, bringing from the Creator the light of truth and spiritual gifts that are related to the truths of the whole of the universe, every kind of entity. from mineral elements to plants, animals and human beings, and from the moon and sun to stars. welcomed him in its own way and language and became a means for one kind of his miracles.
Every word, act, and state of the noble Messenger bears witness to his Messengerhood and his faithfulness, but not all of them need necessarily be miraculous. For the Almighty sent him in the form of a human being so that he could be a guide and leader to human beings in all their individual and collective affairs, through which they can attain happiness in both worlds, and so that he could disclose to human beings the wonders of God’s art and the works of His Power, each of which is, in fact, a miracle although it appears to us ordinary and familiar. If he had been extraordinary in all his acts, then he could not have been a guide to human beings and instructed them through his words, acts, and attitudes. He was, however, provided with some extraordinary phenomena to prove his Messengerhood to obstinate unbelievers and so he occasionally worked miracles. But his miracles never occurred in such an obvious fashion as would have obliged people to believe as it were against their free will. For, in accordance with the test and trial that man is to undergo in the world, the way to truth must be shown to him without depriving him of using his free will. If the miracles had occurred in so apparent a way as to compel people to believe, without allowing them to use their own power of choice, then intelligence would have been left with no choice and there would have remained no meaning in testing man in this life and in his being the noblest of creation endowed with a free will and intellect.
The majority of the Messenger’s miracles, numbering about one thousand, were related, first, by a group of Companions and then by numerous reliable narrators and authorities, and were recorded in authentic books of Tradition. As for the rest of them, although they were related each by one or two Companions, they must also be indisputable, as they later acquired unanimity by being accepted as truth by reliable authorities and narrated by more than one chain of transmission. In addition, most of those miracles occurred in the presence of great gatherings, either during a military campaign or a wedding ceremony or on similar occasions like a feast, and one or two of those present related the miracle, and the others confirmed him by keeping silent. Therefore, the miracles recorded in authentic books of Tradition are indisputable and it is impossible to deny or reject them.
By M. Fethullah Gulen