By Abu Ibraheem
Muslims believe that God sent many prophets throughout history to guide humanity. They taught people about the pure creed of belief in the One God, ways to worship Him and how to lead righteous lives keeping in mind our purpose in life. The prophets also informed humanity of future events and things unseen, such as the Day of Resurrection and the life hereafter.
The prophets were all outstanding examples of honesty and righteousness, known for their pure character even before being tasked with prophethood. Therefore, their claims about the unseen could be trusted due to their reputations as being the most trustworthy of men. In addition, God granted them miracles to remove any doubts that they were sent by God. These miracles were clearly impossible for any human being to perform without divine intervention, many of which are mentioned in the Quran, the holy book of Islam. One famous example is the splitting of the Red Sea, which allowed Moses and the Children of Israel to flee from the Pharaoh’s army.
A key point in understanding the concept of miracles in Islam is that they all are a result of God’s power and permission, and not that of human beings. God mentions this several times in the Quran, such as in Jesus’ statement to his people: “… I have come to you with a sign from your Lord: I will make the shape of a bird for you out of clay, then breathe into it and, with God’s permission, it will become a real bird; I will heal the blind and the leper, and bring the dead back to life with God’s permission…” (Quran 3:49).
The final prophet, Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was given many miracles throughout his life as well, and some of these are mentioned below.
Splitting the Moon
One of the most dramatic miracles took place in Mecca when the disbelievers once challenged Muhammadp to perform a miracle. He was inspired by God to point to the moon, which split into two completely separate halves. It remained that way for some time, before eventually converging back together. The disbelievers couldn’t believe their eyes, calling it ‘magic’. However, this miraculous supernatural event was a crystal-clear sign that Muhammadpwas indeed a prophet of God.
Isra and Mairaj
Isra refers to the night journey Muhammadp undertook with the Angel Gabriel, traveling from Mecca to Jerusalem shortly before his migration to Medina. This was a miraculous event because it was humanly impossible to travel this distance in such a short period at the time. From Jerusalem, Muhammadp ascended to the heavens in what is called Mairaj where he held communion with God. By the time Muhammadp returned to Mecca, it was still night.
When he told his fellow Meccans about his journey, people laughed. However, when Abu Bakr, a close companion and the first caliph, was confronted with this news by a mocking crowd, he replied, “If he says so, then it must be true. And where is the wonder of it? He tells me revelations come to him from Heaven to earth in one hour of day or night, and I know him to be speaking the truth.” Muhammadp also described the caravans he had overtaken on the way home, where they were, and when they might arrive in Mecca – each arrived as he had predicted and their details matched his descriptions as well.
Once one of Muhammadp’s companions invited him and a few others to a meal that could feed a small group. The prophet accepted the invitation and, to the host’s dismay, called all thousand of his companions to join him in the meal. Yet, Muhammadppersonally served all of them from the small dish until each one ate his fill. In the end, the tray of food remained just as full as it was at the beginning of the meal. This was an amazing blessing and a clear miracle from God, which happened many times during his life.
When Muhammadpand his companions were once travelling, their water supply ran out.According to one of his companions, the Prophet had a small container of water in which he put his hand and the “water started spouting out between his fingers like springs. So we drank and performed ablution (ritual cleansing) … even if we had been one hundred thousand, that water would have been sufficient for us. Anyhow, we were 1500.” Events similar to this also occurred many times during Muhammadp’s life.
Healing the Sick
Muhammadp miraculously healed others as well. He treated his cousin Ali when he was inflicted with an eye infection. One of his companions said, “The Prophet spat in his eyes and invoked good on him, and be became all right as if he had no ailment.”
Prayers Immediately Answered
During a period of severe drought in Arabia, one of Muhammadp’s companions beseeched him to ask God to send rain. The prophet raised his hands in prayer, and within moments a cloud appeared in the horizon, coming in their direction. One of his companions stated, “When it came in the middle of the sky, it spread and then rained. By God! We could not see the sun for a week.” After seven days of nonstop rain, a companion of Muhammadp implored him to ask God to stop the rain, as the constant downpour was overwhelming. The prophet raised his hands in supplication and moments later, the sun gradually began to appear as the clouds parted, moving away from the area.
Tree Trunk Crying
The Prophet used to stand on a tree trunk to deliver the Friday sermons. A companion of his offered to build a proper pulpit for him and the prophet obliged. However, when he used it for the first time, a loud crying sound came from the tree trunk. Many of Muhammadp’s companions witnessed this first-hand and heard what sounded like a child crying. The prophet descended from the pulpit and embraced it until its weeping eventually subsided. He then explained to his companions, “it was crying for [missing] what it used to hear of religious knowledge given near it.” The ability to stir emotions in plants and animals, including an inanimate object as in this instance, was one of many miracles granted to Muhammadp.
Foretelling the Future
In addition to performing physical miracles, Muhammadp also foretold many future events. For example, he mentioned a time would come when shepherds will compete in constructing tall buildings. This prophecy is clearly evident for all to observe as it manifests itself in the Arab Gulf today. Until just a century ago, the Arabs in the Gulf region were in fact living a more primitive “shepherd” lifestyle, as compared to the rest of the world. This all changed with the arrival of massive oil wealth in the mid 20th century, with much of the resulting wealth being invested in erecting skyscrapers across the region. There are many other similar miracles performed by Muhammadpthroughout his life that attest to his extraordinary connection with God and the truth of his prophethood. However, hearing about these events later isn’t as impactful as experiencing them in person.
Out of God’s mercy and justice, He gave Muhammadp, His final messenger to humanity, an everlasting miracle which could be appreciated by all people until the end of time. That miracle is His final revelation,the Quran.
One of the miraculous aspects of the Quran is its unparalleled literary excellence. At the time of the Quran’s revelation in the 7th century CE, Arabic literature was at its peak. Unlike the world’s great civilizations, which built impressive monuments or established vast empires, the Arabs prided themselves in their literary excellence.
Muhammadp wasn’t known to have composed poetry and was actually illiterate. However, when God tasked him with prophethood at the age of 40 and began revealing the Quran to him, the Arabs were mesmerized by the supreme eloquence and unique rhythmic style of its verses. It didn’t fit traditional poetic forms nor was it in the category of prose. It was completely different and far superior to any literary work known to them. This wasn’t just the opinion of Muhammadp’s followers; even one of his harshest enemies, al-Waleed ibn al-Mugheerah, reluctantly admitted to the Quran’s greatness: “By God! The words brought forth by this man are such as to be incomparable with any of the others. By God! His words possess a charming sweetness and a particular beauty … it is superior to all other discourses.”
Since the time of Muhammadp, Muslims have strived to memorize the Quran, aided by its divine style and flow. Today, an estimated 10 million Muslims around the world have memorized the entire book (most of them being non-Arabs).
Even when reading a translation of the original Arabic, one is able to connect with the Quran, a book of guidance, on a personal level. At first, its verses may seem to lack a coherent structure, with frequent transitions between topics. However, with further examination, it reveals profound underlying connections and overall masterful structure; stories repeat themselves throughout, but always emphasize a different lesson for the reader to extract. In fact, successive readings continue to yield more insight and reflection.
In the end, another miraculous aspect of the Quran is the fact that it has remained unaltered since its revelation more than 1400 years ago. This, then, truly is the Word of God, as it was revealed to Muhammadp, who had it scribed in his lifetime.
The Quran, indeed, is the greatest miracle God gave to Muhammadp and humanity continues to benefit from its guidance even today.
Note: The subscript p next to Prophet Muhammadp represents the invocation Muslims say with his name: May God’s peace and blessings be upon him.