What is a miracle? In what situations are miracles shown?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,



When the stories of the prophets are narrated in the Quran, the miracles that they show are also mentioned:

 “Then We told Moses by inspiration: "Strike the sea with thy rod." So it divided, and each separate part became like the huge, firm mass of a mountain.”1

“I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah´s leave: And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken the dead, by Allah´s leave; and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses. Surely therein is a Sign for you if ye did believe.”2

“The Hour (of Judgment) is nigh, and the moon is cleft asunder. But if they see a Sign, they turn away, and say, ‘This is (but) transient magic.’3

“Of old We sent Moses, with Our Signs and an authority manifest, To Pharaoh, Haman, and Qarun; but they called (him) ‘a sorcerer telling lies’.”4

“They said, ‘Burn him and protect your gods, If ye do (anything at all)!’ We said, ‘O Fire! Be thou cool, and (a means of) safety for Abraham’.”5

The verses above and similar ones show that miracles, which are extraordinary states, are a religious reality and that miracles are an inseparable part of the cause of prophethood.

Miracles are extraordinary states, words and deeds of prophets that human beings are unable to do. For those who come with the claim that they are sent by Allah, miracles are evidences and witnesses showing that their claims are confirmed by Allah. When miracles are viewed under normal circumstances, that is, in terms of the laws of physics that are dominant in the universe, they are extraordinary incidents that are impossible to happen and that exact sciences like physics, chemistry, biology and astronomy describe as “impossible” because they violate one or more basic laws. Therefore, miracles turn people’s attention to the Being that is dominant over the laws of physics and that is not dominated by them, that can change and abolish the laws as He wishes, and that has endless power and will. The existence of miracles, which are metaphysical incidents, show the existence of a metaphysical Being to sane people and show that the person who shows miracles acts on behalf of that Being, not on his own. Therefore, the first and basic claim of the people who show miracles is the existence of that Being, who equips them with extraordinary states and sends them as messengers to people. Miracles are like litmus paper; they distinguish the true prophets who are known as honest people and who do not want anything for themselves from the fake prophets.   

The following verses attract attention to the expectation of miracles by people from prophets:

“Thou art no more than a mortal like us: then bring us a Sign, if thou tellest the truth.”6

“Ye they say: ‘Why are not Signs sent down to him from his Lord?" Say: "The signs are indeed with Allah: and I am indeed a clear Warner’.”7

“And it was never the part of a messenger to bring a sign except as Allah permitted”8

As a matter of fact, the cause of Hz. Muhammad’s (pbuh) prophethood can be expressed as follows:

“I am the envoy of the Creator of the universe. My proof is that He will change His unbroken order at my request and my prayer. Now look at my fingers: He causes them to run like a fountain with five spigots. Look at the moon: by a gesture of my finger, He splits it in two. Look at that tree: to affirm me and to bear witness to me, it moves and comes near to me. Look at this food: although it is barely enough for two or three men, it satisfies two or three hundred.”9

The following is stated in the Quran: “He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days - and His Throne was over the waters - that He might try you, which of you is best in conduct”10and “Verily We created Man from a drop of mingled sperm, in order to try him.11As the verses above state, religion is experience and the world is a place of testing. Therefore, miracles open doors to the mind in a way that is in accordance with the law of accountability but they do not remove free will. Otherwise, the secret of testing will be broken and the wisdom behind the creation of the world will be eliminated.

“But as required by the examinations and trials that man is set, his miracles never occurred so obviously as to compel everyone to believe, whether willingly or unwillingly. For the wisdom in man’s trial and accountability necessitates that the way be shown to him without depriving him of his will; the door has to be opened to his intelligence without snatching its freedom from its hand. If the Messenger’s (UWBP) miracles had occurred in so apparent a way, intelligence would have had no choice; Abu Jahl would have believed as did Abu Bakr; coal would have had the value of diamonds, and no purpose would have remained for testing and accountability12

This law of accountability makes it necessary for miracles to take place in a certain place and for a short time. That is, miracles have to be like a flash of light that turns on and of all of a sudden, not like the sun that always shines in the sky.  Thus, when some people who witness the miracles themselves consider those miracles together with the solemnity, honesty and high ethics of the person who claims to be a prophet, they will accept the claim of prophethood as a necessity of the mind and conscience.  Others will interpret the extraordinary states that they witness as an illusion and magic; they will accuse the person who claims to be a prophet of insanity and skilled magic, refusing his call to believe.

If the extraordinary states sent as a divine bestowal are performed by prophets, they are called miracles; otherwise, they are called karamahs

Miracles are not limited to being used as evidence for the claim of prophethood. As a matter of fact, miracles were also shown as a sample of Allah’s grace, bestowal and grant and to reinforce their belief. Many miracles are reported from prophets like hundreds of people being fed from one plate of food with the prayer of blessing of a prophet and so many people quenching their thirst from one jug of milk.

Those incidents of coming to existence out of nothing, which are a clear violation of the laws of nature can also be observed in the blessed people who are not prophets; those incidents, which are a manifestation of Allah’s bestowal are called karamah. That is, if the extraordinary states sent as a divine bestowal are performed by prophets, they are called miracles; otherwise, they are called karamahs.

*It was published earlier (ÂdemTatlı. Bilimlerin IşığındaYaratılış. 2nd Impression, ÜsküdarÜniversitesiYayını no: 2, Istanbul,  2017, p. 119-125).
1.ash-Shu’ara, 63.
2.Aal-i Imran, 49.
3.al-Qamar, 1-2.
4.al-Mu’min, 23-24.
5.al-Anbiya, 68-69.
6.ash-Shu’ara, 154.
7.al-Ankabut, 50.
8.ar-Ra’d, 38.
9.Nursi, B. S. Mektubat. Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı  Yayınları-605, 2nd Impression, Ankara, 2016, p. 121; http://www.nuriklimi.org.
10.Hud, 7.
11.al-Insan, 2.
12.Nursi, B. S. Mektubat. p. 124; http://www.nuriklimi.org.

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