The Hadith records marvellous tales of miracles shown by the Prophet, such as causing water to flow from between his fingers, satisfying multitudes from a little food, etc, but they can be regarded as absolutely worthless because had there been any single miracle of the kind, it would certainly have been mentioned in the Quran. On the contrary in the Quran where Muhammad was asked to perform a miracle he repeatedly says that he was sent with none, and gives the reason. When the Hadith are at variance with the Quran, the honest believer must reject the Hadith and accept the Quran.
Here we look at six verses from the Quran which show that Muhammad did not produce any miracles. They are given in the order they appear in the Quran and not according to importance. A short explanation of each verse will be given to help the reader understand the background and context of each verse.
- “They say,” why hath not a sign been sent down unto him from his Lord?” SAY, “Verily God is able to send down a sign, but the greater part of them do not understand.” (Al-Inam 6:37)
Muslim Commentators say that the objection in the text raised against the Prophet by the unbelievers was that if the Quran had been sent by God, his mission would have been attested by miracles. The answer given is that God has indeed sent down a sign in the Quran, itself a miracle and that therefore it would be impious to demand more from Allah. But surely the Qurraish were not to be blamed because they demanded of Muhammad a sign like to the signs shown by the prophets of old. The answer that Muhammad gave, “Verily, God is able to send down a sign,” was no answer at all. He gave signs to the prophets of old, as Moses and Jesus; and so if Muhammad is as one of them then he should be able to show similar signs so they could believe.
It is clear that the people did not recognise the Quran to be a miracle otherwise they would have been satisfied. Muhammad could have merely asserted “Here is the Quran” and all further demands would have been stilled. The prophet’s opponents were well acquainted with the wonderful Arabic compositions of their poets, and orators such as Imrul Cays, Nabigha, Coss, etc but they never regarded them as miracles nor did they consider the Quran as a miracle. But even if the Quran had really been a miracle why should not Muhammad have shown other miracles like raising the dead or dividing the sea? It was after all a very reasonable request, for the Prophet came with a new faith differing from that of Bani Israel, and the Christians, and the religion of the country and their refusal to accept this new religion without some miracle like those of the old prophets is proof of their sagacity and sincerity rather an unreasonable obstinacy of which they are normally accused.
- And when thou dost not show unto them a sign, they say, “Why hast thou avoided to bring it?” SAY, “Verily, I follow that only wherewith the Lord hath inspired me.” This (revelation) is a witness from your Lord, a guide and a mercy to the people that believe. (Al Araf 7:204)
Muslim commentators say the Arabs demanded from Muhammad a sign from heaven in proof of his mission; to which he replied, that failure to show a miracle, as they demanded of him, was a groundless accusation, seeing that the Quran itself was a clear and infallible miracle, one sufficient to prove his mission; and that such being the case, the call for anything further was an unwarrantable and profane demand. Yet, the Arabs in all sincerity continued to ask for a sign in proof of his ministry because they did not recognise the Quran as a miracle. Amongst themselves they believed that Muhammad was avoiding their request and his answer that he only followed that which was revealed to him by his Lord was truly unsatisfactory.
- “The unbelievers say, “Why hath not a sign been given by his Lord? Nay, but thou art only a Warner; and unto every people there hath been given a guide.” (Al Ra’d 13:8)
Muslim Commentators say that when the Arabs demanded such miracles as those of Moses and Jesus, Muhammad was told that he was sent as a Warner, a guide and preacher just as those who had been sent to every people before him. The miracles given by the prophets in the past were based on the special circumstances of each people. They say that magic or sorcery was in the ascendancy in the days of Moses and so fitting miracles were given in the court of Pharaoh to show that Moses was truly a prophet of God. Likewise, at the time of Jesus, the healing arts were being practised and so Jesus performed exceptional miracles such as raising the dead, curing the leper and the blind, to show that he also was truly a prophet of God. For the same reason, as beauty of composition was the distinguishing feature of the prophet’s time, the miracle given to him was the wondrous Quran; and so if the Arabs would not believe, notwithstanding that this miracle was specially designed for them, it is clear that they would not have been convinced by any other kind of miracle. Yet there is not a hint in the text, of the Quran being a miracle, and it simply states that the Prophet is nothing more than a Warner and that his duty is only to preach.
The comparison between the miracles of Moses and Jesus is equally wide of the mark of the text. For, although Moses had to contend with the ‘magicians of Egypt’ (Exodus 7:11) many of Moses’ signs had nothing to do with magic such as the death of the Egyptians’ first-born, the destruction of Pharaoh’s army, and the issuing of water from the rock. And so also many of Jesus’ miracles had no reference to the healing art for example the feeding of multitudes from a few loaves, and walking on the water, according to the Gospel or the creation of a bird from clay, and descent of the table from heaven, according to the Quran.
Again, the Arabs had no such special claim to eloquence and literary power that their miracle should lie in that direction. Every nation has its own form of eloquence, suited to its taste and language; take, for example, the models of the Jews and Greeks, as is manifest from their wonderful writings in our hands. And if there was neither magic nor the art of healing amongst the Arabs, they certainly were not wanting in intelligence and quick apprehension, and as such equally entitled with the Egyptians and Israelites to expect miracles, and equally qualified to judge them. Indeed, as the mission of Moses and Jesus was established by miracles, it was a fortiori incumbent on Muhammad, who sought to introduce a religion differing from theirs, and more wonderful. How, then, are those to be blamed who, when he failed to show such, refused to admit his claims or believe in his mission?
- “And nothing hindered Us from sending (thee) with miracles, but that those of old time gave them the lie” (Bani Israel 17:58).
Muslim Commentators tell us that people came to Muhammad saying that the prophets of old showed miracles and they expected him to perform similar miracles so that they could believe. The reply given here signifies that such miracles were shown to the people of old and because they rejected the signs and continued in infidelity they were destroyed. The reason therefore for Muhammad not giving miracles was that it was the goodness and mercy of Allah with-holding their request lest they reject the clear signs and perish. We do not know where the Muslim Commentators got this notion from of people being destroyed for rejecting miracles. The Egyptians were not exterminated; some were destroyed, but only some. So with the Bani Israel; many a time they denied their prophets, yet they were never swept away, but remained a people, as they are to this day. It is the same with the tale of the Adites and Thamudites, even though they did disappear, it may have been because of their abounding iniquity or internecine warfare. The rise and fall of nations is the natural law of God. It is His to create and His to destroy, with a purpose beyond our finite wisdom.
Also, we know of no people to whom a prophet was sent (as were Moses and Jesus) with miracles, except that some of them believed. Now, Muhammad came without a miracle, and yet very soon a great number of the Qurraish accepted his mission, and not long after the whole city of Yathreb, also, would it possibly have been otherwise even if Allah had sent Muhammad with miracles like those of the prophets of old? If they received him without a miracle; why should they have rejected him if he had shown one? We know that Khadija accepted her husband as a prophet at the very opening of his mission, and shortly after, his cousin Ali, Abu Bakr, Uthman and Omar; and in the course of a few years the whole of Mecca, even those who had demanded miracles as the condition of believing on him. All this was known to the Almighty beforehand; how then can it be said that God withheld miracles, knowing that, if granted, the Qurraish would belive them, as did the nations of old? Shall words be attributed to the most High inconsistent with His foreknowledge? God forbid!
- “They say, “Why hath not a sign been sent down unto him from his Lord?” SAY, “Signs belong unto the Lord: and as for me, I am but a plain preacher.” (Al Ankabut 29:48)
The text shows, that instead of coming with signs, Muhammad professed to be simply a preacher, warning the people of future punishment; an excellent office done by others as well as by apostles and prophets, out of love for their people’s welfare. Miracles are said not to be a necessary condition of a divine mission. True; there have been prophets, like Jeremiah and Jonah, sent of God without signs. But no prophet, commissioned to deliver a law, came unsupported by miracles and signs; and Muhammad set himself not only to deliver a law, but to cancel an existing dispensation founded upon miracles. It was therefore all the more incumbent on him to have supported his claim by miracles, even greater and more numerous than those of the former lawgivers.
- What? Doth it not suffice them that I have sent down unto thee the Book which is recited unto them?” (Al Ankabut 29:49)
Muslim Commentators because of the absence of miracles from the hand of Muhammad in the Quran state that further miracles were unnecessary because one had already appeared, namely the Quran. According to Beidhawi: the Quran is a miracle, better than any they have demanded; for its perusal is a continuing sign that shall not pass away, but shall remain with them forever. But once again we notice that in this text there is nothing implying (as the Commentators say) that the Quran is a miracle. So far from its appearing as a miracle, the people did not even accept it as a revelation, for they said: “Surely this is a story which he hath fabricated with the aid of strangers” (Al Furcan 24:4)