I. Miracles of Muhammad
A. In the Quran, many prophets could do miracles.
The miracles of great prophets of old are also mentioned by the quran Koran. These “signs” (miracles) are attributed to Noah (23:30), Moses (17:1 of; 7:103ff; 27:7ff), Solomon (21:81; 34:12, 14), Jonah (37:142-46), and Jesus (3:45-49; 5:110-115). It is taught, however, that the prophet of Islam was not sent with miracles.
B. According to the Quran, Muhammad could do no miracles.
Muhammad, on several occasions, rejected the people’s request for miracles as proof of his prophethood.
Surah 13:7. And the Unbelievers say: “Why is not a sign sent down to him from his Lord?” But thou art truly a warner, and to every people a guide.
Allah told Muhammad that whenever the people ask him why he did not perform any miracles as a sign of his prophethood, he is to reply that he is only a warner. In other words, he cannot do any miracles.
Surah 3 presents another occasion when he rejected the people’s request for a sign.
183. They (also) said: “(Allah) took our promise not to believe in an apostle unless He showed us a sacrifice consumed by Fire (From heaven).” Say: “There came to you apostles before me, with clear Signs and even with what ye ask for: why then did ye slay them, if ye speak the truth?”
184. Then if they reject thee, so were rejected apostles before thee, who came with Clear Signs, Books of dark prophecies, and the Book of Enlightenment.
The people demanded from Muhammad a sign and he refused because he told them that the people even killed the prophets before him who performed clear signs, so why should he obliged them now with signs? On saying that, he refused to perform any sign.
[al-An`am 6:109] And they swear a solemn oath by Allah that if there come unto them a portent they will believe therein. Say; Portents are with Allah and (so is) that which telleth you that if such came unto them they would not believe.
[al-An`am 6:110] We confound their hearts and their eyes. As they believed not therein at the first, We let them wander blindly on in their contumacy.
[al-An`am 6:111] And though We should send down the angels unto them, and the dead should speak unto them, and We should gather against them all things in array, they would not believe unless Allah so willed. Howbeit, most of them are ignorant.
[al-An`am 6:112] Thus have We appointed unto every prophet an adversary – devils of humankind and jinn who inspire in one another plausible discourse through guile. If thy Lord willed, they would not do so; so leave them alone with their devising;
[bani Isra’il 17:92] Or thou cause the heaven to fall upon us piecemeal, as thou hast pretended, or bring Allah and the angels as a warrant;
[bani Isra’il 17:93] Or thou have a house of gold; or thou ascend up into heaven, and even then we will put no faith in thine ascension till thou bring down for us a book that we can read. Say (O Muhammad): My Lord be Glorified! Am I aught save a mortal messenger ?
[bani Isra’il 17:94] And naught prevented mankind from believing when the guidance came unto them save that they said: Hath Allah sent a mortal as (His) messenger ?
[bani Isra’il 17:95] Say: If there were in the earth angels walking secure, We had sent down for them from heaven an angel as messenger.
[bani Isra’il 17:96] Say: Allah sufficeth for a witness between me and you. Lo! He is Knower, Seer of His slaves.
[bani Isra’il 17:97] And he whom Allah guideth, he is led aright; while, as for him whom He sendeth astray, for them thou wilt find no protecting friends beside Him, and We shall assemble them on the Day of Resurrection on their faces, blind, dumb and deaf; their habitation will be hell; whenever it abateth, We increase the flame for them.
[al-Kahf 18:10] When the young men fled for refuge to the Cave and said: Our Lord! Give us mercy from Thy presence, and shape for us right conduct in our plight.
[al-`Ankabut 29:49] But it is clear revelations in the hearts of those who have been given knowledge, and none deny Our revelations save wrong-doers.
[al-`Ankabut 29:50] And they say: Why are not portents sent down upon him from his Lord ? Say: Portents are with Allah only, and I am but a plain warner.
C. Muslims claim that Muhammad could perform miracles.
1. Miracles in the Quran
a) Splitting the moon
1. The Hour (of Judgment) is nigh, and the moon is cleft asunder.
2. But if they see a Sign, they turn away, and say, “This is (but) transient magic.”
Muslims claim that Muhammad performed a miracle by splitting the moon into half.
But Muhammad is not mentioned in the passage at all. This verse refers to the last days (Hour of Judgment). Even Yusuf Ali admits that the verse can refer to an event during the last days. He says in his commentary, “the cleaving asunder of the moon being a sign of the judgment approaching.”
b) Miracle of the Miraj (night journey)
Surah 17:1. Glory to ((Allah)) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless,- in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things).
This may not be a literal journey at all but only a vision which Muhammad sees. The Quranic commentator Yusuf Ali agrees that this is a possibility. He writes, “Let us consider Surah 17 by itself. It opens up the mystic vision of the acension of the Holy Prophet : he was transported from the Sacred Mosque in a night and shown some of the signs of God. The majority of commentators take this night journey literally, but allow that there were other occasions on which a spiritual journey or vision occured.”
Even if Muhammad meant for it to be understood literally, that he was indeed brought on a night journey by God, what way is there to verify this? If this constitutes a miracle, anyone can lay claim to a miracle that no one else is able to verify or dispute.
c) Tunnel in the ground, ladder in the skies
Surah 6:35. If their spurning (ie turning away) is hard on thy mind, yet if thou wert able to seek a tunnel in the ground or a ladder to the skies and bring them a sign,- (what good?). If it were Allah.s will, He could gather them together unto true guidance: so be not thou amongst those who are swayed by ignorance (and impatience)!
Muslims claim that this is proof that Muhamamd could perform miracles. But is it what the verse says?
Allah is telling Muhammad, “If you could seek a tunnel in the ground and ladder to the skies, what good would it do? The people would still disbelieve.” The verse is not saying that Muhammad could seek a tunnel in the ground and ladder to the skies. It is stating precisely the opposite of what Muslims claim.
2. Miracles in the hadiths (ie tradition)
a) Many miracles attributed to Muhammad in the hadiths
The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam states, “Tradition attributes a number of miracles to the Prophet but there is nothing conclusive to their nature..”
Nonetheless, many Muslim Traditions speak of Muhammad performing many different miracles. These included :
water for about 80 people to peform ablution (Sahih Bukhari 1.170, Sahih Bukhari 1.194, also Sahih Bukhari 1.199)
water for a whole army of 1500 as narrated by Jabir (in Bukhari and Muslim), and the whole miracle occurred more than once.
water during travel, Sahih Bukhari 1.340
curing Ali of an eye trouble, Sahih Bukhari 5.51
b) Hadiths are not reliable accounts of the life of Muhammad
(1) Hadiths contains many fairy tales and contradictions
We should not take the miracles of Muhammad in the hadiths seriously because the hadiths have been found to be an unreliable source of information. For example, it contains many fairy tales :
(2) A tree cried.
Volume 4, Book 56, Number 783:
Narrated Ibn Umar:
The Prophet used to deliver his sermons while standing beside a trunk of a datepalm. When he had the pulpit made, he used it instead. The trunk started crying and the Prophet went to it, rubbing his hand over it (to stop its crying).
(3) Food praised Allah.
Volume 4, Book 56, Number 779:
We used to consider miracles as Allah’s Blessings, but you people consider them to be a warning. Once we were with Allah’s Apostle on a journey, and we ran short of water. He said, “Bring the water remaining with you.” The people brought a utensil containing a little water. He placed his hand in it and said, “Come to the blessed water, and the Blessing is from Allah.” I saw the water flowing from among the fingers of Allah’s Apostle , and no doubt, we heard the meal glorifying Allah, when it was being eaten (by him).
Not only do the hadiths contain fairy tales, there are also contradictions within the hadiths.
(4) Contradiction on how many wives Muhammad had
Volume 1, Book 5, Number 268:
Anas bin Malik said, “The Prophet used to visit all his wives in a round, during the day and night and they were eleven in number.” I asked Anas, “Had the Prophet the strength for it?” Anas replied, “We used to say that the Prophet was given the strength of thirty (men).” And Sa’id said on the authority of Qatada that Anas had told him about nine wives only (not eleven).
(5) Contradiction on how many people were given water to perform ablution
On one occasion, when Muslims were in need of water to perform ablution, Muhammad called for a bowl and made water flow out of his fingernails into the bowl until everyone had enough. There were conflicting reports as to how many people used this water.
Volume 4, Book 56, Number 774:
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
The Prophet went out on one of his journeys with some of his companions. They went on walking till the time of the prayer became due. They could not find water to perform the ablution. One of them went away and brought a little amount of water in a pot. The Prophet took it and performed the ablution, and then stretched his four fingers on to the pot and said (to the people), “Get up to perform the ablution.” They started performing the ablution till all of them did it, and they were seventy or so persons.
Volume 4, Book 56, Number 775:
Anas bin Malik said, “Once the time of the prayer became due and the people whose houses were close to the Mosque went to their houses to perform ablution, while the others remained (sitting there). A stone pot containing water was brought to the Prophet, who wanted to put his hand in it, but It was too small for him to spread his hand in it, and so he had to bring his fingers together before putting his hand in the pot. Then all the people performed the ablution (with that water).” I asked Anas, “How many persons were they.” He replied, “There were eighty men.”
Volume 4, Book 56, Number 776:
Narrated Salim bin Abi Aj-Jad:
Jabir bin ‘Abdullah said, “The people became very thirsty on the day of Al-Hudaibiya (Treaty). A small pot containing some water was in front of the Prophet and when he had finished the ablution, the people rushed towards him. He asked, ‘What is wrong with you?’ They replied, ‘We have no water either for performing ablution or for drinking except what is present in front of you.’ So he placed his hand in that pot and the water started flowing among his fingers like springs. We all drank and performed ablution (from it).” I asked Jabir, “How many were you?” he replied, “Even if we had been one-hundred-thousand, it would have been sufficient for us, but we were fifteen-hundred.”
3. Signs of nature.
What Christians say
In answer to the request for signs, the Quran mentions some signs. But these are all signs of nature. They prove that there is a powerful creator God. They do not prove that the speaker is the true prophet of God.
4. The miracle of the Quran
a) Is Quran really the best work of literature?
Are there better works of literature?
Even among works in Arabic, the Quran may not be unrivaled. The Islamic scholar, C. G. Pfander, points out that “it is by no means the universal opinion of unprejudiced Arabic scholars that the literary style of the Quran is superior to that of all other books in the Arabic language.” For example, “some doubt whether in eloquence and poetry it surpasses the Mu’allaqat or the Magamat or Hariri, though in Muslim lands few people are courageous enough to express such an opinion.”
In the age of Jhailia before Muhammad there were men who produced the like of the Koran.
Before he became a prophet, Muhammad heard Qus Ibn Saedah Al-Ayadi, who died in the year 600 A.D., speaking in the Okas Market and admired him very much. Abu-Bakr who memorized what Qus Ibn Saedh said, used to repeat his speeches to Muhammad. his Arabic speech was similar to the Koran and many of his words were mentioned in the Koran.
The poet Omaia Ibn Abi Alsalat, who died in the year 624 A.D., mentioned in his poetry Gabriel and Michael, whom Muhammad mentioned in his Koran. The poet Al-Haseen Iban Hamam, who died in the year 611 A.D., mentioned in his poetry the scales by which the deeds of men will be weighted in the day of judgment. The same wording was mentioned in the Koran in Surat Al-Araf 28.9.
The poets Antara Al-Abasi (who died in 610 A.D.), Waraka Ibn Nafal (who died in 592 A.D.) and Lubaid ( who died in 671 A.D.) all wrote poetry similar to the Koran. The poet Roba Ibn Al-Ajaj wrote somethign every similar to Surat Al-Fil (Islamic Caliphate, pages 60-71).
Not everyone thinks the Quran is a literary masterpiece.
Ali Dashti talks about the literary defects of the Quran. He writes in his book Twenty-three years : A study of the prophetic career of Muhammad..
“Unfortunately the Quran was badly edited and its contents are very obtusely arranged. All students of the Quran wonder why the editors did not use the natural logical method of ordering by date or revelation, as in Ali b. Taleb’s lost copy of the text.”
“The Quran contains sentences which are incomplete and not fully intelligible without the aid of commentaries; foreign words, unfamiliar Arabic words, and words used other than the normal meaning; adjectives and verbs infected without observance of the concord of gender and number; illogical and ungrammatically applied pronouns which sometimes have no referent; and predicates which in rhymed passages are often remote from subjects.”
According to Dashti, among the Muslim scholars of the early period, there were some such as Ebrahim on-Nassam who openly acknowledged that the arrangement and syntax of the Quran are not miraculous and that works of equal or greater value could be produced by God-fearing persons.
The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam refers to the “disjointed and irregular character” of the text of the Quran.
Caliph Alwaleed Ibn Yazid, who ruled the Muslims in the year 743 A.D., said about Muhammad and his Koran these arabic words Talaaba be-inoboati Hashimeon bela wahion attaho wala kitabo which means in English that Muhammad the Hashemite manipulated people by his claim that he was a prophet, without true inspiration or an inspired book. Abd-Allah Ibn Al-Zaabari also denied the prophethood of Muhammad (The Islamic Ca[iphare, page 59).
It is said about Caliph Abd-Almalik Ibn Marawan who was a Muslim cleric and a scholar of the Koran that the Koran was on his lap when he was appointed Caliph. After he became a Caliph he folded the Koran and said “this is the last time I will ever use you (Islamic Ca[iphare, page 173).
b) Is the Quranic miracle unique?
The Muslims believe that the quran was a miracle of their prophet who himself was illiterate. They often say, “How could a person who never knew how to read and write produce a book like the Quran? It must be a miracle from God.”
Let us consider this argument in the light of the claim that the child Jesus was taught the Scriptures by God and received the Evangel. A babe in the cradle is bound to be more unlettered than a grown-up person.
If the Evangel granted to Christ was a book, then like the quran this Evangel must also be considered a literary miracle. That would negate the uniqueness claimed by the Muslims for the quran. Hence the belief that the Evangel granted to Jesus Christ was a book is not only out of harmony with the Bible but also casts a shadow over the Muslim belief in the uniqueness of the quran.
c) Literary defects in the Quran
d) It is possible to produce something like the Quran.
Surah 10:38. Or do they say, “He forged it”? say: “Bring then a Sura like unto it, and call (to your aid) anyone you can besides Allah, if it be ye speak the truth!”
The Quran includes Surah Al-Jinn. It is surah number 72. In the surah, a company of Jinn listened to the Quran:
They said: “We have really heard a wonderful recital! It gives guidance to the right and we have believed therein: we shall not join [in worship] any [gods] with our Lord (Surat Al-Jinn 72:1, 2).
The rest of Surat Al-Jinn recorded the words of the jinn as if they were the words of Allah. The style of the jinn is very similar to the style of the Koran. Thus, the jinns were able to produce the like of the Koran and in fact, they produced one whole chapter of the Koran and this is why it is called “Surat Al-Jinn.”
e) Is literary excellence proof of divine origin?
(1) Literary excellence not adequate proof of God’s inspiration
It is difficult to use literary excellence as proof of divine inspiration. We have known many talented people in history. Some may even say that it is even more remarkable for Mozart to write his first symphony at the age of six. Yet no one would go further to say that Mozart must have been inspired by God to have been able to achieve such results. How about Shakespeare who is without peer in his use of the English language?
If the Quran has to be the work of God because it is the best work in Arabic, does the best work in Chinese or other languages also have to be the work of God? It is therefore my opinion that literary excellence have nothing to do with divine revelation.
(2) God need not use literary excellence.
If the God of the universe wants to speak to us, He could choose to speak in everyday language if He wants to. And no one would challenge the fact they are His words just because it is in everyday language.
(3) What do we do with similar claims?
Other religious leaders have used the beautiful literary style of their work as sign of its divine origin. For example, the Persian founder of the Manichaens Mani claimed that men should believe in him as the Paraclete (Helper) Jesus promised in John 14 because he produced a book called Artand, which is full of beautiful pictures. He claimed that the book had been given by God because no human being could paint pictures equal in beauty to those contained in the Artand, therefore it had to come from God Himself. Yet no Muslim would accept his claim.
(4) Is Muhammad really illiterate?
Further arguments why Muhammad was not illiterate
f) Mathematical miracle in the Quran?