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Mujiza and Prophethood: Brief Explanation

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    Posted: 24 November 2006 at 9:02am
Assalam Aleikum. This is a segment from a work at where the complete book may be obtain and downloaded free of charge. This is a discussion on the concpet of mujizah, which is part of the proof for prophethood.
WHAT DOES prophethood MEAN?

It is written at the end of the book Sharh-i Mawaqif by Sayyid Sharif al-Jurjani that, according to the scholars of Kalam, a person to whom Allahu ta'ala says, I have sent thee to the people in such and such a country or to the whole of mankind," or "Reveal [My will] to my servants!" or gives a similar command is called a "nabi" or "payghambar" (Messenger or Prophet). Being a Prophet does not require having certain conditions like riyada or mujahada or having been born with qualities suitable for prophethood. Allahu ta'ala can bestow this gift upon anyone He chooses. He knows everything and does what is best. He does whatever He wills to do. He is the Almighty. According to the scholars of Kalam, it is not necessary for a Prophet to display a mujiza (miracle), either. It was said that he had to display miracles so that people would know that he was a Prophet, but this still is not a condition for him to be a Prophet. According to ancient Greek philosophers, to be a Prophet requires three conditions; firstly, to reveal the ghaib (unknown, mystery), that is, to explain past and future events when required; secondly, to do extraordinary things, that is, things that are mentally and scientifically impossible; thirdly, to see an angel in object and body and to hear Allahu ta'ala's wahy from the angel.

Neither for us nor for them [philosophers], is it necessary for a Prophet to know all of the unknown. And knowing some of it is not peculiar only to Prophets. It is admitted also by philosophers that these who undergo riyada, that is, those who isolate themselves in a room and eat just enough so as not to die, some sick people who have lost consciousness, and some people while asleep disclose some mysteries. In this respect such people are not different from Prophets. Perhaps, what philosophers call the "ghaib" are the extraordinary and, unusual things which are rarely seen. However, these are not the real unknown. Knowing them or reporting them once or twice does not mean to transcend the ordinary. This point keeps Prophets and others distinct. Scholars of Kalam also report that Prophets will know the real mysteries revealed to them by Allahu ta'ala, but they say that knowing mysteries is not a requirement for being a Prophet. Also, the above said grounds which philosophers put forward with respect to knowing the unknown are not correct. They are incompatible with Islam's fundamentals. Furthermore, knowing the unknown on such grounds is quite a different subject. They are extraordinary wonders. There is no use in particularly dwelling on this.

Extraordinary events, such as, affecting objects and substances as one wishes; effecting the wind, earthquakes and fires when one likes or a ship's sinking; a man's dying or a tyrant's going to his doom upon one's wish are the human soul's influence on matter. In fact Allahu ta'ala, alone, is the One who affects matter. Allahu ta'ala creates this effect on whomever He wills, whenever He wills. For this reason, it cannot be said that extraordinary things or wonders are peculiar to Prophets only. This is admitted by philosophers, too. Therefore, how could this ever be the distinction between Prophets and others?

Although ancient Greek philosophers said that wonders could also happen through non-prophets, they did not accept the frequency or the degree of wonders reaching the capacity of ijaz (miracle). They said that because such extraordinary things happen through Prophets a Prophet is distinguishable from others.

Philosophers' stating that an angel manifesting itself to Prophets and revealing Allahu ta'ala's wahi as a condition for prophethood contradicts their own philosophy. Their saying such things are intended to mislead holders of iman, for, according to them, angels are immaterial and speechless. To produce sounds requires being material, they say. Sound is produced through waves of air. We can say that these conditions put forward by philosophers might come to mean that angels can show themselves and talk by taking material forms.



To us, a mujiza is the thing proved the truthfulness of a person who said he was a Prophet. There were conditions for a mujiza:

1. Allahu ta'ala made it in the absence of ordinary means, and in this way He would help His Prophet be confirmed.

2. It had to be extraordinary. Ordinary things, such as the sun's rising in the East every day or flowers blooming in the spring, could not be mujizas.

3. Others had to be incapable of doing it.

4. It had to happen whenever the person who announced his prophethood wished it to.

5. It had to agree with his wish. For example, if he said that he would enliven a certain dead person and if some other marvel took place, for example, if a mountain was broken into two, it would not be a mujiza.

6. The mujiza happening upon his wish should not belie him. For example, while he was miraculously talking with a certain beast, if the beast said, "This man is a liar," it would not be a mujiza.

7. The mujiza should not happen before he said he was a Prophet. Wonders that happened before [the announcement of his prophethood], such as 'Isa's[1] ('alaihi 's-salam) talking when he was in a cradle, his being handed dates when he asked for dates from a withered-up tree, and in Muhammad's (alaihi 's-salam) childhood, the cleavage of his chest and his heart being cleansed by washing, there being a cloud over his head continuously and his being greeted by trees and stones were not mujizas, but karamas. They are called irhasat (preparatory signs of a prophet). They emphasized prophethood. It is possible for such karamas to happen through awliya' as well. Before Prophets were informed of their prophethood, their status was not lower than that of the awliya'. Karamas were seen from them. A mujiza could happen immediately after a Prophet is informed of his prophethood. For example, if he had said that such and such an event would take place a month later, the event would become a mujiza when it took place. But it would not be necessary to believe in his prophethood before it took place.

A mujiza demonstrating that a Prophet is telling the truth is not only a requirement of the intellect. That is, it is unlike the case of some work denoting the existence of its agent. For the intellect's realizing that something is the proof of something else requires some relationship between the two things. When the proof is seen, the existence of the related thing, not the existence of something else, is realized. The case is not so with a mujiza. For example, heavens being broken into pieces, stars being scattered and mountains being pulverized will take place when the end of the world comes, at the time of Doomsday. This will not be the time for the coming of a Prophet. These are the mujizas foretold by every Prophet. But, it is not necessary for those who hear about them to know that they are mujizas. So is the case with a wali's karama being the mujiza of a Prophet, though it does not have any connection with that Prophet. What we have stated so far is explained in detail in the book Sharh-i mawaqif by Sayyid Sharif al-Jurjani.

According to most 'ulama', though open tahaddee (challenge), that is, saying, "Go ahead and do the same! But you can't!" is not a condition for a mujiza, the meaning of a mujiza contains tahaddee. Because a tahaddi is not a matter of question in the reports made about the states of the Rising Day and future events, these are not mujizas against disbelievers. The believers believe that these reports are mujizas. The karamas of awliya' are not mujizas because they do not claim prophethood and because there is no tahaddee in them. The fact that such non-challenging wonders do not prove the truthfulness of a person claiming prophethood does not necessarily show that mujizas do not prove it. On the contrary, this is what is expected from a mujiza.

Question: "Mujizas prove the truthfulness of the person claiming prophethood because they are wonders. Does a mujiza have a special effect on proving [prophethood]?"

Answer: Such is not the actual case. A mujiza's proving the validity of a claim of prophethood is due to the fact that others cannot do it, which means a mujiza has a special effect. In fact, this is the real proof.

Question: "In Sharh-i Mawaqif, Sayyid Sharif al-Jurjani says, 'Naql (narration) cannot be a proof by itself because it is necessary also to believe in the truthfulness of the person who says that he is a Prophet, and this takes place by the intellect's admitting it. Upon seeing a mujiza, the intellect believes that a Prophet has told the truth.' This passage from al-Jurjani says that a mujiza demonstrating a Prophet's truthfulness is judged through the intellect, whereas a while before he said that it would not be judged through the intellect. Don't these two statements of his contradict each other?"

Answer: The above passage says that the intellect studies the mujiza that proves the truthfulness of a Prophet. It does not say whether or not the intellect has an effect on the mujiza's proving his truthfulness. Even if we were to admit that it says that it has some effect, it still does not say that this is judged only through the intellect. Since there is no one saying that the intellect has no effect in this affair, such a contradiction is out of place. Sayyid al-Jurjani's statement was made while explaining a narrated (naqli) mujiza, for which such a statement is most appropriate.

A mujiza's denoting a Prophet's truthfulness is not a belief resulting out of hearing, either. It is natural indication. That is, when a mujiza is seen, Allahu ta'ala creates in the person who sees it the knowledge that the person announcing his prophethood is telling the truth. Such is Allahu ta'ala's divine law. This is so because, though it is possible for a liar to display a mujiza, it has never happened. If the person announcing his prophethood lifts up a mountain and says, "If you believe me, this mountain shall go back to its place. If you don't believe me, it will fall on your heads," and if they see that the mountain moves back towards its place when they want to believe and towards them when they think of not believing, it will be understood, through divine law, that he is telling the truth. Yes, it is possible - in view of the intellect- for such an absolute mujiza to happen from a liar, but it is not the divine law of Allahu ta'ala. That is, it has never been seen.[2]. This is exemplified as follows: A man claimed to be a ruler's messenger and said, "If you don't believe me, take my letter to the ruler." The letter read: "If it is true that I am your messenger, get down from your throne and sit on the floor!" They took the letter to the ruler who read it and did as it was written. Those who saw this believed definitely that he told the truth. This belief is unlike the case of "likening the unknown to the witnessed," that is, understanding [the existence of] something not seen by seeing something else. The reason being, a mujiza definitely proves truthfulness. According to the Mutazila, it is not possible for a liar to display a mujiza.

Magic and similar things are the occurrence of certain events by doing the things that are their causes, or, sometimes, they are illusions which figure up in one's imagination though they do not really exist. They are not wonders.


[1] Jesus

[2] The intellect admits a liar's displaying mujizas and says, "Since Allahu ta'ala is Almighty, He can do this, too." This conclusion, which is not compatible with divine law, or even the rare occurrence of events suitable with this conclusion, does not harm our knowledge of events that are compatible with the divine law of Allahu ta'ala. For example, killing or revivifying by the ad- Dajjal, the liar who will come towards Doomsday, does not change our knowledge about his being a liar. The fact Nimrod's fire did not burn Ibrahim ('alaih 's-salam) does not change Allahu ta'ala's law that gives a burning capacity to fire. However, the occurrence of events contradicting information acquired by the intellect though proofs gives harm to this information.

HizmetBooks 1998
A feeling of discouragement when you slip up is a sure sign that you put your faith in deeds. -Ibn 'Ata'llah
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hat2010 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 January 2007 at 11:04am
Peace -

As always, thank you for the mind-expanding and thought provoking
share, Andalus.

Jamal Morelli
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