Miracle or Mirage? The Paradox of Miracles & Science – Part 1

By Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

What are miracles? Do they exist? Are miracles a form of magic? What is the scientific take on miracles? This and more in this very educative and thorough text.

The first issue after proving the existence of God is the fact that He has appointed and dispatched some selective humans as His messengers to guide man to the right path.

The position of prophet-hood is the greatest status man can enjoy and as such, unfortunately there have been false claims as to whether the person is truly a messenger of God or not. Thus, like any other claim it needs ample proof that the claimant is genuine and honest.

In normal life if someone knocks on your door with the claim that he is an undercover police officer and needs to ask you some questions, you may not co-operate with him unless you have seen his genuine identification.

Historically, there have been people who claimed to be the messengers of God and recipients of His divine message by means of revelations. They also advocated for believing in God, the life in the hereafter, moral values and things as such. These people can be either true in their claim, or are completely forged prophets such as Mosaylema, or that the claimer himself is hallucinating.??????

There can be three different approaches to them: a) accepting whoever comes with such claims, b) rejecting all who have such claims, c) accepting them if they have ample evidence for their claim.

The first two approaches are against commonsense, for on the one hand accepting all may mislead humanity, which gives the chance to any forged person, and on the other hand rejecting them all could deprive man of divine guidance.

Thus, the wise approach is to ask for evidence or a sign to prove his legitimacy.

The sign must also be so unique that no one else is capable of duplicating it. In fact, a prophet presents the Sign of God with His permission and also calls upon all people to challenge and contest the Sign.

A miracle is the evidence and the sign of a true invitation of a prophet. Their evidence is also so unique and genuine that no one can present or produce anything like it.

In the modern English language, the usage of the word miracle is meant quite differently than that of the traditional use. The modern sense of miracle is merely a remarkable specimen of ingenuity. Thus, I suggest the Arabic term ‘Al-Mo’jezeh’ is more adequate for the purpose of this chapter.

The term ‘Al-Mo’jezeh’ (which is normally translated to ‘Miracle’) in Arabic, means ‘an act that all other humans are incapable of performing similar to that.’

I shall however, mention that the term ‘miracle’ is not mentioned in the Quran. The concept of miracle is always referred to in the Quran as ‘Sign’, ‘Proof’, ‘Evidence’ and similar words.

For instance:

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.” (29:50)

“And (appoint him) a messenger to the Children of Israel, (with this message): ‘I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord…’ ” (3:49)

Similarly, the term used to describe miracle in the Bible, is ‘S?meion’ (see for instance: Acts 2:22)

The problem is, since the purpose of miracles is to manifest the existence of God and they occur in an unordinary way, which leaves mankind in absolute wonder and submission and realization of an omnipotent metaphysical power.

So a miracle is an act of a messenger of God, by the will of God, to perform something absolutely out of man’s capacity of performance.

The Characteristics of Miracles

1. Miracles are well beyond man’s power of any age, they cannot be reproduced by anyone else and can be distinguished from natural occurrence or even marvelous events.

2. Miracles are the acts of the Prophets but cannot happen without the Providence, Will and the Might of God. For this reason the emphasis is always given in the Quran that they can only occur ‘With the Permission of God’, or by ‘His revelation’. 

And certainly We sent messengers before you and gave them wives and children, and it is not in (the power of) an messenger to bring a sign except by Allah’s permission (13:38)

Similarly, in the Bible miracles are called ‘the Finger of God [Exodus, VIII, 19 Luke XI, 20]. Thus, miracles are the manifestation of God’s power.

3. Prophets are capable of performing miracles due to the divine knowledge they enjoy2, which provides them with ‘The Power of Changing’ (Welayatul-Tasarrof).

4. Their occurrence is not irrational.

5. They are not contrary to the principles of divine religion. Thus, converting water to wine cannot be accepted as a miracle of a prophet.

6. The dignity of miracles: Miracles are positive and are blessings. Miracles never produce any disorder, discord or any element which is wicked, ridiculous, useless or meaningless. Hence, they are not on the same plane with mere wonders, tricks, works of ingenuity or magic. For instance, no Prophet destroys a forest miraculously, nor would he ever cause any harm in showing his miracle.

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