Islamic Philosophy and Miracles

QUESTION: Islamic Philosophy – Muhammad’s Lack of Miracles

ANSWER:

Oliver Leaman observes that despite a stated belief in miracles, “it is worth emphasizing that Islam as a religion does not make much use of miracles.”1 Leaman is referring to the fact that the Qur’an records Muhammad performing no miracles in support of his claim to be a prophet, a lack that led people to challenge his claims.
    And the unbelievers say: ‘Why is not a Sign sent down to him [Muhammad] from his Lord?’ But thou art truly a warner and to every people a guide. (13:7)

    God hath heard the taunt of those who say, ‘Truly, God is indigent and we are rich!’ We shall surely record their word and (their act) of slaying the Prophets in defiance of right, and We shall say: ‘Taste yet the Penalty of scorching Fire! This is because of the (unrighteous deeds) which your hands sent on before ye: For God never harms those who serve Him.’

    They also said: ‘God 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 [Muhammad] with Clear Signs and even with what ye ask for: why then did ye slay them, if ye speak the truth?’

    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. (3:181–184)
Islamic Philosophy – The Greatest Prophet Should Perform the Greatest Miracles
We could suppose that “the greatest of the prophets” of Islam would perform the greatest of miracles. Jesus was the greatest prophet in the Bible and He walked on water, multiplied loaves of bread and fishes to feed thousands, and was resurrected from the dead (though Muslims deny it). Throughout His lifetime, Jesus performed great and wondrous signs to support His claim to be Israel’s Messiah. Paul notes that even the apostles performed miracles (“The things that mark an apostle—signs, wonders, and miracles—were done among you with great perseverance.” 2 Corinthians 12:12). Muhammad not only claimed to be a prophet of God, he also claimed to be greater than Jesus. In this light, the conclusion of the Christian philosopher Blaise Pascal is apropos: “Any man can do what Mahomet has done; for he performed no miracles . . . No man can do what Christ has done.”2

Notes:

Rendered with permission from the book, Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews (Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 Oliver Leaman, An Introduction to Classical Islamic Philosophy (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 102.

2 Blaise Pascal, Pensées, #600, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/pascal/pensees.x.html (Accessed May 12, 2006).

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