Does the Quran Say That Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) Did Not Perform Any Miracles?

By

Bassam Zawadi

 

Christian missionaries try arguing that the Qur'an teaches that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not perform any miracles.

They would not be disproving the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) this way since Christians themselves believe that John the Baptist was a Prophet who performed no miracles (John 10:41). So because it's possible to be a Prophet and not perform miracles according to the Bible, then the only thing that Christians are challenging is the authentic hadith which state that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did perform miracles. 

Hesham Azmy in his article has proven that the Quran says that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did perform miracles and that when the Prophet (peace be upon him) did perform miracles the Quraysh would then just claim that it was magic. Also read Brother Sami Zaatari's article regarding this issue here

However, I noticed that brother Azmy did not deal directly with some of the verses that the missionaries put forth. 

Missionaries have presented 11 verses from the Quran to try and show that the Quran says that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) never performed a miracle. 

I will be addressing them one by one to see if this claim is true or not. 

 

Verse # 1

Surah 2:118

And they that know not say, 'Why does God not speak to us? Why does a sign (ayatun) not come to us?' So spoke those before them as these men say; their hearts are much alike. Yet We have made clear the signs (bayyanna al-ayati) unto a people who are sure.

 

Notice what the verse is saying...

And they that know not say, 'Why does God not speak to us? Why does a sign (ayatun) not come to us?' So spoke those before them as these men say; their hearts are much alike. Yet We have made clear the signs (bayyanna al-ayati) unto a people who are sure.

The verse is saying that the disbelievers just as the disbelievers before them have said that no sign has come to them. It does not show that the Qur'an itself is saying this. 

This verse does not show that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not perform miracles. This verse was sent down in Madinah and the majority opinion was that this was referring to the Jews and Christians. This was especially referring to the Jews who told Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to have God talk to them. When they said this, God revealed this verse. (See Tabari's commentary here) This happened after Mecca when the Prophet (peace be upon him) would have performed the miracle of splitting the moon in front of the pagan Arabs.

Other opinions state that it was the disbelievers of Mecca that were being referred to. However, this is irrelevant. For this verse does not show that the Qur'an states that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not perform miracles, but it shows that the disbelievers accused the Prophet (peace be upon him) of not performing miracles and there is a big difference between the two.

 

Verse # 2

Surah 2:145

Yet if thou shouldst bring to those that have been given the Book every sign (ayatun), they will not follow thy direction; thou art not a follower of their direction, neither are they followers of one another's direction. If thou followest their caprices, after the knowledge that has come to thee, then thou wilt surely be among the evildoers.

 

Again this does not deny that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) performed miracles. God is simply telling the Prophet (peace be upon him) that if he came with every kind of proof and an unlimited number of miracles then they still would not believe in him. (Tafsir of Ibn Kathir, Source) The verse does not show that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not perform any miracles. 

 

Verse # 3

Surah 6:37

They also say, 'Why has no sign (ayatun) been sent down upon him from his Lord?' Say: 'Surely God is able to send down a sign (ayatan), but most of them know not.'

 

Again, notice the verse...

They also say, 'Why has no sign (ayatun) been sent down upon him from his Lord?' Say: 'Surely God is able to send down a sign (ayatan), but most of them know not.'

The Qur'an is quoting what the disbelievers are saying. It is not the Qur'an itself that is saying that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not perform miracles.

The sign that they are saying that has not been sent down to them are from the signs that they are specifically asking for like the ones they demanded in Surah 17:90-93. However, God is saying that he could send them down if he wished but 'they know not'. 'They know not' means that they don't know what trial and infliction they will go through if God did indeed send down the signs they are asking for and rejected them. (Tafsir of Jalalyn, Source)

So the verse does not deny that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ever showed them signs. The verse only says that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not show the signs that they specifically asked for. This was just like how the people of Thamud asked Prophet Salih (peace be upon him) to have God make a she-camel to come out of the mountain (Surah 17:59) or like how the disciples asked Jesus (peace be upon him) to have God send them down a table from heaven (Surah 5:112) and God warned that if anyone of them ever disbelieved after He sent down the sign then He would punish them worse than anyone (Surah 5:115). 

So the verse is basically saying that they don't know the consequences of what they are getting themselves into for asking for such specific signs. (Tafsir of Jalalyn, Source)

 

Verse # 4

Surah 6:109

They have sworn by God the most earnest oaths if a sign (ayatun) comes to them they will believe in it. Say: 'Signs (al-ayatu) are only with God.' What will make you realize that, when it comes, they will not believe?

 

This is the same thing as the previous verse. They are asking for specific signs.  (Tafsir of Jalalyn, Source) This does not deny the fact that the Prophet (peace be upon him) performed miracles. One reason we see that God is not sending down the signs they are requesting is because due to His omniscience, He knows that they won't believe just like how the previous generations never believed and out of His mercy, He doesn't want to punish them for rejecting His signs.

 

Verse #s 5, 6 and 7

Surah 10:20

They say, 'Why has a sign (ayatun) not been sent down upon him from his Lord?' Say: 'The Unseen belongs only to God. Then watch and wait; I shall be with you watching and waiting.'

Surah 13:7

The unbelievers say, 'Why has a sign (ayatun) not been sent down upon him from his Lord?' Thou art ONLY a warner, and a guide to every people.

Surah 13:27

The unbelievers say, 'Why has a sign (ayatun) not been sent down upon him from his Lord?' Say: 'God leads astray whomsoever He will, and He guides to Him all who are penitent.'

 

Again, notice that the verses above state that this is what the disbelievers are saying and not the Qur'an itself.

Three possible explanations.... 

 

One is that they keep demanding the signs that they were specifically asking for. (Tafsir of Qurtubi, Source) They would demand signs like turning Safa into gold, making the mountains surrounding Mecca disappear and in its place put rivers and gardens etc. (Tafsir of Ibn Kathir, Source

Secondly, just because the disbelievers keep asking for a sign that does not mean that a sign has never been sent down to them. Disbelievers will keep asking for a sign and they will never believe, just like I mentioned when explaining Verse #2. 

Thirdly, even if the sign is given to them they want to persist and be stubborn and ask for a miracle that they specifically want. 

Here is a good example for Christians from the Gospel of Mark 8:11-12...

 

Mark 8:11-13

11The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12He sighed deeply and said, "Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it."

 

Here is the commentary.....

 

1. (11-12) They ask for a sign from heaven

a. They are not looking simply for an earthly miracle, but a dramatic sign from the sky; for something like Elijah's fire from heaven

i. Tested should be tempted

ii. This unbelief caused Jesus pain

b. Jesus refuses, because His miracles are not for the sake of convincing hardened unbelievers, but they show the power of God in the context of mercy (David Guzik, Study Guide for Mark Chapter 8, Source)

 

They would still persist in asking Jesus for a miracle even after he performed several miracles such as raising the dead back to life, curing the blind etc. 

Read this article to see the Biblical difficulties regarding whether Jesus performed miracles or not.

 

Verse # 8

Surah 17:59

Naught prevented Us from sending the signs (bial-ayati) but that the ancients cried lies to them; and We brought Thamud the She-camel visible, but they did her wrong. And We do not send the signs, except to frighten.

 

Again, this is referring to sending the signs that the Quraysh specifically asked for just like how Thamud specifically asked for the she camel.  (Tafsir of Qurtubi, Source) God did not send it down to them as a mercy because God knows that if He sent down the signs they asked for they would still disbelieve. If God sent it down to them and they still disbelieved then He would be obliged to destroy them in order to fulfill His promise. It was for their own good. 

Further proof that this is referring to specific miracles is when God mentions in the verse the example of Thamud and the she camel because the people of Thamud specifically asked for this miracle to be given to them. Read the story of Prophet Salih (peace be upon him) here.

Again the verse does not state that no signs have ever been sent down. 

 

Verse # 9

Surah 17:90-93

They say, 'We will not believe thee till thou makest a spring to gush forth from the earth for us, or till thou possessest a garden of plants and vines, and thou makest rivers to gush forth abundantly all amongst it, or till thou makest heaven to fall, as thou assertest, on us in fragments, or thou bringest God and the angels as a surety, or till thou possessest a house of gold ornament, or till thou goest up into heaven; and we will not believe thy going up till thou bringest down on us a book that we may read. Say: 'Glory be to my Lord. Am I aught BUT A MORTAL, a Messenger?'

 

They asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) to do all this and the Prophet (peace be upon him) is simply telling them that he is only a human being just like them. He couldn't perform these things and his only task was to deliver the message of God to them. Only God can do these things and not the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself (Tafsir of Tabari, Source)

How does this verse show that the Quran says that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not do any miracles? Yes, it shows that the Prophet (peace be upon him) could not do miracles on his own and only by the permission of God. But where does it show that the did not do any miracles at all?

Plus this verse furthermore supports what I have been previously saying and that is that the disbelievers were asking for specific miracles to be shown to them.

 

Verse # 10

Surah 28:48

Yet when the truth came to them 'from Ourselves, they said, 'Why has he not been given the like' of that Moses was given?' But they, did they not disbelieve also in what Moses was given aforetime? They said, 'A pair of sorceries mutually supporting each other.' They said, 'We disbelieve both.'

 

Again they are demanding specific signs. They are demanding signs similar to Moses's such as the locusts, the stick turning into a snake miracle, the white hand miracle, the parting of the sea etc. (Tafsir of Ibn Kathir, Source)

 

Verse # 11

Surah 29:48-51

Not before this didst thou recite any Book, or inscribe it with thy right hand, for then those who follow falsehood would have doubted. Nay; rather it is signs, clear signs (ayatun bayyinatun) IN THE BREASTS of those who have been given knowledge; and none denies Our signs but the evildoers. They say, 'Why have signs (ayatun) not been sent down upon him from his Lord?' Say: 'The signs (al-ayatu) are only with God, and I am only a plain warner.' What, is it not SUFFICIENT for them that We have sent down upon thee the Book that is recited to them? Surely in that is a mercy, and a reminder to a people who believe.

 

Certain Christian missionaries are trying to use this verse to show that Allah is saying that the Quran is a sufficient enough sign, thus no other sign should be sent down by Him because if God did send down a sign, then it would contradict this verse. However, we have to understand that indeed the Quran is sufficient enough a sign for any objective truth seeker. However, the Quraysh were too stubborn to seek the truth and that is why God sent down other signs. For example, a teacher may explain something very clearly to a classroom of students, however the students still do not understand and therefore the teacher had to spend extra time teaching these students. Now just because the students didn't initially understand what the teacher was saying does not necessarily imply that the teacher did not teach properly or that what he said in the beginning wasn't enough. Similarly, just because the Quran was not enough to convince the Quraysh does not mean that the Quran itself is not sufficient enough to be a sign. 

Again the sign of the moon splitting was shown to them but they just called it magic. (Tafsir of Ibn Kathir, Source) To them, these were not signs. It was just magic.

As for verse 51, well this is talking about a different situation and is not referring to the same people in verse 50.

Verse 51 was sent down because there were a group of people from the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) who copied some things from the books of the Jews and then used to read it. Then verse 51 came down rebuking them and saying that the Quran is enough for their salvation. Even the Prophet (peace be upon him) said that if Moses were alive today then he would follow him.  (Tafsir of Tabari, Source) and (Tafsir of Qurtubi, Source)

Some may say that for us to argue that verse 51 is talking about a different group of people than the ones in verse 50 is desperate. However, I don't think so. Notice that the evil doers say "Why have signs (ayatun) not been sent down upon him from his Lord?" The response to them is 'The signs (al-ayatu) are only with God, and I am only a plain warner." So the response to the evil doers ends right there. Then verse 51 is talking about a different group of people. There are no desperate interpretations going on here. 

 

Conclusion

The Quran needs to be read as a whole and in context and the contexts of the verses need to be known as well. By connecting all the dots together and reading the verses all together and with understanding we see that the Quran does indeed confirm that the glorious Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did perform miracles, however in the eyes of the disbelievers this was nothing more than magic and they still kept on demanding specific signs. Just because they did not receive the specific signs that they asked for does not mean that no signs were showed to them at all.

 

Recommended Reading

Read Dr. Mohar Ali's detailed response in his book The Biography of the Prophet and the Orientalists, pp.627-644

http://muslim-responses.com/The_Quran_on_Miracles_/The_Quran_on_Miracles_

 

Return to Refuting Arguments Against Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

Return to Homepage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HomeWhat's new?IslamChristianityRefutations LanguagesMultimediaE BooksLinksContact Me