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Does the Quran Say That Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) Did Not Perform Any Miracles?
Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun's Article "Muhammad and Miracles: Analyzing Muslim Arguments for Muhammads Supernatural Feats"
Sam Shamoun's article could be located here http://www.answering-islam.org/Responses/Azmy/mhd_miracles.htm
Even though he would not be disproving the Prophethood of Muhammad this way. Because as Hesham Azmy pointed out in his paper John the Baptist was a Prophet and he did not perform any miracles. So its possible to be a Prophet and not perform miracles. So the only thing that Shamoun is challenging are the authentic hadith that state the Prophet did do miracles.
Hesham Azmy in his article has proved that the Quran says that the Prophet did do miracles. That when the Prophet did do miracles the Quraysh when just say that it is magic.
However, I noticed that brother Azmy did not deal directly with the verses put forth by Shamoun.
Sam Shamoun has presented 11 verses from the Quran to try and show that the Quran says that the Prophet Muhammad never performed a miracle.
I will be addressing them one by one to see if this claim is true or not.
Verse # 1
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.
This verse does not show that the Prophet did not perform miracles. This verse was sent down in Madinah and the biggest opinion was that this was referring to the Jews and Christians. Especially the Jews told Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to have God talk to them. When they said that, God revealed this verse. (Tafsir of Tabari, Source: Online)
This happened after Mecca when the Prophet would have done the miracle of the moon splitting to the Meccan Arabs.
Verse # 2
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 (PBUH) performed miracles. God is simply telling the Prophet that if he came with every kind of proof and unlimited number of miracles then they still would not believe in him. (Tafsir of Ibn Kathir, Source: Online) The verse does not show that the Prophet did not perform any miracles.
Verse # 3
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 sign that they are saying that has not been sent down to them are from the signs that they are 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: Online)
So the verse does not deny that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) ever showed them signs. But only the signs that they specifically asked for. Just like how the people of Thamud asking Salih to have God make a she camel to come out of the mountain (Surah 17:59) or like how the disciples asked Jesus 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: Online)
Verse # 4
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?
Same thing like the previous verse. They are asking for specific signs. (Tafsir of Jalalyn, Source: Online) This does not deny that the Prophet did not perform any signs at all. One reason we see that God is not sending down the signs they are requesting is because due to his omniscience He knows they won't believe just like how the previous generations never believed.
Verse #s 5, 6 and 7
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.'
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.
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.'
Three possible explanations.
One is that they keep demanding the signs that they were specifically asking for. (Tafsir of Qurtubi, Source: Online) They would demand things like turning Safa into gold, making the mountains surrounding Mecca disappear and in its place rivers and gardens etc. (Tafsir of Ibn Kathir, Source: Online)
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 a sign. 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 want.
Here is a good example from the Gospel of Mark 8:11-12
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.....
The leaven of the Pharisees
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
They would still persist in asking Jesus for a miracle even after he did several such as raising the dead back to life, curing the blind etc.
Verse # 8
Naught prevented Us from sending the signs (bial-ayati) but that the ancients cried lies to them; and We brought Thamood the She-camel visible, but they did her wrong. And We do not send the signs, except to frighten.
Again from sending the signs that the Quraysh specifically asked for just like how Thamud specifically asked for the she camel. (Tafsir of Qurtubi, Source: Online) God did not send it down to them as a mercy. Because God knows that if He sent the signs they asked for down to them they would still disbelieve. If God sent it down to them and they still disbelieved then He would have no choice but to destroy them. So it was for their own good.
Again the verse does not state that no signs have ever been sent down, just the ones that they specifically asked for.
Verse # 9
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 to do all this and the Prophet is simply telling them that he is only a human being just like them. He couldn't do those things. His only task was to deliver the message of God to them. Only God can do these things. Not the Prophet of himself (Tafsir of Tabari, Source: Online)
How does this verse show that the Quran says that the Prophet did not do any miracles? Yes, it shows that the Prophet 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?
Verse # 10
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 such as the locusts, the stick turning into a snake miracles, the white hand miracle, the parting of the sea etc. (Tafsir of Ibn Kathir, Source: Online)
Verse # 11
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.
Sam Shamoun is trying to use this verse to show that Allah is saying that the Quran is a sufficient enough sign and therefore no other sign should be sent down by Him. Because if God did, then it would contradict this verse.
Again the sign of the moon splitting was shown to them but they just called it magic. (Tafsir of Ibn Kathir, Source: Online) 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 who copied some things from the books of the Jews and used to read it. Then verse 51 came down rebuking them that the Quran is enough for their salvation. Even the Prophet said that if Moses was alive today then he would follow him. (Tafsir of Tabari, Source: Online) and (Tafsir of Qurtuby, Source: Online)
The Quran needs to be read as a whole and in context. The context 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 (PBUH) did perform miracles, however in the eyes of the disbelievers this was nothing more than magic and they still kept on demanding signs. Just because they did not receive the specific signs that they asked for that does not mean that no signs were showed to them at all.
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