Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) Miracles – By Imam an-Nawawi

The Messenger of Allah possesses many manifest miracles and signs demonstrating [his veracity], reaching thousands and they are well known.

From amongst them was the Qur’an, the manifest and clear miracle and brilliant proof, falsehood cannot approach it from before it or behind it. It is a revelation from One Who is All-Wise and Praiseworthy. It incapacitated the most eloquent of people in the most eloquent of times to produce a single chapter that would be comparable to it, even if the whole of creation were to gather for that purpose. Allah, the Exalted says,

“Say: If the whole of mankind and the jinn gathered in order to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like of it, even if they assisted each other.” [Al-Israa’ (17): 88]- It challenged them to this despite their large numbers, their eloquence and their severe enmity, and it challenges them to this day.

As for the other miracles, it is not possible to enumerate them all due to their huge number and renewing and increasing nature. However, I will mention some examples:

The splitting of the moon, water flowing from between his fingers, increasing the quantity of food and water, the glorification of the food, the palm tree yearning for him, stones greeting him, the talking of the poisoned leg [of roasted sheep], trees walking towards him, two trees that were far apart coming together and then parting again, the barren [and therefore dry] sheep giving milk, his returning the eye of Qatidah bin an-Nu`man to its place with his hand after it had slipped out, his spitting lightly into the eye of Ali when it had become inflamed and its being cured almost immediately, his wiping the leg of `Abdullah bin `Atiq whereupon he was immediately cured.

His informing of the places of death of the Day of Badr saying, ‘this is the place of such polytheists on the and-such a person.’ His informing of his killing Ubayy bin Khalaf, that a group of his nation would traverse an ocean and Umm Haram would be amongst them and this occurred. That all that was drawn together for him of the ends of the earth and displayed to him would be opened for his nation, that the treasures of the Chosroes would be spent by his nation in the Way of Allah, the Mighty and Magnificent. That he feared for his nation that they would be tempted by the wealth and allurement of this world and that the treasures of the Persians and Romans would be ours and that Suraqah bin Malik would wear the trousers of Chosroes.

He informed us that Hasan bin `Ali would reconcile between two large warring parties of the Muslims, that Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas would live such that nations would benefit by him and others would be harmed. That an-Najashi had died on this particular day while he was in Ethiopia and that al-Aswad al-`Ansi had been killed on this particular day while he was in Yemen.

That the Muslims would fight the Turks who were described as having small eyes, wide faces and small, chiselled noses and that Yemen, Syria and Iraq would be conquered by the Muslims.

He informed us that the Muslims would comprise three armies, an army in Syria, and army in Yemen and an army in Iraq. That they would conquer Egypt, a land whose [unit of land measurement] was the Qirat, that they should deal with their people well for they have protection [being Copts] and ties of kinship [through Hajar]. That Awais al-Qarni would come to you from the auxiliaries of Yemen, he would be afflicted with leprosy and it would be healed except for the space of a dirham, and he indeed arrived during the rule of `Umar.

He informed us that a group of his nation would always be upon the truth and that mankind would become many in number and that the Ansar would diminish in number and that the Ansar would not be given their due [with regards distribution of wealth and leadership]. That mankind would keep on asking questions until they would say, “Allah created the creation…” [Referring to the hadeeth, “the people would continue asking until they say, ‘this is Allah Who created everything…but who created Allah?’” (al-Bukhari and Muslim)]

He informed us that Ruwayfi` bin Thabit would live a long life, that Ammar bin Yasir would be killed by the transgressing group, that this nations shall divide into sects and that they would fight each other.

He informed us that a fire would emanate from the land of Hijaz and the likes of this. All of this occurred exactly as he (sallallahu `alayhe wa sallam) said it would.

He said to Thabit bin Qays, “You will live being praised… and you will die as a martyr”, and he lived being praised and was martyred at al-Yamamah. He said to `Uthman, “He would be afflicted by a severe trial.” [The meaning of severe trial is his being imprisoned in his house and his being killed by the transgressors.]

He said about a person amongst the Muslims who had just fought a severe fight that”He would be from amongst the denizens of the Fire”, and later he committed suicide. Wabisah bin Ma`bad came to him in order to ask him about righteousness and sin upon which he asked, “Have you come to ask about righteousness and sin?”

He said to `Ali, az-Zubair and al-Miqdad, “Go to the garden of Khakh for indeed there is Dha`inah” who has a book with her. [Dha`inah is the woman with whom Hasib al-Balta`ah (radhiAllahu `anhu) sent a letter to the people of Mecca in order to inform them of the plans of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhe wa sallam) to fight them. It was concerning this that the first verses of Surah Mumtahinah were revealed.

The garden of Khakh is a place falling between Mecca and Madinah. Refer to Bukhari [no. 3983] and Muslim [no. 2494] and Tafsir ibn Kathir [4/344]]

They found her there but she initially denied having the book and then took it out from within her braids.

He said to Abi Hurayrah, when Satan had stolen some dates, “Indeed he shall return” and he did. He said to his wives, “The most prolific of you in giving charity will be the quickest of you to join me.” and it was so [Zaynab bint Jahsh (radhi Allahu `anha) was the most prolific of them in giving charity and was the first to die. Refer to Muslim [no. 2452].]

He said to ‘Abdullah bin Sallam, “You will remain upon Islam until you die.”

He (sallallahu `alayhe wa sallam) supplicated for Anas that his wealth and sons increase and that he should live a long life and it was so. He lived for more than one hundred years and not one of the Ansar was richer than he and one hundred and twenty of his children had already been buried before the arrival of al-Hajjaj [to Basrah]. This is detailed further in Sahih Bukhari and others. [Bukhari no. 1982]

He supplicated that Islam be strengthened through ‘Umar bin al-Khattab or Abu Jahl, and Allah strengthened it through `Umar (radiyAllahu `anhu). He supplicated against Suraqah bin Malik and the feet of his horse sank into the earth and he was thrown off, he called out asking for safe conduct and was granted it, then he asked the Prophet to make a supplication for him.

He supplicated that Allah remove feeling the bitter cold and heat from `Ali and so never did he feel cold or hot. He supplicated for Hudhayfah, the night that he sent him to spy on the Confederates, that he not feel the cold and he did not until he had returned. He supplicated for ibn `Abbas that Allah grant him understanding of the religion and it was so. He supplicated against `Utbah bin Abi Lahb… that Allah cause a dog from amongst his dogs to overcome him and he was killed by a lion at az-Zarqa`. [This is how it is in all of the printed editions; perhaps the author means `Utaybah bin Abi Lahb for this description fits him. As for `Utbah, he accepted Islaam in the year of the Conquest of Mecca.]

He supplicated for the descent of rain when they asked him to at the time of drought. There was not a single cloud in the sky, and then when he had supplicated, the clouds gathered like mountains and it rained until the next Friday. It rained so much that they had to come back and ask him to supplicate and stop the rain, so he supplicated and the rain stopped and they walked out into the glaring sun.

He (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) supplicated for Abu Talhah and his wife, Umm. Sulaym, that he bless them in the night they had spent together and she became pregnant and gave birth to `Abdullah. He had nine children and all of them were scholars.

He supplicated for the mother of Aba Hurayrah (radhi Allahu `anhu) that she be guided and Aba Hurayrah left to find her performing the ritual bath because she had accepted Islam. He supplicated for Umm Qays bint Muhsin, the sister of `Ukkasha, that she live a long life and we do not know of another woman who lived as long as she did. This was reported by an-Nasa’i the chapter concerning washing the deceased.

On the Day of Hunain he threw a handful of dirt at the disbelievers and said, “May the faces be disfigured”, and Allah, the Exalted, vanquished them, filling their eyes with dirt. He once went out to one hundred of the Quraysh who were waiting to do something horrible to him and he put dirt on their head and went on his way without their seeing him.

Refer also to Khayru-d-Din Wanili, Mu`jazat al-Mustapha [3rd ed., Maktabah as-Sawadi, Jeddah]. Consult this for the evidences for what is mentioned in this chapter.

The Concept of Miracles in Islam

Know that the reason we call what the Prophets have brought a “miracle” (mu‘jiza) is that creatures are incapable (‘ijaz) of doing the like of it. There are two sorts of miracle. One sort is something that human beings are potentially able to do, but which they are prevented from doing by an act of Allah in order that the truthfulness of His Prophet should be confirmed. These include such things as their turning away from seeking death (when they were asked to do so) and their incapacity to bring the like of the Qur’an and similar things.

The other sort is things that are beyond their power and which they cannot do – such as bringing the dead to life, turning a staff into a snake, bringing the she-camel out of the rock, the tree speaking, water flowing from between the fingers, and splitting the moon. Only Allah can do these things. They are things that Allah does at the hand of one of His Prophets. The Prophet’s challenge to those who denied him to produce something similar was in order to show their incapacity.

Know that the miracles which appeared at the hand of our Prophet, the proofs of his prophethood and the indications of his truthfulness are made up of both types. He is the Messenger with the most miracles, the one with the clearest sign and most manifest proof as we will make clear. Due to their great quantity, his miracles cannot be numbered. The number of subsidiary miracles contained by just one of them– the Qur’an – cannot be counted. There are literally thousands of them which is shown by the fact that the Prophet issued the challenge to bring a sura like it and none of the people of knowledge was able to do so, not even to the extent of the shortest sura, al-Kawthar (108). Every single ayat is therefore a miracle. And it also has other miraculous properties as we will explain further on.

The miracles of the Prophet fall into two categories. One category is of those that are well-known and have been transmitted to us through many channels – like the Qur’an. There is no doubt or dispute that the Prophet brought it and it appeared from him and that he used it as a proof. If some pig-headed denier rejects this, it is like denying the fact that Muhammad existed in this world. The deniers themselves are refuted by the very existence of the Qur’an itself. It in itself and all the miracles that it contains are, therefore, indisputable. The fact of its inimitability is also both indisputable and verified by investigation as we will demonstrate.

One of our Imams stated: “This principle applies generally to the signs and the breaking of norms that occurred at the hands of the Prophet, for if no single one of them on its own is absolutely fixed and decisive, all of them together reach the level of indisputability. There is no doubt these extraordinary things occurred at his hands and neither believer nor unbeliever dispute their occurrence. What the obstinate do dispute is that they were from Allah.” We have already stated that they were from Allah Almighty and that this is the confirmation of His words, “You have been truthful.”

It is well known that these sort of things happened in the case of our Prophet just as it indisputably follows that Hatim was generous, ‘Antara was brave and al-Ahnaf[1] was forbearing since the reports transmitted about them all agree that the first was generous, the second brave, and the third forbearing. However each separate report would not in itself necessitate coming to that conclusion nor would it constitute decisive validation.

The second category consists of those things that do not reach the level of certainty and this category is divided in two. There are those things that are famous and widely known – a number of people relate them and they are well-known to the people of hadith and the relators and transmitters of the seerah. These include things like water flowing from his fingers and a little food becoming copious. There are also things that were only known to one or two people. A small number relate them and they are not as famous as the other category. But when they are joined to others, they are compatible with them and together they confirm the miracles as a whole as we have already stated.

Many of the signs related from him are definitely known. There is the splitting of the moon whose occurrence is confirmed by the Qur’an and about which there are subsidiary reports. One should never depart from the literal meaning unless a definite proof is produced. Its probability is increased by sound reports from many places, so our resolution to uphold it should not be weakened by the opposition of some stupid weakling devoid of religion nor should one pay any attention to the stupidity of an innovator who casts doubts into the hearts of weak believers. Nay, rather we throw this in his face and turn our back on his stupidity.

It is the same with the story of the water flowing and the small amount of food becoming larger. Reliable people and numerous individuals related these things from a great number of the Companions. Among them are the things that have been universally related directly from a group of the greatest Companions such as when many of them were gathered together on the Day of the Ditch,[2] the Battle of Buwat,[3] the ‘Umra of Hudaybiya,[4] the raid on Tabuk,[5] and other times when the armies of the Muslims were assembled together. It is not related that any of these Companions contradicted any transmitter in what he said nor did they object to any of the statements attributed to them, and in their case the silence of those who remained silent is the same as the words of those who spoke since they were not silent about anything that was untrue and they were not given to lying sycophancy. Neither desire nor fear stopped them. If they heard something that was not generally acknowledged as true and not known to them, they would reject it, as some of them did reject things which others among them related regarding the sunna, the seerah and the readings of the Qur’an. Some of them are known to have said that others had erred or misconstrued something. All of this is connected to his indisputable miracles as we have already made clear.

Also, any examples of traditions which have no basis and which are founded on falsehood must necessarily be discovered to be weak or obscure with the passage of time and the number of people who investigate them as is seen in the case of many untrue traditions and false rumours. These signs of our Prophet related through different individuals are only made more manifest by the passage of time. In spite of a succession of sects, frequent attacks by the enemy with the purpose of undermining and weakening the reports of such signs and the efforts of the unbelievers to suppress them, the strength and acceptance of them is only increased. All who attack these signs are only increased in grief and rancour. It is the same regarding his reports about the unseen worlds and his foretelling what was to come. This in itself is known to be one of his signs, which is true and cannot be covered up.

This has all been stated by our Imams, Qadi Abu Bakr al-Baqillani, Abu Bakr ibn Furak and others. And everything I know verifies that if anyone states that these famous stories have only reached us by the report of a single person, it is due to their lack of reading the reports and their transmission and their occupation with other sciences. Whoever studies the paths of transmission and reads the hadith and the seerah will not be able to doubt the validity of these famous stories as we have mentioned. It is by no means unlikely for one person to acquire knowledge of something by many paths of transmission while another does not. Most people know that Baghdad exists and that it is a large city and the place of the Imamate and Khalifate, yet there are people who do not even know its name, let alone what it is like.

It is because of this that the fuqaha’ among Malik’s companions know by necessity and multiple transmission from him that his school requires recitation of the Fatiha in the prayer by the Imam and the person praying on his own and permits making the intention on the first night of Ramadan for the rest of it, while ash-Shafi‘i thought that the intention had to be renewed each night and that it was enough to wipe only part of the head in wudu. It is likewise the reason for the Maliki fuqaha’s position regarding retaliation for killing with a blade and other such things, the obligation to make the intention for wudu, and the precondition of there being a wali for a marriage to take place, whereas Abu Hanifa disagreed with them concerning these matters. Other people are not concerned with their own schools and do not even relate what their schools say, not knowing what is in their own school, let alone the schools of others.


1. Pre-Islamic Arabs famous for these particular qualities.

2. When the idol-worshippers and Jews besieged Madina, the Prophet, following the suggestion of Salman al-Farisi, commanded that a ditch be dug to protect the city. It was something unknown among the Arabs, although common for the Persians. This happened in 4 or 5 AH.

3. Buwat is one of the mountains of Juhayna in the territory of Radwa about fifty miles from Madina. The Prophet intercepted a caravan of Quraysh there. This event took place thirteen months after the Hijra.

4. A place near Makka. The Prophet and his companions had set out to perform ‘umra and were prevented from doing so by Quraysh. The Treaty of Ridwan was signed under a tree there in 6 AH.

5. Tabuk was the last of the expeditions of the Prophet and took place in 9 AH. It is a place near Syria, fourteen travel stages from Madina.

Source: Qadhi ‘Ayyadh’s al-Shifaa’ translated by Aisha Bewley.

Some Cautious Guidelines on the ‘Scientific Miracles of the Qur’an’

As the early scholars cared for the miraculous nature of the Qur’an and its aspects, contemporary scholars have also shown great interest in this field. In fact, their concept of the miracle has expanded due to the emergence of modern discoveries and new sciences, along with the availability of modern research methods that have revealed new data and precise concepts. Thus, their methods for approaching the aspects of the miracle have diversified. One of the most prominent aspects that they have focused on, to the point of overshadowing other aspects, is what is known as the scientific (experimental) miracle. This focuses on Qur’anic verses that refer to some scientific issues related to cosmic and experimental sciences[1], especially astronomy, medicine, botany, and zoology. However, this approach has suffered from some mixing, exaggeration, and inflation, which require clarification through the following points:

  • The primary purpose of the Qur’an’s revelation is to know God and how to worship Him, and any reference to experimental sciences in the Qur’an comes subsequently and not originally.
  • Many who have delved into this approach are not specialists in Islamic sciences, let alone in exegesis, and thus they do not have the expertise to connect the meanings of Qur’anic verses to what appears in experimental research. This has resulted in attempts to interpret Qur’anic verses to fit with newly discovered theories and hypotheses without considering the terminology of the Arabic language and Islamic law, so they [forcefully] attempt to combine what has been mentioned in experimental research with the Qur’an.[2]
  • Whatever exegesis occurred after the exegesis of the pious predecessors (salaf) from the companions, the successors, and their followers are rejected except with the following guidelines:
    1. The issue being interpreted is true in itself. If it is false, then it is not valid to attribute it to the Qur’an. Its correctness can be demonstrated in three ways:
      1) Its correctness from a factual perspective.[3]
      2) The indication in the language about it.[4]
      3) It does not contradict Islamic law.[5]
    2. It should neither contradict nor invalidate the statements of the Companions, the Successors, and their followers.[6]
    3. The verse should be able to accommodate the interpreted matter.[7]
    4. The meaning of the verse should not be restricted to just this contemporary interpretation.

[1] Here is an important note that should be taken into consideration, which is attributing this aspect of the miracle to natural science alone, without considering the miracle from other types of sciences. This is due to the impact resulting from the division made by Western scholars of sciences into two categories: empirical sciences, which refer to the study of natural sciences, and humanities, which refer to the study of legal and linguistic sciences.

[2] For example, those who claim that the seven heavens mentioned in the Qur’an refer to the seven planets, and that the “Throne” refers to the universe.

[3] The one who realizes this is the specialist in experimental science, while the following two conditions mentioned after it are understood by the specialist in Qur’anic exegesis. Hence, there must be integration between both specialties in order for the interpretation based on such data to be valid.

[4] If an interpretation cannot be supported linguistically from the Arabic language, then any such interpretation will be considered invalid, such as someone interpreting the word “dharrah (ذرة)” mentioned in the Qur’an as a chemical atom, because it is a term that is not linguistically proven from Arabic.

[5] Like those who interpret the verse, “And He has created you all in stages” [Qur’an 71:14], as the stages of Darwinian theory in evolution, which contradicts Islamic law, therefore, it would be considered invalid.

[6] As for adding to it without negating it, there is no problem with that and it becomes like an additional saying to the statements of the salaf that the verse allows and is consistent with the context.

[7] An issue may be true in itself and does not contradict the statements of the salaf, but the verse and its indications do not support it, such as someone who interprets the verse, “And whoever Allah wants to misguide, He makes his breast tight and constricted as if he were ascending into the sky” [Qur’an 6:125], based on the discovery that when a person ascends to high altitudes, their breathing becomes restricted due to lack of oxygen.

Source: Al-Muyassar fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’an