The Physical Miracles of the Prophet ﷺ: The Proofs of Prophethood Series

This publication is part of the Proofs of Prophethood series.

In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Grantor of Mercy

The Physical Miracles of the Prophet


Conviction in the prophethood of Muhammad ﷺ is not dependent on his performance of miracles, but historically reliable reports of these miracles make their occurrence undeniable and increase one’s awe of the Divine. This paper will feature some of the most authentically transmitted miracles, after assessing the utility, plausibility, and provability of miracles in the first place.

Making Sense of Miracles

Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ ministry was supported by physical miracles that were witnessed and reported by a generation of superb moral integrity. While the Qur’an is the Prophet’s ﷺ greatest miracle, and certainly sufficient on its own as a miracle, this does not negate that God’s generosity allotted humanity many other miraculous signs along with it. Some have claimed that the Qur’an repeatedly denies the attribution of any miracle to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ other than the Qur’an itself but this is not true. A careful reading of those passages reveals that they concerned God’s refusing to grant specific miracles to a defiant people, or His censure of human beings for feeling entitled to demand from God a miracle in the first place, or for disregarding the Qur’an when nobody on earth was more equipped to recognize its matchlessness than they were.

The Utility of Miracles

The messagecharacter, and accomplishments of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ all vouch for his claim to prophethood, but the power of miracles in further corroborating our conviction in him should not be underestimated. Some people’s initial conviction may even hinge on the performance of miracles, as that is their intellectual orientation and their path to faith. Subsequently, however, the believer is encouraged to pursue higher states of certainty through contemplation, seeking knowledge, and purifying their heart until they can witness the truth through the message of Islam itself. As Ibn al-Qayyim (d. 1350) writes, “The paths to guidance are diverse, as a mercy and kindness from God to His servants, due to the variation in their intellectual, mental, and spiritual insights.”[1] He then proceeded to give examples of how some are guided by recognizing the truth in the message itself, due to the purity of their own nature, such as Abu Bakr aṣ-Ṣiddīq رضي الله عنه, and some recognized the truth through the impeccable character of its bearer ﷺ, such as Khadīja b. Khuwaylid رضي الله عنها. A third segment of humanity was brought to faith by God through miracles, while a fourth was impressed by the triumphs and successes of the Prophet’s lifetime, and a fifth group inherited faith by association.

In addition to bringing some people to faith, miracles augment existing faith by inspiring those who read these stories with immense love, respect, and admiration for the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Reflecting on God’s Mercy and Aid to the believers grants the faithful a firm confidence in Divine Providence and Help in times of hardship and difficulty. Reading and believing in the reality of Divine omnipotence as manifested through these miracles enables a person to dream big, pushing their boundaries, and shaking off self-limiting beliefs. One recognizes that the natural order, seemingly fixed, is in fact entirely contingent on the Divine Will.

This is the utility of miracles and why deemphasizing them to appear more ‘rational’ and ‘sophisticated’ is a great disservice to many sincere conviction seekers out there. As for those solely interested in validating their presupposed truths, the Qur’an itself asserts that miracles are futile for those not willing to believe them, even if they were to witness them with their own eyes. Allah (Most High) says, “And even if We opened for them a gate to heaven, through which they continued to ascend, still they would say, ‘Our eyes have truly been dazzled! In fact, we must have been bewitched’” (Qur’an 15:14-15).[2] The Qur’an repeatedly describes this inevitable response to miracles from skeptical minds across the ages and explains why some still rejected Islam after witnessing the Prophet’s miracles themselves. It demonstrates the veracity of a key epistemological perspective that the Qur’an postulates—namely, the futility of skepticism as an approach to knowledge. Even the clearest signs and miracles can be doubted if a person is willing to be skeptical of their own senses and question reality entirely. But, because our postmodern times view religion and especially the supernatural with greater suspicion than any other period in human history, let us first begin with dispelling the commonly held misconceptions that miracles are either logically impossible or historically unprovable.

The Possibility of Miracles

Most people believe that God is the Creator of the universe and remains a willful agent in the world; hence, God’s ability to perform miracles—or enable others to perform them—is easy for them to accept. After all, if God created the laws of nature, it logically follows that He is not bound by the system He designed, but can also bring about occurrences outside of that system. Miracles are only problematic for atheists (who believe in no God) and deists (who posit a non-intervening God), both of whom may find it refreshing to familiarize themselves with the Case for Allah’s Existence in the Qur’an and Sunnah.

The swift developments building up to the European Enlightenment triggered in many Westerners a profound aversion to any suggestion of miraculous intervention. Such objectors commonly reject the notion of miracles under the premise that demonstrable scientific truths have concluded that the natural order of this universe cannot be ‘magically’ altered. Perhaps the most notable vanguards of the miracles-are-unscientific philosophy were the Dutch rationalist Baruch Spinoza (d. 1677) and the Scottish empiricist David Hume (d. 1776). Both used various arguments to reject the possibility of miracles, all of which suffer from either factual errors, logical inconsistency, or irrelevance to the miracles of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

In his Theological-Political Treatise, Spinoza argues that belief in miracles is but a remnant of the naive premodern mind, its inability to interpret natural phenomena, and not the intended meaning behind passages in the Torah. His contempt for miracles is expected, as the idea of ‘supernatural intervention’ was perceived to be at odds with the philosophical outlook of rationalism that dominated his era and soon produced the European Enlightenment. However, Spinoza’s unbridled zeal to disprove the very possibility of miracles is contrary to his usual astuteness. For instance, he attempts to explain away every explicit biblical account of miracles as an example of either hallucination or interpolation. Equally odd was his claim that every supposed miracle can be seen as a misunderstood natural phenomenon. While ignorance and superstition had certainly driven ancient people to prematurely classify some events as miracles, what scientific evidence suggests that staffs can be transformed into snakes, people blind from birth can have their sight restored, or that the moon can be split? According to Spinoza, since our knowledge of nature is incomplete, there is no way to assert that a particular event is miraculous since it may have an as-of-yet undiscovered natural explanation. Spinoza presumed that inexplicable occurrences should simply require us to rewrite our understanding of the laws of nature. However, modern philosophy of science considers Spinoza’s argument fallacious; the fundamental laws of nature are not like tentative hypothetical conclusions that await data for revision. A key feature of the scientific method is reproducibility; if the same circumstances do not recreate the same event, then it does not require any such revision. Moreover, miracles are phenomena whose supernatural origin and rupture from the natural realm is manifestly obvious; hence, they do not require revision of our knowledge of the natural laws. A bird being miraculously resurrected from a disassembled carcass (Qur’an 2:260) does not require us to revise our knowledge of the natural decay of corpses.

Aside from this epistemological objection to miracles, another objection Spinoza raised was quasi-theological cum ontological: “If anyone asserted that God acts in contravention to the laws of nature, he, ipso facto, would be compelled to assert that God acted against His own nature.”[3] But this argument is entirely contingent upon accepting Spinoza’s impoverished conception of God. Spinoza considered God as nothing other than nature itself (a view that limits the Divine so severely that many are convinced that Spinoza’s beliefs are essentially no different from atheism). On such a view, certainly it would seem absurd for nature to contradict itself. But when God is the Supreme Master of all in existence, who says “Be” and something comes into existence, then there is no rational objection to God intervening in His creation and delimiting the scope of applicability for some of the natural laws that He has ordained.

It is interesting that Spinoza also asserts that if miracles were true, they would imply that God created a flawed world that He had to keep repairing. Not only does this contradict his ‘humans simply have not yet understood it’ rule, but it also constitutes a strawman fallacy where a position nobody holds is being refuted. Believers do not claim that the purpose of miracles is to fix a flawed world; rather, they prove that the One who sent this prophet is the One who created this world and the laws that govern it, by momentarily suspending them.

The weakness of Spinoza’s critique was evident. It was only after Hume published his Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding that debates surrounding the logical and scientific possibility of miracles intensified. Not only were Hume’s arguments more refined, but prevailing paradigms of the Enlightenment era such as skepticism and naturalism were conducive to a wider embrace of his views. Hume alleged that we are forced by the round-the-clock testimony which continues to prove nature’s uniformity, to dismiss even the strongest testimony of any passing supernatural event, since it would, by definition, violate the proven laws of nature. He further justified this by the lack of historical evidence for any one miracle, and by the multitude of the faithful who claim them in support of their conflicting doctrines. How Islam’s unique mechanism of knowledge transmission satisfies the criterion of historical evidence will be discussed shortly, but how can the standoff between accounts from different religions ever legitimize being dismissive of them all? Such haste would render the very study of history useless, since sifting through conflicting reports and weighing them against one another is every historian’s methodology. Even Hume himself followed this protocol when he considered nature’s ongoing testimony stronger than history’s transient testimony. As for Hume’s argument of empirical science over historical testimony, this stems from his conceptual framework which was effectively that of an agnostic or atheist. Theists, on the other hand, perceive miracles as identical to the phenomena of the natural world, in that both originate with God. Just as the universe began by the command of God, and its laws run as ordered by God, miracles can sometimes occur in it by the will of God. The reality of miracles is ultimately an extension of the Divine reality; just as God evidenced His existence and magnificence through the brilliant laws of nature, He evidenced His omnipotence and the integrity of His messengers through occasionally breaching these same laws in mind-boggling ways. Finally, the ‘laws of nature’ are a mere description of the world as we experience it, not a necessary prescription for how it must function. Miracles can, therefore, simply be exceptions to the predominant natural order, contrary to it but not contradictory. That would deliver us from Hume’s presumption of irreconcilability, and shift our investigation from logical possibility to historical provability.

The Provability of Miracles

Neither the logical possibility of an omnipotent God performing miracles, nor the mere historical claim of their incidence, prove that miracles did, in fact, take place. There must be compelling evidence, and no sensible person will handle accounts of miracles without heightened scrutiny, as it is often said, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” However, we must discern whether we are genuinely open to evidence—albeit extraordinary—or blindly committed to our presuppositions. Consistency is an excellent litmus test; questioning whether all similar convictions I hold about life and faith meet the same stringent criteria, or has a double standard snuck in here due to prejudice or extreme skepticism? Many people today may not realize that they are, in fact, Humeans: dogmatic naturalists who believe no amount of historical evidence for miracles can ever suffice, and that nothing at all is provable except that which we personally experience. Though experiencing the miraculous Qur’an firsthand will be the next installment in this series, consistency necessitates acknowledging that nobody actually lives by the “unless I have seen it myself” rule. Such a position would entail denying every map we have not charted ourselves and every scientific fact we have not personally established. Rational and balanced people accept that testimony, its traceability, and its corroboration, are acceptable proofs towards asserting that a fact or event is certainly true or likely true.

The discipline of Hadith is an instrumental science in the Islamic intellectual tradition, invested in verifying reports about the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, and hence central to any discussion of miracles. It is a unique sophisticated process which involves the interplay of seven sub-disciplines, all engineered to satisfy an inflexible stipulation of traceability for each narration. Ultimately, a tiny fraction of these transmitted narrations survive the rigorous mechanism to receive the “authentic” classification, but Hadith scholars did not stop there. Authentic narrations were further stratified into mutawātir (abundantly recurring) and aḥād (solitary). Mutawātir reports are those narrated by a large number of narrators in each layer of their transmission, making it inconceivable that they were all mistaken or had all colluded on a forgery. Aḥād reports—when authentic—are those transmitted reliably but without meeting the criteria of mutawātir, hence most Hadith scholars believe they confer preponderance (greater likelihood) as opposed to certain knowledge. However, this majority simultaneously deems aḥād reports worthier of being accepted than discarded, due to the reliability of their chains of transmission and the fact that all sensible people act on greater likelihood in the absence of certainty.

Miracles occurring at the hands of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is a mutawātir concept, meaning the sheer multitude of reports make it uncontestable in principle, even if some of its specific accounts are not independently mutawātir. The occurrence of World War I is a simple example of a mutawātir concept; the concurrence of abundant testimony about it renders it inconsequential whether any particular report of it having taken place is verifiable. Rejecting a mutawātir concept would be tantamount to someone refusing to confirm that Mayan, Inca, or Aztec civilizations existed until humans invent a time machine and travel to their era themselves. Until then, this person would be willing to entertain the possibility of it all being an oversight or transhistorical conspiracy—similar to what the Flat Earth Society champions today.

Islam, therefore, requires a demonstrable chain of command before attributing a statement or action (like a miracle) to its Prophet ﷺ, unlike the many religions whose accounts of miracles are only believed by the proponents of blind faith. Muslim theologians often highlight this important distinction, and how it compels every honest person to not differentiate between the miracles of Prophet Moses and Jesus عليهما السلام because of their comparable historicity, and first accept the miracles of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ since their historicity is far stronger. Ibn al-Qayyim says in Ighāthat al-Lahfān, “If this [inconsistency] was the case with the miracles of these two messengers, alongside how long ago that was, and how fragmented their nations became in the world, and the eventual disappearance of their miracles, then what should be assumed regarding the prophethood of Muhammad ﷺ and his miracles and signs when they were more recent, exceeded one thousand in number, were transmitted by the the most pure and honorable individuals ever, and when this transmission was conveyed by tawātur (abundant recurrence) one century after another?”[4] Muhammad ﷺ would additionally be the most authoritative confirmer of the miracles of the previous prophets and the most qualified to put an end to the controversies surrounding them.

Specific Miracles of the Prophet

In addition to miracles being a mutawātir phenomenon during the Prophet’s ﷺ ministrythere are specific miracles whose mutawātir transmission elevates them above any possibility of fabrication. The remainder of this paper discusses this subset, but we must first assert that requiring mutawātir testimony before believing anything is cynicism, not prudence. Most of acquired human knowledge comes through aḥād reports, and such a stipulation would prevent us from believing any bit of news that people circulate. It might even prevent us from believing our own eyes when we are the sole witness to an event. We generally trust our eyes, at least until we are compelled by stronger reasons to suspect them. Therefore, after realizing the possibility and provability of miracles in principle, even aḥād reports of them should not be dismissed whenever their reliability is defensible and no defects in their transmission have been identified.

In a brilliant passage in Fatḥ al-Bāri, in which Ibn Ḥajar (d. 1449) speaks on the abundance of the Prophet’s miracles, he says,

This collectively confers necessary knowledge (certainty) that a great number of supernatural events occurred at his hands ﷺ, in the same manner that someone can conclusively assert the generosity of Ḥātim [Ṭā’i] and the courage of ‘Ali, even if the individual reports on this are only speculative due to their being reported through aḥād chains. However, it should be noted that many of the Prophet’s miracles became well-known and widespread, were narrated by huge groups of people (mutawātir), and consequently conferred certainty by the scholars of transmission, biographical verification, and testimony authenticationeven if those unfamiliar with these disciplines did not reach this degree of confidence regarding them. In fact, if someone were to claim that most of these incidents (even the non-mutawātir) were definitively established, this would not be far-fetched because it is undeniable how accurately these narrators usually related these accounts in every layer of transmission. Furthermore, it is not documented from the Companions [of the Prophet ﷺ] or those after them a single conflicting report that challenges these accounts, and this silence necessitates approval since they are collectively above turning a blind eye to falsehood. And hypothetically, had they denied one another’s reports on these miracles, this would only be due to doubting the reliability of the narrator, or accusing him of lying, poor memory, or senility. As for the content of the narration itself, nobody ever criticized it.[5]

Thus, even aḥād reports about miracles can be considered authentic and reliable. Despite this, the following accounts of specific miracles will be restricted to the most indisputable examples, those established by mutawātir transmission.

The Moon Splitting

Allah (Most High) says, “The Hour has come near, and the moon has split [in two]. And if they see any miracle, they turn away and say, ‘Passing magic.’ And they denied and followed their desiresand every matter will be settled” (Qur’an 54:1-3).

In an attempt to stump him, disbelievers from the Quraysh clan demanded an undeniable sign from the Prophet ﷺ, which led to God splitting the moon before their eyes; the Prophet ﷺ then said, “Behold.[6] The baffled crowd said that Muhammad must have cast a spell on them, but since he could not have cast a spell on everyone, they decided to ask the travelers from surrounding areas if they saw what they did. They sent riders racing out to question those beyond the city of Mecca, and they too confirmed having seen the exact same phenomenon.[7] Ultimately, the idolaters from Quraysh chose denial and, because nobody could deny seeing the moon split, they were forced to deny their own eyes.

Many Hadith luminaries have independently verified the mutawātir-grade reporting of this miraculous event by exploring its narrators from every layer of transmission. This was done by as-Subki in Sharḥ Mukhtasar Ibn al-Ḥājib, Ibn Ḥajar in al-Amāli, al-Qurṭubi in al-Mufhim, Ibn Kathīr in al-Bidāya wan-Nihāya, Imam al-Munāwi in Sharḥ Alfiyat al-‘Irāqi, and Ibn ‘Abdil-Barr, among others.[8]

Alongside showcasing many reports of the moon-splitting, Ibn Kathīr (d. 1373) brings a key aspect of this incident to our attention: “When the moon split, it never left the sky, rather it cleaved once the Prophet ﷺ gestured to it and became two pieces. It [only] proceeded to hover behind Mount Ḥirā’, setting the mountain between itself and its counterpart, as described by Ibn Mas‘ūd who reports witnessing this himself.”[9] Imam al-Khaṭṭābi (d. 988) similarly said, “The moon splitting was a grand sign to which no other prophet’s miracle could compare, for it was something that appeared in the distant sky that was contrary to every naturally existing phenomenon which this world is comprised of. It therefore falls beyond what anyone can hope to achieve through trickery, making its proof value even more evident.”[10]

Of the bizarre objections to this incident is the expectation that there should be scientifically detectable sequelae to a supernatural event, such as a gravitational disturbance or a geological trace on the moon’s surface. However, this is a fallacious objection. The splitting of the moon is a miraculous phenomenon, something that transcends the natural order. It is unclear why one should expect a supernatural event to have natural effects. Miracles are always meant for those who witness them directly. It is certainly within the power of an Omnipotent God to cleave asunder an astronomical object while suspending any of the expected impact.

Another objection is why people beyond the Prophet’s audience did not see the moon split. This is a very weak objection, founded on a false presumption about historical records and the global visibility of a miracle that was intended for the Prophet’s audience. Classical scholars like az-Zajjāj[11] have offered many possible answers to satisfy this inquiry. Among them is that people near Mecca did, in fact, confirm it and that other geographical locations were either experiencing daylight or were deeper into the night when hardly anyone would be awake and inspecting the sky. Another possibility is lack of visibility, or that a few other people saw it worldwide but assumed it to be a hallucination, or feared being accused of such, or shared it with others but were not taken seriously. People identify and report events based on context; a momentary decontextualized strange sight in the sky would be unlikely to be believed, reported, or documented, let alone transmitted.

The Night Journey

Allah (Most High) says, “Glory be to the One Who took His servant [Muhammad] by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque whose surroundings We have blessed, so that We may show him of Our signs. Indeed, He Alone is the All-Hearing, All-Seeing” (Qur’an 17:1).

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was taken from Mecca to Jerusalem and back in a single night; a journey that would ordinarily take a full month for any traveler in the 7th century. When the pagans caught scent of this story being shared the following morning, they became jubilant with hopes of finally proving Muhammad was a madman. They rushed to gather everyone around him, and to their delight, people literally fell off their seats in laughter upon hearing this ‘ludicrous tale’ from the Prophet ﷺ. Saddened by their mockery and disbelief, he ﷺ proceeded to the Ka‘ba where he praised God and asked Him to be reshown Jerusalem. To the dismay of everyone present, the Prophet ﷺ then began describing that blessed city in inexplicable detail, as if he was walking through it at that very moment. People nervously turned to the Meccan traders who—unlike Muhammad—were known to frequent Jerusalem, only to find them admitting his accuracy. Many still denied him and stormed out in frustration.

As history tends to repeat itself, the leading critics of Islam today—like the new atheists Richard Dawkins[12] and Sam Harris[13]—also love to taunt Muslims who accept that ‘Muhammad flew to heaven on a winged horse’ and in the process reject ‘scientific realism.’ However, this shows demonstrable ignorance about the Islamic faith, in addition to fallacious reasoning that actually undermines the scientific enterprise. With regards to their lack of familiarity with what Islamic sources actually say, it should be known that the creature called al-Burāq was emphatically not a winged horse and was never described as such by the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.[14] Moreover, the narrations explicitly mention that al-Burāq took the Prophet to Jerusalem; the mechanism by which God ascended the Prophet to Heaven is a different matter, as has been discussed in the Islamic tradition.[15]

As for the logical fallacy behind this argument, it is grounded only in what is known as argumentum ad incredulum—the argument from incredulity. They seek for people to ridicule a belief purely because it sounds unimaginable and fantastically foreign to the natural realm. Yet, it is, in fact, the logical consequence of belief in an omnipotent God that such miraculous matters lie entirely within His Capability. Moreover, the argument from incredulity would entail the demise of science for it is science that continually challenges our imagination of what is possible, unveiling the unfathomable world of quantum mechanics, bringing to light the possibility of multiple dimensions, and so on. To dismiss something out of hand simply on the basis of incredulity would spell the end of the scientific enterprise which challenges us to explore the frontiers beyond what is imaginable.

Dr. Hatem al-Haj, a contemporary Muslim scholar, explains that “not being described as a huge horse or something fancier stresses the point that it was not about this particular creature; it was about the will of God. Just as God said about the legions of angels He sends to support the believers, ‘And Allah made it not except as [a sign of] good tidings for you and to reassure your hearts thereby. And victory is not except from Allah, the Exalted in Might, the Wise’ (Qur’an 3:126). God created the laws of physics, and it is only rational that He is not bound by them. The inclusion of al-Burāq in the story made it more memorable. It was also meant to be familiar for the comfort and assurance of the rider, blessings and peace be upon him.”[16]

In addition to the Qur’an describing this night journey, al-Kattāni (d. 1927) collected the names of forty-five different Companions who reported in corroboration this astonishing event.[17] In one of these narrations, ‘Aisha رضي الله عنها reports that even some Muslims felt this miracle was too outrageous to accept, and reneged on their Islam that morning as a result. They rushed to her father, Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه, and said in protest, “Your companion is claiming he was taken to Jerusalem last night.” Abu Bakr asked, “Did he say that?” They said, “Yes.” He said, “If he did, in fact, say that, then he has been truthful.” They said, “You are willing to believe that he was carried to Jerusalem in a single night?” He said, “Yes, for I believe him about something that is more astonishing than that; I believe that he receives messages from heaven in the blink of an eye.” ‘Aisha رضي الله عنها says that it was from that day forward that Abu Bakr was crowned with the title aṣ-Ṣiddīq (the confirmer of truth).[18] Finally, the Qur’an is filled with parallels of this miracle, such as God splitting time for the man who slept a hundred years without aging while his donkey decomposed (Qur’an 2:259), and for the youth and their dog who slept for 309 years while generations were born and died outside their cave (Qur’an 18:9-25).

The Tree Weeping

‘Abdullāh b. ‘Umar رضي الله عنهما reports that the Prophet ﷺ used to deliver his sermons while standing beside the trunk of a date-palm tree. Upon the request of an Anṣāri woman, the Prophet ﷺ permitted that a small pulpit of three steps be constructed for him so that he would be more visible and project his voice farther into the growing audience. When the Prophet ﷺ ascended the new pulpit on the following Friday, loud sounds of weeping emerged from this tree-trunk. The Prophet ﷺ descended and proceeded over to it, and began rubbing his hand over it just as someone does to quiet a child. Anas b. Mālik رضي الله عنه adds, “And the mosque shook from its whimpers.” Sahl b. Sa‘d رضي الله عنه adds, “Many people started weeping from hearing its crying and moaning.” Ibn ‘Abbās رضي الله عنهما adds, “He ﷺ went and hugged it until it quieted, then said [to us], ‘Had I not embraced it, it would have continued like this until the Day of Resurrection.’” Jabir رضي الله عنه adds, “It was weeping over the Revelation that it would hear [recited] close by.”

These were only five Companions who reported this incident firsthand, though nearly twenty in total were present, according to the leading Hadith authorities. Ibn Ḥajar summarizes this investigation by saying, “The hadith(s) of the tree weeping and moon splitting have each been transmitted by an enormous number, one that offers sure knowledge for Hadith experts who examine their chains of transmission, not those untrained in that, and Allah knows best.”[19] Similarly, al-Munāwi reports this hadith on the tree whimpering through many authentic chains which collectively entail it being a mutawātir event, then states that it has been narrated from nearly twenty Companions.[20] Their corroboration led al-Bayhaqi (d. 1066) to say that tracing the narrations of this incident to verify whether it happened or not, after an entire generation conveyed it to an entire generation without any discrepancy in principle, is unnecessary.[21]

Imam ash-Shāfi‘i (d. 820) said, “God never granted any prophet what He granted Muhammad.” ‘Amr b. Sawād disagreed, saying, “Jesus was given the ability to revive the dead…” He replied, “Muhammad was granted the whimpering of the tree-trunk, till it could be heard, and this is greater than that.” Ibn Kathīr cites this exchange and then explains; “He said it was greater because a tree-trunk is not subject to becoming alive [as humans are], and yet it became sensitive and emotional when he left it for the pulpit. It whimpered and moaned like a pregnant camel does until Allah’s Messenger ﷺ stepped down and embraced it.”[22] This should never be understood as slighting the previous signs of God or His messengers, as that is tantamount to disbelief in Islam.

Increasing the Water Supply

Imam an-Nawawi (d. 1277) says, “These hadith(s) on water gushing from among his fingers and increasing for him, and the food supply increasing as well, are all clear miracles performed by Allah’s Messenger ﷺ on many occasions and in different conditions and have collectively reached mutawātir status.”[23] Hadith scholars have compiled volumes on just these incidents, of which are the following:

Ibn Mas‘ūd رضي الله عنه said, “We used to consider miracles as Allah’s Blessings, but you people consider them to be threatening. We were once with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ on a journey, and our water ran short. He said, “Bring me the remaining water.” The people presented him a vessel containing water, which he then placed his hands inside of and said, “Come get the blessed purification water, and all blessings are from Allah.” I saw the water flowing from between the fingers of Allah’s Messenger ﷺ. Indeed, we used to also hear the food glorifying Allah as it was being eaten [by him].”[24]

Jābir b. ‘Abdillāh رضي الله عنه narrated that the people became very thirsty on the Day of Ḥudaybiya. There was a small pot containing some water in front of the Prophet ﷺ, and he found the people rushing towards him as he finished performing his ritual ablution using it. He ﷺ asked them, “What has happened?” They said, “We neither have water for ablution nor drinking.” So he ﷺ placed his palm into that pot, and water began flowing upwards from between his fingers like springs. He said, “All those seeking ablution, come forward; the blessing is from Allah.” Jābir said, “We all drank and performed ablution [from that pot], and I did not care how much I drank because I knew it was blessed.” One narrator asked Jābir, “How many were you?” He said, “Even if we had been one hundred thousand, it would have been sufficient for us, but we were fifteen hundred.”[25] Anas b. Malik رضي الله عنه personally narrated several other nearly identical incidents[26] of water pouring forth from between the Prophet’s ﷺ blessed fingers.

These reports may indicate that water was emerging from the actual fingers of the Prophet ﷺ, or that it sprang through the gaps between them. The majority of Hadith interpreters—including al-Bughawi and as-Suyūṭi—chose the first view, and consequently deemed this feat particularly exceptional. Ibn ‘Abdil-Barr (d. 1071) explains, “What the Prophet ﷺ was granted in this inimitable miracle is clearer than the signs of the other prophets, and even the most notable of them, such as what Moses had been granted when he struck the stone with his staff, causing twelve springs to erupt from it. That is because some stones can be found with springs erupting from them, while water emerging from between the fingers of a human being has never been witnessed from anyone but our Prophet, salutations and peace be upon him.”[27] Of course, this does not disparage the profound sign of Prophet Moses, peace be upon him, just as stones erupting with 12 springs for the Israelites do not disparage God’s sign in erupting springs for mankind at the most unexpected places.

Increasing the Food Supply

Salama b. al-Akwa‘ رضي الله عنه narrates: We once set out on an expedition with Allah’s Messenger ﷺ and faced great hardship, and decided to slaughter some of our riding animals [for food]. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ ordered us to pool our food rations, so we spread a sheet and leather where everyone’s rations were collected. I stretched myself to assess how much that was, and it was [only] the area a small goat could sit on. We were fourteen hundred people; we ate to our satisfaction and then filled our bags with provisions. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ then said, “Is there any water for performing ablution?” A man came forward with a small container that held very little water, which the Prophet ﷺ emptied into a wider basin. From that amount all thoroughly performed their ablution. Eight individuals later came and said, “Is there any water left to perform ablution?” Allah’s Messenger ﷺ replied, “The ablution water has finished.”[28] As Imam an-Nawawi points out elsewhere, “When a Companion narrates something this incredible, and cites as evidence personally attending it himself along with the other Companions, who hear his narration and claim or hear about it, and do not denounce him, that further confirms it and necessitates [sure] knowledge about the truth of his words.”[29]

Jābir b. ‘Abdillāh رضي الله عنه reports that his father, ‘Abdullāh b. ‘Amr b. Ḥarām, died while leaving behind a sizable debt. He said, “So I sought the Prophet’s ﷺ help with his creditors so that they would decrease his debt. He ﷺ requested this [from them], but they refused, so the Prophet ﷺ said to me, ‘Go divide your dates according to their kinds; set the ‘Ajwa dates on one side and the ‘Idhq Ibn Zayd on another side, then notify me.’ I did so, then notified the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. He came, sat down, then said, ‘Measure for the people (creditors).’ I measured out their amounts until I had repaid them all that they were owed and my dates remained as if nothing had decreased from them.” When ‘Umar b. al-Khaṭṭāb رضي الله عنه was informed of this miraculous surplus, he said, “Once the Messenger of Allah ﷺ walked in [your garden], I knew it would be blessed.”[30]

‘Abdur-Rahmān b. Abi Bakr رضي الله عنهما reports: “We were 130 people with the Prophet ﷺ, and he said to us, ‘Does any one of you have food with them?’ One man had about a sâ‘[31] of food, and so that was mixed. Then a tall pagan man with disheveled hair came by driving some sheep. The Prophet said to him, ‘Selling or gifting?’ He said, ‘No, selling.’ He purchased a sheep from him and it was cooked, and the Prophet ﷺ ordered that the liver be roasted [as well]. By Allah, there was not a single person from the 130 except that the Prophet ﷺ cut for him a piece of its liver; those who were present were given, and those absent were stowed for. It was made into two dishes which they all ate from, and we had our fill, and [yet] the two dishes remained and we loaded them onto a camel.”[32]

Jābir b. ‘Abdillāh رضي الله عنه reports: We were digging on the Day of the Trench when a huge solid boulder hindered us. They came to the Prophet ﷺ and complained to him about this boulder, and he said, “I am coming.” He then stood, stones tied to his stomach, as we had not tasted food in three days, and took the sledgehammer and struck the boulder until it became a dust mound. I said, “O Messenger of Allah, would you permit me to [go to] my home?” I [went and] said to my wife, “I saw on the Prophet ﷺ something that one cannot bear (i.e., the stones he had fastened from hunger). Do you have anything?” She said, “I have some wheat and a small goat.” I slaughtered the small goat, ground the wheat, then placed the meat in the clay pot. Before I left, my wife said, “Do not humiliate me in front of the Prophet ﷺ and those with him.” I went to the Prophet ﷺ and whispered to him, “I have a little food, so you come, O Messenger of Allah, along with a man or two.” He said, “How much is it?” I informed him, so he said, “That is plenty and good!” Then, he ﷺ said, “O People of the Trench! [Stand, all of you], Jābir has prepared a banquet for you. Let us go.” The Muhājirīn and Anṣār stood, and the Prophet ﷺ said to me, “Tell her not to pull the pot, nor the bread from the oven, until I come.” When I entered upon my wife and informed her of the army behind me, she said, “What is with you?!” I said, “I did what you said!” She said, “Did he ask you?” I said, “Yes.” The dough was brought out to the Prophet ﷺ, and he spat in it and prayed for blessings, then reached for the pot and did the same. Then, he would tear the bread and place it inside the pot and serve ample bread and meat to each Companion. They were one thousand people and, by Allah, each of them ate until they stopped [of their own accord] and left, and our pot was still full and our bread still plenty. In the end, he ﷺ said to us, “Eat from this, or gift it, for the people [of Madinah] have been struck with hunger.”[33]

Anas b. Mālik رضي الله عنه reports: Abu Talḥa said to Um Sulaym, “I have heard the voice of Allah’s Messenger ﷺ reflecting weakness, and I could recognize hunger in it. Do you have anything?” She said, “Yes.” She pulled out several wheat loaves, wrapped them in her veil, then tucked them under my arm and wrapped me with the remaining part of the veil. She sent me to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and, upon reaching the mosque, I found people with him. I stood beside them, until the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to me, “Did Abu Talḥa send you?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “With food?” I said, “Yes.” The Messenger of Allah ﷺ then said to the people, “Let us go.” They took off, and I took off in front of them until I reached Abu Talḥa and informed him. Abu Talḥa said, “O Um Sulaym, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ has come, accompanied by the people, and we have nothing to feed them.” She said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” Upon arrival, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “O Um Sulaym, what do you have?” She presented that same bread, which the Prophet ﷺ took and shredded, and then Um Sulaym emptied her jar of shortening (butter) over it as a condiment. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ then supplicated over it for however long he wished before saying, “Permit for ten [to enter].” They were permitted entrance and ate to their fill before leaving. Then he said, “Permit for ten.” They too were permitted entrance and ate to their fill before leaving. Then he said, “Permit for ten.” Everyone ate in this fashion, until they all had their fill, and they were seventy or eighty men in total.[34]

Answered Prayers

Al-Qāḍi ‘Iyāḍ (d. 1149) says, “The Prophet’s ﷺ supplications being answered for those he prayed for and against is mutawātir in principle, known by necessity.”[35] He meant that God responded to the prayers of the Prophet ﷺ on so many occasions, and this was corroborated by testimony from so many directions, that doubting it would be utterly irrational. An outnumbered and unequipped Muslim army was granted victory by God at the Battle of Badr, milk was drawn from the udders of a non-lactating goat, and rain poured from a cloudless sky—all by virtue of the Prophet ﷺ raising his palms to the heavens, and those who spent the shortest time with him witnessed these events, and were driven to conviction by them.

Anas رضي الله عنه narrates that as the Prophet ﷺ was once delivering a Friday sermon, a man rose up and said, “O Messenger of Allah, the horses and sheep have perished; will you not invoke Allah to bless us with rain?” The Prophet ﷺ proceeded to lift his two hands and supplicated at a time when the sky was as clear as glass. Suddenly wind blew, driving together the clouds and causing heavy rain. We exited [the mosque] wading through the flowing water till we reached our homes. It kept raining until the following Friday, when the same man—or another man—stood up and said, “O Messenger of Allah ﷺ, the houses have [almost] collapsed; please ask Allah to withhold the rain!” On that, the Prophet ﷺ smiled and said, “O Allah, [let it rain] around us and not upon us.” I looked to the clouds and found them separating into a crown-like formation around Madinah.[36]

Abu Hurayra رضي الله عنه narrates that he once came to the Prophet ﷺ with tears in his eyes, which caused him to ask, “What makes you cry, O Abu Hurayrah?” He said, “I have not stopped inviting my mother to Islam but she continues to reject it. Today, I invited her again and heard from her painful words about you. Pray that Allah opens the heart of Abu Hurayra’s mother to Islam.” The Prophet ﷺ obliged and said, “O Allah, guide the mother of Abu Hurayra.” Abu Hurayra narrates: I left hopeful from the prayer of the Prophet ﷺ and returned home to find the door partially open and could hear water splashing inside. When my mother heard my footsteps, she said, “Stay where you are, O Abu Hurayra.” After putting on her clothes, she instructed me to enter. When I entered, she said, “I testify that none is worthy of worship but Allah, and I testify that Muhammad is His servant and messenger.” I returned to the Prophet ﷺ while weeping with joy, just as an hour earlier I had gone weeping in sadness, and said, “Great news, O Messenger of Allah! Allah has answered your prayer and guided the mother of Abu Hurayra to Islam.” He praised Allah and thanked Him, and then I said, “O Messenger of Allah, pray that Allah make my mother and I beloved to His believing slaves, and make them beloved to us.” He ﷺ obliged, and there has not been a believing slave who hears of me, or sees me, except that he loves me.[37]

‘Abdullāh b. ‘Abbās رضي الله عنهما narrates: I once placed water for the Prophet ﷺ upon him entering the lavatory, so that he could perform his ablution. He ﷺ asked, “Who placed this?” They informed him that I had placed it, so he said, “O Allah, grant him a deep understanding of the religion, and teach him to interpret [the Qur’an].[38] Shortly after the Prophet’s death, even the senior-most Companions recognized that this young man had developed a unique prowess when it came to understanding the Qur’an and elucidating its nuances. Fourteen centuries later, nearly every credible work on Qur’anic commentary from Sunni scholarship considers the explanations of Ibn ‘Abbās authoritative, is filled with examples of his exegetical forte, and testifies to him being Turjumān al-Qur’ān (the Master Interpreter of the Qur’an).

Anas b. Malik رضي الله عنه narrates: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ once visited us at home while nobody was there but myself, my mother (Um Sulaym), and her sister (Um Ḥarām). My mother said to him, “O Messenger of Allah, this is your little servant (Anas); invoke Allah’s blessings upon him.” He ﷺ supplicated that I be afforded every good, and this is what he said to conclude his supplication: “O Allah, increase him in his wealth and progeny, and bless him in what you grant him.” By Allah, my wealth has certainly become abundant, and my children and grandchildren [together] certainly surpass a hundred today.[39]

‘Abdullāh b. ‘Umar رضي الله عنهما narrates that the Prophet ﷺ said, “O Allah, honor Islam through the dearest of these two men to you: through Abu Jahl or through ‘Umar b. al-Khaṭṭāb.” Ibn ‘Umar said, “And the dearest of them turned out to be ‘Umar.”[40] Indeed, no person from the Prophet’s Companions honored Islam by advancing its public presence like ‘Umar رضي الله عنه, as Ibn Mas‘ūd رضي الله عنه used to say, “We remained powerful since the moment ‘Umar embraced Islam.”[41] Even after the Prophet’s death, it was the unique impact of ‘Umar in spreading the light of Islam that compelled the historian Michael Hart to showcase him in his book, The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History.[42]

Abu ‘Umra al-Anṣāri رضي الله عنه reports: During a battle alongside the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, the people once again suffered from great hunger, and ‘Umar رضي الله عنه said, “O Messenger of Allah, if you see [it proper], you can collect what remains of our rations. We can gather them, then you can call upon Allah to bless them, for Allah the Blessed and Exalted will certainly deliver us with your supplication.” Some people brought a single handful, and nobody had more than a sâ‘ of dates. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ gathered it all together, then stood and supplicated for as long as Allah willed. Then, he called the army to come forth with their containers and fill them, and there did not remain a single container in the whole army except that they filled it! The Messenger of Allah ﷺ smiled until his molars could be seen, and said, “I testify that none is worthy of worship except Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah. No slave meets Allah with these two [statements] except that the Fire is veiled from him on the Day of Resurrection.”[43]

Ibn Taymiya says, “It is known that when Allah accustoms someone to having their prayers answered, this only happens in conjunction with righteousness and religiosity. When someone claims prophethood, they are either the most pious person—in the case they are truthful—or the most wicked person—in the case they are lying. But when Allah accustoms them to answering their supplications, then [it must be that] they are not wicked but instead pious. Even if the claim of prophethood was only accompanied by righteousness [from the claimant, without miracles], it would necessitate him being a genuine prophet, for such a person cannot be someone who deliberately lies, nor can he be some deluded person who assumes that he is a prophet.”[44]

Final Thoughts

The physical miracles of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ are therefore not ‘the failing weak leg that the entire case for Islam hobbles on’ as some skeptics claim. They are neither the only proof of his prophethood nor are they unfounded. Due to their mutawātir transmission, the historical proofs backing them are staggering, and confer such certainty that their denial would necessitate rejecting the miracles of all other prophets, and rejecting every last factoid of acquired knowledge. As for the presumed ‘logical’ and ‘scientific’ contentions against miracles, they only stem from a faulty theology, such as the indefensible claims of God not existing or not being anything but nature itself. But when such theologies are the ethos of today’s dominant culture, and when humans have such a propensity for groupthink, those positions being intellectually tenable is irrelevant. This is why the God of the Qur’an evokes objectivity in humanity, liberating them from the indoctrination which resists the glaring proofs of prophethood; “Say O Prophet, ‘I advise you with just one thing: that you take a stand for ˹the sake of˺ God—individually or in pairs—then reflect. Your companion (Muhammad) surely has no traces of insanity; he is but a warner to you before the coming of a severe punishment’” (Qur’an 34:46). In this verse is a call to courage, as honesty and the willingness to detach oneself from the herd can sometimes come with a significant cost.

[1]  Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Miftāh Dār as-Sa‘āda, Maktabat al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, Beirut, 2/13.

[2] In fact, to this day, when asked what proof it would take for them to reconsider their position and believe in the Divine, some prominent atheist debaters have candidly admitted that there is absolutely nothing that would change their mind. Even a miracle of the most spectacular kind would be dismissed as a ‘hallucination’ (See for instance John Lennox vs Peter Atkins – Can science explain everything? Southampton University Christian Union, January 31st, 2019). Of course, this is precisely what the Qur’an indicates, that even the greatest of miracles will not convince one who obstinately chooses to ignore every conceivable form of proof.

[3] Baruch Spinoza, A Theological Political Treatise, Dover Philosophical Classics (2004), Chapter VI, p. 83.

[4] Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Ighāthat al-Lahfān, Maktabat al-Ma‘ārif, Riyadh (1975), 2/347.

[5] Ibn Ḥajar al-‘Asqalāni, Fatḥ al-Bāri, Dār al-Ma‘rifah, Beirut (1960), 6/582.

[6] Collected by al-Bukhāri (3636-3638, 4864-4868), Muslim (2800, 6724-6730), and at-Tirmidhi (3285-3289) with authentic chains.

[7] Collected by Abu Dāwūd (2447), al-Bayhaqi in Dalā’il al-Nubuwwa (2/266), and Ibn Jarīr aṭ-Ṭabari in his Tafsīr (22/567), among others. The first portion was also collected by at-Tirmidhi (3289).

[8] Muhammad al-Kattāni, Naẓm al-Mutanāthir min al-Ḥadith al-Mutawātir, Dār al-Kutub al-ٍSalafiyya, no. 264.

[9] Ismā‘īl b. Kathīr, al-Bidāya wan-Nihāya, Dār Hujar, Egypt (2003), 4/303.

[10] Ibn Ḥajar al-‘Asqalāni, Fatḥ al-Bāri, 7/185.

[11] Ibid.

[12] “Ridiculing belief in a winged horse is not “bigotry,” not “Islamophobia,” not “racism.” It’s sober, decent, gentle, scientific realism.” Richard Dawkins, Twitter @RichardDawkins, 2:20 AM – 27 Dec 2015.

[13] Sam Harris writes, “Science, in the broadest sense, includes all reasonable claims to knowledge about ourselves and the world. If there were good reasons to believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, or that Muhammad flew to heaven on a winged horse, these beliefs would necessarily form part of our rational description of the universe.” Science must destroy religion, January 2, 2006. https://samharris.org/science-must-destroy-religion/ In this essay, of course, Sam Harris merely begs the question, dismissing out of hand the notion that there could be any good reasons to entertain the existence of miracles in the world, despite the overwhelming evidence of testimony to the contrary. But dismissing the evidence of testimony entails a death sentence for science, since science is grounded upon the faithful testimony of scientists regarding their accumulated experimental data, the vast majority of which could not be feasibly reproduced (See for instance Baker, M. (2016) 1,500 scientists lift the lid on reproducibility. Nature 533, 452–454).

[14] Al-Burāq is a creature that is not from this world and has been described as a white beast that was smaller than a mule but larger than a donkey, whose stride was as far as the eye could see. When the Prophet mounted al-Burāq, the creature shied, upon which the Angel Jibrīl said to al-Burāq, “Do you behave this way with Muhammad? Verily, no one has ridden you who is more noble than him!” (Tirmidhi). This may suggest that al-Burāq had been ridden by other riders from the homeworld of this creature, perhaps even indicating extra-terrestrial lifeforms known only to God; see for instance Qadhi, Yasir. Seerah of Prophet Muhammed 21, lecture delivered 25th January, 2012.

[15] Ibn Ḥajar notes in his commentary on the hadith that other narrations specifically mention that after the Prophet Muhammad arrived in Jerusalem, he left al-Burāq and ascended to Heaven through the mi‘rāj, a portal of ascensionconcerning which the Prophet ﷺ stated, I have never seen anything more wondrous than it.” Az-Zarqāni and Mulla Ali al-Qāri point out that the abridged version of the hadith simply mentions the ascension after mentioning the Prophet riding al-Burāq, without mentioning that he dismounted al-Burāq in Jerusalem, which is specified in other hadith(s).

[16] Adapted, with permission, from https://www.facebook.com/288104347940200/posts/1187891574628135/

[17] Muhammad al-Kattāni, Naẓm al-Mutanāthirno. 258.

[18] Collected by at-Tirmidhi (3667), Ibn Ḥibbān (6863), al-Bayhaqi in Dalā’il an-Nubuwwa (680), and authenticated by al-Albāni in Ṣaḥiḥ as-Sīra (p. 120).

[19] Ibn Ḥajar al-‘Asqalāni, Fatḥ al-Bāri, 6/592.

[20] See: Naẓm al-Mutanāthirno. 263.

[21] Ibn Ḥajar al-‘Asqalāni, Fatḥ al-Bāri, 6/603.

[22] Ismā‘īl b. Kathīr, al-Bidāya wan-Nihāya, 9/353.

[23] Yayā an-Nawawi, Sharḥ Ṣaḥiḥ Muslim, Dar Ihyā’ at-Turāth al-‘Arabi, Beirut (1971), 15/38.

[24] Collected by al-Bukhāri (3579) and at-Tirmidhi (3633).

[25] Collected by al-Bukhāri (3576, 4152, 5639).

[26] Collected by al-Bukhāri (3572, 3573, 3574).

[27] Yūsuf b. ‘Abdil-Barr, at-Tamhīd, Awqāf Ministry, Morocco (1967), 1/220.

[28] Collected by Muslim (1729).

[29]  Yaḥyā an-Nawawi, Sharḥ Ṣaḥiḥ Muslim, 12/35.

[30] Collected by al-Bukhāri (2709, 2127).

[31] A sâ‘ is a container which measures volume, comparable to a large salad bowl, and is equivalent to 3 liters.

[32] Collected by Muslim (2056).

[33] Collected by al-Bukhāri (4101, 4102) and Muslim (2039).

[34] Collected by al-Bukhāri (3578) and Muslim (2040).

[35] ‘Iyad b. Musā, ash-Shifā bi Ḥuqūq al-Musṭafā, Dār al-Fikr, Beirut (2002), p. 321.

[36] Collected by al-Bukhāri (1013, 3582).

[37] Collected by Muslim (2491).

[38] Collected by al-Bukhāri (143), Muslim (2477), and Ahmad (2397, 2879).

[39] Collected by al-Bukhāri (6334) and Muslim (2481).

[40] Collected by Ahmad (311, 5696) and authenticated by Ahmad Shākir and at-Tirmidhi (3681) who authenticated it, as did al-Albāni in Ṣaḥīḥ at-Tirmidhi.

[41] Collected by al-Bukhāri (3684).

[42] Hart, Michael H. The 100: A ranking of the most influential persons in history. 1978, Citadel Press.

[43] Collected by Muslim (27) and Ahmad (3/417).

[44] Aḥmad b. Taymiya, al-Jawāb aṣ-Ṣaḥīḥli-man Baddala Dīn al-Masīḥ, Dār al-‘Aima, KSA (1999), 6/297.

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