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The Miracles of the Quran: Fact or Metaphor? Uswaa Conference: 2013 By: Bilal Ansari, Chaplain Williams College.

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Presentation on theme: "The Miracles of the Quran: Fact or Metaphor? Uswaa Conference: 2013 By: Bilal Ansari, Chaplain Williams College."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Miracles of the Quran: Fact or Metaphor? Uswaa Conference: 2013 By: Bilal Ansari, Chaplain Williams College

2 What are miracles of the Qur'an? Miracle (mu'jiza) is an event contravening natural laws that appears at the hands of someone who claims to be a prophet and is challenged by those who deny this, such that the deniers are unable to perform the like of it. Other supernatural events but not miracles: karamat, ma'una, istidraj, ihana and irhas. As opposed to: sihr and sha'badha.

3 Why belief in miracles matters? Three reasons why miracles matters: 1. Validation of prophecy 2. Authority of revelation 3. Security of belief Two opinions of importance: 1. The detached miracle appeals to reason 2. Revelation as a whole together with the personality of the Prophet-produces an irresistable impression resulting in belief. (uswaa) Note: al Baqillani (d.403/1013); al Ghazali (d. 508/1111)

4 Who doubts miracles in the Qur'an? Did Imam WD Mohammed doubt the validity of miracles? In his commentary of Chapter 98:, The Clear Proof 98:1: Those who reject (Truth), among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists, were not going to depart (from their ways) until there should come to them Clear Proof,- IWDM gives a Ghazalian interpretation in the following: "So what is the proof? Prophet Muhammad is the proof. Prophet Muhammad is the proof How come? p. 422

5 IWDM Commentary Answering his own question: How come? He explains that it is not by instructions by instructors- "he was without education." He (IWDM) socratically asks again: "So what is it saying? That it is not by man applying his energies to discover truth that he gets the truth; it is by God helping him that he gets truth. If he is not inspired by God, he does not get truth." He concludes his point with: "A Messenger of God..., now he is a miracle, he is the proof, he is the evidence..." p. 422

6 IWDM Commentary In IWDM commentary on the Qur'anic chapter 105: The Elephant Explains his belief in Irhas a type of miracle in the Qur'an. He also shows his methodology of using metaphor in a relevant way without negating belief in miracles but affirming them. "God rescued that place because something was there that He had an interest in though that He had a purpose for had been established__that even though paganism was reigning supreme God protected it." p.439

7 When metaphors mean everything? In IWDM commentary on chapter 3, al Imran, verse 7, these people are explained: 3:7 He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: "We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord:" and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding.

8 IWDM Commentary On the meaning of those firmly grounded in knowledge in this verse: "What is this telling us? It is telling us, drawing our attention to the tendency in the studious, ambitious student and some people caught up in metaphysics, esotericism, secret doctrine, the tendency in them is to grab concepts and run with them thinking they got it all. That is what this is addressing." IWDM then uses a metaphor about them. "Those who have depth of knowledge, deep knowledge, those who have roots of knowledge, those who have epistemological science..." IWDM uses no metaphor but says,'God rewards you long search and grants a blessing.'

9 Case Study: Fact or Metaphor? 5:110 Then will Allah say: "O Jesus the son of Mary! Recount My favour to thee and to thy mother. Behold! I strengthened thee with the holy spirit, so that thou didst speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. Behold! I taught thee the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel and behold! thou makest out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My power, and thou breathest into it and it becometh a bird by My power, and thou healest those born blind, and the lepers, by My power. And behold! thou bringest forth the dead by My power. And behold! I did restrain the Children of Israel from (violence to) thee when thou didst show them the clear Signs, and the unbelievers among them said: 'This is nothing but evident magic.'

10 Miracles are in Fact acts of God 29:50 And yet they say, “Why have no miraculous signs ever been bestowed upon him from on high by his Sustainer?” Say: “ miracles are in the power of God alone; and as for me - I am but a plain warner.” To disbelieve in the miracles in the Qur'an is to disbelieve in God. Foundational to our belief in God is: 51:58 for, verily, God Himself is the Provider of all sustenance, the Lord of all power, the Eternal! That is natural power and supernatural power. Al Qayyum

11 IWDM Commentary IWDM commentary: " A Messenger of God..., now he is a miracle, he is a proof, he is the evidence, human messenger common mortal." p. 422 In the Ghazalian understanding IWDM believed in miracles but not as a primary proof in the argument for belief in God and His Final Messenger. Miracles are a secondary argument to that of Muhammad's (uswaa) his personality and doctrine. His uswaa is its own proof for both al Ghazali and IWDM.

12 What is the Uswaa methodology? In respect to miracles Muslims are not looking for Muhammad to compare favorably to Jesus. Rather, 'deep knowledge' respecting Muhammad's prophetic uswaa is attained if one knows the real nature of prophecy, studies the Qur'an and Traditions, and test and verifies the truth of what Muhammad states regarding worship and its influence in purifying hearts. When this is done thousands of times, one has a certainty of which there is no doubt. One should follow this method, rather than attempt to determine "whether a rod has been changed into a serpent, or whether the moon has been split in two." Book 20, Ihya Ulum al-Din, translated by L. Zolondek, Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1963, p. 9


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