Fiqh al-Akbar Commentary (al-Maghnisawi)

11. Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar_miracles

Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar_

Miracles – pp.161-166[1]

Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar: “wa ‘l-ayat thabita…qabl an yarzuqa.

Notes:

  • Prophets are endowed with mu`jizat or “signs” (ayat) which is something that contravenes what is customarily known in experience (khariq li ’l-`adat).[2]
  • Miracles are called ‘signs’ because they are feats or occurrences that seek to establish the veracity of the Prophethood of some Prophet as well as their truthfulness of bringing a revelation from God.[3]
  • Miracles are thus supernatural events (non-natural, e.g. fire refusing to burn, reviving the dead, etc.) caused by Allah through a human agent.
  • Thus, some event, E, is described as a miracle/mu`jiza at the hand of a Prophet, iff:

(i) it contravenes what is customarily experienced,

(ii) it violates law(s) of nature,*

(iii) it is a supernatural occurrence,

(iv) it cannot be replicated by human productivity and

(v) it is linked to some local or global challenge.

* although not necessary.

  • From (i)-(v) we get E being of divine origin and agency.

**

  • Allah’s awliya’ (sing. = wali meaning ‘close friend’, one who has attained proximity to Allah through thorough devotion) also have divine gifts, favours or feats granted to them known as “karamat” (divine powers/feats). These are granted as a token of honouring and strengthening them.[4]
  • Thus, some event, E*, is described as a karama/miraculous feat at the hand of a Wali, iff:

(i) it contravenes what is customarily experienced,

(ii) it violates law(s) of nature,

(iii) it is a supernatural occurrence,

(iv) it cannot be replicated by human productivity.

  • Thus, E* is different from E only with the absence of a challenge [= (v) above]. The karama is seen then as a supplementary supernatural proof of the truth of the Prophet the Wali is a follower of.[5] Hence, there is no substantial/qualitative difference between both.

**

  • Allah’s enemies are also conferred supernatural powers to manipulate reality without indicating an exalted religious status. This is known as istidraj (‘deception’).[6]
  • Istidraj is Allah’s fulfilling the wishes or needs of Allah’s enemies whose plan is to deny Allah, rebel against Him and attempt to thwart His providential plan by granting them supernatural powers (cf. Iblis, the Dajjal, etc.) as a way of diminishing their proximity to Him as well as humiliation although the one receiving such powers thinks that he is being granted favours (= a form of divine machinations).[7]

 


[1] See al-Maghnisawi, Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.167. See also Fiqh al-Akbar I, art. 8; Fiqh al-Akbar II, art. 16 in Wensinck’s The Muslim Creed, pp.193 and 224-229. Cf. also the atomistic kalam theory of miracles expounded by al-Baqillani, al-Baghdadi and later by al-Iji; see Usul al-Din, p.169; al-Mawaqif and others works. For a discussion on saintly miracles, see Goldziher, Muhammedanische Studien (trans. Stern and Barber), pp.335-342.

[2] See al-Maghnisawi, Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.161 and “Kharqu ’l-`Adah” in T. P. Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, p.269.

[3] See al-Maghnisawi, Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.161.

[4] See al-Maghnisawi, Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.162 and `Ali al-Qari, Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, p.237.

[5] `Ali al-Qari, Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, p.237.

[6] `Ali al-Qari, Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, p.240.

[7] `Ali al-Qari, Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, p.240.

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