Introduction: Examples showing that the miracles of prophets can be performed in a similar way by abiding by the laws of nature.
INTRODUCTION: The All-Wise Qur’an sends the Prophets to man’s communities as leaders and vanguards of spiritual and moral progress. Similarly it gives all of them a number of wonders and makes them the masters and foremen in regard to mankind’s material progress, and commands men to follow them absolutely. Thus, just as by speaking of the spiritual and moral perfections of the Prophets, it is encouraging people to benefit from them, so too in discussing their miracles it is inferring encouragement to achieve similar things and to imitate them. It may even be said that like spiritual and moral attainments, material attainments and wonders were first given to mankind as a gift by the hand of miracles. Thus, what first gave man the gift of the ship, which was a miracle of Noah (Peace be upon him), and the clock, a miracle of Joseph (Peace be upon him), was the hand of miracles. It is a subtle indication to this truth that most craftsmen have a Prophet as the patron of their craft. For example, seamen have Noah (PUH), watchmakers have Joseph (PUH), tailors have Idris (PUH), and so on.
Indeed, investigative scholars and the science of rhetoric are in agreement that all the Qur’an’s verses contain numerous aspects of guidance and instruction. The verses of the miracles of the Prophets, which are the most brilliant of the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition’s verses, are not therefore mere historical stories, but comprise numerous meanings and sorts of guidance. Yes, in mentioning the Prophets’ miracles, it is tracing the final limit of man’s science and industry. It is pointing the finger at his furthest aims. It is specifying his final goals. And by striking the hand of encouragement on man’s back, it is urging him forward towards them. Just as the past is the store of the seeds of the future and mirror to its attributes, so the future is the arable field of the past and the mirror to its states. Now we shall explain only a few samples of that most extensive source as examples:
For example, the verse:
To Solomon [We made] the wind [obedient]: its early morning [stride] was a month’s [journey], and its evening [stride] was a month’s [journey], (Qur’an, 34:12.)
which describes one of Solomon’s (Peace be upon him) miracles, the subjugating of the air. This says: “Solomon traversed the distance of two months in one day by flying through the air.” It is thus suggesting that the road is open for man to cover such a distance in the air. In which case, O man! since the road is open to you, reach this level! And in meaning Almighty Allah is saying through the tongue of this verse: “O man! I mounted one of my servants on the air because he gave up the desires of his soul. If you too give up laziness, which comes from the soul, and benefit thoroughly from certain of my laws in the cosmos, you too may mount it...”
And the verse,
So We said: “Strike the rock with your staff.” Then gushed forth therefrom twelve springs, (Qur’an, 2:60.)
which explains a miracle of Moses (Peace be upon him). This verse indicates that the treasuries of mercy concealed under the earth may be profited from with simple tools. Even from places hard as rock, the water of life may be attracted with a staff. Thus, through this meaning the verse says to man: “You may find the subtlest effulgence of mercy, the water of life, with a staff. In which case, come on, work and find it!” And in meaning Almighty Allah says through the verse’s allusive tongue: “O man! I put in the hand of one of my servants who trusted in Me a staff that draws the water of life from wherever he wishes, if you too rely on the laws of My mercy, you may obtain an implement resembling it or close to it. So, come on and do so!” And one of the most important contributions to man’s progress was the creation of an implement that causes water to flow forth from most of the places it is struck. This verse traces farther goals and limits, and ends beyond that, just as the previous verse specified final points far ahead of today’s aeroplanes.
And for example,
I shall heal the blind and the leper and I shall quicken the dead, by Allah’s leave, (Qur’an, 3:49.)
which concerns a miracle of Jesus (Peace be upon him). Just as the Qur’an explicitly urges man to follow Jesus’ (Peace be upon him) high morals, so it allusively encourages him towards the elevated art and dominical medicine of which Jesus was the master. The verse indicates the following: “Remedies may be found for even the most chronic ills. In which case, O man!, O calamity-afflicted sons of Adam! Don’t despair! Whatever the ill, its cure is possible. Search for it and you will find it. It is even possible to give a temporary tinge of life to death.” And in meaning Almighty Allah is saying through the figurative tongue of this verse: “O man! I gave two gifts to one of My servants who abandoned the world for Me. One was the remedy for spiritual ills, and the other the cure for physical sicknesses. Moribund hearts were raised to life through the light of guidance, and sick people who were as though dead found health through his breath and cure. You too may find the cure for every ill in the pharmacy of My wisdom. Work to find it! If you seek, you will certainly find.” Thus, this verse traces the limit which is far ahead of man’s present progress in medicine. It hints at it, and urges him towards it.
And for example, the verses:
And We made the iron soft for him (Qur’an, 34:10.) * And We gave him wisdom and sound judgement in speech and decision, (Qur’an, 38:20.)
which are about David (Peace be upon him), and,
And We made a font of molten copper to flow for him, (Qur’an, 34:12.)
which is about Solomon (Peace be upon him). These indicate that the softening of iron is one of the greatest of Divine bounties, through which is shown the virtue of one of the greatest Prophets. Indeed, softening iron, that is, making it soft like dough, and smelting copper, and finding minerals and extracting them is the origin and source, and basis and foundation of all man’s material industries. Thus, this verse indicates: “A great bounty bestowed on a great Messenger and vicegerent of the earth in the form of a great miracle was the softening of iron. Making it as soft as dough and fine as a thread and smelting copper are the basis of most of the general industries.” Since wisdom was given to the tongue of one who was both Messenger and vicegerent, that is, to one who was both a spiritual and material leader, and craft and industry were given to his hand. It is on the one hand explicitly urging men towards the wisdom on his tongue, and on the other is implicitly encouraging them towards the craft in his hand. Through the allusive tongue of this verse, in meaning Almighty Allah is saying:
“O Sons of Adam! I gave such wisdom to the tongue and heart of one of My servants who complied with my commands and obligations that he rendered judgement on everything with the finest distinction and made manifest the truth. And I gave him such art that he could mould iron into any shape in his hand as though it were wax. It was a significant means of power for his vicegerency and rule. Since it was possible, it was given. It is both important, and you are in much need of it in your social life. If you too obey my commands in creation, that wisdom and craft will be given you too. In the course of time you will reach it and draw close to it.” Thus, it is through the softening of iron and smelting of copper that man achieves his greatest progress in industry, and his greatest power and strength. In the verse, the word qitr is used to describe copper. These verses direct mankind’s sight towards this truth, and they sternly warned the people of former times who did not appreciate their importance, as well as the lazy in modern times...
And, for example, the verse,
Said one who had knowledge of the Book: “I will bring it to you in the twinkling of an eye!” Then when [Solomon] saw it placed firmly before him, (Qur’an, 27:40.)
which points to the following wondrous event: in order to attract Bilkis’ throne to him, one of Solomon’s (Peace be upon him) ministers who was versed in the science of attraction said: “I’ll have the throne here before you before you can blink your eyes.” The verse suggests then that it is possible to bring either things themselves or their images to one instantaneously from far away, and it is a fact that Almighty Allah bestowed this ability on Solomon (PBH) in the form of a miracle, to establish his innocence and justice. For being honoured with rulership as well as his Messengership, Solomon could in this way himself be informed of events in all the regions of his extensive dominions, and see the condition of his subjects and hear of their ills. That means, if man relies on Almighty Allah, and asks it of Him with the tongue of his innate capacity, like Solomon (PBH) asked for it with the tongue of his chastity, and if he conforms to His laws of wisdom in the universe, the world may become like a town for him. That is to say, while Bilkis’ throne was in Yemen, it was instantaneously present in Damascus, or its image was, and it was seen. The images of the men around the throne were also certainly conveyed there, and their voices heard. This therefore indicates splendidly the attraction of images and sounds from long distances, and in effect says:
“O Kings and Rulers! If you wish to act with pure justice, endeavour to see and understand the face of the earth in all its details, like Solomon. For, by rising to the level of being informed whenever he wishes about every part of his realm, a just ruler and king who cherishes his subjects will avoid inequity, and may rule with complete justice.” And Almighty Allah in effect says through the allusive tongue of the verse:
“O Sons of Adam! I bestowed on one of My servants a broad realm, and so that he could act completely justly within it, I allowed him to know personally of all situations and events that occurred there. And since I have given all men the innate capacity to be vicegerent of the earth, I gave them also the ability to see, consider, and understand the whole face of the earth in accordance with that ability, for My wisdom requires this. If individuals do not reach that point, men may reach it as a race. And if they do not reach it physically, the saints may reach it in meaning. In which case, you may take advantage of this great bounty. Come on, let’s see you do it! On condition you do not neglect your duties of worship, strive to transform the face of the earth into a garden every part of which you may see, and the sounds of every corner of which you may hear. Heed the decree of the Most Merciful:
It is He Who has made the earth manageable for you, so traverse its tracts and enjoy of the sustenance which He furnishes, but unto Him is the Resurrection. (Qur’an, 67:15.)
The above-mentioned verse thus alludes to the farthest limit far in the future in the attraction of images and sounds, one of man’s finest arts, and hints encouragement.
And, for example, the verses,
And also others bound together in fetters (Qur’an, 38:38.) * And of the evil ones were some who dived for him, and did other work besides, (Qur’an, 21:82.)
state that Solomon (PBH) subjugated jinns, satans, and evil spirits, and preventing their evil, employed them usefully, and they say: the jinn, the most important intelligent inhabitants of the earth after man, may serve him.
Contact may be made with them. Devils too may be compelled to give up their enmity and whether they want to or not made to serve. Thus, Almighty Allah subjected them to one of His servants who was obedient to His commands. Through the allusive tongue of the verses, in meaning Almighty Allah is saying: “O man! I made jinns, devils, and their evil obey one of My servants who obeyed Me. If you too are subjugated to my commands, numerous beings, and even jinns and devils, may be subjugated to you.”
These verses trace the final limits of the calling-up of spirits, and conversing with jinns, like spiritualism, which have been filtered from a blend of art and science and have arisen from man’s extraordinary physical and spiritual sensitivity. The verses specify the most beneficial form of these and open up the way to them. But it is not to be subjugated to jinns, devils, and evil spirits, who sometimes call themselves the spirits of the dead, and to become their playthings, and a laughing-stock, like nowadays, but to subjugate them through the talisman of the Qur’an, and be delivered from their evil.
Other verses about Solomon (Peace be upon him) which allude to spirits appearing in physical form, and his calling up demons and subjugating them, and other verses besides, such as,
Then We sent to her Our angel, and he appeared before her as man in all respects, (Qur’an, 19:17.)
indicate both the calling-up of spirits, and spirit beings assuming physical form. But the calling-up of good spirits alluded to here is not in the manner of ‘the cultured,’ to be disrespectful to spirits in that utterly serious world and attract them to their own places and games, but –like one group of the saints like Muhyiddin al-Arabi, who, most seriously and for a serious purpose, met with spirits when they wanted– to be attracted to them and to form a relation with them, and by going to their place and drawing close to their world to an extent, to benefit from their spirituality. It is this that the verses allude to, and within the allusion, make it understood that they are encouraging man to achieve it. They trace the furthest limit of occult arts and sciences of this sort, and point out their best form.
And, for example, the verses about David’s (Peace be upon him) miracles:
It was We that made the hills declare in unison with him Our praises, at eventide, and at break of day. (Qur’an, 38:18.) * O you mountains! Sing you back the Praises of Allah with him! and you birds! And We made the iron soft for him. (Qur’an, 34:10.)* We have been taught the speech of birds. (Qur’an, 27:16.)
These indicate that Almighty Allah gave to David’s (PBH) praises and glorifications such strength and a sound so loud and agreeable they brought the mountains to ecstasy, which, each like a huge gramophone or a man, formed a circle on the horizon around the chief reciter, reciting also the glorifications. Is this possible, I wonder? Is it the truth?
Yes, it is the truth. Every mountain with caves can speak with man in man’s language like a parrot. By means of an echo. You say: “All praise be to Allah!” to the mountain before you, and the mountain will declare: “All praise be to Allah!”, exactly the same as you. Since Almighty Allah has given this ability to mountains, it can surely be made to develop, and that seed made to sprout.
Thus, since He gave to David (PBH) the vicegerency of the earth together with his Messengership in exceptional form, He so made the seed of that ability unfold – as a miracle – worthy of his extensive Messengership and magnificent rule that huge mountains followed him like soldiers, students, or followers, and at his command and in his tongue declared the praises and glorifications of the All-Glorious Creator. Whatever David (PBH) said, they repeated. Now at the present time, because the means of communication have multiplied and developed, a powerful commander could compel his large army dispersed in the mountains to declare: “Allah is Most Great!”, and could make the mountains speak, bringing them to tumult. Since a commander of men can make the mountains speak metaphorically in the tongue of those present in the mountains, surely a magnificent commander of Almighty Allah could make them speak actually, and recite His praises. In addition, I have explained in previous Words that all mountains have a collective personality or corporate identity, and offer glorifications and worship in a way suitable to each. That is to say, just as through the mystery of echo all mountains recite glorifications in the tongue of men, so too they glorify the All-Glorious Creator in their own particular tongues.
Also, the verses,
And the birds gathered [in assemblies]; (Qur’an, 38:19.) * We have been taught the speech of birds, (Qur’an, 27:16.)
show that Almighty Allah bestowed on David and Solomon (Peace be upon them) knowledge of the tongues of the bird species, and of the tongues of their innate capacities; that is, of the things for which they would be useful. Yes, since it is the truth and since the face of the earth is a laden table set up by the Most Merciful in honour of man, most of the other animals and birds who benefit from it may be subjugated to man and serve him. Man employs some of the smallest of them, the honey-bee and silk-worm, and through Divine inspiration has opened up a beneficial highway, and by employing pigeons in various tasks and teaching birds like parrots to speak, he has added fine things to the virtues of human civilization. In the same way, if the tongues of innate capacities of other birds and animals were known, there are many species which could be employed in important tasks like their brothers, the domesticated animals. For example, against plagues of locusts: if the tongue of starlings was known, who eat and destroy locusts, and their movements could be regulated, what valuable services they could be employed in free of charge.
Thus, this verse traces the furthest limit in subjugating birds and benefiting from them in this way, and in making lifeless beings speak like a telephone or gramophone, and in profiting from birds. It specifies the most distant goal. It points a finger at it in majestic fashion and in a way urges man towards it. Through the allusive tongue of these verses, Almighty Allah is therefore saying in meaning:
“O men! In order to honour his prophethood and the complete justice of his rule, I subjugated to one of your fellow men who was totally submissive to me, the huge creatures in my dominions, causing them to speak, and I made most of my troops and animals his servants. In which case, since I have committed to each of you the Supreme Trust, from which the sky, earth, and mountains shrank, and I have given you the ability to be My vicegerent on earth, you should yield to Me, the One in Whose hand are the reins of these creatures, so that the creatures in My dominions may yield also to you, and you may obtain in the name of the One Who holds them, their reins, and rise to a position worthy of your abilities.
Since the truth is this, rather than listening to the gramophone, playing with pigeons and making them deliver letters, and teaching parrots to speak, you should strive to attain to the most agreeable and elevated amusement. Then the mountains may be huge gramophones for you like David’s, and the harmonious recitations of Divine praises may reach your ears from the trees and plants at the touching of the breeze, and the mountains may show their true nature as wondrous creatures who recite the Divine praises in thousands of tongues, and most birds may be clothed in the form of intimate friends or obedient servants, like Solomon’s Hoopoe. Then they may entertain you and drive you eagerly towards the perfections and attainments of which you are capable, and not make you fall from the position required by being a human being, like other amusements.”
And, for example, in the verse,
We said: “O fire! Be cool and [a means of] safety for Abraham, ( Qur’an, 21:69.)
which is about one of Abraham’s (Peace be upon him) miracles, are three subtle indications:
The First: Like other natural causes, fire does not act according to its own wishes and nature, blindly, but performs a duty under a command. Thus it did not burn Abraham (Peace be upon him), because it was commanded not to burn him.
The Second: There is a degree of heat which burns through its coldness. That is, it has an effect like burning. Through the word, Be cool!, (1) Almighty Allah is saying to the coldness: “Do not burn him with your coldness, the same as your heat!” That is to say, through its coldness, fire at that degree has an effect like burning. It is both fire and cold. In fact, in natural science there is a degree of fire, the state of ‘white heat,’ the heat of which does not spread to its surroundings. It attracts the heat around it to itself and with this cold, freezes surrounding liquids such as water, in effect burning them through its cold. Thus, intense cold is a category of fire which burns through its cold. In which case, this intense cold is surely a part of Hell, for it contains all the degrees and sorts of fire.
The Third: Just as there is an immaterial substance like belief which counters the effects of Hell-fire and affords protection against it, the armour of Islam, so there is a physical substance which protects against the effects of worldly fire. For as is required by the Name of All-Wise, this world is the abode of wisdom, and Almighty Allah carries out His works under the veil of causes. Therefore, the fire burnt neither Abraham’s body, nor his garments; He imbued them with a state which resisted fire. Thus, by this allusion, the verse is in effect saying: “O nation of Abraham! Resemble Abraham, so that your garments may be your armour against fire, your greatest enemy both here and there. Clothe your spirit in belief in Allah, and it will be your armour against Hell-fire. Moreover, there are certain substances which Almighty Allah has hidden in the earth for you which will protect you from the evils of fire. Search for them, extract them, and clothe yourselves in them!” Thus, one of man’s important discoveries and a step in his progress was his finding a substance which fire does not burn; and he clothed himself in garments resistant to fire. So see how elevated, subtle, and fine a garment this verse weaves on the loom of Hanifan Musliman, which will not be rent in all eternity.
And, for example, the verse,
And He taught Adam the Names, all of them, (Qur’an, 2:31.)
which says: “Adam’s (Peace be upon him) greatest miracle in the question of the supreme vicegerency was the teaching of the Names.” Like the miracles of the other Prophets each allude to a particular human wonder, the miracle of Adam, who was the father of all the Prophets and the ‘Inauguration of the Office of Prophethood,’ points almost explicitly to the final points of all human attainment and progress, and humanity’s final goals. Through the tongue of allusion, Almighty Allah (May His glory be exalted) is saying with this verse:
“O Sons of Adam! Since as a proof of their superiority over the angels in the question of the vicegerency, I taught your forefather all the Names, you too, since you are his sons and the inheritors of his abilities, should learn all the Names and in your position as holder of the Supreme Trust demonstrate before all creatures your worthiness. For the way is open to you to rise to exalted rank such as holding the highest positions over all beings in the universe, and for vast creatures like the earth to be subjected to you. Come on, step forward, adhere to all My Names, and rise! But your forefather was once deceived by Satan, and temporarily fell to the earth from a position like Paradise. Beware! In your progress, do not follow Satan and from the heavens of Divine wisdom thus fall into the misguidance of ‘nature.’ Continuously raising your head and studying carefully My Most Beautiful Names, make your sciences and your progress steps by which to ascend to those heavens. Then you may rise to My dominical Names, which are the realities and sources of your sciences and attainments, and you may look to your Sustainer with your hearts through the telescope of the Names.”
(1) One Qur’anic commentary states: If He had not said: Be cool!, it would have burnt him with its coldness. [See, for example, Ibn Hanbal, al-Zuhd, 101.– Tr.]
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