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Mu'jiza

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Muʿjiza (Arabic: معجزة, miracle) is an extraordinary act that prophets do against the ordinary natural events, in order to prove their truth. These are actions which ordinary people are unable to do. The aim of Mu'jiza is to prove their divine appointment.

There are some signs mentioned for Mu'jiza, some of them are: challenging and not being defeated. According to Shi'a theologians Mu'jiza does not defy the rule of causality, but Mu'jiza happens because of causes that are unknown to us and this causes are only available to people to whom God has permitted.

There are many Mu'jizas reported from the prophets, some of which are sensual and could be perceived by sense, and others are intellectual and could only be perceived by intellect. Some of the most famous Mu'jizas of prophets are: the cooling of fire, the stick converting into a serpent, reviving the dead, and Qur'an.

Etymology and Meaning

Mu'jiza is from the root "'a-j-z" (Arabic: ع-ج-ز), meaning an action which disables others. In the Islamic theology, the word means an extraordinary act with the claim of prophethood and challenging others, which others are unable to do.[1]

In a boarder definition, Mu'jiza is an extraordinary act with the God's leave and its aim is to prove a divine appointment.

Mu'jiza has some signs: challenging and not being defeated.

Difference with Kirama

Main article: Kirama

Kirama is an extraordinary act by God's leave, seen from holy men, without the prophethood or a divine appointment claim,[2] because one of the criterion of Mu'jiza is its accompaniment with a claim.[3]

Difference with Magic and Sorcery

There are differences mentioned by theologians and philosophers:

  • According to the origin: Mu'jiza and Kirama are because of the munificence of God to some of His servants, and in contrast to magic and sorcery it could not be taught and practiced.
  • According to the aim: the prophets and holy men use Mu'jiza in order to prove the truth of their teachings, in contrast to magicians whose aim is to gain wealth and fame.[4]
  • According to the moral virtues of the performer: the prophets and holy men are generally considered as good men in their societies, in contrast to magicians who are considered as deviant persons.[5]
  • According to the quality of the act: Mu'jiza has qualities which magic does not have:
  • It is not repeatable
  • It has permanent effects
  • It could not be defeated[6]

Features

Mu'jiza which is originated from the spiritual power of the prophet and by God's leave, has some features, mentioned differently in theological books, nevertheless there is three main features mentioned in all of the sources:

  • Being extraordinary, although this acts cannot violate the obvious rational rules like the non-contradiction.
  • It is with the claim of prophethood.
  • The action must be according to what the prophet had stated before.[7]

Purpose

The purpose of Mu'jiza is proving the prophethood claim, so that people believe them and follow their teachings, and reach happiness.[8]

Mu'jiza and the Causality Rule

One of the important subjects about Mu'jiza, is connection of the extraordinary act with the rule of causality. According to the rule of causality, every effect is related to a cause, so the question is how there could happen something extraordinary, and what are the causes to this events? The answer is that although an event could not happen without a cause, this cause could be unknown to us. The range of the human science is limited to experiments and natural causes, and this cannot include supernatural causes. So there are supernatural causes for the extraordinary events which is only available to people chosen by God.[9]

Differences of Mu'jizas of Prophets

Although all of Mu'jizas were extraordinary, the Mu'jizas of the prophets covers a variety of occurrences; this differences is because of the differences of the knowledge and science of the people, so the divine wisdom requires that the Mu'jiza of every prophet being appropriate to the people they are sent to, so the Mu'jiza is like what they have skill in and know so people do not have argument against God.

In the time of Musa (a) [Moses] doing magic was prevalent and magicians knew the magic form non-magic, God made Mu'jiza of Musa (a) the stick converting into a serpent, and defeat the magicians and they acknowledge it being Mu'jiza. In the time of 'Isa (a) [Jesus] the medicine was thriving, so the Mu'jiza of 'Isa (a) was reviving the dead and healing the blind and the deaf, so his superiority over other physicians becomes obvious and this becomes a reason for his truth.[10]

Types

Some thinkers believe that the Mu'jizas of the prophets are two types:

  • Sensory: this kind of Mu'jizas are perceived via feeling, most of the Mu'jizas are from this kid. This kind of Mu'jizas are perceived by both the public and the elite.
  • Intellectual: this kind is only perceivable by intellect, and people can realize it according to the degree of their intellect, like Qur'an.[11]

Examples of Mu'jizas of Prophets

Ibrahim (a)

  • The fire becoming cool

Musa (a)

In Qur'an there are some Mu'jizas mentioned for Musa (a), some of them are as follows:

  • The nine Mu'jizas: the prophet Musa (a) in the period of his conflict with Pharaoh, performed nine Mu'jizas for him: the stick becoming serpent, the white hand, the flood, the rain of grasshopper, the rain of blood, the starvation, and the shortage of crops.
  • Splitting the sea and passage of Banu Isra'il
  • The twelve fountains
  • The reviving of the dead
  • The shading clouds

'Isa (a)

In Qur'an, some Mu'jizas are mentioned for the prophet 'Isa (a) [Jesus]:

Muhammad (s)

  • Shaqq al-Qamar (splitting the moon):
Main article: Shaqq al-Qamar

Shi'a and Sunni exegetes have narrated that once Quraysh wanted a Mu'jiza from the Prophet (s), so he pointed to the moon and it split into two.[12]

  • Radd al-Shams (returning the sun):
Main article: Radd al-Shams

According to the narration of Shi'a and Sunni scholars, once the Prophet (s) sent Imam 'Ali (a) after a task. While he came back, it was the time for the afternoon prayer, and the Prophet (s) did not know that Imam 'Ali (a) have not said his prayer, and put his head on the feet of Imam 'Ali (a) and went to sleep, and some verses started to be revealed, this was so, till it was near the sunset, when the revelation ended, the Prophet (s) asked Imam 'Ali (a) whether he have said his afternoon prayer. Imam 'Ali (a) said: Your head was on my feet and I could not wake you up. So the Prophet (s) returned the sun, by God's leave, to the time of the afternoon prayer and Imam 'Ali (a) said his afternoon prayer.[13]

  • Qur'an:
Main article: Qur'an

Qur'an is the greatest Mu'jiza of the Prophet Muhammad (s). This Mu'jiza is extraordinary in different aspects and has superiority over other Mu'jizas:

  • Other Mu'jizas are not sufficient for proving the truth of their doer, rather it has to be inspected that the one who has performed the Mu'jiza has the conditions and the claim of the prophethood. But Qur'an itself is sufficient for all of the above, because it states all of this and doesn't need anything else.
  • Other Mu'jizas are limited to their time and their spectators, and are not any proof for others, unless it is narrated to the extent that reaches the level of certainty; but Qur'an is usable for every one in every time and it's state of being Mu'jiza remains forever.
  • Each part is independently Mu'jiza, in contrast to other Mu'jizas that are Mu'jiza as a whole.

Other Mu'jizas have only one aspect of being extraordinary but Qur'an is Mu'jiza in different aspects (like: literal, semantic, scientific, …).[14]

See also: Tahaddi

Notes

  1. Mufid, al-Nukat al-i'tiqadiyya, p.35; Jurjani, al-Ta'rifat, p.96
  2. Sajjadi, Farhang ma'arif, vol.3 p.1569
  3. Jurjani, al-Ta'rifat, p.79
  4. Makarim Shirazi, Tafsir nimuni, vol.8 p.358
  5. Rabbani Gulpaygani, Muhazirat, p.264-266
  6. Rizayi Isfahani, Pazhuhishi dar i'jaz-i 'ilmi Qur'an, p.64-65
  7. Mufid, 'al-Irshad, p.126-129
  8. Misbah Yazdi, Amuzish 'aqayid, p.219-223
  9. Misbah Yazdi, Amuzish 'aqayid, p.226-227
  10. Tayyib, Atyab al-bayan, vol.1 p.42
  11. Sa'idi Rushan, Mu'jizishinasi, p.104
  12. Qummi, Tafsir qummi, vol.2 p.341; Ibn Shahrashub, Manaqib, vol.1 p.163
  13. Ibn 'Atiyya, Abha l-murad, vol.1 p.791; Mas'udi, Ithbat al-wathiyya, p.153
  14. Tayyib, Atyab al-bayan, vol.1 p.41

References

  • The material for this article is mainly taken from معجزه in Farsi Wikishia.
  • Mufid, Muhammad b. Muhammad al-. Al-Nukat al-i'tiqadiyya. Qum: Al-Mu'tamar al-'Alami, 1413
  • Jurjani, Mir Sayyid Sharif al-. Al-Ta'rifat. Tehran: Nasir Khusru, 1412
  • Sajjadi, Farhang ma'arif islami. Tehran: Tehran University, 1373
  • Makarim Shirazi, Nasir. Tafsir nimuni. Tehran: Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyya, 1374
  • Rabbani Gulpaygani, 'Ali. Muhazirat fi ilahiyyat. Qom: Mu'assisa Imam al-Sadiq (a), 1428
  • Rizayi Isfahani, Muhammad 'Ali. Pazhuhishi dar i'jaz-i 'ilmi Qur'an. Rasht: Kitab-i Mubin, 1381
  • Mufid, Muhammad b. Muhammad al-. Al-Irshad. Qom: Kungiriyi Shaykh Mufid, 1413
  • Misbah Yazdi, Muhammad Taqi. Amuzish 'aqayid. Tehran: Shirkat-i Chap wa Nashr Biynulmilal, 1377
  • Tayyib, 'Abd al-Husayn. Atyab al-bayan fi tafsir al-Qur'an. Tehran: Islamiyya, 1378
  • Sa'idi Rushan, Muhammad Baqir, Mu'jizishinasi. Qom
  • Qummi, 'Ali b. Ibrahim al-. Tafsir qummi. Qom: Dar al-Kitab, 1367
  • Ibn Shahrashub. Manaqib. Beirut
  • Ibn 'Atiyya. Abha l-murad. Beirut: Mu'assisa A'lami, 1423
  • Mas'udi, Abu l-Hasan. Ithbat al-wathiyya li l-imam 'Ali b. Abi Talib. Qom: Ansariyan, 1423