Do ‘miracles’ prove the correctness of a person’s methodology?

In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, Most Merciful

All praise is due to Allah, by whose grace good deeds are completed, and may peace and blessings be upon our leader and our Prophet, Muhammad, and upon his family and his companions.

To proceed:

The discussion of this issue encompasses some important points:

1. That the belief of Ahl-us-Sunna wal-Jamā‘a is belief in miracles given to pious people and that they are true. If the supernatural occurrence is by the hand of a Prophet (pbuh) then it is called a mu’jiza and if it is by the hand of a pious person it is a karāma which Allah has caused to happen to him, and is not from the person himself. For example, what happened to the People of the Cave [1], and what happened to Maryam, as Allah said:

Every time Zachariah entered her prayer chamber, he found with her provision.[2]

Similarly the miracles which have happened to people of this ummah, and Shaykh-ul-Islām Ibn Taymiyya mentioned some of them in his book Al-Furqān. However, if a supernatural occurrence happens by the hand of a sorcerer or magician, this is from evil which tests a person’s belief.

2. A miracle given to a pious person happens as a result of Allah taking him as an ally. Allah has made His allies the people of faith and piety. Allah, the Exalted, said:

Unquestionably, [for] the allies of Allah there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve. Those who believed and were fearing Allah.[3]

So if something supernatural were to occur by the hands of someone who is not described with faith and piety, then this is not a miracle, since Allah has made his allies from the people of faith and piety, and they are those who are given miracles.

3. As regards to the saying that some people who are killed have a pleasant smell emanating from them or from their graves, the discussion of this issue comprises several things:

a) Many ahādīth have come clearly explaining that blood will be made to smell of musk. This will happen on the Day of Judgment. Mu’ādh bin Jabal narrates that he heard the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) say:

Whoever is wounded for the sake of Allah or is afflicted with something, [his wound] will come on the Day of Judgment as copious as it could be; its colour will be the colour of saffron and its smell will be the smell of musk.[4]

It is also narrated by Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:

By the One whose hand my soul is in! A servant is not wounded for the sake of Allah – and Allah knows best about who is wounded for His sake – except that he comes on the Day of Judgment and his wound is flowing with blood. The colour is the colour of blood and the scent is the scent of musk.[5]

b) This is something which people have exaggerated over to an almost unbelievable extent; that the smell of musk is found from some graves at such-and-such [a huge] distance. This is a form of exaggeration which is not supported by the narrations and not accepted by the intellect.

c) Even the Prophet (pbuh) who is the master of the children of Adam, without pride; this kind of thing has not been claimed about his grave, that the smell of musk is found at such-and-such [a huge] distance.

d) The noble companions who are the best of this umma after its Prophet (pbuh), the ones who fought and were killed for the sake of Allah; this kind of thing has not been claimed about them, so how can it be for others?

4. Is an innovator, misguided person, or sinner given a miracle?

The answer to this is that the allies of Allah, as the people of knowledge have explained are of two groups:

The first group: Those who are foremost in deeds.

The second group: Those who are moderate in deeds.

Therefore no portion of these miracles exists for the one who oppresses himself remaining upon sin. However, a miracle may happen to someone who is involved in innovation, sin, or oppressing themselves. This comes back to a number of reasons:
Firstly: that he himself is not the intended recipient of the miracle. However, this innovator or this person who is oppressing himself may be in jihad against a (legitimate) opponent. So, Allah gives him a miracle, not for himself, but because of what he is fighting for, i.e. Islam and in order to repel disbelief. Therefore, his being given a miracle should not fool others, since it has not been given to him because of himself, rather in order to prove the supremacy of faith and Islam, over disbelief, atheism, polytheism, and the like.

Secondly: That his being given a miracle is due to a need for it in his faith or in his religion, so it becomes a reason for him correcting himself or a reason for good. For that reason, whomsoever something like this happens to should look at himself; if he is from the people of faith, he should praise Allah and exalt Him and stick firmly to standing straight upon that which Allah has blessed him with. However, if he is from the people of innovation, sin, or self-oppression, he should know that this is a sign for him to stick firmly to the Sunna of the Prophet (pbuh) and to stick firmly to faith and piety, so that this may be a form of glad tidings for him in this world and the hereafter, and so that it may not be a proof established upon him and a blessing from Allah that he has seen and then rejected.[6]

The miracles of the pious may happen to a group rather than an individual. This happens in a situation of jihad, be it knowledge-based or physical.

Allah may give a miracle to a fighting group; a group of those who make jihad from the people of knowledge – meaning jihad with the tongue – with the strength of their influence, by helping them against their enemies with mental power and proof, and by helping them to know of the places where proof is to be found, and that they themselves are found to be stronger than that which they are normally capable of. Allah may give them this miracle even though they are not from those who stick strongly to the Sunna.

It may be as it is mentioned; someone is given strength and helped against their opponents during a debate, and there appears for him things hidden from others, in a way which is not normal for ordinary people, and strength and proof appears for him in influencing the people, which enters into influencing both tangible and (intangible) spiritual matters, as I have mentioned previously.

Similarly, at the time of jihad, a group of Muslims from the people of innovation, sin, and transgression, may be given miracles if they are fighting the enemy.

This comes back to the group, not to the individual. The group wanted to help the Quran and the Sunna and the religion of Allah, Honoured and Glorified is He, against a people who oppose the message of the Messengers, or those who want to disgrace Islam and its people.

Therefore, this group is given something of miracles, and this does not prove that they are pious, or that the belief of these individuals is a correct and true belief. Rather, it proves that they have a basic level of religion and desire to respond to Allah and His Messenger, and in general they are more deserving of Allah’s help and support at that time and place.

For that reason, no one should be deceived by what is mentioned from some of those who fight in the way of Allah, that they were given many miracles.

People take different stances with regard to them: from them are those who deny these miracles and say that these people have so many innovations and forms of misguidance and so on, therefore they are not deserving of miracles. And from the people are those who believe in them and they make this belief a proof that they are pious people and that innovation has no effect, and that their detractors are merely being overly harsh in the matter of Sunna and innovation.

As for the people of knowledge who follow those who came before us, as Ibn Taymiyya affirmed in detail in his book, An-Nubuwwāt; they know that a person fighting for the sake of Allah may be given a miracle, even if he is an innovator. This is not because of himself but because of what he is fighting for, since he is fighting to raise the banner of Allah… and this deserves being honoured, since he is sacrificing himself for the sake of Allah.[7]

A miracle if Allah bestows it upon a pious person; this doesn’t mean that he is better or higher in position than a person who has not been given a miracle. This is because a miracle is a way of a servant being honoured and blessed by Allah because of the servant’s religious or worldly, material need for it.

For that reason, there were very few miracles which happened to the companions. That which has been recorded with authentic chains of narration from the companions is far, far less than what is narrated from the generation who followed them. This continued in a similar way with those who came after them. This is because a person, when his faith becomes strong and his certainty becomes fixed, is left to be tested, not given respite, as the Prophet (pbuh) said in an authentic hadith reported in the two Sahīhs [8]:

“A person will be tested according to his religion. The most severely tested of the people are the Prophets, then the best after them, and so on.”

This proves that Allah may choose for his pious ally or servant whose status is great before Allah, to be left in order to be tested, and to be left for something other than these supernatural occurrences.

Therefore, these supernatural occurrences and miracles are bestowed when there is a need for them, and because a person may be afflicted with a weakness in his faith if he is not given them. Some people may have great acts of worship, prayer, and fasting, yet if they are tested with hardship without respite, their hearts may become weak in faith, thus Allah gives them a miracle because of their weakness, not because of their completeness.

For that reason, the occurrence of miracles doesn’t mean the superiority of those who they are bestowed upon. It may mean that they are superior (and it may not). So, a miracle in of itself is not a proof, according to the companions, tābi‘īn (the successors and students of the companions of the Prophet) and the leaders of Islam who came before us. Rather, believing in miracles (of the pious people) is because they exist and that Allah honours his servants with them; all of the proof indicates this, and not for the sake of preferring those who they occur to, since they could be less in status by a great margin than someone who they have not occurred to.

So if the situation is as we have mentioned, then those who are reported to have had miracles occur to them are not necessarily more knowledgeable or better, and this does not necessitate accepting their statements, just because they have had a miracle occur to them.

In fact, when something like these miracles happen, pious people have not ceased to conceal it and keep its news from being spread, since it may be a form of a trial for them.

This is one of the reasons why that which is narrated from the companions about miracles which happened to them is so little, and that it is more in the generation which came after them, and so on. Each time people became weaker, the more they desired to spread any little thing which happened, and not to conceal it.

Accordingly, we say: that which is obligatory upon the people is not to hold a certain opinion about people who are honoured in a certain way or given miracles. Rather they should say that this is a proof of faith and piety if he is from those who deserve the description faith and piety, and it is a proof of Allah’s love for him. And he should ask him to stay strong and try his best to remain so.

Nor should he believe that he is safe from falling into trial. If he dies upon this state of piety and obedience then good things are hoped for him, yet the hearts should not be attached to him, nor should help be sought from him, nor should people come to his grave and seek his aid, nor should they seek from him respite from their troubles, nor should he be treated with reverence in his absence if he is living, and similar things which are done by the misguided people.

For that reason, it is obligatory upon the believer not to speak about these things, unless he sees a dire religious need to do so. As for if it is to show his position or to show how Allah has honoured him, and similar things, then it is better to conceal these things, especially if in bringing these things into the open and talking about them there is a trial that could afflict some people. In times like these in which ignorance is prevalent and people become attached to those in whom piety is apparent, in order to believe something about them, then it is obligatory for the believer to cut off the means to evil and to block the things which lead to associating others in worship with Allah and exaggeration, from which is mentioning miracles of the pious and circulating them.[9]

5. In respect to those who believe the belief of the Khawārij and thus declare the blood and wealth of the Muslims to be permissible and spill the blood of innocents (both Muslims and those who have a guarantee of security), and those who rebel against the scholars and leaders, declaring them to be non-Muslims and similarly declaring those who are under their command to be non-Muslim, some of them even declare their parents to be disbelievers! In fact some of them intend to kill themselves by strapping an explosive vest to themselves and similar things, then exploding it in places where Muslims and non-Muslims under a guarantee of security gather. They even tamper with copies of the Quran and not even mosques are safe from their explosions!

The Prophet’s statement (pbuh) about them is true:

They fight the people of faith and leave the people of idol worship.

Despite this, they claim to produce the miracles of the pious. Indeed this is from the lies which we can be certainly say are false, since the Prophet (pbuh) warned his nation against the way of the Khawārij in the strongest fashion, and he warned of their methods. In fact, he ordered for them to be killed and fought, and even informed us that they are the dogs of the Hellfire.

It is reported from Imam ‘Abdullah, son of the Imam of Ahl-us-Sunna Ahmad bin Hanbal, may Allah have mercy on him, that he said:

“My father [i.e. Al-Imam Ahmad] narrated to me that Abu Kāmil informed us that Hammād – meaning Ibn Salama – informed us from Sa‘īd bin Jumhān that he said:
The Khawārij were calling me, until I almost went with them. The sister of Abu Bilāl saw in a dream that Abu Bilāl was a black hairy dog, and that his eyes were shedding tears. She said: “I said: ‘May my father be ransomed for you O Abu Bilāl! Why is it that I see you like this?’ He said: ‘After [leaving] you, we have been made the dogs of Hellfire.’” And Abu Bilāl was from the leaders of the Khawārij.[10]

In fact a group of people held the opinion that the Khawārij are disbelievers; from them al-Bukhāri and al-Qādi Abu Bakr and as-Subki and al-Qurtubi. And this opinion is also reported from the author of Ash-Shifā, al-Qādi ‘Iyād, and similarly the author of Ar-Rawdah, an-Nawawi, in Kitāb ar-Riddah.[11]

Muslims have not been exempt from their killing and destruction – even in Mecca and Medina – the sanctuaries of Allah – we ask Allah to pardon us and give us safety!

6. Whoever looks into the lives of those who we believe to be the best of the people of their time in faith, piety, following the Sunna, ordering the good, forbidding the evil, and fighting for the sake of Allah, we see that they suffered the certain tests and trials. For example, what happened to the Imam of Ahl-us-Sunna wal-Jamā‘a, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and similarly what happened to Shaykh-ul-Islām Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn al-Qayyim, from the trials and imprisonment that they suffered. Yet, they are more complete than those who are less than them who may have had miracles happen to them, which are narrated by authentic chains. The point in this is that the scales by which we judge are in following the Sunna – the reality of faith and piety – following the way of the pious predecessors; perhaps someone will be honoured with a miracle and perhaps not. Perhaps they will even suffer the opposite: trials and harms. Yet, perhaps the one who is tried and tested is more complete than the one who is not [12].

1 See the Quran, Sura al-Kahf [18]:9-26.

2 The Quran, Sura Āl ‘Imrān [3]:37.

3 The Quran, Sura Yunus [10]:62-3.

4 Narrated by Abu Dāwūd, at-Tirmidhi and an-Nasā’i.

5 Sahīh Muslim, hadīth no. 1876.

6 Sharh at-Tahāwiyya (2/1282-3).

7 Sharh at-Tahāwiyya (2/1296-7).

8 i.e. Sahīh al-Bukhāri and Sahīh Muslim.

9 Sharh at-Tahāwiyya (2/1296-7).

10 Kitāb-us-Sunna by ‘Abdullah bin Ahmad, no. 1509, with an authentic chain of narration.

11 See Fath-ul-Bāri, 12/300.

12 Sharh at-Tahāwiyya (2/1299).