Man has a natural distaste towards submitting to another and only does so if he is forced by the latter’s physical strength, mental superiority or if he has shown feats far beyond the abilities of other men. In the first two cases he yields reluctantly, while in the third he yields because of his belief in a higher force or power defying all human comparison. For this reason, Allah, Exalted is He, has favored His messengers, not only with revelation but with miracles, clearly proving the divine origin and truthfulness of their messages. The inability for people to imitate these divine miracles of the Prophets made their societies willing to bear witness to Allah’s Unity and obey the commandments of the Prophets.
The early Prophets were sent to a specific time and people due to the difficulties involved in communication and transportation. Thus, their miracles were particularly suited to the areas of knowledge in which their people excelled in, in order for the miracle to have maximum effect. There are three main examples which I would like to share that clearly demonstrate this point. First of Prophet Musa (Moses), the other of Prophet Isa (Jesus), and lastly that of Prophet Mohammed, peace and blessings be upon them. Their examples go into great length and therefore I will divide them into three articles.
Prophet Musa, peace be upon him, was raised amongst the Egyptians, a civilization that was far advanced in its time and home to some proud and mighty people. It was ruled by Firaoun (Pharaoh) who thought he was mightier than God and greatly oppressed his people. In this time the people were well noted and versed with the knowledge of occult arts, sorcery and magic. Hence, Allah, Exalted is He, bestowed upon Prophet Musa, peace be upon him, related miracles that would prove to these people the truth of his message.
The following is a clear example, right from the pages of the Quran: Prophet Musa, after having received his message was ordered by Allah, Exalted is He, to return to his people, despite being a fugitive, to confront the vicious Firaoun and implore him to follow the truth.
[Pharoah] said, “If you take a god other than me, I will surely place you among those imprisoned.”
[Musa] said, “Even if I brought you proof manifest?”
[Pharoah] said, “Then bring it, if you should be of the truthful.”
So [Musa] threw his staff, and suddenly it was a serpent manifest. And he drew out his hand; thereupon it was white for the observers.
[Pharaoh] said to the eminent ones around him, “Indeed, this is a learned magician. He wants to drive you out of your land by his magic, so what do you advise?”
They said, “Postpone [the matter of] him and his brother and send among the cities gatherers.”
So, magicians were assembled for the appointment of a well-known day. And it was said to the people, “Will you congregate That we might follow the magicians if they are the predominant?”
And when the magicians arrived, they said to the Pharoah, “Is there indeed for us a reward if we are the predominant?”
He said, “Yes, and indeed, you will then be of those near [to me].”
Musa said to them, “Throw whatever you will throw.”
So, they threw their ropes and their staffs and said, “By the might of Pharaoh, indeed it is we who are predominant.”
Then Musa threw his staff, and at once it devoured what they falsified. So, the magicians fell down in prostration [to Allah]. They said, “We have believed in the Lord of the worlds, The Lord of Musa and Harun [Aaron].”
[Pharoah] said, “You believed Musa before I gave you permission. Indeed, he is your leader who has taught you magic, but you are going to know. I will surely cut off your hands and your feet on opposite side, and I will surely crucify you all.”
They said, “No harm. Indeed, to our Lord we will return. Indeed, we aspire that our Lord will forgive us our sins because we were the first of the believers.” Ash-Shu’araa 29: 29-59
These magicians, who were the best and most powerful in their land, had clear motivation to win and gain the favor of the tyrannous Firaoun, yet when they saw the miracle of Prophet Musa, peace be upon him, his message was clearly and undeniably the truth. They displayed this by falling in prostration, disregarding and having no fear of the Pharaoh’s punishment, bearing witness to Allah’s unity. The Pharaoh’s plan of gathering the people and having them bear witness that Musa was a joke and a mere magician completely backfired as they must’ve watched in awe and amazement as these great sorcerers abandoned the Pharaoh and bore witness to the truth.
In the coming article, I will discuss another example, that of Prophet Isa (Jesus), peace be upon him, and how he too had a miracle that was tailored to the areas of knowledge in which his people excelled. Afterwards I will move on to the last Prophet’s, peace be upon him, miracle, a miracle that is still at work and can be seen in our lives today.