The end of those who witnessed a miracle and did not believe, even though they had asked for the miracle to be performed, was always disappointment; they experienced one disaster after another. While mentioning former prophets and tribes, the Quran gives many examples of this. Expressed differently, a miracle is an important test by which golden spirits are purified of dust, earth and mud.
However, a miracle has never occurred in such a way that a persons free-will was by force taken from them nor has anyone ever been forced to believe. It has always been desired that the people who encountered the miracle should use their own free-will to evaluate the miraculous event and to arrive at their own conclusion; in religion, responsibility only appears when connected with intelligence and free-will. When these do not exist, as with other creatures, then there can be no responsibility for our actions. Looking at the matter from a different angle, were a miracle to occur as clearly, for example, as if God exists were to be written in the stars above, human will would be totally nullified. In this situation, the difference in quality between the people who are like diamonds and the people who are like coal would not be apparent, and humans would become travellers on a mandatory path, as are all other creatures.
Thus, we can say that the first goal of miracles is to provide a tangible proof when inviting people to faith, giving them something to accept and believe in or to reject and continue in their disbelief, according to their free will. But there is more to miracles than this; with miracles God indicates the limits of knowledge and technology that mankind can eventually attain. The difference between a miracle and technological/scientific advances is that while the prophets are able to perform miracles without tools or technology, ordinary people can succeed in similar acts only with the help of the material and technology that they have produced.
Common Features of Prophets
Every chosen person who was sent with a sacred duty, such as saving mankind from darkness and introducing them to the light, was supported with phenomena like miracles and was given a message for the people to whom the miracle was addressed. Many hearts have surrendered to the enlightened atmosphere of faith, yet many others have died in the arms of eternal deprivation only because they refused to believe in such an important blessing.
Addressing human intelligence and will, the Quran frequently mentions many miracles performed by the prophets. While it would not be possible to mention them all in one article, I would like to relate some of them in order to give an idea about some of these miracles, and then go on to discuss the main topic of the miracles of Jesus.
Generally, miracles occur and finish at the time they are performed, but some miracles which were given to the final prophet, like the miracle of the Quran, continue to be miraculous. In the environment in which it was revealed, the word had a special sovereignty of eloquence, and in this respect the Quran is a miracle sent in a way that has never been equaled.
Each prophet was sent miracles in line with the skills of the people of his era. As magic was of great importance at the time of Moses, his miracles usually took on the form of removing the things the sorcerors had created and by displaying greater skills. Due to the popularity of medicine at the time of Jesus, his miracles were usually related to knowledge in medicine. Thus, the prophets established an important superiority over those whom they were addressing, and by speaking a language that could be understood, they were able to draw attention to themselves and to make their voices heard more easily.
When miracles are viewed from the perspective of pushing back the boundaries of science and technology, Solomons riding on the wind and covering the distance it would take one month to travel in the time between morning and evening demonstrated that great distances could be traversed using the wind. Looking at this miracle with hindsight, we can see that it showed us that humans would be able to utilize the blessing of the wind, and we could even say that it indicated that in the future we would be able to harness it with craft (for example planes, rockets and other means of transport) and, consequently, would be able to travel long distances in a short time. At the same time, Moses bringing forth water by hitting his rod on the ground shows that man can reach many of the treasures that God has hidden for him underground. The main message behind all of these miracles encourages humans to learn from the practical examples of the prophets and to produce results by evaluating our heritage of knowledge and by using our intelligence.
The revelations that God sent were not aimed at only one target; rather the words were loaded with multiple meanings. Accordingly, every event in His statements has many aspects and it is necessary for other people to notice these and present them. The main goal of divine declarations is for the people living today to decipher the language of the miracles and to know how to use their message for the sake of science and technology.
The goal in front of people today is to understand what these miracles mean for today and to utilize this information for progress and development.
The Miracles of Jesus
Jesus (pbuh) was a prophet and, according to Quranic teaching, he has a special place before God. He is one of the five greatest prophets called masters of determination. If we evaluate him in regard to the geography and the ethnic, social and political structure in which he lived and the people to whom he was sent, we see that he faced people who gave precedence to materialism, who did not believe in anything but what they could see and who were persistent, stubborn and intractable in their tribal ideas. Such conditions demonstrate his greatness. The people naturally expected a miracle. In fact, more than expected, the Quran reveals their desires and mentions how they put pressure on Jesus to perform a miracle. When looked at from this perspective, there are many extraordinary events that he accomplished. Among his major miracles we can mention raising the dead, healing blindness and leprosy, blowing life into a bird made from clay, giving news of what happened in peoples houses and bringing down a banquet from the sky.
Miracles before Apostleship
Actually Jesus life is almost a miracle from beginning to end: his being born from a pure spirit like Mary, who had devoted herself to the temple; coming into physical existence as a spirit from God, even though he had no father; speaking in the cradle; and rising to the heavens from among the people. Moreover, the good tidings that he would be a prophet were given before he was born, and his name was given by God, also before he was born. However, because these oc-curred before his duty as messenger began, they are considered to be outside the realm of miracles in the general meaning and they are seen rather as signs emphasizing his place and importance before God. For whatever reason, the end result is that an extraordinary event occurred that would not have been possible under ordinary circumstances. This necessitates attention being focused on Jesus in a different way.
His conception and birth represent a first in human history. Creating Adam without a mother and father, God, in time, created Jesus without a father as well and showed this change in his creation as a sign to all mankind. The Quranic verse related to this draws attention to his creation: Jesus in Gods Sight is like Adam: created him from dust, then He said to him: Be, and there he was. (This is) the truth from your Lord; so do not be not be one of the doubters. (3/59, 60) This verse explains that when Gods power is a matter of consideration, other causes are silent and the pen of power prevails. For this reason, one of Jesus names in the Quran is ruhullah (spirit of God).
Almost as soon as he was born, when people began to accuse Mary, Jesus spoke and exonerated his pure mother, Mary; while he was still in the cradle the duty of prophethood that would later be given to him by his Lord was outlined. In the verse that gives the good news of Jesus birth, it is stated, He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity, and he shall be (of the company) of the righteous. (3/46) His speech is given as follows: He said: I am indeed a servant of God: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet; and He hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live; (He) hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable; so peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)! (19/30, 31, 32, 33)
Stating, Such (was) Jesus the son of Mary: (it is) a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute (19/34), the Quran has the final say on the debates regarding Jesus. It both emphasizes his mothers innocence and indicates that Jesus, who was then still a baby, would be a prophet in the future, inviting people to salvation.
If we look at the heart of the matter, for a society of people who did not understand anything but materialism and were closed to spirituality, Jesus conception as the spirit of God and the extraordinary events surrounding his birth must have been the first shock in the name of divine truth to which they would be called in the future. Today, just as great shocks are needed in the treatment of certain illnesses, extraordinary events are needed sometimes in order for society to be freed from bigotry and for general convictions to be turned in the desired direction. Thus, the atmosphere was softened in preparation for the miracles that Jesus would perform later in his mission, and a kind of foundation was prepared for Gods wishes to be comprehended by society.
Miracles After Apostleship
Of course, Jesus miracles were not limited to his birth. On the contrary, after having started his life with a great miracle, Jesus went on to perform many miracles in support of his prophethood. Some of the miracles that were given to his prophethood are mentioned in the Quran as follows, when the angels are talking to Mary about Jesus: And God will teach him the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel, and (appoint him) an apostle to the Children of Israel, (with this message): I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Gods leave: and I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken the dead, by Gods leave; and declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses. Surely therein is a Sign for you if ye did believe; (I have come to you) to attest the Law which was before me. And to make lawful to you part of what was (before) forbidden to you; I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord. So fear God, and obey me. It is God who is my Lord and your Lord; then worship Him. This is a way that is straight. (3/48, 49, 50, 51) As can be understood, these words belong to the angels and were said before the events occurred. While describing Jesus position, they mention the miracles that will occur through him and give passages from dialogue between him and the tribe.
In addition to emphasizing the same topic, another verse relates what happened to Jesus from the first day: Then will God say: O Jesus the son of Mary! Recount My favour to thee and to thy mother. Behold! I strengthened thee with the holy spirit, so that thou didst speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. Behold! I taught thee the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel. And behold! Thou makest out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My leave, and thou breathest into it, and it becometh a bird by My leave, and thou healest those born blind, and the lepers, by My leave. And behold! Thou bringest forth the dead by My leave. And behold! I did restrain the Children of Israel from (violence to) thee when thou didst show them the Clear Signs, and the unbelievers among them said: This is nothing but evident magic. (5/113)
Another of Jesus miracles is the feast that was provided when his people wanted to eat food from heaven. This event is related in the Quran in a sura entitled Al-Maidah:
Behold! The Disciples said: O Jesus the son of Mary! Can thy Lord send down to us a Table set (with viands) from heaven? Said Jesus: Fear God, if ye have faith. They said: We only wish to eat thereof and satisfy our hearts, and to know that thou hast indeed told us the truth; and that we ourselves may be witnesses to the miracle.' Said Jesus the son of Mary: ' God our Lord! Send us from heaven a Table set (with viands), that there may be for us -- for the first and the last of us " a solemn festival and a Sign from Thee; and provide for our sustenance, for Thou art the best Sustainer (of our needs). God said: I will send it down unto you: but if any of you after that resisteth faith, I will punish him as I have not inflicted on any one among all the peoples. (5/115, 116, 117, 118)
Jesus was made superior from the beginning with extraordinary acts and strengthened by God with these miracles. In the following verse, God indicates that it is time for the people to recognize the values Jesus has brought and to surrender to them: We gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of Apostles; We gave Jesus the son of Mary clear (Signs) and strengthened him with the holy spirit. Is it that whenever there comes to you an Apostle with what ye yourselves desire not, ye are puffed up with pride? " Some ye called imposters, and others ye slay! 92/87) It is implied here that every command supported by God requires absolute obedience and, at the same time, that we must not stray form the divine path because of doubts raised by our egos and Satan.
Generally there have always been those who prefer to take a reactionary attitude towards all the prophets and to remain closed to new things. Such travellers on the path of darkness label every extraordinary miracle they see as magic. They did not think any differently about Jesus or the events that occurred than they did to any other previous miracles. Jesus reply to this was no different from that of the former prophets. With the satisfaction of performing his duty without fault, Jesus said, as every prophet before him had:
God is truly your Lord and my Lord; so worship Him. That is a straight path. (19/36) Saying this, he left everyone alone to follow their will. This was necessary, as after this, those who wanted to come would; they would be able to find the right path and gain salvation, while those who prefer the darkness will be sacrificed to their own egos.
It is possible to summarize Jesus miracles as follows, according to the way in which they appear in the Quran:
1- Raising the dead.
2- Breathing life into a bird made from clay.
3- Making the blind see.
4- Curing leprosy.
5- Giving news of what was going on inside houses.
6- Being strengthened by the Holy Spirit.
7- Bringing down a banquet from the heavens.
The first thing that strikes one about all of these is that most of Jesus miracles were related to the field of medicine. During his time there were important developments in this area and people were frequently confronted with these. For this reason, his miracles of healing, which cured many problems that were not curable at that time, gained the attention of medical authorities, especially since he had not been educated in this field and had no equipment. They agreed that his results had to have been accomplished with divine assistance.
As we have discussed here, miracles not only contain certain messages for those witnessing the event, but they also demonstrate many things to those who come after. When looked at from this perspective, God is saying many things to the people of today through the miracles performed by Jesus. At first glance, the most obvious message is that it is possible for many things that we perceive as inanimate to be animated by giving them energy; problems with sight and every kind of skin disease can be cured, even if we have not yet found the cure today. All of these are important matters that medicine should be addressing today; there is a cure for every illness. One of the most important duties of experts in the medical field is to find cures from the pharmacy of the universe.
If we look at the banquet that came from the heavens and the way in which the people benefited from the divine blessings in this feast, we can understand that there are many blessings hidden in the heavens, and that it is the duty of man, who has been blessed with intelligence and judgement, to fully investigate these. If we can knock on the doors of mercy in the language of science and technology in the light of this miracle of Jesus, it may be possible for man to reach many feasts full of blessings beyond this world.
Like his birth, Jesus departure from mankind was another miracle. God did not leave Jesus in the hands of those who wanted to kill him and, in the words of the Quran, he was raised to the heavens with another miracle, being taken from among mankind to a different plane of life. According to the Quran, that they said (in boast), We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Apostle of God "but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not. Nay God raised him up unto Himself; and God is Exalted in Power, Wise. (4/157, 158)
This detail can be found in another verse explaining this matter: Behold! God said: O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith, to the Day of Resurrection: Then shall ye all return to me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute. As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help. (3/55, 56)
As can be seen, Jesus life, which was full of miracles, changed dimension with yet another miracle, and he was honored with immortality. Moreover, some narrations regarding his return close to the time of Doomsday to call people to the truth once more are proof that these kinds of miracles will continue in the future.
The End of Time and Jesus
Almost all religions mention a final savior in the future who will turn mankind to the true path once again. There are some narrations in the hadith of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) that Jesus will come again at the end of time and eliminate the idea of atheism. Commenting on these narrations and stating that they are absolutely authentic, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi said, Only a wondrous and miraculous person with an esteemed following will be able to kill and change the calling of the Antichrist who will protect himself with acts of magic, magnetism and spiritualism and enchant everyone. That person is Jesus.
The second coming of Jesus is, of course, within the realm of possibility, when Gods power is taken into consideration, but it should not be forgotten that these kinds of narrations can be metaphorical as well; what may be being implied here is that the idea of atheism will be eliminated and that a victory of faith will be experienced. In this way the path of Jesus and the path of the Spirit of Truth will be united and humanity, once again knowing goodness, beauty, peace and contentment, will live a life imbued with faith.
It is true that prophets are like children of the same mother. All their values are shared ones; their Lord is one; their guidance is one; their aim is one. The world is in need, more than ever, of their message, a message that is to be presented by people whose goal is faith.
See Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, Words, 20th Word, Second Station.
Behold! The angels said: O Mary! God giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to God. (Quran 3/45)
Explaining that life is not just one dimensional, Bediuzzaman says that, just as religious martyrs continue to live on another plane of life, Hzr, Elijah, Enoch and Jesus are also on a different plane, and he discusses questions concerning the second coming of Jesus. See Bediuzzaman, Letters, First Letter.
The Antichrist means one who shows falsehood as the truth and the truth as falsehood. There are narrations that a perverted meaning of the idea of faith will be active at the end of time. In this respect, it can mean the person or persons opposed to faith and those who act in accordance with the perverted meaning of faith. When the matter of Jesus killing the Antichrist is looked at in this respect, it can be understood that Jesus, representing faith, will eliminate the Antichrist, representing falsehood, and thoughts belonging to him from society. On a plane where there are no physical bodies, this event can be seen as both sides representing a spiritual personality, thus it can be evaluated within a faith-falsehood framework.
Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, Rays, Fifth Ray, Second Station, 13th Point.