Turn Mount As-Safa into gold for us to believe you!
The disbelievers shut their ears against all guidance and hinged their belief in the Prophet (pbuh) on a material miracle. Ibn ‘Abbas t narrated:
The chiefs of Quraish said to the Prophet (pbuh) , “O Muhammad! If you will not accept any of the offers we have made you, surely you know that none of the people have a smaller town, scarcer water, or harder living than us. Ask your Lord Who has sent you with this message to remove from us these mountains that hem us round and to stretch out our land and cause rivers like those of Syria and Iraq to gush forth through it. Ask Him to resurrect our dead forefathers, and let Qusai bin Kilab be one of them for he was a truthful old man, that we may ask them if what you say be true or false. If they affirm what you say and you fulfill what we have asked of you, we shall believe you and acknowledge your status in the Sight of Allah, and that He has sent you as a Messenger as you claim.”
He (pbuh) said, “Not with this I am sent to you. I have brought you from Allah the Message He has sent me with, and I have conveyed that with which I have been sent to you. If you accept it, there will be goodness for you in the life of this world and the hereafter. But if you return it to me rejected, I will wait patiently for the Decree of Allah (Exalted be He) until He judges between you and me.”
They said, “If you do not fulfill these things for us, then ask favours for yourself. Ask your Lord to send with you an angel who affirms what you say, and answers us back on your behalf. Ask Him to bestow on you gardens, palaces, and treasures of gold and silver so you will be in no need of what we see you wanting; for you go to the markets and seek a livelihood as we do. We can thus acknowledge your superiority and rank in the Sight of your Lord, if you are a Messenger as you claim.”
He (pbuh) said, “I shall not do this. I am not the one who asks of his Lord such things. I am not sent to you with this. Allah has sent me as a giver of glad tidings and a warner. If you accept what I have come to you with, there will be goodness for you in the life of this world and the hereafter. But if you return it to me rejected, I will wait patiently for the Decree of Allah until He judges between you and me.”1
The only thing that would convince the Arabs of Makkah to believe was to see a physical miracle that would instantly turn land into sea or a desert into a garden. This alone could have persuaded them. The Qur’an describes them saying:
(They say, “We will not believe you until you break open a spring from the ground for us. Or (until) you have a garden of date palms and grapes and make rivers gush forth within them in force and abundance. Or you make the heavens fall upon us in fragments as you have claimed, or you bring Allah and the angels before (us) face to face. Or you have a house of gold or you ascend into the sky. And (even then), we will not believe in your ascension until you bring down to us a book we may read.” Say (O Muhammad), “Exalted is my Lord! Am I anything but a human messenger?”)2
Nothing of what they demanded was hard or difficult for Divine Power. (If We (Allah) willed, We could send down to them from the heaven a sign for which their necks would remain humbled.)3
Rather, Divine Wisdom insisted on elevating the human mind, which they depreciated. Allah has not given mankind a mind capable of miracles – when paid attention to and cared for – to have His gift wasted and to instead fulfill the wishes of some ignorant people who stultified themselves and their minds and refused to listen to their reason and instinct while asking for material miracles in order to believe their Prophet.4
Miracles that supported past Messages did not prevent denial of and disbelief in them; there was no use then in sending more. (Nothing stops Us (Allah) from sending signs but that the people of old denied them.)5
Most of the past nations, in spite of the miraculous signs sent to them, did not respond to the truth or to the call of the messengers, not because of insufficient evidence but, rather, because of arrogant obstinacy. Thus, torment came down upon them all, as dictated by the Law of Allah that never changes regarding the destruction of those who knowingly deny the signs.6 Allah Almighty says: (Not one of the towns, of those that We destroyed, believed before them (though We sent them signs).)7
When obduracy goes as far as inhibiting people from belief, even when they see a material, visible miracle it leaves them without excuse or hope of reform. Thus, torment becomes justified against them.
Time and again signs were sent, time and again people denied them, and time and again the deniers were destroyed; so why would these people believe because of a miracle sent to them, when they were no better than those destroyed?8 Allah Almighty then poses the self-evident question:
(Will they then believe?)9
A different course had to be pursued with humanity in the Last Message; a course that would compel people to respect the human mind for their own good and, more importantly, for the good of future generations.
Allah gratified humanity in its childhood with all kinds of dazzling miracles until it became strong and mentally mature. He left it to use its mental gifts to recognize right from wrong, either for people to destroy themselves through disbelief in spite of clear evidence or rescue themselves through faith upon clear evidence.10
Thus was the decision made that the Ever-Glorious Qur’an be the greatest and everlasting miracle of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the irrefutable evidence on which he (pbuh) would rely in his Call. (Is it not sufficient for them that We (Allah) have sent down to you the Book (the Qur’an) which is recited to them? Verily, herein is mercy and a reminder (or an admonition) for a people who believe.)11
The miracles of past prophets were something other than the Message they preached. The healing gift of ‘Isa (Jesus (pbuh) ) was separate from the Gospel, and the staff of Musa (Moses (pbuh) ) was separate from the Torah. Allah Almighty willed that the miracle supporting the Last Message be inseparable from its essence. Thus, the truths of the Message and the proof of its truthfulness are in one Book.
The Noble Qur’an – with the laws of moral, social, and justice laws it contains and the ethics, virtues, and rectitude it implants – is the very Message of Islam and its miracle.
The Noble Qur’an testifying to the prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh) is not like the turning of Musa’s staff into a snake or ‘Isa bringing the dead to life, giving sight to those born blind, or healing the leper.
Even though these acts only occurred at the hands of prophets, and the populace responded to them, they were irrelevant to the mission of a prophet or the aims of Divine Revelation and Law. As for the Noble Qur’an, it attests to prophethood and the truth of Islam, just as healing attests to medicine.12 Thus, the human instinct naturally responds to the Divine Words, finding in them guidance and healing.
Islam refuses to pressure the mind or the will to believe. It builds belief on absolute mental freedom and does not resort to miracles that compel the power of mind to instill certainty.
Rather, Islam draws the mind to the wondrous signs of creation and the moral values that the Message contains, and urges it to use its faculties to accept or reject belief.
The Noble Qur’an addresses the mind directly, unchaining it from the fetters that have restrained it and restoring its natural function.13
It opens the eyes and hearts of people so that they may contemplate the endless wonders of creation in the heavens, on the earth, and in themselves, all testifying to the One Almighty, All-Powerful God, and to the truthfulness of the Message of God’s Oneness:
(Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, and the ships which sail through the sea with that which benefits mankind, and the water (rain) which Allah sends down from the sky and makes the earth alive therewith after its death, and the moving (living) creatures of all kinds that He has scattered therein, and in the veering of winds and clouds which are held between the sky and the earth, are indeed Ayat (proofs, evidence, signs) for people who use reason.)14
Certainly, these wondrous spectacles, when reflected on with open eyes and a conscious heart, as the Noble Qur’an urges, will cause a shiver to run through the body from the Mightiness of Allah’s Power.
In each of them lies the miracle that inspires hearts and guides souls to their Maker. True faith is formed by contemplating the signs in the universe after freeing the mind from the dullness of familiarity and inattention and starting to watch the universe with new feelings, inquisitive looks, and a heart receptive to faith, walking the earth as a pioneer who has first landed on it; where every flash attracts the eyes, every sound draws the ears, and every movement interests the senses; where the whole being is amazed by the successive marvels meeting the eyes, heart, and emotions… that is the miraculous work of the Noble Qur’an on souls15.
(Do they not look at the camels, how they are created? At the heaven, how it is raised? At the mountains, how they are rooted and fixed firm? And at the earth, how it is spread out?)16
(Do they not see the birds above them, spreading out their wings and folding them in? None holds them aloft except the Most Merciful (Allah). Verily, He is the All-Seer of everything.)17
(Have they not looked at the heaven above them, how We have made it and adorned it, and there are no rifts in it? And the earth We have spread it out, and set thereon mountains standing firm, and have produced therein every kind of lovely growth (plants). )18
(Say: “Behold all that is in the heavens and the earth,” but neither signs nor warners benefit those who believe not.)19
(See you not that Allah has subjected for you whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth, and has completed and perfected His Graces upon you, (both) apparent and hidden?)20
(Have they not seen how We drive water (rain clouds) to barren land, and therewith bring forth crops providing food for their cattle and themselves? Will they not then see?)21
(Have they not traveled through the land and have hearts wherewith to understand and ears wherewith to hear? Verily, it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts that are in the breasts that grow blind.)22
(It is Allah Who has subjected to you the sea, that ships may sail through it by His Command, and that you may seek of His Bounty, and that you may be thankful, and has subjected to you all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. It is all as a favor and kindness from Him. Verily, in that are signs for a people who give thought.)23
That is the miraculous effect of the Qur’an; the living sign and miracle of the Last Prophet of Islam (pbuh). As long as humans respect their minds, the value of this miracle shall persist. It shall persist as long as the mind remains the most precious commodity and people use it to judge matters – unprejudiced.24
1-Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawiyyah, The Talk that Took Place between the Messenger of Allah r and the Chiefs of Quraish, vol. 1.
2-Translated meanings of Al-Isra’ 17: 90-93.
3- Translated meanings of Ash-Shu‘ara’ 26: 4.
4- Adapted from Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghazali, Aqidat Al-Muslim, chapter of Prophethoods, fifth edition, Dar Ad-Da‘wah.
5- Translated meanings of Al-Isra’ 17: 59.
6- Adapted from Sayyid Qutb, In the Shade of the Qur’an, interpretation of Surat Al-Anbiya’ [21: 5], thirty-sixth edition, Dar Al-Shorouk.
7- Translated meanings of Al-Anbiya’ 21: 6.
8- Sayyid Qutb, In the Shade of the Qur’an, Surat Al-Anbiya’ [21: 6].
9- Translated meanings of Al-Anbiya’ 21: 6.
10- Adapted from Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghazali, Aqidat Al-Muslim, chapter of Prophethoods, fifth edition, Dar Ad-Da‘wah.
11- Translated meanings of Al-‘Ankabut 29: 51.
12- Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghazali, Aqidat Al-Muslim, chapter of Prophethoods, fifth edition, Dar Ad-Da‘wah.
13- Adapted from Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghazali, Aqidat Al-Muslim, chapter of Prophethoods, fifth edition, Dar Ad-Da‘wah.
14-Translated meanings of Al-Baqarah 2: 164.
15 Adapted from Sayyid Qutb, In the Shade of the Qur’an, interpretation of Surat Al-Baqarah [2: 164], thirty-sixth edition, Dar Al-Shorouk.
16 Translated meanings of Al-Ghashiyah 88: 17-20.
17 Translated meanings of Al-Mulk 67: 19.
18 Translated meanings of Qaf 50: 6-7.
19 Translated meanings of Yunus 10: 101.
20 Translated meanings of Luqman 31: 20.
21 Translated meanings of As-Sajdah 32: 27.
22 Translated meanings of Al-Hajj 22: 46.
23 Translated meanings of Al-Jathiyah 45: 12-13.
24 Adapted from Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghazali, Aqidat Al-Muslim, chapter of Prophethoods, fifth edition, Dar Ad-Da‘wah.