Differences between miracles of Prophets and extraordinary abilities of other than Prophets
Fatwa No: 330280

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. What are the unique features of a Prophet? We know that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, foretold many things, but it is also said that that is also possible in the case of fortune-tellers through jinn, who can steal truths about the future, and many Prophets had performed many miracles with the help of Allaah, but it is also said that a magician can also perform magic. So what are the unique things that only Prophets can do, or what are the unique features of a Prophet which only Prophets can perform?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

The Prophets of Allaah were distinguished with receiving the divine revelation through the honorable infallible angels, unlike the magicians and fortunetellers who receive their information from the lying devils. Shaykhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote:

"The difference between the Prophet and the magician is greater than the difference between night and day. The Prophet is visited by an honorable angel who was informed by Allaah, while the magician and fortuneteller is accompanied by a devil who commands him and gives him information; Allaah, The Exalted, says (what means): {Shall I inform you upon whom the devils descend? They descend upon every sinful liar. They pass on what is heard, and most of them are liars.} [Quran 26:221-223] There is a huge difference between the two in terms of the information received, the command, the source, and the recipient. There is no room for comparison!"

The Prophets were also distinguished with the miracles proving their truthfulness. The difference between miracles and witchcraft is that a miracle is an extraordinary incident paired with the challenge that it cannot be produced by any other. Al-Jalaal Al-Mahalli  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, "A miracle, with which the Messengers are supported, is a supernatural event or ability that is contrary to the laws of nature, such as bringing the dead back to life, the execution of a whole generation, or water flowing from between the fingers, and it is paired with a challenge (to produce the like of it)..." [Jam‘ Al-Jawaami‘] On the other hand, the work of magicians can be undone by seeking refuge with Allaah from their evils; Allaah would undo their evil works and render their efforts futile.

Shaykhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote:

"This is the condition of the people of the satanic states: their devils neglect them and flee when that which drives them away is mentioned to them such as the verse of Al-Kursi (Quran 2:255). Thus, if one reads this verse during a satanic state with true intention, it will eliminate it, such as one who entered fire with a satanic state or attends the listening to whistling and clapping of hands until the devils descend upon him and speak on his tongue unknown words." [Al-Furqaan bayna Awliyaa' Ar-Rahmaan wa Awliyaa' Ash-Shaytaan]

We advise the dear questioner to read this book: Al-Furqaan bayna Awliyaa' Ar-Rahmaan wa Awliyaa' Ash-Shaytaan (The Criterion Between the Friends of Allaah and The Friends of Devil) - and An-Nubuwwaat (The Prophethoods), both by Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him. The second is a unique book that Shaykhul Islam authored to highlight the beliefs of Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jamaa‘ah regarding the difference between the Prophet of Allaah and the impostors falsely claiming prophethood. It underlines the ways of verifying the signs of prophethood and of differentiating between miracles and other extraordinary events and abilities. He  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote:

"The signs of the Prophets are essentially extraordinary, contrary to the laws of nature, and these cannot be challenged with their like. The fact that they are performed only by the Prophets of Allaah and cannot be challenged with their like are conditions for the signs and miracles of the Prophets and even in any proof. So a proof cannot be used as a proof unless it is peculiar to the matter for which it is used as a proof and it cannot be peculiar to it unless it cannot be refuted (i.e. a miracle cannot be considered proofs of Prophethood unless they are especially given to Prophets, and they cannot be especially given to Prophets unless they cannot be challenged with their like." [An-Nubuwwaat]

He  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him listed the differences between the miracles of the Prophets and the extraordinary abilities of other than Prophets. He wrote:

"Firstly, the Prophet is truthful in whatever he is informing about the divine books. The news that is received from the Prophet will never fail to occur and is never inaccurate. On the contrary, magicians and sorcerers must inevitably lie...

Secondly, the Prophet of Allaah enjoins nothing but good, justice, seeking after winning the Hereafter, worshiping Allaah alone with no partners, carrying out righteous deeds, and piety; whereas magicians and sorcerers enjoin Shirk (polytheism), injustice, indulgence in worldly pleasures, sins, and transgression.

Thirdly, the nature of witchcraft and sorcery are common among those who practice them and are not extraordinary to them. On the contrary, the miracles of the Prophets are unique to them and their followers.

Fourthly, witchcraft and sorcery are acquired by seeking to learn them and exerting effort in this regard (and as such, these acts are not beyond the ability of mankind and jinn, and this can be challenged with its like). On the contrary, prophethood cannot be acquired by personal efforts; rather, it is a blessing conferred by Allaah upon the chosen person.

Fifthly, if we hypothetically assume that prophethood is acquired by personal effort, then it would only be attained through good deeds, truthfulness, justice, and worshiping Allaah alone without associating partners with Him. It could never be attained through lying about people, let alone lying about Allaah. Were prophethood to be acquired through personal efforts, then it would definitely require truthfulness in what the person says about Allaah.

Sixthly, the work of magicians and fortune-tellers is not beyond the ability of human beings and jinn, and they are enjoined to obey the Prophets of Allaah. On the contrary, the signs of the Prophets are beyond the ability of both mankind and jinn, rather, they are extraordinary to the laws of each and every individual to whom the Prophet of Allaah is sent.

Seventhly, the work of magicians and fortune-tellers can be challenged with its like, whereas the signs and miracles of the Prophets cannot be challenged with their like by anyone.

Eighthly, witchcraft is not extraordinary to the laws of the sons of Aadam (Adam); each kind of it is familiar for a group of people other than the Prophets. The miracles of the Prophets, on the other hand, are not usual for the dishonest who invent lies about Allaah and those who believe them.

Ninthly, the miracles with which the Prophet of Allaah is supported, such as the revelation of the Quran and (Allaah) talking directly to Prophet Moosa (Moses)  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention cannot be produced by any created being, and not even by the angels; however, other extraordinary events and acts can be produced by jinn and devils.

Tenthly, if the miracles can be performed by the angels, then it is inconceivable that the angels would invent lies about Allaah and falsely inform a human being that Allaah had chosen him to deliver the divine message when it is not true; rather, this is the work of the devils. Extraordinary events and acts performed by the allies of Allaah are not uncommon among the pious, while the miracles of the Prophets are extraordinary for the pious. The allies of Allaah are honored by extraordinary events and acts due to (devotion to) worship and supplication, unlike the miracles of the Prophets, which are not earned in such a way even if people asked for them, they are not granted except with the permission of Allaah.

Eleventhly, the Prophet of Allaah has been preceded by other Prophets; he commands what the previous Prophets have commanded; his call is not unprecedented. Likewise, the magicians and fortunetellers have been preceded by peers as well.

Twelfthly, the Prophet of Allaah enjoins only what benefits the people in the worldly life and the Hereafter; he enjoins good and forbids evil. He enjoins monotheism, sincerity, and truthfulness and forbids polytheism, lying, and injustice. The Fitrah (natural instinct) and the sound intellect agree with what the Prophets bring. Their commands conform to those of the previous Prophets of Allaah. Thus, the commands of the Prophet of Allaah conform to the sound intellect and the commands of the previous Prophets, stemming from the same source." [An-Nubuwwaat, pp. 558-560]

Allaah knows best.

Related Fatwa