Types of Miracles
A) Types of Miracles in Terms of Proving the Truthfulness of Prophethood:
It is possible to divide the evidence that show that prophets are right and loyal in their causes into two:
1) Objective and material evidence.
2) Subjective evidence.
Objective and material evidence, that is, miracles, took place based on either the demand of deniers and polytheists from prophets or due to some other necessity. Miracles are completely acts of Allah.
Subjective evidence is related to the personality of prophets that convicts and persuades real believers and intellectuals. For instance, the righteousness, reliability, intelligence, honesty and similar characteristics of prophets that are well known among the people of the community that they live are subjective evidence. Every just and merciful person has the conviction that a person with those characteristics will never tell lies, and believes in the prophet.
Objective evidence is momentary; subjective evidence is permanent.
Hazrat Khadija, the first Muslim, the respected and esteemed wife of the Messenger of Allah, believed by reasoning on subjective evidence without seeing any objective evidence.62
Similarly, Hazrat Abu Bakr believed without hesitation acting upon the offer and call of the Messenger of Allah without seeing any miracles because he had endless belief in the honesty and reliability of the Messenger of Allah.63
Similarly, Hazrat Harun (Aaron) and Yusha (Joshua) believed in the prophethood of Hazrat Musa without asking for any miracles. Thus, we can list the attitudes people showed toward the miracles of prophets as follows:
1) People with mind, apprehension, foresight and conscience did not want objective miracles; they found subjective evidence sufficient to believe. We saw the examples above.
2) Heedless and ignorant people who had the capacity to accept the truth did not find subjective evidence sufficient and needed objective miracles. After seeing the miracle, they were persuaded and believed. For instance, the magicians of Pharaoh. When they saw that the rod of Moses eliminated all of their magic, they said, “We believed in the Lord of Moses” and prostrated.64
The fact that the chapter of ar-Room informed beforehand that the Roman Empire would defeat idolatrous Persians and caused some Quraishis to believe due to that miracle about future when what the Quran foresaw happened.65
The group that benefited from miracles was this group.
3) Some people never believe no matter how many objective miracles they are shown. They lost their capacity to believe in the truth. For instance, Nimrod, Pharaoh Abu Jahl, etc. Their state is the state of obstinacy in unbelief.66
As a matter of fact, it is mentioned in the Quran that although the prophets showed obvious miracles, they were rejected by some people saying, “this is obvious magic.”67 When what the prophets stated about the future turned out to be true, they accused the prophets of prophecy.68 Those who say so belong to the third group.
B) Types of Miracles in Terms of Affecting Unbelievers:
The miracles that prophets show to unbelievers are divided into two:
a) Miracles of Guidance: They are the miracles that prophets show in order to convince people that they are the messengers of Allah and that their words are true and right.
b) Miracles of Destruction: They are the miracles that are shown in order to destroy the people who have no capacity to believe and who make fun of the divine torture and say, “Bring that torture, we want to see it”. For instance, the destruction of the nations of Ad, Thamud, Noah, Hud and Lot.69
C) Types of Miracles in Terms of Affecting Believers:
Miracles can be divided into two in terms of affecting believers:
a) The miracles that are shown to prove the prophethood based on requests. They are called “BURHAN” (evidence). Those people with the capacity of belief believe when the miracle is shown. Those who believed before that miracle strengthened their beliefs with it.
b) Divine help that takes place without any request: For instance, God Almighty meets the needs of Muslims like water and food through miracles. They are called “NUSRAH” (assistance).
The former is related to the personality of the prophet only; the state of the believers, their taqwa, and being in a state to deserve that help play an important role in the latter.70
D) Classification of Miracles in Terms of Being Extraordinary:
Miracles can be classified as follows in terms of being extraordinary:
a) The event that is shown as miracle itself is extraordinary. That is, they take place beyond the laws and causes that are valid in the universe. For instance, the rod is transformed into a snake; water springs through the fingers, and similar miracles,..
b) The event is not contrary to the customs. However, its time is extraordinary. For instance, the flood of Noah, earthquakes, the disaster of hurricane, etc.
They are possible events. However, if they take place related to the prophet at the desired time, they are regarded as extraordinary and miracles.
c) The event and the time of its occurrence is not extraordinary. However, the way it happens is extraordinary. For instance, the clouds gathered and it rained as a result of the prayer of the Prophet although there were no clouds...
d) No aspect of the event is extraordinary but the fact that it was informed beforehand is extraordinary and a miracle. For instance, the Quran informed beforehand that the Roman Empire would defeat Persians.71
62 Tajrid trns., IX, 283
63 See: M. Kandahlawi, Hayatu’s-Sahaba, I, 83-85
64 See: al-A’raf, 120-122; Taha, 70; ash-Shuara, 46-48.
65 See: Tirmidhi, Interpretation of the chapter ar-Rum
66 For the classification, see: Ö. R. Doğrul, Asr-ı Saadet, 11/191
67 al-Hijr, 6-15; al-Ahkaf, 7; al-Qamar, 2; Yunus, 2; al-Muddaththir, 23; al-Anbiya, 3
68 at-Tur, 29: al-Haqqa, 42
69 Ö. R. Doğrul, ibid, 11/363
71 ibid, II, 359 ff.