Q. There are many miracles attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, e.g., splitting the moon, water flowing from his fingers in the middle of the desert so that people could perform wudu (ablution), spitting in dough and creating bread from it for a thousand people without the bread being depleted after the people had eaten, etc. (see Bukhari 4:56:830-832 for splitting the moon, 1:4:170 for the water miracle, and 5:59:428 for the feeding of a legion). These marvels are not congruent with the Qur'anic message about the Prophet, so how did these stories come about?

A. These stories, like so much of the material about the various prophets' "manaaqib," are purely folkloric. This dates back to a Judaica trope, for in Genesis 2:5, it says that God created Adam in his image. Since God is perfect, and the creation of Adam was miraculous and in Godís image, it stands to reason that Adam had to be perfect and the best of creation. In their endeavors to elevate some prophets above others, lorists created stories to make their cases. Specialists in religion, anthropology, folklore, and even history know the concepts of hagiography: wherein fantastic qualities are often attributed to personalities. For example, Christian lorists created myths that elevated Jesus above the other prophets until he reached the status of God-like, and then he eventually became God. Some even devised a story that Jesus was God's first creation, and from Jesus's "light" came future humans. Muslim lorists Islamicized this same story and claimed that Muhammad was God's first creation, and from his light came the rest of humanity. Some Muslims say that God created the world for Muhammad's pleasure, yet in the Qur'an God says: "I have not created the Jinn and humankind except to worship Me."(Q51:56) As is the case with the miracles you referenced above and many others which are not mentioned, the Muslim lorists wanted to exalt Muhammad as God's greatest creation, so they concocted these stories to bolster their case. The bread miracle you cited above is reminiscent of the Biblical story about Jesus doing the same for multitudes. These "urban legends" do not hold water, so to speak.

Posted September 2, 2013