MIRACLES OF THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD
By Adem Yakup.
Translated by Ron Evans. Edited by Abdassamad Clarke.
London: Ta-Ha Publishers, 2006. Pp. 88. ISBN1-842000-78-0 (PB).
Originally written in Turkish, Adem Yakup’s Miracles of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him blessings and peace, is another product of the well-moneyed Haroon Yahya school of vulgarisation – one of several in their newfound collaboration with Ta-Ha Publishers – printed on marbled paper with home-made typesetting but a glossy cover representing the splitting of the moon. It has ten chapters including an introduction and a conclusion, entitled “the miracles Allah granted to the Prophet prior to Prophethood,” “the miracle of the Revelation,” “the miracle of the Qur’an,” “the miracle of the Prophet Muhammad’s noble character,” “some miracles in the Prophet’s life,” “the efficacy of the Prophet’s prayers,” “Allah’s miraculous protection of the Prophet” and “the knowledge of the unseen given to our Prophet,” the latter being the longest with 17 pages, while the rest vary between five and 10. Its sources appear to be a Turkish abridgment of Imam al-Suyutī’s al-Khas.ā’is. al-Kubrā, the Shifā of Qād.ī `Iyād., a 1998 Prophetic biography by a Salih Suruc among other modern Turkish sources and a generous helping of Internet websites.
At 88 pages and C5 format, Yakup’s book is much too slim to fulfill the promise of its title but would have offered good reading for pre-teens and young adults (10-16 years) if only its English had been brought up to par. “The first thing with which the revelation began for the Messenger of Allah was correct dreams in sleep,” reads the “Revelation” chapter, instead of “truthful dreams” or “dreams that came true”; “Be firm, O Uhud!,” the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, is translated as saying in the chapter on the knowledge of the unseen, “for on you there are no more than a Prophet [!], a Siddiq, and two martyrs,” instead of “there is no less” or “there is none other than a Prophet, etc.”; and the chapter on the Prophet’s noble character mentions that he was “an untaught prophet” when the correct one-word translation of ummī would be “unlettered,” “unschooled,” but hardly “untaught” since the Qur’an states that Allah Most High taught him and, by His order, the angel Gibril taught the Prophet as well. It doesn’t help that the book also sources the latter infelicitous translation to a Turkish edition of Afzalur Rahman’s Encyclopaedia of Seerah and the Indian edition of Fazlul Karim’s massacre of Ih.yā’ `Ulūm al-Dīn.
Related offerings in English from Egypt and the Subcontinent are floating around the book market, such as Book of Evidences: The Miracles of the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) (a rendering of the section on miracles from Ibn Kathīr’s Sīra) by a Ali Mwinyi Mziwa, and there is a Mufti Saiful Islam’s booklet by the name of Miracles of the Holy Prophet as well as a Abdul Munim Hashmi’s Miracles of the Prophets. However, there is still no presentable work on the topic in English.
Even in Arabic, contemporary Prophetological literature has been notoriously poor on the aspect of the Prophet’s miracles due to the scientistic preoccupations of the age which gave us Muhammad Haykal’s Life of Muhammad and Muhammad Yusuf Ali’s Quranic translation. The aim then was to show Westerners that Islam is a modern religion, devoid of what they misconceived as resembling the hagiographical fictions of other faiths. The Schuonian Perennialists quite similarly, though at the opposite extreme of materialism, try to eviscerate those breach-of-natural-law mu`jizāt, or “stunning miracles,” of their literal meaning by poeticising and symbologising them – an undercurrent observable in Lings’ Life of Muhammad, for example. I remember watching William Chittick in his Stony Brook office tell a bemused Muslim student how “all the great religions tell wonderful, didactic myths about their founders.” I ran after the student to check that he was, of course, aware such chit-chat necessitated an Uhud-size grain of salt.
The legacy of such preoccupations undoubetdly lingers among Anglophone publishers and readers alike, perhaps ensuring that the two most exhaustive hadith collections ever compiled on the Prophet’s miracles, Imam al-Bayhaqi’s seven-volume Dalā’il al-Nubuwwa and Qadi Yusuf al-Nabhani’s 900-page, tiny-lettered H.ujjatullah `alā al-`Ālamīn bi-Mu`jizāt Sayyid al-Mursalīn (The Great Divine Proof in the Stunning Miracles of the Liegelord of Messengers) remain, to this day, untranslated.
Many Muslims are still brought up to think that the Prophet – Allah bless him and give him peace – didn’t perform any miracles except bringing the Qur’ān, in blissful ignorance of the mention of other miracles in the Qur’ān itself – the Night Journey, the splitting of the moon, the blinding of the entire pagan army with a handful of dust and the vision of Allah Most High to name some. At least, Yakup’s book may help in the ongoing education of many post-modern Muslims that there are, indeed, many great Prophetic miracles besides the Magnificent Qur’an, such as those mentioned above as well as the speaking of the trees and the multiplication of food and water. But it will fail to impress upon them that the rest of the authentically related miracles are beyond count.
Gibril Fouad Haddad
PAGE 442 ≅ Index of Qur’ānic Verses
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