The wall may work miracles, which may be of two kinds, one cognitive and intuitive and the other effective and efficient. Whether one or the other, if the miracle serves any religious purpose it will be regarded as a righteous act enjoined by the shar’ as something either obligatory or desirable. However, if it accomplishes something which is only permissible, it will be regarded as a thing of the world and the wali will be required to thank God for it. But if it involves anything wrong, it will expose the wall to God’s punishment and wrath. If a Muslim is lacking in miracles it does not mean any defect in his religion, nor does it degrade him in the sight of God.
The word mu jizah refers to everything which causes a violation of the ordinary phenomena of nature. This is the meaning of the word in common language as well as in the language of the first a’immah, Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal and others. Usually they call them ayat, signs. However, most of the scholars in later ages have distinguished between mu jizah and karamah; the former, they reserve for the wonders of the prophets, and the latter for those of the awliya’. The common element between the two is their violation of the ordinary phenomena.
Perfection lies in knowledge, power or self-sufficiency. You may further reduce them to two, knowledge and power; for power is either power to do something or to avoid something, which is the same as self-sufficiency. In any case, these three qualities are found in their most perfect form only in God; He it is who knows all things, can do anything, and can dispense with everything. He has asked the Prophet (pbuh) to declare that he owns none of these things by himself, “Say: I tell you not that with me are the treasures of God, nor do I know what is hidden, nor do I tell you that 1 am an angel. I but follow what is revealed to me” (16:50)…Thus he has asked him to state that he does not know the hidden, that he does not have the treasures of God with him, that he is not an angel who needs no food, drink or money, that his duty is to follow what is revealed to him, which is what religion is, and to carry out God’s commands and adore Him, in knowledge and action, inside the heart and out in the external behavior. Of these three things he has only the part which God has given him: he only knows what God reveals to him, does what He empowers him to do, and dispenses with what He enables him to dispense with from among the things people usually or generally need.
Cognitive miracles are of various kinds. For example, one may hear what others may not hear; see in waking or in dream what others may not see; and know what others may not know. He may know through revelation (wahi), inspiration (ilham), extraordinary illumination, or true insight (flrasah) – ways which are usually called disclosure (kashj); vision (mushahadah); conversation (mukhatabah), audition (sima ), all together often called kashf or mukashafah since things are disclosed to the wali by these means. Efficient miracles produce something. They are called intention (himmah), strong will (sidq), and prayer which is granted (da `wah mujabah). They may also be a pure gift of God, with which the wali has nothing to do at all. For example, He may kill the enemy of His wali without his doing anything in the matter. The words in the sacred hadith are: “Whoever works against a friend of Mine declares war against Me, and I avenge for My friend as a lion attacks its prey. ,610 Or He may soften the hearts for him, create love in them for him, and so on. Again, things which are revealed to him may be revealed to him through someone else. “Good news,” the Prophet says, “may be revealed in dreams, which either the person himself sees or someone else sees for him.”681 The Prophet also referred to it when he said, “You are witnesses of God on earth. ,682 In short, miracles, cognitive or effective, may proceed either from the wall himself or from someone else in his place. God may also let others know about him or do things for him which he may not even imagine… However, when a miracle proceeds from someone else on his behalf, he will be one of its causes, and will be contributing to it…
If a miracle, cognitive or effective, accomplishes anything useful in the religion it is a righteous act commanded by the shay `as something obligatory or at least desirable. But if it produces something which is only permissible it will be one of the worldly goods for which the wall should be grateful to God. But if they produce or involve anything unlawful, whether forbidden or undesirable, they will call for God’s wrath and punishment. Bal’am Ibn Ba’ura’683 is a case in point. He was given miracles but, as the Quran says, “he passed them by; therefore Satan followed him and he went astray” (7:175). Sometimes the person is to be excused, since he may err in his judgment or may be influenced by someone, or does not reflect on the issue properly, or does not have sufficient knowledge, or is passing through an abnormal state of mind, or is an invalid, or cannot dispense with the thing. His case will then be like that of Barah Al-`Abid.684
A miracle is censured either on account of the cause which produces it or the purpose for which it is performed. An example of the former is if you pray to God in some way which is forbidden, transgressing the limits you should observe in calling upon God. He has said, “Call on your Lord with humility and in private. For God does not love those who trespass beyond bounds” (7:55). An example of the latter is if you pray to God against someone for what he does not deserve, or pray to Him to help one who is a wrongdoer, or help him with your own will (himmah). Some intoxicated mystics, for example, assist and help wrongdoers. if they are mad or emotionally ill or insane they will not be taken to task for what they do. I have elsewhere discussed those things for which one may be excused and those things for which one may not. But if, on the other hand, they are sane and can exercise their will knowingly they will be acting like Bal`am. For whoever works a miracle in a wrong way or with a wrong purpose will be either forgiven like Barah or punished like Bal`am.
To sum up, from the point of view of religion miracles are of three kinds: commendable, reprehensible and permissible, neither to be praised nor to be condemned. Of the permissible, those that serve a good purpose will be considered a blessing, but those that do not will be like any permissible thing which serves no serious purpose, like a game or play… It should also be noted that if a Muslim works no miracles, cognitive or effective, it will not cause any harm to his religion. If he is not given the knowledge of something hidden or not given power over some object of nature, it is no dishonor to him. It may even prove better for his religion unless he were asked to perform it as a duty or as something commended. On the other hand, if he fails to do something of the religion, obligatory or commended, he will be imperfect and will be liable to blame and punishment or will be deprived of a reward. By acquiring knowledge of the religion or imparting it to others, or enjoining its learning upon people, one wins the pleasure of God, His reward and blessing; but by acquiring knowledge of nature or gaining power over it one does not secure God’s pleasure or reward except when it is part of the religion. One should be thankful to God for it and should see that it does not involve him in any sin.
Author: Ibn Taymiyyah
Islamic Topic: RANKS OF THE BELIEVERS
Source: Book: [Majmu `at ar-Rasa'il wa al-Masa'il 5:2-9] / Also mentioned in “Ibn Taymiyyah Expounds on Islam”
Audio about the miracles of Prophets