God can choose to reveal a code of conduct to mankind, and require man to abide by this law. He can also choose to punish those who do not abide by this revealed law, and reward those who do. This is all possible for God to do, not necessary nor impossible.

God can also choose to reveal those commandments to a single man, so that this man can then deliver those commandments to the rest of mankind. This man would be called a prophet. However, given the many claimants to prophethood, and it being impossible for all of them to be truthful[1], God can choose to distinguish the true prophets from the false ones by way of a miracle.

Miracles

A miracle is a negation of nomic necessity, which God can aid His prophet with, in order to prove this prophet’s truthfulness to doubters. It is equivalent to God saying: “this man tells the truth about Me.”

The miracle’s validity as a means to distinguish true prophets, is based on the fact that God is the only creator. This necessitates that God be the creator of normalcy, since normalcy is nothing more than a collection of events, and all events depend on a creator for their existence. So if normalcy is negated, and this negation aids a claimant to prophethood, then this signals God’s support for this claimant to prophethood. As such, if we know a miracle occurred for some claimant to prophethood, then we know that this claimant to prophethood is truthful.

For example: it is nomically necessary for contact with fire to entail in a subsequent burn. In other words, whenever God creates contact between the human body and a flame, God ordinarily then creates a burn for this human body[2]. So if a claimant to prophethood is thrown into a great fire by his enemies, and then comes out of it unscathed, the Mukalaf comes to know that God negated normalcy to aid this claimant. This is proof that this aided person has God’s support, and proof for this person’s prophethood.

The Mutakalimeen have constructed a useful analogy to help conceptualize the above.

The Analogy

Imagine you were attending an important gathering at the royal palace. In the throne-room, you see the king sitting atop his throne. Surrounding the king are his guards, his viziers, as well as the noblemen of the kingdom.

Suddenly a stranger enters the throne-room, and begins offering a declaration to the crowd. Everyone else falls silent and listens to this stranger’s speech. The stranger begins: “O people, I am a messenger from your king to you.” The stranger points to the king, who is sitting on the throne in front of him. The stranger continues: “The words which I will speak to you are not my own, but are the words of your king who sent me. Whatever I command, I command in your king’s name. Whatever I forbid, I forbid in your king’s name.”

You notice that the king is looking directly at this stranger, and can clearly hear this stranger make those claims. If the stranger were a liar, with a gesture of his hand the king could order his guards to seize this stranger and behead him where he stands. But the king does not do that. Instead, the king silently listens to the stranger’s declaration.

The stranger continues: “Whoever obeys those commandments which I will deliver to you from your king, the king has promised to reward graciously tomorrow morning. And whoever disobeys those commandments, the king has threatened to behead tomorrow morning…” The stranger finishes his declaration by saying: “…and to prove that I really am a messenger from the king, the king has told me that he would stand up and then sit down three times consecutively after I complete this sentence.”

Once the stranger completes this sentence, all eyes turn to the king. Suddenly the king- and without uttering a word to the crowd- stands up then sits down, then stands up then sits down, then stands up then sits down.

Now we ask: at this moment, and after witnessing what transpired in this gathering, can there be any doubt that this stranger is a true messenger from the king? No. Even if the king verbally declared “He is indeed my messenger” then this would not have been any more convincing. Rather, an observer to this scene would come to know that the stranger really is a messenger from the king. And out of desire for the reward, and fear from the punishment, this observer would behave in accordance with the commandments delivered by this stranger.

The king standing up and sitting down three times consecutively, was a negation of the king’s normal behavior, which occurred upon the request of the stranger. By knowing that this event occurred, one attains certainty that this stranger was indeed truthful in his claiming to be a messenger from the king. Similarly, we can be certain that a claimant to prophethood is truthful, if God negates His normalcy in order to aid this person.


 

[1] It is impossible for all claimants to prophethood to be true prophets. This is because the different religions that those people claim to have received from the Creator, contradict one another. Necessarily then, either all claimants to prophethood are false prophets, or only some of them are true prophets.

[2] We know God created all of those events because He is the only creative actor. So anything that emerges into existence (i.e. each and every event), was created by Him.

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