If God signals that a claimant to prophethood is truthful by supporting them with a miracle[1], then we come to know that it is rationally impossible for this claimant to be a liar. This is because a signal is nothing but an expression of what the signaler has signified[2], and we have already established that God does not signify lies[3]. Thus, if God signals that a man is telling the truth, then this man is necessarily telling the truth. And by extension, we also come to know that it is rationally impossible for a miracle to occur for a false prophet.

So if it is said: “you agree that it is possible for God to transform a staff into a snake. That it is possible for God to create a false prophet. That it is possible for God to make this liar throw a staff. So if each of the above is possible, then it should be possible for God to transform the liar’s staff into a snake when this liar throws it. Entailing that it is possible for a miracle to occur for a false prophet.”

We respond: we do not submit that the possibility of each potential event in a posited set of events, entails that the occurrence of the entire set is possible[4]. Consider the propositions: 

A.  Zayd is at rest at moment T1.
B.  Zayd is in motion at moment T1.

Each of A and B is possible. Since at T1, either rest or motion can be created for Zayd. However, it is impossible for both possibilities to occur[5][6]. And God’s Power does not pertain to impossibilities.

In a similar fashion, it is possible for God to transform a staff into a snake. It is possible for God to create a false prophet. It is possible for God to make this false prophet throw a staff. But all of the aforementioned possibilities cannot occur, such that a miracle occurs for the liar. As this would entail God’s signifying a lie, which is rationally impossible.

Sorcery

So if the opponent says: “your religion teaches that sorcery is a reality. And through magic, negations of nomic necessity can be achieved. As such, it is possible for any reported ‘miracle’ to have actually been the work of a deceptive sorcerer claiming to be a prophet from God.”

We respond: if we grant that nomic necessity can be negated through witchcraft, then what applied in the above section will apply here. This is because God is the only creator. And so everything that occurs in the world, including those events that occur through witchcraft, can only occur if He wills for them to happen. And in the same way He is able to not-create burning for cotton when it connects with fire, He is also able to not-create the event which would normally follow from the actions of the sorcerer. Thus, it becomes rationally impossible for nomic necessity to be negated for a sorcerer claiming to be a prophet for the reason mentioned above.

In reality however, we do not submit that what occurs through sorcery is nomically impossible. It is part of normalcy, except that most people are unaware of it. In the same way the result of a particular chemical reaction is part of normalcy, except that most people are unaware of it. Hence, sorcery is taught to the sorcerer, in the same way chemistry is taught to the chemist. And what one sorcerer is able to do, is possible for anyone who was taught the same information. In the same way what one chemist is able to do, can be replicated by any other chemist who was taught the same information. This is contrary to miracles, which are neither taught nor learnt.

Given the above, the work of any sorcerer can be exposed by anyone with his knowledge. Such that, if a false prophet misguides many people by using magic to fake a miracle, then this would motivate others who possess the same knowledge to expose his lies. And it would become nomically necessary for those people to appear to the sorcerer’s misguided followers, and show them that the alleged miracle is actually something that can normally be done by anyone who has the right knowledge[7][8].

The Dajjal

So if it is said: “what about the Dajjal? Your religion teaches that he will be supported with extraordinary events despite being a liar.”

We respond: the signification of a negation of normalcy, for the prophethood of the one the event supports, is only valid if the one being supported is a claimant to prophethood. As for the one who does not even claim to be a prophet, then the occurrence of such an event would obviously not be proof for his prophethood.

With the above in mind we say: what has been authentically transmitted from our Prophet ﷺ is that the Dajjal will claim to be God, not a prophet. So the negation of nomic necessity for the Dajjal is not proof for his prophethood. Nor are those events proof for the Dajjal’s divinity. Because it is rationally impossible for the necessary being to be a physical body, walking around on earth. Also because a true prophet, Muhammed ﷺ, warned us against him. Nor are those events proof that God signified the Dajjal’s divinity. Because the Dajjal himself claims to be the creator of those nomic impossibilities[9]. Also because the fools who will believe in the Dajjal’s divinity, disbelieve in the true God’s existence, and one cannot believe that a being signifies anything if one believes that this being does not exist[10].

And if it is said: “what about the narration which informs us that the Dajjal will first claim to be a prophet, before claiming to be God?[11]

We respond: a singular narration cannot impact what has been established to be true with decisive certainty[12]. And we have offered decisive rational arguments for our position.


 

[1] In summary: if normalcy is negated, and this negation aids a claimant to prophethood, then this signals God’s support for this claimant. Such that this negation of nomic necessity becomes equivalent to God’s saying: “this man tells the truth about Me.” More on this here.

[2] In the same way a nod signals that the one nodding has signified approval.

[3] God does not Signify Lies.

[4] In other words, the opponent has committed the fallacy of composition.

[5] Since it is impossible for a body to be both in motion and at rest simultaneously.

[6] Zayd’s motion is possible by virtue of what it is. But while Zayd is at rest, Zayd’s motion becomes impossible by virtue of what is other than it. More on intrinsic and extrinsic rational judgments here.

[7] Analogously: suppose someone who knew how to light a flame, met a group of primitive people who lacked this knowledge. This person then lit a flame in their presence, claimed that this is a miracle that proves his prophethood, and those people followed this liar as a result. 

If belief in this liar’s prophethood becomes widespread, then motivation to disprove his prophethood will naturally increase. And normalcy dictates that individuals who know how to light a flame, will approach those misguided followers, and show them that lighting a flame is not at all miraculous. But that it is something that is possible for anyone with enough knowledge.

[8] Such that, if a claimant to prophethood is aided by what is apparently extraordinary, the occurrence of this event becomes widespread to the masses, and no one appears to challenge this claimant to prophethood, we can come to know that this extraordinary event is actually a miracle. And in this is proof that the miracles of the prophets– like splitting the sea, or raising the dead, or multiplying food and water–  are not achievable through witchcraft. For if they were, the sorcerers would demonstrate that they aren’t miracles by replicating them through magic. Rather, the work of sorcerers is subtle, and limited to simple things like the manipulation of their victims’ emotions, or deluding them with visual trickery. Consider how the Quran describes the magic of Pharaoh’s sorcerers (20:65-66):

قَالُوا يَا مُوسَىٰ إِمَّا أَن تُلْقِيَ وَإِمَّا أَن نَّكُونَ أَوَّلَ مَنْ أَلْقَىٰ
The sorcerers told Musa: O Musa, either you throw [i.e. initiate the contest] or we will be the first to throw.

قَالَ بَلْ أَلْقُوا ۖ فَإِذَا حِبَالُهُمْ وَعِصِيُّهُمْ يُخَيَّلُ إِلَيْهِ مِن سِحْرِهِمْ أَنَّهَا تَسْعَىٰ
Musa responded: you throw. [So they threw their ropes and sticks] and their magic made their ropes and sticks appear to be moving snakes.

Notice that the ropes and sticks of the sorcerers didn’t transform into snakes. The magic only made them appear to be snakes for someone looking from afar. Contrary to Musa (عليه السلام)’s staff, which actually did turn into a great serpent, and devoured the ropes and sticks of the magicians to prove it. This is also why the sorcerers converted to Islam (the religion of Musa). They realized that it is impossible for what occurred at his (عليه السلام)’s hands to be mere magic.

[9]  Unlike a claimant to prophethood, whose claim is: if a miracle occurs, then it signals the true God’s support for me, because the true God is the creator of the miracle.

[10] Since belief that the true God signals anything, is tangential to first believing that the true God exists. And so the one who believes that the Dajjal is God, cannot argue that the true God is supporting the Dajjal. For belief in the Dajjal’s divinity is mutually exclusive with belief in the existence of the true God.

[11] The opponent refers to a narration that Ibn Hajar Al-‘Asqalani mentioned, and weakened, in Fath Al-Bari (Volume 13, page 91).

[12] Because a singular narration is indecisively reliable (Dhani Al-Thubut). Whereas a sound rational argument decisively entails its conclusion. And when what is indecisive conflicts with what is decisive, that which is decisive takes precedence. So we interpret the singular narration in light of the decisive proof.

In this case, the singular narration in question is weak. And it is ultimately unproblematic. For even if we suppose that the Dajjal will initially claim to be a prophet, it does not follow that any negations of normalcy will occur before his later claim to divinity. And the negation of normalcy for a claimant to divinity, is not proof of their divinity for the reasons offered above.

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