His Miracles

The Qur'an reports that Jesus performed a series of miracles, such as giving life to birds made of clay by breathing into them; feeding people from meagre supplies, healing the blind and the lepers; and giving life to the dead, all by the permission of God. All these extraordinary performances, including the miraculous birth of Jesus, were meant to show the materialist Jews, who erroneously used to associate every incident with its immediate causes, that God can perform anything without being subject to normal causes.

Surah 5 is named after Jesus' miracle of providing "a table laden with food" (Surah 5:112-114). From the Qur'anic narrative it is not clear whether it is the story of the last supper or the feeding of the five thousand (Mark 6:34 ff; 14:12ff). Some Muslims relate it to the prayer Jesus taught his disciples, "Give us this day our daily bread." (Matthew 6:11). However the Qur'anic reference says that this occasion was "to be to us a festival". The word Eid is used, which is applied also to Islamic festivals, and so this would be appropriate for the Lord's supper, which many Christians celebrate every first day of the week also known as the Communion.

Some Muslims think that a real table came from heaven and it stayed with Jesus and his disciples for three days and then was taken into heaven. Another version says that there was no table from heaven. It was Jesus who multiplied the bread. They refer to the feeding of the five thousand (Abu Ja'far Tabari's commentary on 5:112-114). Some Sufi mystics believe that the table symbolized the truths of mystical knowledge, the nourishment of the spirit.

Although the Qur'an mentions Jesus as giving life, no details are given. In the New Testament there are three cases mentioned; the daughter of Jairus, the widow's son at Nain and Lazarus (Mark 5; Luke 7; John 11).

In Islam, it is the traditions that provide details for these and other works of Jesus, the abundant detail of which is obviously found in the New Testament. As Muslim writers came into close contact with Christians, they assimilated stories from the Bible and from legend. So there are accounts in their writings about Jesus healing the sick, raising the dead, walking on water, making loaves, and making birds out of clay.

For example, "The commentators al-Jalalan say that Jesus made for his disciples a bat, for it is the perfect bird in make, (sic) and it flew while they looked at it; but when it had gone out of their sight, it fell down dead. That he cured in one day fifty thousand persons, and that he raised Lazarus from the dead; also Shem, the son of Noah, who had been dead 4,000 years, but he died immediately; also the son of an old woman, and the daughter of a tax collector." (Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, p.231)

These stories have spurious elements in them. The miracles that are recorded in the Gospels have greater authority in preservation. In these scriptures we learn the reasons why certain miracles were performed. For example, from the raising of Lazarus Jesus demonstrated that he had the authority to raise the dead and that he was the one sent by God to be followed (John 11:25-27; 12:10-11). Jesus' final sign was to raise from the dead himself.