Signs of Divine Authority
This chapter examines the meaning and purpose of miracles in Islam. Miracles in Islamic tradition serve as signs of divine authority, interpreted as such by the community of believers who ascribe events of transcendent power to prophets, Imams, and saints. For many Muslims the only miracle in the present age was the revelation of the inimitable Qur'an to the illiterate Prophet Muhammad. As the final revelation of divine guidance to humanity, Sunnis believe that the Qur'an is the decisive intervention of God in history. Miracles associated with the life of Muhammad are signs of his divine authority and of his perfection in both body and spirit. For Shiites, miracles continue to have meaning as signs of authority invested in their Imams as guardians of the esoteric meaning of the Qur'an entrusted to Ali and transmitted through the spiritual lineage of his family.
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