Quran Inconsistency

Did the Messengers Perform Miracles?

Sam Shamoun

The Quran, in more than one place, expressly denies that a warner is capable of performing miracles:

Then, it may be that you will give up part of what is revealed to you and your breast will become straightened by it because they say: Why has not a treasure been sent down upon him or an angel come with him? You are ONLY a warner (innama anta natheerun); and Allah is custodian over all things. S. 11:12 Shakir

The unbelievers say, 'Why has a sign not been sent down upon him from his Lord?' Thou art ONLY a warner (innama anta munthirun), and a guide to every people. S. 13:7 Arberry

And they say: "Why are not signs sent down to him from his Lord? Say: "The signs are only with Allah (qul innama al-ayatu AAinda Allahi), and I am ONLY a plain warner (wa-innama ana natheerun mubeenun)." S. 29:50 Hilali-Khan

They ask: When will this promise be (fulfilled)? - If ye are telling the truth. Say: "As to the knowledge of the time, it is with God alone (Qul innama alAAilmu AAinda Allahi): I am (sent) ONLY to warn plainly in public (wa-innama ana natheerun mubeenun)." S. 67:25-26 Y. Ali

These passages are rather emphatic that Allah does not enable a warner to do signs and wonders, nor does he grant a warner the knowledge of the hour of judgement. This is due to the Arabic word innama which is a particle that negates whatever is stated in the immediate context, which in these specific verses negates the possibility of warners being able to perform wonders or of knowing the end time.

To help illustrate the point regarding the implication that the particle has on the meaning of these verses note how it is used in the following texts:

This is a clear message for mankind in order that they may be warned thereby, and that they may know that He is ONLY One God (annama huwa ilahun wahidun), and that men of understanding may take heed. S. 14:52 Pickthall

Allah hath said: Choose not two gods. There is ONLY One God (innama huwa ilahun wahidun). So of Me, Me only, be in awe. S. 16:51 Pickthall

Is there any Muslim who would deny that innama is completely negating the idea of there being any other god besides Allah?

Moving along, the Quran further says that the apostles of Allah were sent only as agents of good news and as warners, being the means through which Allah warned the people:

And We send not the Messengers but (illa) as givers of glad tidings and as warners (wa munthireena). So whosoever believes and does righteous good deeds, upon such shall come no fear, nor shall they grieve. S. 6:48 Hilali-Khan

And We send not the Messengers except (illa) as giver of glad tidings and warners (wa munthireena). But those who disbelieve, dispute with false argument, in order to refute the truth thereby. And they treat My Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), and that with which they are warned, as jest and mockery! S. 18:56 Hilali-Khan

Recall that the above passages unambiguously deny that warners were capable of performing miracles… that was not part of their job description, it wasn’t one of the functions which Allah enabled them to do. And yet here we are told that Allah’s messengers were sent only as warners who also proclaimed glad tidings.

Therefore, since warners were not equipped to perform miracles and since the apostles were warners this means that the apostles were not granted the ability to perform supernatural feats and wonders. Notice the logic behind this:

  1. Allah’s warners could not perform miracles.
  2. Allah’s apostles were sent as warners.
  3. Therefore, the apostles could not perform miracles.

And lest a Muslim object to our understanding of the use of illa in these particular references, note how this very same word is used elsewhere in relation to the unity of Allah:

God bears witness that there is no god but (illa) He -- and the angels, and men possessed of knowledge -- upholding justice; there is no god but He, the All-mighty, the All-wise. S. 3:18 Arberry

And We sent no messenger before thee but We inspired him, (saying): There is no God save (illa) Me (Allah), so worship Me. S. 21:25 Pickthall

Your God is only (innama) the One God; there is no god, but (illa) He alone who in His knowledge embraces everything. S. 20:98 Arberry

Again, which Muslim would deny that in these passages illa negates any possibility that other gods besides Allah exist?

Here is another example:

He is but (illa) a servant whom we have been gracious to, and we have made him an example for the children of Israel. S. 43:59 Palmer

Muslims have no problem seeing how illa here refutes any notion of the Quran ascribing divinity to Christ.(1)

Yet if a Muslim is to remain consistent s/he must accept that the use of illa in the above citations where the apostles are said to be nothing more than warners and bringers of good news means exactly what it says.

Now this introduces a major problem within the Quran since the Muslim scripture recounts many miracles which the apostles performed. One such messenger is Jesus Christ:

We formerly delivered the book [of the law] unto Moses, and caused apostles to succeed him, and gave evident miracles to Jesus the son of Mary, and strengthened him with the holy spirit… S. 2:87 Sale

We have made some of these apostles to excel the others; among them are they to whom Allah spoke, and some of them He exalted by (many degrees of) rank; and We gave clear miracles to Isa son of Marium, and strengthened him with the holy spirit… S. 2:253 Shakir

"And (appoint him) an apostle to the Children of Israel, (with this message): ‘I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by God's leave: And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken the dead, by God's leave; and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses. Surely therein is a Sign for you if ye did believe;’" S. 3:49 Y. Ali

Then will God say: "O Jesus the son of Mary! Recount My favour to thee and to thy mother. Behold! I strengthened thee with the holy spirit, so that thou didst speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. Behold! I taught thee the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel and behold! thou makest out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My leave, and thou breathest into it and it becometh a bird by My leave, and thou healest those born blind, and the lepers, by My leave. And behold! thou bringest forth the dead by My leave. And behold! I did restrain the Children of Israel from (violence to) thee when thou didst show them the clear Signs, and the unbelievers among them said: ‘This is nothing but evident magic.’ And behold! I inspired the disciples to have faith in Me and Mine Apostle: they said, ‘We have faith, and do thou bear witness that we bow to God as Muslims.’" S. 5:110-111 Y. Ali

Therefore, how can the Quran claim that messengers like Jesus could perform supernatural feats when it expressly says that apostles were nothing more than warners and that warners could not work miracles?

To us, that looks like an obvious contradiction.

However, these verses also create another problem. When, according to Q. 6:48 and 18:56, messengers (Arabic: rasul) are sent for no other purpose than to be givers of glad tidings (bashir) and warners (nadhir), what then is the difference between a warner and a messenger? In other words, what makes a messenger a messenger, or what characteristics does a messenger have that a warner does not have?

It seems that there should be some kind of a difference, because in this article we saw how the Quran says that prophets/messengers can function in the role of a warner but not the other way around. In other words, to be a warner doesn’t automatically make a person a prophet or messenger since the Quran refers to a few warners who were neither prophets nor messengers.

What is it that makes a prophet/messenger more than a warner according to the Quran? If the difference is not performing miracles then what is it? It cannot be "bringing a message". The warner needs to have a message too, otherwise, what would be the content of his warning or his good news? Is it a "divine scripture", a book, which Allah gives to his prophets/messengers but not to his warners? Or are some simply called prophets or messengers because Allah gives them that title, and others he calls warners, even though there is no difference in what they do since all of these groups bring a message and warn those who would not believe it? Is a messenger only a warner by a different name?

Perhaps there is a Muslim who can actually clarify this mass confusion that exists within his/her scripture.

Further reading:

Was Muhammad the Last Messenger? also discusses the difference between nabi and rasul
The Roles of Muhammad


(1) To see how this passage contradicts other references in the Quran that do attribute Divine characteristics and functions to Christ we recommend the following articles:


Contradictions in the Qur'an
Answering Islam Home Page