Miracles: How Far they Prove Christ’s Mission
by Maulana Muhammad Ali
The Light (Pakistan), 1st March 1922 Issue (Vol. 1, No. 6, pp. 2–3)
The Gospels are full of the stories of the miracles wrought by Jesus Christ, and in them, as in nothing else, is thought to lie the argument of his Divinity. Even the central fact in the Christian religion is a miracle: if Jesus did not rise from among the dead, the Christian faith and the preaching of Christianity is in vain.
Religious duties, moral teachings and spiritual awakening do not occupy the place which miracles do in the Gospels. The dead are made to rise from their graves, multitudes of the sick are healed, water is turned into wine, devils are cast out, and many other wonderful deeds are done.
Suppose, for the sake of argument, that this record of the Gospels is literally true. What was the effect of this on the lives of those who witnessed these miracles? The miraculous in a prophet’s life is needed to assure the people of the truth of his message and to convince the ordinary mind that being a possessor of extraordinary powers he must be followed in spiritual matters. The bringing about of a moral and spiritual transformation is admittedly the real object, the miraculous being only needed as a help towards the attainment of that object. The former, at most, may be looked upon as the means to an end; the latter is the end itself.
The best evidence of miracles thus consists in the effect they produce, and the most important question for us therefore is that, supposing Jesus wrought all the miracles recorded in the Gospels, what was the result? How great was the success he attained in bringing about a transformation? One Gospel tells us that Jesus was followed by multitudes of sick persons who were all healed; another says that many were healed.
Now, if either of these statements were true, not a single person should have been left in the land who should not have believed in Jesus. It is inconceivable that those who saw such extraordinary deeds done by Jesus Christ should have rejected him as a liar. They saw the sick healed and the dead raised to life and yet they all disbelieved in him as if not a single miracle had been wrought! And how strange that even the great multitudes that were healed do not seem to have been believers in Jesus, though the Gospels tell us that faith was a condition prior to being healed; for if even these multitudes had believed in Jesus he would have had a following at the time of his crucifixion far more numerous than he actually had, and sufficiently large to baffle the authorities.
But what do we find? The following of Jesus is poor, not only as regards number, but also as regards its character. From among the five hundred that followed him he chose twelve who were to sit on twelve thrones, who were to be entrusted with the work after the Master, and these twelve showed a strange weakness of character, the greatest of them, Peter, denying Jesus thrice for fear of being treated harshly by the enemies, and not even hesitating to curse when he thought that a curse was the only means of escape. The others even durst [dare] not approach Jesus, while one of the chosen ones turned out to be a traitor. On an earlier occasion, when Jesus asked them to pray for him, he found them all asleep. Often had he to rebuke them for having no faith. Who was it in the world on whom the miraculous deeds of Jesus, if they were ever done, made an impression?
The mere fact that Jesus was unable to bring about any transformation worth the name, and to make any impression either on his friends or foes, is a sufficient testimony that the stories of miracles were invented afterwards.