Do miracles (karamat) occur to some of the righteous during their lives? Can they continue after they have left the life of this world and passed over into the life of the barzakh?
A miracle is something that breaks the accustomed norms [of the universe] and is not accompanied or followed by a claim to prophethood which God makes apparent upon the hand of one of His servants who outwardly manifests righteousness, adheres to the religious law, diligently follows His prophet, has correct belief, and works to do good, whether he or she is known for it or not.
The scholars placed conditions to close the door in the face of those who would make false claims so that the issue of miracles would not lead to people leaving Islam. They closed the door of false claims by making it a condition that one adheres to the religious law and follow the Prophet, for one who adheres to the religious law does not make false claims to the miraculous. They closed the door of leaving Islam by making it a condition that miracles are not accompanied by a claim to prophethood. Believing in the miracles of the saints is one of the bases of the creed of orthodox sunni Islam. Imam al-Tahawi said, “We believe in the miracles that occur and are authenticated by the narrations of those who are trustworthy.”
Denying the miracles of the saints may bring a person out of Islam completely, and believing in them is one of the bases of the Muslim creed. The actor in the case of the miracles of the saints (karamat) is the same as in the case of the miracles of the Prophets (al-mu’jizat), He is God Alone with no partner, but He has made them manifest on the hands of the people of obedience and adherence to His law.
Imam al-Jalal al-Mahli said, “(The miracles of the saints), and they are the knowers of God or the Gnostics, as is made possible for those who are continuous in their acts of obedience, desist from committing acts of disobedience, refuse to allow themselves to be preoccupied by [worldly] pleasures and desires (are real), meaning they are possible and occur, for example when the river was flowing because of ‘Umar’s letter, or his seeing his army in Nahawand while he was standing on the minbar in Madina and saying to the leader of the army, ‘O Saria, the hilltop, the hilltop,’ warning him of the enemy that was behind the mountain, and Saria hearing his words in spite of the distance; and like Khalid drinking poison without being harmed by it, and other things that occurred to the Companions and others.
(Al-Qushayri said, “This includes the likes of a child being born without a father,”) and the transformation of an inanimate object into an animate object. The author said, this is a reality that makes particular someone else’s statement that whatever can be the miracle of a prophet can be the miracle of a saint; there is no difference between the two except for the challenge. Most of the Mu’tazilites did not allow for abnormal occurances at all from the saints, and neither did Abu Ishaq al-Isfarayni who said, “Everything that could be considered a miracle for a prophet cannot be a miracle for a saint. The extent of [their] miracles is for [their] prayers to be answered, [their] arriving at water in the desert when it was not expected, and similar things that do not consist of a break with the norms.’”
Ibn Taymiyyah says, “The Prophet made it clear that the heart has an aspect (shu’bah) of hypocrisy and an aspect of faith. If it has an aspect of hypocrisy, then it has an aspect of sainthood, and an aspect of animosity [towards God]. This is why miracles are performed at the hands of some of them, from the aspect of their faith in God and piety, these are of the miracles of the saints.”
During his mention of the hadith about calling after a lost camel Ibn Muflih said, “His saying, ‘If you hear someone calling after a lost camel in the mosque, say, ‘May God not return it to you.’’ And the saying of Ibn ‘Umar to the person in the funeral who asked forgiveness for the person and he said, ‘God will not forgive you.’ And it is said of his saying, ‘There is no nourishment’ that it is a statement meaning they will not be nourished from it at the time. And this contains an affirmation of the miracles of the saints in opposition to the Mu’tazilites.”
The scholars also mentioned that one of these miracles is the ability to perceive some things that are hidden (al-ghybiyat). Concerning this Ibn ‘Abdin says, “What is mentioned in the books of theology is that one of the miracles of the saints is perceiving some of the things that are hidden. They responded to the Mu’tazilites who use these verses as evidence for this not being possible by saying that the intended meaning is that it is made apparent without an intermediary, and the intended meaning of the messenger is the angel. So His unseen is made apparent to none without an intermediary except the angel.
As for the prophet and the saints, it is made apparent to them through the intermediary of the angel or another. We said much on this topic in our treatise entitled Drawing the Indian Sword in Defense of Our Master Khalid al-Naqshibandi, so go back to it for therein are rare pieces of beneficial knowledge. And God Most High Knows Best.”
There is no evidence to indicate that these miracles that are affirmed for the saints end with the end of their life in the world. There is evidence, rather, that indicates the opposite. It is affirmed that God protected the body of ‘Asim ibn Thabit after his death. God sent ‘Asim a kind of shade of bees that protected him from their messengers who could not cut anything off of it.” This is explicit in the miracle that God provided for him after his death.
Al-Bayjirmi said, “The question came up in the lesson about if a dead person were to miraculously recite a verse of prostration, would the person who heard it prostrate or not? He said, ‘This can be answered in that the first is what apparent, because the miracles of the saints do not come to an end with their death.
Therefore there is nothing to prevent a dead person reciting a beautiful recitation and taking pleasure in it. In this case it is legislated for the person who hears it to prostrate even though the dead person is not responsible, and similarly when it is from a discerning youth. The dead person is not like one who is forgetful or an inanimate object and the like.”
So belief in the miracles of the saints is something concerning which there is a consensus in the Muslim community, and the theologians considered it one of the bases of faith. Denying them may bring someone out of Islam and their being affirmed for the saints after their death is confirmed by its absolute possibility and authentic traditions. Death occurs to the body, not the spirit. The miracles of the saints cannot be denied during their lives or after their deaths.
And God is Most High and Knows Best.