Miracles related to increasing the amount of available water
EIGHTH SIGN: This section concerns miracles connected with water.
INTRODUCTION: If the report of an incident involving many people is not contradicted, the incident definitely occurred, even if reported by only one or two individuals, for people, by their very nature, are inclined to call a lie a lie. If the people in question were Companions, who were more intolerant of lies than ordinary people, if the incidents narrated concerned God’s Messenger, and if the individual narrator was a well-known Companion, then that narrator narrates on behalf of all witnesses.
In any case, each miracle cited below came down through various lines of transmission and was entrusted by many Companions to thousands of exacting Tabi‘un scholars. These scholars, in turn, transmitted them to the authorities of the next age. Each age’s meticulous researchers passed them on to their successors with the utmost care and respect. Thus they reached us after passing through thousands of reliable hands.
Besides, the texts of the Traditions complied while the Prophet and his Rightly-Guided Caliphs were still alive safely reached the hands of the most brilliant Tradition scholars, such as Bukhari and Muslim, who, through the most careful examination and classification, collected, presented, and taught them. May God reward them abundantly!
The flowing of water from the fingers of God’s Messenger, as well as many people’s drinking from it, has the certainty of tawatur, for it is related by those who are incapable of agreeing upon a lie. In addition, this occurred three times before large groups of people. Many discerning researchers (especially Bukhari, Muslim, Imam Malik, Imam Shu‘ayb, and Imam Qatada) transmit this miracle from a group of renowned Companions (among them Anas, Jabir, and Ibn Mas‘ud). Out of numerous examples of such miracles, we mention only nine here.
FIRST EXAMPLE: Bukhari, Muslim, and other authentic books of Tradition relate from Anas that: “There were 300 of us with God’s Messenger at Zawra. He told us to perform wudu’ (ablution) for the afternoon prayer, but we could not find enough water. He ordered us to bring a little water, which we did, and he dipped his hands into it. I saw water run from his fingers like a fountain. All 300 people performed wudu’ with that water and drank from it.”127
Anas relates this incident on behalf of 300 persons. Would they have remained silent if he were lying?
SECOND EXAMPLE: Reliable books of Tradition, particularly Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih al-Muslim, report Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah al-Ansari as saying: “We (1,500 people) got thirsty during the expedition of Hudaybiya. God’s Messenger performed wudu’ from a leather water-bag (qirba) and then dipped his hand into it. I saw water flow from his fingers like a fountain. All 1,500 people drank from it and filled their water-bags.” Salim ibn Abi al-Ja‘d later asked Jabir how many people had been there, and the latter replied: “The water would have been enough for even 100,000 people, but there were only 1,500 of us.”128
Since this miracle was witnessed by 1,500 people, the number of its reporters should be regarded as 1,500, because people tend to resist and refuse lies. As for the Companions, who sacrificed their souls and possessions, fathers and mothers, tribes and homeland for the sake of truth and veracity, could they have remained silent if confronted with a lie, especially after
hearing the Prophet’s warning: “Whoever tells a lie concerning me on purpose should prepare for his seat in the Fire.”? Their silence indicates acceptance.
THIRD EXAMPLE: According to the authentic books of Tradition, above all al-Bukhari and al-Muslim, Jabir relates: “During the campaign of Buwat, God’s Messenger ordered ablution. We replied that there was no water. The Messenger told us to try and find just a little. We fetched a small amount of water. He placed his hand over it and recited a prayer, which I could not hear, and then asked for the largest water trough in the caravan. They brought it to me, and I placed it before God’s Messenger. He placed his hands in it, with his fingers apart, while I poured that little water onto his hands. I saw water run abundantly from his fingers and fill the trough. I called those who needed water. After they drank and took water for wudu’, I told the Prophet that everybody had come. He lifted his hands, leaving the trough still full to the brim.”129
This miracle has the certainty of tawatur in meaning, because Jabir, at that time the Prophet’s servant and thus having first place in the incident, relates it in the name of all witnesses. Ibn Mas‘ud, who also reported it, says: “I saw the water flow like a fountain from the Prophet’s fingers.”130
Consider these three examples together and see what an irrefutable and definite miracle this is. Joined together, they prove that water flowing from the Prophet’s fingers is explicit tawatur. This miracle is so great that even Moses’ miracle of causing water to run from 12 different points of a rock cannot be considered its equivalent. Water gushing from a rock is possible, and examples can be found among ordinary events, but there is no parallel for water flowing abundantly from flesh and bone.
FOURTH EXAMPLE: Imam Malik narrates in his Muwatta’ from Mu‘adh ibn Jabal that: “During the expedition of Tabuk, we came across a fountain that was hardly flowing—the jet was about as thick as a thin string. God’s Messenger told us to collect a small amount of its water. Some brought a little in their palms, with which God’s Messenger washed his face and hands. Then we put it back in the fountain. Suddenly the stream supplying the fountain’s water cleared, and water began to flow so profusely that there was enough for the whole army.”
Imam Ibn Ishaq, one of the narrators, reports: “The fountain’s well rushed underground with a noise like thunder. God’s Messenger told Mu‘adh that he might live long enough to see this place change into gardens.” And so it happened.131
FIFTH EXAMPLE: Bukhari (from Bara’) and (from Salama ibn al-Akwa’), as well as other accurate books (from other narrators), relate: “Four hundred of us came across a well during the expedition of Hudaybiya. There was hardly enough water for 50 people. We drew all the water out of the well. God’s Messenger came and sat beside the well and asked for a bucketful of water, which we fetched. He put some of his saliva into the bucket, prayed, and then poured this water back into the well. Suddenly the water began to gush and rose to the well’s brim. The whole army and their animals drank from it until they were satisfied, and then filled their water bags.”132
SIXTH EXAMPLE: Authentic Tradition books, such those of Muslim and Ibn Jarir al-Tabari particularly, relate through Abu Qatada: “We were going for help, as the commanders had been martyred in the Battle of Mu‘ta. I had a water bag with me. God’s Messenger had told me: ‘Keep your water bag carefully, for it will be of great use to us.’ Soon after that, thirst seized us. We were 72 (300 according to al-Tabari). God’s Messenger told me: ‘Bring your water bag.’ I did so. He took it and brought its brim to his lips. I do not know whether he breathed into it or not. Then all 72 of us drank from it and filled our water bags. When I took it back, it was still as full as it had been before.”133
Reflect on this miracle and say: “O God, bestow upon him and his household peace and blessings as many as there are drops of water.”
SEVENTH EXAMPLE: Authentic books of Tradition, in particular Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih al-Muslim, report that ‘Imran ibn Husayn said: “We ran out of water during a military campaign. The Messenger told me and ‘Ali: ‘There is a woman in such-and-such a place making her way with her beast, which is laden with water bags. Go and bring her.’ ‘Ali and I found the woman with her load exactly as and where described, and brought her (to the Prophet). The Prophet ordered: ‘Pour some water into a vessel.’ We did so. After he prayed for abundance, we put the water back into its bag. Then the Messenger announced: ‘Let everyone come and fill his bag.’ All the people came and drank and filled their bags. Afterwards, he said that something should be collected for the woman, and they filled her skirt with what they collected.”
‘Imran adds: “I imagined that the two water bags were filling unceasingly. God’s Messenger told the woman: ‘You can go now. We took none of your water; rather, God gave us water (from His treasure).’”134
EIGHTH EXAMPLE: Some Traditionists, primarily Ibn Khuzayma in his Sahih, report that ‘Umar said: “We ran out of water during the campaign of Tabuk. Some of us had to slaughter our camels and drink what was inside. Abu Bakr appealed to God’s Messenger to pray for rain. He raised his hands to pray, and had hardly lowered them when clouds gathered and a heavy rain began to fall. After we filled our vessels, the clouds withdrew. This rain was restricted to our area, for it did not go beyond where we were located.”135
Thus chance had nothing to do with this incident; it was wholly a miracle of Prophet Muhammad.
NINTH EXAMPLE: ‘Amr ibn Shu‘ayb, the grandson of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘As and whose narrations the four Imams trusted, relates that before his Prophethood, God’s Messenger traveled on a camel to Dhu al-Hijaz (near ‘Arafat) with his uncle Abu Talib. When Abu Talib said he was thirsty, God’s Messenger dismounted and stamped the ground. Water welled out, and Abu Talib drank from it.136 One discerning scholar states that although this is considered as irhasat, because it happened before his Prophethood was proclaimed,137 it also can be regarded as a wonder of his Prophethood, because this water flowed in the same location for 1,000 years thereafter.
Similarly, 90 different narrations (but not 90 separate incidents) report miracles connected with water. The first seven examples are as definitely established in meaning as tawatur. Although the last two are not narrated through as many strong chains of transmission, authentic sources, primarily Imam Bayhaqi and Hakim, report another miracle to support and confirm the one mentioned in the eighth example: ‘Umar narrated that he appealed to God’s Messenger to pray for rain, as the army needed water. God’s Messenger raised his hands, clouds gathered at once, and enough rain fell to meet the army’s need. After this, the clouds went away.138 It was as if the clouds were sent to deliver water, for they came, dispensed enough water, and then disappeared.
Just as this narration supports the eighth example, Ibn al-Jawziya, too meticulous a researcher to reject many authentic Traditions as false, says: “This event took place during the Battle of Badr and is mentioned in: And He sent down on you water from heaven to purify you thereby... (8:11).” Since this verse refers to the event, its truth cannot be doubted. Besides, it is a frequently repeated and unanimously reported miracle that rain fell immediately after the Prophet raised his hands to pray. There were times, it is reported through tawatur, that when he raised his hands in the pulpit, rain would begin to fall before he lowered them.
127 Nasa’i, 1:60; Bukhari, 4:233; Muslim, No. 2279; Tirmidhi, No. 3635.
128 Muslim, no. 1856; Bukhari, 4:234; Bayhaqi, 4:110.
129 Muslim, no. 3006-14.
130 Bukhari, 4:235, also related by Tirmidhi and Nasa’i.
131 Muwatta’, Safar, 2; Ibn Hanbal, 5:228; also related by Bukhari and Muslim.
132 Bukhari, 4:234; Bayhaqi, 4:110; also related by Muslim.
133 Muslim, no. 681; Abu Dawud, no. 437-41; Abu Nu‘aym, 4:282.
134 Muslim, 682; Bukhari, 4:233.
135 Majma‘ al-Zawa’id, 6:194, related by Bazzar, Bayhaqi, and Tabarani.
136 Shifa’, 1:290, Bayhaqi, 2:15; also related by Ibn Sa‘d and Tabarani.
137 Irhasat: The series of extraordinary incidents that happened before Prophet Muhammad’s birth, at his birth, and before he declared his Prophethood. (Tr.)
138 Abu Nu‘aym, 2:523; also related by Hakim and Bayhaqi.