The life story of Muh.ammad as told by Muslims centers on the fact of revelation, a supernatural event of communication between God and His prophet mediated by the angel Gabriel. However, surrounding that central act is a wide variety of accounts of other supernatural occurrences and interventions. These are found in works of sı-ra, tafsı-r, h.adı-th, kala-m, and even have their own genre, dala-ʾil al-nubu-wa.1 Such reports describe not only the supernatural acts (what we might term miracles) performed by Muh.ammad himself, but also include supernatural interventions connected to individuals other than Muh.ammad – both friends and enemies – as well as the actions of supernatural entities, including the jinn, angels, Satan, and God. Strictly speaking, the revelation of the Qurʾa-n itself is Muh. ammad’s defining miracle and is all the proof necessary to support his claim to prophethood. But this does not explain the hundreds of separate miracle stories transmitted through thousands of individual reports that are found in all of the genres mentioned above. Thus, despite the Qurʾa-n’s insistence that Muh.ammad performed no miracles, an extra-Qurʾa-nic element of the supernatural was obviously vital to the men who wrote about his life and his prophetic mission. Qurʾa-n 17:85-93 clearly point out that Muh.ammad is not a worker of

miracles – especially at the behest of unbelievers – and that the Qurʾa-n itself is the only sign from God of his status as prophet. The verses state:

(85) They ask thee concerning the Spirit (of inspiration). Say: “The Spirit (cometh) by command of my Lord: of knowledge it is only a little that is communicated to you, (O men!)” (86) If it were Our Will, We could take away that which We have sent thee by inspiration: then wouldst thou find none to plead thy affair in that matter as against Us (87) except for Mercy from thy Lord: for His Bounty is to thee (indeed) great. (88) Say: “If the whole of mankind and jinns were to gather together to produce the like of this Qurʾa-n they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support.” (89) And We have explained to man, in this Qurʾa-n, every kind of similitude: yet the greater part of men refuse (to receive it) except with ingratitude! (90) They say: “We shall not believe in thee, until thou causest a spring to gush forth for

us from the earth, (91) or (until) thou hast a garden of date trees and vines, and causest rivers to gush forth in their midst, carrying abundant water. (92) Or thou causest the sky to fall in pieces, as thou sayest (will happen), against us, or thou bring Allah and the angels before (us) face to face; (93) Or thou have a house adorned with gold, or thou mount a ladder right into the skies. No, we shall not even believe in thy mounting until thou send down to us a book that we can read.” Say: “Glory to my Lord! Am I aught but a man – a messenger?”