The concept of ‘impossibility’ is founded on two beliefs. Firstly, impossibility based on something being unfeasible, which is beyond our capabilities, such as the examples given above. The second concept of the term refers to what our minds are unable to take in. For example, we cannot conceive that any two opposites can meet. Let us take the example of existence and nonexistence: a man cannot be present and absent in a place at the same time. In the same way, no object can take on two entities at the same time, so that a book cannot become a spoon while it is still a book. That which is impossible in the sense of something being mentally inconceivable remains impossible. However, what is considered to be impossible because it is not feasible, may become possible if man studies the laws of nature God has laid down for the universe and, as a result, succeeds in making it feasible. In fact as God laid down these laws of nature He can make possible anything which seems impossible. So we should, after ascertaining the facts, accept the fact that this type of impossibility can become a possibility.
The Holy Qur’an mentions three types of supernatural occurrences. The first type concerns miracles performed by the prophets when they were challenged to prove their prophethood. Thus, when Prophet Abraham was thrown into the fire. God made the heat become a peaceful haven. When Prophet Moses threw down his staff, it turned into a snake, and when he struck the sea with his staff, the sea parted and each division looked like a vast mountain. And, with God’s permission, Jesus brought the dead back to life. These are all examples of miracles.
The second type of supernatural occurrences happened to saintly people. Food was made available to Mary in her room and the Queen of Sheba’s throne was transported from Yemen to Palestine in a split second. Another example of supernatural occurrences can be described as Divine temptation which tests one’s faith. The Holy Qur’an talks of how the apostate Samaritan produced a calf making a lowing sound, from molten gold. We should believe in all three types of supernatural happenings and all details regarding them, as they are described in the Holy Qur’an. We can, however, keep the supernatural events happening to saintly people, but not recounted in the Qur’an, open for questioning. They may or may not be true. If they were experienced by truly saintly people, we can believe that these things really happened. A truly saintly person is free of all sin. The Holy Qur’an says: Oh verily, they who are close to God – no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve: they who have attained to faith and have always been conscious of Him. (Qur’an;10:62-63). You are under no obligation to believe in these occurrences if you are not convinced about the authenticity of the people connected with them. There are some alleged forms of the supernatural involving sinful acts and strange events which cannot be explained also happen to non-believers. But none of these should be considered supernatural.
When the challenge took place between Moses and Pharaoh’s magicians; the latter threw their ropes and sticks and turned them into snakes. But, in fact, these snakes were soon swallowed up by the snake Moses produced! So, was the snake he produced identical to theirs? Did he, like them, perform a conjuring trick? Not at all. The snakes they produced were illusory, and took the spectators in, whereas the one Moses brought about was alive and real. The magicians were so much in awe of this fact that they made a spontaneous declaration of their faith in God. The reason for this spontaneous reaction was because the magicians realized that Moses’ act was not an illusion or any form of conjuring trick, and were stunned and shaken to the very depth of their hearts. The outcome of this was their total conversion and belief in God. They declared their faith in a way which was most defiant and humiliating to Pharaoh. As they admitted their faith, the falsehood of Pharaoh’s greatness and the fact that his form of godliness was untrue, became apparent to them. They changed their outlook immediately because this world suddenly seemed trivial to them; so they did not feel threatened by Pharaoh’s threat to punish them by crucifixion and mutilation. They developed an inner calm which shielded them from fear and panic. Even though Pharaoh had the power to punish them in this world, how could that compare with the joy and comfort of the world hereafter? Therefore they snubbed Pharaoh, saying: “Decree, then, whatever thou art going to decree: thou canst decree only (something that pertains to) this worldly life!” (Qur’an;20:72).
How much I, who was born a Muslim, and whose forefathers have been Muslims, wish I had been bestowed with this kind of spontaneous faith, as were Pharaoh’s magicians, a faith that was born as a result of their accepting Islam.