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Book's List > Muhammad and Christ > Chapter 1: Miracles > Section 3: Healing the Sick

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Chapter 1: Miracles --
Section
3: Healing the Sick:

Although Jesus' miracles of healing do not occupy a very high place in the record of miracles, not even among the great and wonderful deeds which man may do, yet it is probable that most of these stories had their origin in figurative speech or in exaggeration. Here too Elijah and Elisha stand on the same footing with him. Elisha healed Naaman of leprosy (2 Kings 5:1-14), and restored eyes to a whole people who were first made blind miraculously:

And when they came down to him Elisha prayed unto the Lord, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha ... And it came to pass, when they were come into Samaria, that Elisha said, Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see. And the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw (2 Kings 6:17-20).

For some other mighty works done by the Old Testament prophets, see 2 Kings 4:1-7, 14-17, 40, 44; 2:8, 14, 19-22; 6:5-6; Joshua 3:17; Ezk. 37:10, etc.

If these great miracles of healing the sick had been limited to the prophets, as they are in the Old Testament, they would have retained at least the halo of dignity about them. But when we come to the New Testament period, the miracles of healing become a very common thing. When accused by the Pharisees that he cast out devils with the help of Beelzebub, Jesus answered, "And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out" (Matt. 12:27, Luke 11:19). Here therefore is a plain admission put into the mouth of Jesus that even the disciples of the Pharisees who were opposed to Jesus Christ could work miracles of healing, or of casting out the devils, as the writers of the Gospels would have it. Again we are told that a man who did not follow Jesus was working the same miracles as Jesus in those very days:

Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us ... But Jesus said, Forbid him not; for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name that can lightly speak evil of me (Mark 9:38, 39).

And similarly those whom Jesus rejects in the final judgement as worders of iniquity did wonderful works:

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works (Matt. 7:22)?

Nay, even false prophets could show great signs: "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders. (Matt. 24:24)"

The strangest of all is the story of the healing pool which St. John records in his Gospel:

Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep-market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had (John 5:2-4).

The revised version omits the latter portion as an interpolation but even then the difficulty of the healing-pool having the same power as the "son of God" is not surmounted.

These little anecdotes recorded by the Gospels take the whole force out of the argument of miracles. Any Christian who has read the Gospels dare not speak of these miracles as evidence of even the truth of Christ as a prophet, to say nothing of his divinity. But what is worse, the Gospel statements show clear signs of exaggeration, and one evangelist has tried to enrich the dry details of another. I would not here go into details, but would instead refer the reader to the conclusion arrived at by a Christian critic in the Encyclopaedia Biblica:

The conclusion is inevitable that even the one evangelist whose story in any particular case involves less of the supernatural than that of the others, is still very far from being entitled on that account to claim implicit acceptance of his narrative. Just in the same degree in which those who come after him have gone beyond him, it is easily conceivable that he himself may have gone beyond those who went before him.

And again:

It is not at all difficult to understand how the contemporaries of Jesus, after seeing some wonderful deed or deeds wrought by him which they regarded as miracles, should have credited him with every other kind of miraculous power without distinguishing, as the modern mind does, between those miracles which are amenable to physical influences and those which are not. It is also necessary to bear in mind that the cure may after all have been only temporary (Art. "Gospels").

In addition to the influence of exaggeration on the stories of the marvellous, there was the mistaking of the spiritual for the physical, as I have already shown in the discussion on the miracles relating to the raising of the dead to life. This is clearly indicated by the words in which the message to John the Baptist is conveyed: "The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them." And when the disciples of Jesus failed to turn out a devil, Jesus remarked: "This kind goeth not but by prayer and fasting (Matt. 17:21)." It is by prayer and fasting that the power is attained to drive devils out of men, and clearly these are devils which affect the spirit and not the physique of man.

The light cast upon this subject by the Holy Qur'an clears away all doubts. On three different occasions, the Holy Qur'an is spoken of as a Healing: 10:57, 17:82 and 41:44. In fact, this is one of the names by which the Holy Book is known. The adoption of this name is a significant fact. It shows that the healing effected by the prophets of God is of a different nature from the removal of physical ailments. And again and again are the deaf and the dumb and the blind mentioned in the Holy Qur'an; but these are not the armies of the sick by whom Jesus is supposed to have been followed: "And great multitudes followed him and he healed all (Matt. 12:15)", Nay, the Holy Qur'an itself tells us what it means by the blind and the deaf, etc.:

They have hearts with which they do not understand, and they have eyes with which they do not see, and they have ears with which they do not hear (7:179).

For surely it is not the eyes that are blind, but blind are the hearts which are in the breasts (22:46).

Similar statements abound in the Holy Qur'an, but in view of the clearness and conclusiveness of what has been here quoted, I need not multiply instances. What is left obscure by the Gospels is thus made clear by the Holy Qur'an and it is in this light that the Holy Book speaks of the healing effected by the prophets of God, of whom Jesus Christ is one.

 

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Chapter 1: Miracles; Section 2: Raising the Dead to Life

Chapter 1: Miracles; Section 4: Other Signs

Book's List > Muhammad and Christ > Chapter 1: Miracles > Section 3: Healing the Sick

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