Miracles vs. The Karamat of the Waliys
Moreover, Allah endowed the waliyys with karamahs. Karamahs are extra-ordinary actions which might occur to the waliyy, and are a sign he is truthfully following his prophet. A miracle, on the other hand, is the extra-ordinary event which occurs at the hand of a prophet as proof of his truthfulness. For example, when Prophet Musa threw his staff and it became a serpent, Pharaoh’s magicians knew what he did was not witchcraft and that Musa was a prophet. Another miracle occurred with Prophet Ibrahim when the people threw him in the blazing fire and neither his body nor his clothes burned. Many people witnessed the karamah of our Master, Ahmad ar-Rifa^iyy, a great waliyy who lived about 800 years ago. Once when standing in front of the grave of the Prophet, Imam Ahmad asked that the Prophet put out his hand so he could kiss it. The Prophet did so in front of a large and great crowd of people. What happened to our master, Ahmad ar-Rifa^iyy was a karamah, not a miracle, because although it was an extra-ordinary event, it occurred to one not claiming the status of prophethood.
Abu Muslim al-Khawlaniyy is an example of another great waliyy. He stood up against al-Aswad al-^Ansiyy, an evil man who falsely claimed the status of prophethood. When Abu Muslim al-Khawlaniyy refuted al-Aswad al-^Ansiyy, he tried to kill him to silence him. So, al-Aswad al-^Ansiyy set a blazing fire and tried three times to burn Abu Muslim in it. However, that fire did not burn Abu Muslim or his clothes--a karamah for Abu Muslim. Seeing this, al-Aswad decided to banish Abu Muslim from his land. Abu Muslim went to al-Madinah, the city of the Prophet, a place he had never been before. He was met at the borders of al-Madinah by ^Umar Ibnul Khattab. Although ^Umar had never before met Abu Muslim, Allah gave our Master ^Umar the knowledge of his story. ^Umar said, "Praise be to Allah Who made one of the members of the nation of the Prophet similar to Ibrahim al-Khalil"-- meaning that the fire did not burn Abu Muslim as the fire did not burn Prophet Ibrahim before him.
Many people have reported witnessing incidents of karamahs. One such incident occurred to our Master ^Umar Ibnul Khattab while he was giving a speech in al-Madinah. All of a sudden he called out, "O Sariyah, the mountain, the mountain." The people in the mosque did not understand what was going on. When ^Umar came down from the platform, they asked him about what had happened, but ^Umar refused to explain to them. All he said was, "A matter had occurred to me." Later, the soldiers of the Muslim army led by Sariyah told the people how they escaped falling into a trap the blasphemers had schemed for them, because they heard ^Umar’s voice calling, "O Sariyah, the mountain, the mountain." As a result, the Muslim army went to the mountain, escaped the trap, and defeated the blasphemers. This was a karamah for our Master ^Umar.
Our Master Ahmad ar-Rifa^iyy used to give lessons that were attended by 100,000 people--all able to hear his lesson without modern-day microphones or any other instruments!!! It was reported a man could be working in his field, planting and plowing, and still be able to hear the lesson. Ahmad ar-Rifa^iyy used to teach the people fiqh, tawhid, the Arabic language, the fundamentals of the Religion, and other knowledges.
Imam an-Nawawiyy was a waliyy and a great scholar who authored many works. Allah illuminated Imam an-Nawawiyy’s finger for him at night when the lantern was out of oil so he could see and continue writing about the Religion. This was a karamah for Imam an-Nawawiyy.
Our Master ^Abdul Qadir al-Jilaniyy used to give twelve lessons every day in the fiqh and tawhid. Once, when he was praying, he saw an illumination, and a voice addressed him saying, "O ^Abdul Qadir, I am your Lord, and I relieve you of all the obligations." He signaled by his hand, "Go away, you are the devil." The devil told him, "I have mislead 70 people before you by that, but your knowledge protected you." Al-Jilaniyy knew what he saw was the devil, because he knew Allah does not resemble His creations. What he saw came from a direction and as an illuminated body. It spoke with a sound and a letter and a language. He knew Allah is not an illuminated body, is clear of directions, and is clear of sounds, languages, and letters. Moreover, al-Jilaniyy knew even Prophet Muhammad was not relieved of the obligations, so why should one of less status be relieved of them?
These are the examples of the great waliyys, those who adhere in sincerity to the methodology of the Prophet, who perform the obedience and refrain from the sins, who perform many optional acts of worship, and who implement their knowledge. They are the true Sufis to whom Allah gives such powers.