Extraordinary event attributed to a supernatural power. Belief in miracles exists in all cultures and nearly all religions. The Upanishads assert that the experience of religious insight and transformation is the only miracle worth considering, but popular Hinduism attributes miraculous powers to the ascetic yogis. Confucianism had little room for miracles. Daoism, however, mingled with Chinese folk religion to produce a rich crop of miracles. Though Buddha Gautama deprecated his own miraculous powers as devoid of spiritual significance, accounts of his miraculous birth and life were later woven into his legend and into those of later Buddhist saints. Miracles are taken for granted throughout the Hebrew scriptures and were fairly common in the Greco-Roman world. The New Testament records miracles of healing and other wonders performed by Jesus. Miracles also attest to the holiness of Christian saints. Muhammad renounced miracles as a matter of principle (the Qur'an was the great miracle), but his life was later invested with miraculous details. Muslim popular religion, particularly under the influence of Sufism, abounds in miracles and wonder-working saints.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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