else would help them, for in the same Sura (xv) it is written :
Even were we to open a gate in Heaven, yet all the while they were
mounting up to it,
They would say: it is only our eyes are drunken, we are a people enchanted.
The strongest passage of all on this subject is one at the close of the
middle Meccan period, where the reason assigned is that it was quite useless
to give Muhammad the power of working miracles, 1 for such a gift
had practically produced no result in the case of former prophets :
Nothing hindered us from sending thee with miracles, except that the
people of old treated them as lies. Sura Al-Isra (xvii) 61.
They pressed their point, and, as we shall see later on, he had to maintain
that the Qur'an was the one special miracle which attested his mission.
The Meccans looked upon the doctrine of the resurrection of the body as
pure imagination, and when revelations concerning it were announced, treated
them as made up by Muhammad from information gathered from the foreigners at
Mecca. They spoke of them as 'Fables of the Ancients,' or as the effusion of
a poetical imagination. In the Sura Al-Mutaffifn (lxxxiii)2
delivered in the earlier part of the Meccan period of the Prophet's career, we