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What is the meaning of karamah?


Karamah is an Arabic word (الكرامة). Literally, it means noble. By definition, it means extraordinary out-of-logic events happened given by Allah to the awliya’ (those who are most near to Allah) as a sign of their glory in worshipping Him.

Al-Jurjani in his book, al-Ta’rifat mentioned that karamah is extraordinary events given by Allah specifically to the God-fearing and true worshippers of Him. They are not even prophets. It is only given to true worshippers of Allah. If not, they are not considered as karamah, but rather as istidraj (Fortunes that are given to those whom Allah is not pleased with them to make them be fascinated by themselves and go even astray from the right path). Karamah is usually neither being desired nor is asked by the wali. In fact, they fear these extraordinary events may result of people overly adoring them as the servants of Allah whom are merely gifted with these events.

Normally, when karamah happens, they will become more anxious and fear of being fascinated by their own deeds. Their humbleness (tawadhu’) and wholeheartedness (khusyu’) will increase when they are standing in the eyes of Allah due to this.

Generally, karamah may happen at any time. However, most of them happen in a very limited time. It is gifted to those selected servants of Him.

الَ يَا أَيُّهَا الْمَلَأُ أَيُّكُمْ يَأْتِينِي بِعَرْشِهَا قَبْلَ أَن يَأْتُونِي مُسْلِمِينَ﴿٣٨﴾ قَالَ عِفْرِيتٌ مِّنَ الْجِنِّ أَنَا آتِيكَ بِهِ قَبْلَ أَن تَقُومَ مِن مَّقَامِكَ ۖ وَإِنِّي عَلَيْهِ لَقَوِيٌّ أَمِينٌ ﴿٣٩﴾ قَالَ الَّذِي عِندَهُ عِلْمٌ مِّنَ الْكِتَابِ أَنَا آتِيكَ بِهِ قَبْلَ أَن يَرْتَدَّ إِلَيْكَ طَرْفُكَ ۚ فَلَمَّا رَآهُ مُسْتَقِرًّا عِندَهُ قَالَ هَـٰذَا مِن فَضْلِ رَبِّي لِيَبْلُوَنِي أَأَشْكُرُ أَمْ أَكْفُرُ ۖ وَمَن شَكَرَ فَإِنَّمَا يَشْكُرُ لِنَفْسِهِ ۖ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ رَبِّي غَنِيٌّ كَرِيمٌ ﴿٤٠

[Solomon] said, "O assembly [of jinn], which of you will bring me her throne before they come to me in submission?" (38) A powerful one from among the jinn said, "I will bring it to you before you rise from your place, and indeed, I am for this [task] strong and trustworthy." (39) Said one who had knowledge from the Scripture, "I will bring it to you before your glance returns to you." And when [Solomon] saw it placed before him, he said, "This is from the favor of my Lord to test me whether I will be grateful or ungrateful. And whoever is grateful - his gratitude is only for [the benefit of] himself. And whoever is ungrateful - then indeed, my Lord is Free of need and Generous." (40)

Al-Naml (38-40)

In Tafsir Ibn Kathir (3/364), it is stated that there was a servant of Allah who is given the knowledge of the Holy Books named Asif bin Barkhiya. Here comes the question; Who is this person? Isn’t his capability of relocating the palace of Balqis, queen of Sheba is a karamah given by Allah? This is an example of a true God-fearing servant gifted with karamah by Allah.

May Allah bless us with understanding in this religion.