Faithful Dissenters – Sunni Skepticism about the Miracles of Saints

Belief in the miracles of saints (karāmāt al-awliyāʾ) is a requirement in Sunni Islam. Challenges
to this position are generally seen as limited to Islamic modernists effected by Western historical
criticism. This article demonstrates that there have actually been leading Sunni Muslim scholars
from the fourth/tenth century until the modern period who held positions regarding the miracles
of saints that were much more skeptical than the mainstream Sunni stance. These ‘faithful dissenters’
were motivated by both theological and social concerns, and the methodologies they
presented for sifting true from false miracle claims were based entirely on indigenous Islamic
epistemological and textual criticism.