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Making sense of the unspeakable


Bism-illah irahman nirahim

In the name of Allah, the beneficent and most merciful

A few years ago, I watched in complete shock and horror, a natural phenomenon that, thankfully, very few have witnessed in their life times- the tsunami.

A huge wave of roaring water striking terror into the hearts and lives of thousands- it was almost as if the invisible hand of the Almighty had risen this most basic of necessities and used it as a devastating weapon against His own creation. There was more to come- this disaster was followed by many other natural catastrophes: hurricane Katrina and the Pakistan earthquake are just two that come to mind.

There are many scientific explanations that can be used to explain what is essentially this unspeakable reality- moving plates in the earth, atmospheric and weather changes etc. However it is this human arrogance or shall I say, ignorance which glosses over the real meaning behind the devastation which literally wipes out the lives of millions in an instant.

Lets’ take a glance at history from which we are supposed to learn so much. It is somewhat the fashion in the West nowadays that we are leaning towards pacifism; this human value of pacifism has also managed to transfer itself to the morality of God so much so that the Old Testament is seen as ‘unfashionable’ and ‘politically incorrect’ in some Christian circles as God is portrayed to be ‘vengeful’. Pacifism is not a bad or unislamic phenomenon- there is ample evidence to prove that our great Prophet (saw) always preferred the path of peace to any military campaign. Allah (swt) also sent his Prophets (as) to every erring race to remind them of His word and only pounded His rage over his insolent servants when his warnings fell on deaf ears and after the humiliation of his Messengers (as). However, unfashionable or politically incorrect as this may seem to some horrified westerners, history is littered with examples of the Almighty doing the unspeakable- expressing rage and anger. He is the All-Powerful so his revenging human punch equivalent is an earthquake! (we also believe that Allah (swt) is the Most Merciful- so please the aforementioned westerners, kindly pick your horrified jaws from the ground before we progress!).

Human error and disobedience is evident from the very start of time, from the great man that Allah (swt) created Himself- Prophet Adam (as). He disobeyed Allah (swt) and was thrown from Paradise to the earth and the whole circle of disobedience and punishment began. Prophet Noah (as) was the first messenger and he was sent to his people when they started worshipping idols- the gravest form of shirk. Allah (swt) perished these idolaters in a flood saving only the believers and paired animals in the ark. Prophets Hud (as) and Saleh (as) also came to the idol worshipers after the flood and these sinning people were admonished by annihilation. Prophet Lot (as) was sent to the people in the City of Sodom who practiced homosexuality and after repeated warnings to direct their sexual desires to the right avenue, these erring people was also wiped out. The list and the examples go on forming the pattern that is evident to those who want to see- whenever the human race disobeys the Creator, they will be punished much as that a parent would admonish his child to set him on the right path. Admittedly we would not kill that child but here whilst the example and emotion is sound the scale is much more profound. The question however, is not the rights and wrongs of the scale. yes, our hearts churn at the sight of child victims being bought out from under the rubble but it would be arrogant to question the Almighty about rights and wrongs. Allah (swt) has Paradise in store for his young and afterall these natural calamities are not the only child-killers. Scores of children die at the hands of humans every day without reaching the news so let us not go off at a caveat. The real issue here is that of our society as a whole.

Is our society free from idolaters? Have we eradicated homosexuality? So then what makes us any different? Our generation has erred in every way of our forefathers so why should we escape the punishment? Calamities and Allah’s (swt) punishment makes no differentiation between believers and non-believers. If Hurricane Katrina can hit the US, then the Pakistan Earthquake can tear apart parts of Muslim Pakistan. We are all sinners but what should separate us is the understanding of the message. Whilst the West looks for scientific explanations, we should look at our past and our present to try to fix our ways and cleanse our society. It never is too late to return to our Lord- but we must try.

The earthquake struck in Ramadan and whilst Eid celebrations were toned down, some people still celebrated with the same fervour that they thought the festival deserved. There were endless prayers and donations for the survivors but let us hope that the real message and warning does not bury itself under the rubble.

Mrs Alia Aurangzeb