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Natural Disasters and Calamities In Light of Islam

Natural disasters and calamities have been hitting different parts and areas of the world through out the human history. People have different point of views about these disasters. Some people take these disasters as events and accidents which are taking place by chance.Where as many other people take these  disasters as torments and trials of Allah SWT.


We need to take guidance from Quran and Sunnah about these matters.When we read Quran and texts of hadiths minutely we can conclude three points:-

1.Natural disasters are punishment of Allah for those people who are either disbelievers or cross His limits
2.Natural disasters are warning for those who are sinners
3.Natural disasters are test for those who are believers.

Now  elaboration of all these points in light of Quran and Hadith is as follows:-

 1.Natural disasters are punishment of Allah for those people who are either disbelievers or cross His limits:-

On different instances in Holy Quran Allah swt has clarified this point that natural disasters result from disobedience of Allah swt.Some of these instances are as follows:

1.And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much.  (Ash-Shura 42:30)

2. And if Allâh were to punish men for that which they earned, He would not leave a moving (living) creature on the surface of the earth, but He gives them respite to an appointed term, and when their term comes, then verily, Allâh is Ever All­Seer of His slaves. (Fatir 35:45)

3. Evil (sins and disobedience of Allâh, etc.) has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of men have earned (by oppression and evil deeds, etc.), that Allâh may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return (by repenting to Allâh, and begging His Pardon). (Ar-Rum 30:41)

4. And if the people of the towns had believed and had the Taqwâ (piety), certainly, We should have opened for them blessings from the heaven and the earth, but they belied (the Messengers). So We took them (with punishment) for what they used to earn (polytheism and crimes, etc.). (Al-A'raf 7:96)

Some times natural disasters are very intense and crush even the innocents living in the affected area.These innocent people will get reward of Allah swt on the day of judgment for the affliction they faced.Allah swt has warned in Quran about such trials and affliction which donot hit specifically disobedient people.Allah swt says:

And fear the Fitnah (affliction and trial, etc.) which affects not in particular (only) those of you who do wrong (but it may afflict all the good and the bad people), and know that Allâh is Severe in punishment. (Al-Anfal 8:25)

Allah swt has also narrated the incidents of different tribes and people who were hit by natural disasters.Some of these incidents have been briefly discussed below:

1.Tribe of Noah :-

 Tribe of Noah was indulged in polytheism. These polytheists did not accept the message of Noah aliehis salam as a result they had to face the punishment of Allah swt in form of flood.A brief description of the event is as follow:

The people of Nûh (Noah) denied (their Messenger) before them, they rejected Our slave, and said: "A madman!" and he was insolently rebuked and threatened. Then he invoked his Lord (saying): "I have been overcome, so help (me)!" So We opened the gates of heaven with water pouring forth. And We caused the earth to gush forth with springs. So the waters (of the heaven and the earth) met for a matter predestined. And We carried him on a (ship) made of planks and nails, Floating under Our Eyes, a reward for him who had been rejected! And indeed, We have left this as a sign, then is there any that will remember (or receive admonition)? Then how (terrible) was My Torment and My Warnings? (Al-Qamar 54:9-16)

2.Tribe of Aad:-

 People of Aad were also indulged in polytheism and rejected their messenger Hod alieshi salam .They used to claim that they were the super power and said :

"Who is mightier than us in strength?" See they not that Allâh, Who created them was mightier in strength than them. And they used to deny Our Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, revelations, etc.)! (Fussilat 41:15)

They were punished by Allah swt by wind storm .A brief account of there punishment has been narrated below:

'Ad (people) belied (their Prophet, Hûd), then how (terrible) was My Torment and My Warnings? Verily, We sent against them a furious wind of harsh voice on a day of evil omen and continuous calamity. Plucking out men as if they were uprooted stems of date-palms. Then, how (terrible) was My Torment and My Warnings? (Al-Qamar 54:18-21)

A different account of the same incident is as follows:

And remember (Hûd) the brother of 'Ad, when he warned his people in Al-Ahqâf (the curved sand-hills in the southern part of Arabian Peninsula). And surely, there have passed away warners before him and after him (saying): "Worship none but Allâh; truly, I fear for you the torment of a mighty Day." They said: "Have you come to turn us away from our âliha (gods)? Then bring us that with which you threaten us, if you are one of the truthful!" He said: "The knowledge (of the time of its coming) is with Allâh only, and I convey to you that wherewith I have been sent, but I see that you are a people given to ignorance!" Then, when they saw it as a dense cloud coming towards their valleys, they said: "This is a cloud bringing us rain!" Nay, but it is that (torment) which you were asking to be hastened! a wind wherein is a painful torment! Destroying everything by the Command of its Lord! So they became such that nothing could be seen except their dwellings! Thus do We recompense the people who are Mujrimûn (polytheists, disbelievers, sinners, etc.)! (Al-Ahqaf 46:20-25)

3. People of Sodom:-

 People of Sodom were indulged in wrong acts. Prophet Lot aliehis salam invited them to the right path but they did not refrain from their bad habit as a result they were hit by affliction of Allah swt.A brief account of their punishment is as follows:

And (remember) Lout (Lot)! When he said to his people. Do you commit Al­Fâhishah (evil, great sin, every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse, sodomy, etc.) while you see (one another doing evil without any screen, etc.)?" "Do you approach men in your lusts rather than women? Nay, but you are a people who behave senselessly." There was no other answer given by his people except that they said: "Drive out the family of Lout (Lot) from your city. Verily, these are men who want to be clean and pure!" So We saved him and his family, except his wife. We destined her to be of those who remained behind. And We rained down on them a rain (of stones). So evil was the rain of those who were warned. (An-Naml 27:54-58)

4. Pharaoh :-

Pharaoh was disobedient to Allah swt and denied the clear signs brought by Musa aliehis salam .As a result he was afflicted by Allah swt from time to time but he did not reform himself and as a result he was finally caught by Allah swt and was drowned in water.A brief account of his destruction from one part of quran is as follows.Allah swt says:-

And indeed We punished the people of Fir'aun (Pharaoh) with years of drought and shortness of fruits (crops, etc.), that they might remember (take heed). But whenever good came to them, they said: "Ours is this." And if evil afflicted them, they ascribed it to evil omens connected with Mûsa (Moses) and those with him. Be informed! Verily, their evil omens are with Allâh but most of them know not. They said [to Mûsa (Moses)]: "Whatever Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) you may bring to us, to work therewith your sorcery on us, we shall never believe in you." So We sent on them: the flood, the locusts, the lice, the frogs, and the blood: (as a succession of) manifest signs, yet they remained arrogant, and they were of those people who were Mujrimûn (criminals, polytheists, sinners, etc.). And when the punishment fell on them they said: "O Mûsa (Moses)! Invoke your Lord for us because of His Promise to you. If you will remove the punishment from us, we indeed shall believe in you, and we shall let the Children of Israel go with you." But when We removed the punishment from them to a fixed term, which they had to reach, behold! They broke their word! So We took retribution from them. We drowned them in the sea, because they belied Our Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and were heedless about them. (Al-A'raf 7:130-136)

5. Qaroon:-

Qaroon was a wealthy person and was not ready to admit that his wealth was given to him by Allah swt .He thought it was the result of his effort only.He denied the blessing and right of Allah swt in his wealth .Allah swt crushed him with his affliction.A brief account of his punishment is as follows:

Verily, Qârûn (Korah) was of Mûsa's (Moses) people, but he behaved arrogantly towards them. And We gave him of the treasures, that of which the keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men. When his people said to him: "Do not be glad (with ungratefulness to Allâh's Favours). Verily! Allâh likes not those who are glad (with ungratefulness to Allâh's Favours). But seek, with that (wealth) which Allâh has bestowed on you, the home of the Hereafter, and forget not your portion of legal enjoyment in this world, and do good as Allâh has been good to you, and seek not mischief in the land. Verily, Allâh likes not the Mufsidûn (those who commit great crimes and sins, oppressors, tyrants, mischief-makers, corrupts). He said: "This has been given to me only because of knowledge I possess." Did he not know that Allâh had destroyed before him generations, men who were stronger than him in might and greater in the amount (of riches) they had collected. But the Mujrimûn (criminals, disbelievers, polytheists, sinners, etc.) will not be questioned of their sins (because Allâh knows them well, so they will be punished without account). So he went forth before his people in his pomp. Those who were desirous of the life of the world, said: "Ah, would that we had the like of what Qârûn (Korah) has been given? Verily! He is the owner of a great fortune." But those who had been given (religious) knowledge said: "Woe to you! The Reward of Allâh (in the Hereafter) is better for those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and this none shall attain except those who are patient (in following the truth)." So We caused the earth to swallow him and his dwelling place. Then he had no group or party to help him against Allâh, nor was he one of those who could save themselves. (Al-Qasas 28:76-81)

6. Polytheists of Makkah:-

 Polytheists of Makkah brought a big army  against Prophet salal laho aliehi wasalam and his companions ,Muslims were feeling that would not be able to defeat this army .Allah swt helped Muslims by sending windstorm which pushed back that army and Allah swt helped Muslims in a hidden way.This fact has been highlighted in the following way:

O you who believe! Remember Allâh's Favour to you, when there came against you hosts, and We sent against them a wind and forces that you saw not [i.e. troops of angels during the battle of Al­Ahzâb (the Confederates)]. And Allâh is Ever All­Seer of what you do. (Al-Ahzab 33:9)

The same fact about the natural disaster has been mentioned in the following hadith:

Narrated 'Aisha: (the wife of the Prophet), I never saw Allah's Apostle laughing loudly enough to enable me to see his uvula, but he used to smile only. And whenever he saw clouds or winds, signs of deep concern would appear on his face. I said, "O Allah's Apostle! When people see clouds they usually feel happy, hoping that it would rain, while I see that when you see clouds, one could notice signs of dissatisfaction on your face." He said, "O 'Aisha! What is the guarantee for me that there will be no punishment in it, since some people were punished with a wind? Verily, some people saw (received) the punishment, but (while seeing the cloud) they said, 'This cloud will give us rain.' "(Sahih Bukhari : Book 6 , Volume 60 ,Hadith 353)

Same hadith has been mentioned in sahih Muslim with slight change of words:

'A'isha, the wife of the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him), reported: I never saw Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) laugh to such an extent that I could see his uvula-whereas he used to smile only-and when he saw dark clouds or wind, (the signs of fear) were depicted on his face. I said: Messenger of Allah, I find people being happy when they ace the dark cloud in the hope that it would bring rain, but I find that when you see that (the cloud) there is an anxiety on your face. He said: 'A'isha, I am afraid that there may be a calamity in it, for a people was afflicted with wind, when the people saw the calamity they said:" It is a cloud which would give us rain" (Qur'an. xlvi. 24).( Muslim : Book 4 ,Hadith 1963)

2.Natural disasters are warning for those who are sinners:-

 Natural disasters are warnings for those who are sinners.This fact has also has been elaborated in Quran. Some of the instances are as follows:-

1.And verily, We will make them taste of the near torment (i.e. the torment in the life of this world, i.e. disasters, calamities, etc.) prior to the supreme torment (in the Hereafter), in order that they may (repent and) return (i.e. accept Islâm). (As-Sajdah 32:21)

2. See they not that they are tried once or twice every year (with different kinds of calamities, disease, famine, etc.)? Yet, they turn not in repentance, nor do they learn a lesson (from it). (At-Tawbah 9:126)

Allah swt showed his signs to pharaoh in form of natural disasters and calamities before final punishment so that he may reform himself.This fact has been revealed in the Holy Quran in the following manner:-

And indeed We punished the people of Fir'aun (Pharaoh) with years of drought and shortness of fruits (crops, etc.), that they might remember (take heed). (Al-A'raf 7:130)

3.Natural disasters are test for those who are believers:-

 According to Quran and Hadith many times natural disasters are punishment for disbelievers and transgressors and warnings for sinners but sometimes they do come to test the believers and pious people.This fact has been elaborated in Quran as follows:-

1.And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sâbirin (the patient ones, etc.). (Al-Baqarah 2:155)
2.Or think you that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, "When (will come) the Help of Allâh?" Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allâh is near! (Al-Baqarah 2:214)
3.Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: "We believe," and will not be tested. And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allâh will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allâh knows all that before putting them to test). (Al-'Ankabut 29:2-3)

How to deal with natural disasters and calamities:-

 Quran and Sunnah have guided us in all walks of life.Quran and Hadith also tell us the methods to deal with the natural disasters and calamities.Some of these ways are as follows:

1.Piety
2.Repentance
3.Patience

Now the outcome of all these methods will be briefly elaborated in the light of Quran:-

1. Piety:-

 When some one becomes pious Allah swt resolves his problems and open doors of blessings for him this fact has been highlighted in the following verses as follows:-

1. And whosoever fears Allâh and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). (At-Talaq 65:2)
2. And if the people of the towns had believed and had the Taqwâ (piety), certainly, We should have opened for them blessings from the heaven and the earth, (Al-A'raf 7:96)

2. Repentance:-

 When some one repents Allah swt takes away his torment.This fact has been highlighted in Quran as follows:-

And He will not punish them while they seek (Allâh's) Forgiveness. (Al-Anfal 8:33)
Allah swt has narrated the incident of tribe of Younis aliehis salam in Holy Quran .When they saw the torment of Allah swt was approaching towards them they seeked forgiveness and Allah swt took aways His torment as mentioned in the Holy Quran as follows:-
Was there any town (community) that believed (after seeing the punishment), and its Faith (at that moment) saved it (from the punishment)? (The answer is none,) - except the people of Yûnus (Jonah); when they believed, We removed from them the torment of disgrace in the life of the (present) world, and permitted them to enjoy for a while. (Yunus 10:98 )

3. Patience:-

 This act is beneficial for all those people who are being tested by Allah swt .If they face the calamity and natural disaster with patience than they will get reward for it.This fact has been highlighted in Holy Quran in the following manner:-

And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sâbirin (the patient ones, etc.). Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: "Truly! To Allâh we belong and truly, to Him we shall return." They are those on whom are the Salawât (i.e. blessings, etc.) (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided-ones. (Al-Baqarah 2:155-157)

May Allah save us from natural disasters and save us from His wrath through which He punishes transgressors and give us vision so that we can reform ourselves and help those who are under trial Ameen.
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