By Imam Murtadha Gusau
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, and may His peace and blessings be upon Allah’s Messenger, his Companions and whosoever follows his guidance.
Dear brothers and sisters, the magnitude 6.8 earthquake that hit Morocco last week was a rare occurrence.
It was the deadliest the country has experienced in more than 60 years. At least almost 2,900 people were killed and more than 3,000 injured.
The quake left thousands of people homeless, forced many to evacuate and prompted authorities to declare three days of mourning.
Al-Haouz was the hardest hit area, but other provinces – including Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua and Taroudant – were also dealt significant blows. Some remote villages were wiped out completely, and rescue teams are facing challenges reaching others.
This was the deadliest earthquake registered in Morocco since 1960 when a 5.8 quake struck Agadir.
That earthquake was of a relatively lower magnitude and much less intense, but it inflicted a high number of casualties due to conditions at the time, including the lower structural integrity of buildings.
It killed an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 people and made tens of thousands homeless.
Earthquakes with an intensity like Friday’s are rare in the region, with no magnitude 6.8 or higher event being recorded within 300km (186 miles) of the epicentre, according to the US Geological Survey.
Meanwhile, more than 5,000 people are presumed dead and 10,000 missing after heavy rains in northeastern Libya caused two dams to collapse, surging more water into already inundated areas.
Tamer Ramadan, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies delegation in Libya, gave the numbers of missing people during a briefing to reporters in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday.
At least 5,300 people are thought dead, said the interior ministry of Libya’s eastern government on Tuesday, state media LANA reported.
I cannot been able to independently verify the number of deaths or those missing.
Of those who were killed, at least 145 were Egyptian, officials in the northeastern city of Tobruk, in Libya, said on Tuesday.
In the eastern city of Derna, which has seen the worst of the devastation, as many as 6,000 people remain missing, Uthman Abduljalil, health minister in Libya’s eastern administration, told Libya’s Almasar TV. He called the situation “catastrophic,” when he toured the city on Monday.
Whole neighbourhoods are believed to have been washed away in the city, according to authorities.
Hospitals in Derna are no longer operable and the morgues are full, said Osama Aly, an Emergency and Ambulance service spokesperson.
Dead bodies have been left outside the morgues on the sidewalks, he said.
Anas Barghathy, a doctor currently volunteering in Derna said, “there are no first-hand emergency services. People are working at the moment to collect the rotting bodies.”
Respected brothers and sisters, indeed Allah, the Exalted and Most High, is All-Wise and All-Knowing concerning what He decrees and ordains just as He is All-Wise and All-Knowing regarding what He has legislated, and commanded―He creates whatever He wills from signs and occurrences within His creation. He decrees them to put fear into His servants, and as a reminder for them of that which He has obligated upon them in fulfilment of His rights―and to warn them from falling into polytheism by associating partners with Him (shirk), to remind them about opposing His commands, and from falling into what He has prohibited just as He Almighty stated:
“And We sent not the signs except to warn and to make them afraid (of Allah’s punishment).” [Surah al-Isra: 59]
Dear servants of Allah, as you can see, Tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, fire and other disasters have been occurring throughout the passage of time.
Seeing the human suffering, death and destruction we are all shaken. It is difficult to forget the scenes of death, pain, cries of people, men women and children. Those who believe in Allah are concerned to know why Allah allowed these disasters to happen. Those who do not believe in Allah are ready to exploit this disaster to argue against Allah or His existence.
We see in this world all kinds of sufferings, evil and pain. We find sickness, old age and death. We see things that are ugly, people who are insane and foolish. We also see people who commit sins, show disloyalty, unfaithfulness, greed and insincerity. We see people commit rapes, murders, violence and wars. We know all these and many other problems. There are evils caused by human beings and there are disasters. There are sufferings for individuals and there are those that involve a large number of people.
The world, however, is not all evil. Beside all these negative things we also see beauty, health, prosperity, life, birth, wisdom, intelligence, growth and progress. We also see goodness among people, faith, sincerity, charity, love and the spirit of sacrifice. We see a lot of virtue and piety. It is also the fact that the element of good is more in the creation than the element of evil. We all see that there are more people who are healthy than those who are sick. There are more that eat well then those who starve. There are more people who live decent life then those who commit crimes. Goodness is the rule and evil is the exception. Virtue is the norm and sin is the aberration. Generally trees bear fruits, the flowers bloom, the winds move smoothly.
Respected brothers and sisters, earthquakes, floods and other disasters continue to strike, and over the years, many theories have been put forth attempting to explain how these disasters occur and how they can be minimised, yet most Muslims are unaware that most of these theories contradict the very fundamentals of Islam. Also, many Muslims are simply oblivious to their Islamic obligations when these calamities strike. Furthermore, while most people may only view the occurrence of such events as disastrous because their understanding of this topic is purely scientific, Islam clearly explains the wisdom behind this destruction. Therefore, this sermon primarily aims to give the Islamic perspective on this topic.
Not only did Allah Almighty create the universe, but He also controls its affairs. He Almighty said:
“Allah alternates the day and the night. Surely this is a lesson for insightful people.” [Qur’an, 24:44]
He also said:
“The alternation of the day and the night, the provisions that Allah sends from the skies—which revive the earth after its death—and the shifting of the winds are signs for people of understanding.” [Qur’an, 45:5]
In fact, Allah Almighty constantly arranges the universe’s affairs. He himself said:
“He is constantly arranging the affairs.” [Qur’an, 55:29]
Therefore, Allah Almighty creates and controls earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, storms, and other disasters. He said:
“Every calamity that befalls you or occurs on the earth was written in a book before it occurred.” [Qur’an, 57:22]
He also said:
“A calamity can only occur if Allah permits its occurrence.” [Qur’an, 64:11]
He also said:
“Ad’s story contains a lesson. We sent a violent wind to destroy his people. The wind reduced everything to shreds. Thamud’s story contains another lesson. It was said to his people: “Enjoy yourselves for a short period.” They continued to defy their Lord’s command, so We seized them with a mighty blast when they were looking. They were not able to stand, nor were they given any assistance. Nuh’s people were also destroyed. They were truly sinful.” [Qur’an, 51:41-46]
Furthermore, Jabir Ibn Abdullah (RA) narrated:
When [this part of] the Qur’anic verse:
“Say: ‘He [i.e. Allah] alone has the power to unleash a torment upon you from above’” [Qur’an, 6:65] was revealed, Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) said: “I seek refuge with Your Face.”
When [the remainder of] the verse:
“‘or from beneath you’” [Qur’an, 6:65] was revealed, Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) [again] said: “I seek refuge with Your Face.” [Bukhari]
Imam Al-Baghawi (rahimahullah) commented:
“‘Torment from above’” is like a blast, or stones, or wind, or excessive rain that causes widespread flooding, as Allah unleashed upon the people of Ad, Thamud, Shuʿaib, Lut and Nuh. “‘From beneath you’” is like an earthquake or a gaping hole that swallows up people, as Allah unleashed upon the people of Prophet Shuʿaib and Qarun” [See Tafsir of Imam Al-Baghawi, vol. 3, page 153]
Therefore, Allah creates and controls these disasters; therefore, whoever describes them as natural disasters has committed shirk (polytheism), since this person not only claims nature creates and controls these catastrophes, but he also claims nature controls the universe. Therefore, this person is a mushrik since he ascribed a partner with Allah in His Lordship.
“Whoever says that an earthquake is a natural disaster is a kafir, since he ascribed [the cause of] the earthquake to nature, and nature itself is incapable of creating or altering [the creation]. This is the Islamic verdict of the person who says this.” [See Al-Hukm fi man yaqulu innal Zil-zal wal-faidaanaat kawarithu Tabi’iyyah, by Shaikh Muqbil Ibn Hadi al-Wadi’i]
Only atheists describe these catastrophes as natural disasters, as they deny Allah’s existence, far less for believing that He controls the universe.
Shaikh Muqbil Ibn Hadi al-Wadiʿi (rahimahullah) also said:
“Atheists, those who disbelieve in Allah, ascribe these events to nature.”
Seismologists, many of whom are atheists, say a sudden release of stress along faults in the earth’s crust causes earthquakes. The continuous motion of tectonic plates causes a steady increase in pressure and stress until they are released as a sudden jolt. The resulting waves of seismic energy propagate through the ground and over its surface causing the shaking we perceive as earthquakes.
While Islam may not necessarily reject this theory because it is based on observable data, Muslims say Allah ultimately is the One who creates and controls earthquakes and other calamities, since He is the One who commands and controls the elements and factors—like pressure, temperature, and stress—to steadily increase between the tectonic plates until they cause an earthquake. This proves that scientific theories and Islamic legislation may not always necessarily contradict each other.
In recent times, the domains of social and political science have become dominated with climate crisis theories that posit the earth as an interdependent ecosystem, such that the planet and its creatures are solely reliant on each other for the continuation and prosperity of the earth. These climate hoax ideas are formulated from atheist darwinist theories that make their parishioners believe that the earth will capitulate soon without human intervention. They have even renamed the earth “Gaia” and created a new culture of Uluhiyyah (i.e. servitude) in which humans must be in service to the earth, a form of deity that provides for them. This emerging ‘clima-church’ is frightening people into the belief that what they refer to as “natural disasters” are caused solely by the actions of humans. To them, earthquakes, floods, storms, hurricanes, and even global warming are the result of human behaviour alone, and the only solution to these problems are authoritarian mandates, such as ubiquitous carbon footprint tracking and restrictions and of course more carbon and environmental taxes. While Muslims do not deny that humans can cause harm to the environment by Allah’s permission, the belief of the clima-cult stems from kufr (i.e. disbelief) and exaggeration. Muslims, particularly those in universities and the field of education, must be aware of this and be very careful, as these theories completely disregard Allah’s Rububiyyah (i.e. His Lordship).
Mankind’s sins and transgressions may cause Allah to unleash these catastrophes, as Allah Almighty said:
“We would never destroy a society unless its people persistently transgressed.” [Qur’an, 28:59]
He Almighty also said:
“Allah drew the example of a society that was safe and secure. It received its provision abundantly from every place, but its people were ungrateful, so Allah made them taste the clutches of hunger and fear for their misdeeds [i.e. their ungratefulness, etc.].” [Qur’an, 16:112]
He also said:
“Whatever affliction befalls you resulted from your own doing.” [Qur’an, 42:30]
Consequently, Safiyyah Bint Abi Aubai (RA) relayed:
“An earthquake occurred in the time of Umar Ibn al-Khattab (RA), so he said: ‘O people, what is this?! How hasty are you to commit what you have committed [i.e. sins and transgressions]! If you continue this, I will leave this place.’” [See Musnad al-Faruq, 188]
Therefore, if sinning causes Allah to unleash these catastrophes, we can deduce that obeying His commands and avoiding His prohibitions will minimise them. However, Allah himself explicitly mentions this. He said in one instance:
“Had they observed the Torah, the Gospel, and what was revealed to them from their Lord, they would have been overwhelmed with provisions from above and below.” [Qur’an, 5:66]
In another instance, Allah Almighty said:
“Had the people of those societies believed and been fearful, We would have overwhelmed them with blessings from heaven and earth, but they disbelieved, so We seized them for what they used to commit [i.e. sins].” [Qur’an, 7:96]
Dear brothers and sisters, mankind’s intellect is limited, so we may be incapable of comprehending any possible wisdom resulting from death and destruction; however, Allah—Who is the Most Wise—may send these signs to scare humanity so that they may reflect upon their actions, remember their defiance of His commands and their indulgence in His prohibitions, repent from their sins, and remember Him more frequently. Allah The Most High said about these catastrophes:
“We only send these signs to terrorise them.” [Qur’an, 17:59]
Qatadah (RA) commented in these Qur’anic verse that:
“Allah terrorises the people with whatever he desires so they may reflect [upon their actions], or remember [their defiance], or repent [from their sins].” [See Tafsir of Ibn Kathir, vol. 5, page 91]
Also, the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“Verily, the sun and the moon are two signs among Allah’s signs. He utilises them to frighten his servants. Death does not cause the sun and the moon to eclipse.” [Muslim]
This destruction may also be a test and trial from Allah. Allah Almighty said:
“Do you think you will be admitted into Paradise without being tested like those before you? They were afflicted with suffering and adversity and [their hearts] were violently shaken such that even the Messenger and the believers cried out: “When will Allah’s help arrive?” [Qur’an, 2:214]
Shaikh Muqbil Ibn Hadi al-Wadiʿi (rahimahullah) concluded:
“These signs may be a test and trial, or they may be terrorising events.”
Regardless, a Muslim must never conjure up bad thoughts about his Lord, which is a characteristic of the hypocrites and the polytheists. Allah Almighty said:
“He may punish the hypocrites and the polytheists who harbour evil thoughts of Allah. May ill-fate befall them! Allah is displeased with them. He has condemned them and prepared Hell for them. What an evil destination.” [Qur’an, 6:48]
Whenever such catastrophes occur, a Muslim must quickly engage in repentance, in Allah’s remembrance (Zikr), and in supplication (Du’a).
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Death does not cause these signs that Allah sends. Allah utilises them to frighten his servants, so if you see one of these signs, hasten to supplicate, to make azkar, and to repent.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
Shaikh Ibn Baz (rahimahullah)—giving advice on this topic—mentioned that:
“Every Muslim must repent, make abundant Zikr and istighfar, supplicate, and ask Allah for safety and wellbeing.” [See an-Nasiha Haulal-Zil-zal]
If a Muslim resides in a non-Muslim country, he should try to make Hijrah; otherwise, the disbelievers, the polytheists, and other sinners will constantly surround him. Consequently, Umar Ibn al-Khattab (RA)—addressing the Muslims during his reign as the Muslim leader—said:
“If you continue this [i.e. sinning and transgressing], I will leave this place.’”
And fleeing from sinners is an established practice, for the monk advised the man who killed one hundred people to forsake his land for this very reason. The monk said:
“You should go to such and such land. There are devoted worshipers there, so you can accompany them in worship. Do not return to your land since it is evil [i.e. populated with sinners and transgressors].” [Muslim]
Some scholars say prayer is also legislated. The Hadith of Ibn Abbas (RA) supports this. Ikrimah (RA) narrated:
Ibn Abbas (RA) was informed that so and so, a certain wife of the Prophet (Peace be upon him), died. He fell prostrating. He was questioned:
“Why do you prostrate at this time?” He said: Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) said: ‘When you see a sign [i.e. a disaster], prostrate.’ And which sign [i.e. disaster] is greater than the death of one of the Prophet’s wives.” [Abu Dawud]
Furthermore, showing compassion and empathy is recommended since the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Al-Rahman (Allah) shows mercy to the merciful. If you show mercy to the earth’s inhabitants, He who is in the heaven will show you mercy.” [Abu Dawud and at-Tirmizi]
As a result, Umar Ibn Abdul’Aziz (RA) would command the governors to give charity (Sadaqah) after an earthquake. Therefore, giving charity is legislated.
Additionally, aiding any Muslim victims is advised, as they may require assistance. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“If a Muslim fulfilled his brother’s needs, Allah will fulfil that Muslim’s needs.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
Respected servants of Allah, earthquakes will progressively occur much more frequently, for the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“The Hour will not be established until: knowledge will be taken away, earthquakes will occur very frequently, time will pass quickly, afflictions will appear, murders will increase, and money will overflow from amongst you.” [Bukhari]
This prophecy validates the Messenger’s (Peace be upon him) prophethood, since statistical data shows that the frequency of earthquakes has increased significantly.
Finally, although statistical data also shows that the magnitude of recent earthquakes has intensified, the shaking of the earth when the Hour will be established is incomparable. Ponder the Allah Almighty’s statement:
“When the earth is violently shaken, and the mountains crumble and turn to dust.” [Qur’an, 56:4-6]
He also said:
“When the earth is shaken with its [final] quake, and the earth discharges the deceased.” [Qur’an, 99:1-2]
He also said:
“O humanity! Fear your Lord, for the violent quaking at the Hour is surely a dreadful thing. On that Day, every mother will abandon her nursing child, and every pregnant woman will deliver her baby [prematurely], and people will appear to be drunk, but they will not be drunk.” [Qur’an, 22:1-2]
Therefore, not only will the rumbling earth cause the mountains Allah planted so firmly into the ground to crumble and turn to dust, but it will also cause the earth to discharge the deceased. It will cause a terror and a fear that will cause a mother—who would always protect her children—to abandon her offspring at the most vulnerable stage of his life. It will even induce labour prematurely. Furthermore, it will cause the people to appear to be drunk, but they will not be drunk. Their condition will be like this on that day. Consequently, Allah described this final shake as:
“A dreadful thing.” [Qur’an, 22:1]
Therefore, as a reprimand, those who were given authority over others—like a leader, or a father, or a husband—must not allow this authority to overpower those who have less authority and power, for Allah’s Strength and Power is incomparable. He Almighty said:
“Certainly, Allah is the Provider, Owner of Strength, the Powerful.” [Qur’an, 51:58]
May Allah Almighty make us obedient servants, and may He protect us from any future atrocities. If, however, He decreed that an atrocity would strike us, may He provide quick relief and aid. If any lives were lost, may He have mercy upon the deceased Muslims, and may He grant them martyrdom. The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“The martyrs are five: Whoever drowns, or dies from plague, or from a stomach illness, or from fallen debris, or from fighting in Allah’s path is a martyr.” [Reported by Bukhari and Muslim]
Dear brothers and sisters, the happening of many earthquakes and floods is among the signs of the Day of Judgement. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“The Hour will not happen until knowledge will be uplifted and many earthquakes will take place.” [Bukhari]
Also, among the signs of the Hour is the occurrence of three major landslides. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) when mentioning the ten signs of the Day of Judgement, said:
“… and three major landslides, one in the East, one in the West and one in the Arabic peninsula…” [Muslim]
The earthquakes, floods and other signs in this universe are a lesson for the believer. Allah frightens His servants with such occurrences so that a Muslim should take heed and repent, and fear that what happened to others could have happened to him because of his sins.
Besides, among other lessons that a Muslim learns from such an incident is that in the Sight of Allah the creation is of no value when they disobey Him, and a Muslim should remember, by the occurrence of such earthquakes and floods, the horror of the Day of Judgement and the destruction that the whole universe will undergo.
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true followers.
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: [email protected] or +2348038289761.