(Series on Difficulties and Their Causes #2)

Earthquakes… Floods… Tsunamis… Fires… Hurricanes… Drought… Epidemics… Rioting and civil unrest…

These are some of the natural disasters and calamities that have been dominating the headlines globally. On the local front, over and above the periodic flooding – it is the load shedding and risk of a total grid collapse that have people worried and anxious.

In the Quraan Majeed, Allah Ta‘ala informs us that calamities and disasters are generally sent to a locality on account of the evils and sins of that locality. Allah Ta‘ala says, “Calamities have appeared on land and sea because of what (evils and sins) the hands of the people have earned, so that He (Allah Ta‘ala) may cause them to taste some of (the punishment of) what they did, in order that they may return (to the path of righteousness).” (Surah Room v41)

Generally, people look at the outward causes of calamities, such as the movement and shifting of tectonic plates, or global warming, etc. However, the reality is that all these natural systems of the environment are in the sole control of Allah Ta‘ala. Hence, we often see the sky filled with dark clouds – which are normally an indication of imminent rain – yet despite our expectation based on prior experience, and despite the meteorologist (weatherman) forecasting rain, not a single drop falls from the sky. The reason is that rain is in the control and under the command of Allah Ta‘ala.

The abovementioned verse of the Quraan Majeed teaches us that instead of pondering over the scientific cause of the calamity, we should ponder over the state of our actions so that we may ward off these calamities through turning to Allah Ta‘ala in repentance.

Such are the difficulties, calamities and hardships that are caused through sinning, that when an evil sinner passes away, all the people gain relief from his absence and disappearance. Hence, it is reported that once, when a funeral bier passed by Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), he said, “(He is either) one who is gaining relief, or one from whom relief is being gained.” When the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) enquired from Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) regarding the meaning of this statement, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “(Through passing away,) the (pious) believer gains relief from the hardships of this world and its difficulties, (going) towards the mercy of Allah Ta‘ala, while the sinful servant is such that (through his death,) the other servants, the land, the trees and the animals all gain relief.” (Saheeh Bukhaari #6512)

Often, due to a person’s persistent sinning, rain is withheld, on account of which even the vegetation and the animals begin to suffer hardship. Therefore, the animals and creatures which suffer during drought begin to curse the sinners, as they are the actual cause of the drought. (Adapted from Mirqaat vol. 4, pg. 70) (See an incident in this regard here)

In the ahaadeeth, we are taught that at times, on account of the sinful people in a community or locality, the punishment of Allah Ta‘ala descends. Thereafter, all the people – the pious and the sinners – are afflicted by the disaster (though for the pious, it will not be a punishment but a means of them earning reward through exercising patience).

Sayyidah Zainub bintu Jahsh (radhiyallahu ‘anha) once asked Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), “Will we be destroyed while there are pious people among us?” Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) replied, “Yes, when sin and evil becomes rife (then the punishment encompasses everyone, though the pious will not be resurrected with the impious, and the calamity will not be a punishment for them).” (Saheeh Bukhaari #3346)

From the above, we understand that the solution to averting all calamities and disasters is to turn to Allah Ta‘ala in sincere taubah and to reform our lives. However, together with reforming our own lives, an effort must be made to revive Deen and the sunnah in our communities at large. This effort must commence at home, with our own families and children, but must not be confined to them. Hence, every person, according to his capability, must take the effort of Deen to heart and strive to uplift this Deen.

By doing so, we will gain the pleasure of Allah Ta‘ala and Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), and will also avert calamities from our localities.