Reflection on Earthquakes
From As-Sunnah Bimonthly Islamic Newsletter

A few tremors and entire cities are reduced to rubble…
hundreds of people are lost,
millions of lives are disrupted and loss of property runs to billions.
Who amongst us has not witnessed
the devastation and destruction caused by earthquakes,
even if just on the news.

Whilst people discuss about better ways and improved preparations for earthquakes and whether existing buildings and structures are fit enough to withstand the earth's tremors…. let us look at earthquakes from a different prospective - the Islamic Prospective…

Let us study the various references found in the Qur'aan and the Sunnah concerning earthquakes and learn what a Muslim's attitude and response should be towards disasters and calamities.

Earthquakes are a result of man's evil deeds. Allah sends down calamities when sins and disobedience become widespread and people increase in their wrongdoings:

“Did We not destroy the ancients? So shall We make the later generations to follow them. Thus do We deal with the Mujrimoon (criminals, disbelievers, sinners).” [Soorah al-Mursalat (77): 16-19]

Thus, disasters and calamities are a result of our increasing evil deeds and disobedience to Allah: “And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He (Allah) pardons much.” [Soorah al-Shoorah (42): 30] “Whatever of good reaches you, is from Allah, but whatever of evil befalls you, is from yourself.” [Soorah an-Nisa (4):79]

Narrated Abu Hurayrah (radhi allahu anhu): “Allah's Messenger (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “When... property given in trust is treated as spoil, Zakaat is looked on as a tax, learning is acquired for other than a religious purpose, a man obeys his wife and is unkind towards his mother, he brings his friend near and drives his father far off, voices are raised in the mosques, the most wicked member of a tribe becomes its ruler, the most worthless member of a people becomes its leader, a man is honored through fear of the evil he may do, singing-girls and stringed instruments make their appearance, wines are drunk, and the last members of this people curse the first ones, look at that time for a violent wind, an earthquake, being swallowed up by the earth, metamorphosis, pelting rain, and signs following one another like bits of a necklace falling one after the other when its string is cut.” [at-Tirmidhee (5450)]

Earthquake - a warning!!
All the factors mentioned in this Hadeeth are clearly witnessed in the society today and earthquakes are admonitions for us that we may take some heed and return back to Allah in repentance: “Don’t they see that they are put in trial once or twice every year (with different kinds of calamities, disease, famine)? Yet, they turn not in repentance, nor do they learn a lesson.” [Soorah at-Tawbah (9): 126]

Allah sends down such calamities to frighten His slaves and remind them of their obligations and duties towards Him and to warn them against associating anything in worship with Him: “And We sent not the signs except to warn.” [Soorah al-Isra (17): 59] “When We decide to destroy a town, We (first) send a definite order (to obey Allah and be righteous) to those among them who are given the good things of this life. Then, they transgress therein, and thus the word (of torment) is justified against (them). Then we destroy it with complete destruction.” [Soorah al-Isra (17): 16]

Therefore, man should constantly fear Allah and seek His forgiveness for one's sins. The Messenger of Allah (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam), who was masoom (innocent and free of all sins) would make al-Istagfar (seek Allah's forgiveness) several times a day, he (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “By the One in Whose Hands is my soul, I certainly ask forgiveness more than seventy times a day.” [Saheeh al-Bukharee] and he (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam) feared Allah so much that even whenever a strong wind blew, anxiety appeared on his face (fearing that, that wind might be a sign of Allah's Wrath). [Saheeh al-Bukharee]

Ibn al-Qayyim (rahimahullah) said: “Allah sometimes gives the earth permission to breathe, which is when major earthquakes happen. This makes people feel scared, so they repent, give up sins, pray to Allah and feel regret [for their sins]. When there had been an earthquake, some of the Salaf said: “Your Lord is warning you.

When Madeenah was struck by an earthquake, 'Umar ibn al-Khattaab (radhi allahu anhu) addressed the people and said: 'If there is another earthquake, I will not stay here with you.”

But, mankind is ignorant of these warnings and is persistent in his evil deeds. He invites the Wrath of Allah when he openly and remorselessly commits acts of evil on His land. The Messenger of Allah (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Verily, Allah has a sense of Ghayrah (honor, prestige and anger) and Allah’s sense of Ghayrah is provoked when a person does that which Allah has made prohibited.” [Saheeh al-Bukharee and Saheeh Muslim] Man does not realize that “Verily, your Lord is Ever Watchful (over them).” [Soorah al-Fajr (89): 14] and anytime he may account us for our evil actions. “Then surely, We shall question those to whom it (the Book) was sent and We shall question the Messengers.” [Soorah al-A’raf (7): 6]

The Qur'aan is a witness that terrible was the end of those who paid no heed to the warnings of Allah in the previous nations: “So We punished each (of them) for his sins, of them were some on whom We sent Haasib (a violent wind with shower of stones) [as on the people of Loot (Lot)], and of them were some who were overtaken by As-Saihah [torment awful cry, (as Thamood or Shu'ayb's people)], and of them were some whom We caused the earth to swallow [as Qaaroon], and of them were some whom We drowned [as the people of Nooh, or Fir'aun and his people]. It was not Allah Who wronged them, but they wronged themselves.” [Soorah Ankaboot (29): 40]

The Astonishing Power of Allah
Allah, with this earthquake, makes clear to His servants that the kingdom of the Heavens and the Earth is alone in His Hands. Happenings of earthquakes are evidence of His astonishing Power: “For to Allah belong the Forces of the heavens and the earth.” [Soorah al-Fath (48) :7] “And none can know the Forces of your Lord, except He.” [Soorah Mudhaththir (74): 31] If the Ummah leaves Allah's Sharee'ah, ignores His Deen and follows its enemies, then Allah has the complete power to send down disasters and calamities, and from them are earthquakes!! “Such is the Seizure of your Lord when He seizes the towns while they are doing wrong. Verily, His Seizure is painful and severe.” [Soorah Hud (11): 102]

“He has Power to send torment on you from above or from under your feet, or to cover you with confusion in party strife, and make you to taste the violence of one another.” [Soorah al-An'aam 6:65]

Abu'l-Shaykh al-Isbahaani narrated from Mujaahid concerning the Tafseer of this aayah: “Say: 'He has power to send torment on you from above”: (this means) al-Sayhah (the shout or tumult), stones and strong wind , “or from under your feet”, (means) earthquakes and being swallowed up by the earth. It is reported from Jabir Ibn Abd-Allah (radhi allahu anhu) that when this verse was revealed, the Prophet (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “A'oodhu bi wajhika” - O Allah! I seek refuge in Your Face.” [Saheeh al-Bukharee vol: 5, no: 193]

Earthquake - a sign of the nearness of the Last Day
Multitude of earthquakes is a sign of the nearness of the Day of Judgement, Abu Hurayrah (radhi allahu anhu) related from Allah's Messenger (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam): “The Hour will not happen until knowledge is taken out, time passes quickly, earthquakes increase in number, tribulations (fitan) appear, and al-Harj increases in number.” It was said, “What is al-Harj, O Messenger of Allah r?” He said, “Al Qatl, al Qatl (Killing).” [Musnad Ahmad]

Earthquakes remind us of the last and final earthquake, which will be more far-reaching and convulsive. “The Day you shall see it, every nursing mother will forget her nursling, and every pregnant one will drop her load, and you shall see mankind as in a intoxicated state, yet they will not be intoxicated, but severe will be the Torment.” [Soorah al-Hajj (22): 2] Therefore: “O mankind! Fear your Lord and be dutiful to Him. Verily, the earthquake of the Hour (of Judgment) is a terrible thing.” [Soorah al-Hajj (22): 1]

Today, when an earthquake takes place people run leaving their dwellings and their families. Allah warns with these earthquakes to prepare ourselves for the day of the great earthquake that will shake all of the Earth. “That Day shall a man flee from his own brother, and from his mother and his father, and from his wife and his children.” [Soorah Abasa (80): 34-36] “One the day (when the first blowing of the Trumpet is blown), the earth and the mountains will shake violently.” [Soorah an-Nazi’at (79) :6]

What should be a Muslim’s attitude and response on earthquakes?
A Muslim should take earthquakes and other such signs as admonitions from Allah and hasten to repent, remember Allah and ask forgiveness from Him, as the Messenger of Allah (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam) said when there was an eclipse: “If you see anything like that, hasten to remember Him, call on Him and seek His forgiveness.” [Saheeh al-Bukharee vol: 2, no: 30 and Saheeh Muslim vol: 2, no: 628] “And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him.” [Soorah at-Talaaq (65): 2-3]

It is also recommended to show compassion to the poor, give charity because the Messenger of Allah (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Show mercy, (and) you will be shown mercy.” [Musnad Ahmad, vol: 2, no: 165] and: “Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Have mercy on those who are on earth, and the One Who is in heaven will show mercy to you.” [Abu Dawood 13/285), at-Tirmidhee 6/43] He (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam) also said: “Whoever does not show mercy will not be shown mercy.” [Saheeh al-Bukharee 5/75 and Muslim 4/1809]

One of the things, which will keep people safe from such calamities, is to reduce evil deed, apply the Sahree'ah laws, enjoin good and forbid evil: “The believers, men and women, are Awliyaa (friends) of one another; they enjoin al-Maroof (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do), and forbid (people) from al-Munkar (i.e. polytheism and disbelief of all kinds, and all that Islam forbids); they perform As-Salaat and give the Zakaat, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will have His Mercy on them. Surely, Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise” [Soorah at-Tawbah (9): 71]

Dhulm (Oppression), false-pride and openly committing evil will never go unpunished. One will have to pay in this world and if not then the punishment in the Hereafter is much more severe… So, take heed!!

Preserve what we have from the blessings of Allah for wrongdoing removes blessings;
rather it changes it to a curse.

Be warned of an evil end, for Allah gives us a chance but is not neglectful.
What has happened to the previous nations might befall us….

Fortunate person is he who learns from the calamity of others
and the miserable one is he by whom these calamities pass while he takes no lesson from them…

“None feels secure from the Plan of Allah except the people who are the losers.”
[Soorah al-Araaf (7): 97-99]