Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Natural disasters : Tropical Storm Debby

The purpose behind natural disasters such as floods (Tropical Storm Debby), earthquakes and storms, cannot only be viewed as forms of divine punishments, they are also designed to remind us of God's blessings. They help us to avoid being negligent, they allow our natural talents to blossom, they help revive life on earth, and ultimately they punish people who are oppressors.. All of these can be considered as the reasons behind why natural disasters occur. In addition, a phenomenon can have a material source and simultaneously be a divine punishment, since God's punishments come down on us based on His law and causal based system.

In other words, everything in the world happens based upon God's will, and God enforces His will on the basis of the law of causation. In fact material causes are a part of God's will and decree. Natural disasters happen through natural means and are also based on God's will, hence preventing them or reducing their destructive consequences does not necessarily contradict with the fact that the goal is to punish a person or a group of people.

Calamities which human beings face are of two types: Natural catastrophes and Moral catastrophes (external and internal). It has been proven that morally wicked acts can cause divine punishments to come down for humans and these can come down in the form of natural disasters. In general, both types can have punishing effects. However, one can categorize divine calamities to sometimes include things such as wealth and welfare and not just natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, etc.

From the Holy Quran’s point of view, one of God's methods is to test human beings by putting them through difficulties at various stages in their lives in order to draw out and manifest their hidden talents.  One of the most important consequences of calamities is that they awaken human beings from the ignorance caused by the material blessings of this world. These calamities remind humans of their important responsibilities before God and replace arrogance with humbleness. Regarding this issue, the Holy Quran says that various Prophets have had their people tested with different types of hardships in order to dissolve any feeling of resistance in them and to help them to submit to the truth.

And We sent not any Prophet to a town, but We took its people with tribulation and desolation so that perhaps they will lower themselves.”  - Surah Al-A'raf 7:94

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