Great surges of water (tsunamis) at times may ravage coastal cities.

Seismic sea waves or tidal waves are caused by a sudden uplift or subsidence of the sea floor or by volcanic eruptions. Some tsunamis can be as destructive as atom bombs.


Allah surely creates all these disasters as "warnings" to mankind. He is exalted in power and He has power over all things. Allah testifies to this in the verse: "He has power to send calamities on you, from above and below." (Surat al-An'am: 65) That there are so many serious physical threats around the world no doubt underlines one important reality. With disasters, in only a matter of seconds Allah may take back whatever He has granted man. Catastrophes may strike anywhere at any time. This is a clear demonstration that no place exists on earth that can guarantee man's security. Allah says this in the following verse:

Do the people of the towns feel secure against the coming of Our wrath by night while they are asleep? Or else, do they feel secure against its coming in broad daylight while they play about (carefree)? Do they then feel secure against the plan of Allah But no-one can, (unwisely), feel secure from the plan of Allah, except those (doomed) to ruin! (Surat al-A'raf: 97-99)

Water, granted to man as a favour, may in times turn out a disaster by the will of Allah. It is incomprehensible that man witnesses one or two floods every year and still disregards the possibility of experiencing such a calamity himself.  



Wildfires and fires caused by human neglect may cause major losses.

A tornado big enough to sweep away homes and reduce a whole city to rubble.

Ice falling at close to 100 miles an hour shattered automobile windows in Tampa, Florida, during a 1992 thunderstorm that cost some 25 million dollars in property damage. The roof of a house damaged by hailstones.

In 1997-1998, "El-Niño" raged over many cities. The total damage all over the world was put at 20 billion dollars. A city affected by El-Niño Although water is of great significance for life on earth, devastating floods remain to be a threat.(Right) A house sunk in water.


An arsonist's blaze in the parched canyon above Laguna Beach, California triggered the worst urban wildfire of 1993. The inferno torched some 14,000 acres and 441 houses. The Mystic Hills neighbourhood was worst hit, with 286 homes turned to ashes.

A Lesson from History: The Titanic

History abounds with cases of people relying on technological breakthroughs and totally disregarding the might of Allah. That is exactly why many disasters have gone down in history as painful lessons for everyone. Each one of these events is important in the sense that it reminds man that neither wealth nor power, science nor technology has any power to resist the will of Allah. 

Numerous examples of such incidents can be given. The best known is the famous Titanic, a huge ocean liner 55 meters in height and 275 meters in length, which sank nearly ninety years ago. The Titanic, intended to be an "assault on nature", was a grand project that employed a team of engineers and as many as five thousand people. Almost everybody was absolutely convinced that this ship would never sink. The ocean liner was a masterpiece of technology with many engineering advances that pushed back the limits of its day. Yet those who relied on the technical prowess of the ship did not take into consideration one important fact stated in the verse "The command of Allah is a decree that is made absolute" (Surat al-Ahzab 38) and that everyone will sooner or later meet his fate. Eventually, a minor failure led to the sinking of the ship and advanced technology could not save the Titanic from her bitter end. 

From what the survivors of Titanic related, the majority of her passengers gathered on the deck to pray when they realised the ship was about to sink. In many sections of the Qur'an, this tendency of human behaviour is repeated. In times of serious trouble and danger, man sincerely prays and seeks the help of his Creator. However, when delivered from danger, they immediately turn away in ungratefulness:

Your Lord is He that made the ship go smoothly for you through the sea, in order that you may seek of his bounty. For He is unto you most Merciful. When distress seizes you at sea, those that you call upon – beside Him – leave you in the lurch! But when He brings you back safe to land, you turn away (from Him). Most ungrateful is man! Do you then feel secure that He will not cause you to be swallowed up beneath the earth when you are on land, or that He will not send against you a violent tornado (with showers of stones) so that you shall find no-one to carry out your affairs for you? Or do you feel secure that He will not send you back a second time to sea and send against you a heavy gale to drown you because of your ingratitude, so that you find no helper therein against Us? (Surat al-Isra: 66- 69)

One might never have experienced such a disaster, yet one should always remember that, at any time, one may find life stripped to its fundamentals. Accordingly, man should always occupy himself with the remembrance of Allah since "the power is wholly Allah's." (Surat al-Baqarah: 165) On the other hand, once a catastrophe strikes, one might not have the opportunity to change his ungrateful attitude towards Allah and seek to repent to Him. Death may be very sudden:

Do they see nothing in the government of the heavens and the earth and all that Allah has created? (Do they not see) that it may well be that their terms are nigh drawing to an end? In what message after this will they then believe? (Surat al-A'raf: 185)

By the Mercy of Allah

Each one of them We seized for his crime: against some of them We sent a violent tornado (with showers of stones); some were caught by a (mighty) blast; some We caused the earth to swallow up; and some We drowned (in the waters): It was not Allah who injured (or oppressed) them; They injured (and oppressed) their own souls. (Surat al-'Ankabut: 40)

What has been discussed so far is intended to remind those who forget their purpose in creation of an important fact: everything on earth owes its existence to Allah, the Creator who has created the entire material universe. In other words, everything's existence is consequent upon the exercise of the will of Allah. Therefore, nothing has a being separate and apart from Allah. The Qur'an tells us that nothing is beyond Allah's control: "Allah has full power and control over His affair; but most of mankind know it not." (Surah Yusuf: 21)

Nevertheless, as Allah makes clear in the second part of the verse, the majority of people are not aware of this. They assume, during the course of their lives, that no misfortune whatsoever will befall them, never thinking that they too are vulnerable to any of those devastating disasters. We feel that "others" experience such terrifying incidents and that "we" will always live in safety. News about disasters, accidents or epidemics surely makes us feel sympathy for the sufferers. We indeed share their sorrow; however, as disasters recede into memory, we become less concerned and such an attitude proves to be a passing interest for us. Once we immerse ourselves in the flow of daily life or face personal problems, we quickly develop a sense of apathy and remain indifferent to those who have been through disaster.

Nevertheless, the notion that every day of one's life will be the same is a flawed one. This is evident from the warnings of Allah. Certainly, those people who were exposed to various disasters did not know that a natural hazard would throw their life into complete disarray. They certainly started that day as an ordinary one, thinking that it would be the same as the preceding ones. However, it turned out to be totally different. Most probably, it never occurred to them that, on that particular day there would be a drastic change in their lives, which would transform life into a dangerous struggle. On such occasions, lives are reduced to their simplest truths. Surely, this is how Allah reminds man that security in this world is a sham.

A majority of people pay no heed to this, however. They forget that life is short and temporary and disregard that they will be judged in the presence of Allah. In this state of heedlessness, they spend their lives in pursuit of vain desires instead of living for the good pleasure of Allah.

Viewed from this standpoint, troubles are a mercy of Allah. Allah demonstrates the true nature of this world and encourages man to be prepared for the next life. That is why what is said to be a misfortune is in fact an opportunity offered by Allah. These misfortunes are given to people so that they may seek to repent and amend their conduct. The lessons that should be drawn from disasters are related in one of the verses:

See they not that they are tried every year once or twice? Yet they turn not in repentance, and they take no heed. (Surat at-Tawbah: 126)



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