By Haroon Ishola Balogun
Allah has never promised the Mu’meen that they will not be tested. Those before us were tested, shaken and frightened. In Q2 vs. 214, Allah 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 were so ˹violently˺ shaken that ˹even˺ the Messenger and the believers with him cried out, “When will Allah’s help come?” Indeed, Allah’s help is ˹always˺ near.
Aljnah is never free for the believers; they have to be tested and passed the tests before they get the final blissful abode.
Sometimes as the Quran indicates, Allah uses the earthquakes to destroy and wipe out a generation. In the story of the people of Shuaib, their chieftains at that time not only denounced him, but also discouraged people from following Prophet Shuaib and the earthquake came and destroyed them. From this passage, we can tell that the people of Madyan were unfair in one very specific way. Prophet Shuaib (AS) commanded them to ‘fulfill the measure and weight,’ meaning that they cheated, most likely with business transactions. He told them to worship Allah and give up their evil deeds. Otherwise, they would face a painful punishment at Allah’s hands. He also told them not to cause mischief and corruption in the land. But they refused. These people were arrogant in their ways. They absolutely refused to entertain the words of the prophet. In fact, they went a step further and threatened to drive him out of the land alongside his followers. They flatly refused to change their ways and their methods of cheating people. Similarly, they showed no interest in worshiping their one true God, Allah. According to the Tafsir of the Quran, the statement about Shuaib (AS) being forbearing and discerning was a sarcastic, mocking one. Peophet Shuaib warned them of impending punishment of Allah. He gave the example of some of the past prophets and the punishments their people endured. Indeed, he gave fairly specific examples in the forms of Prophet Nuh (AS) and the people of Hud and Saleh. Yet, his people were stubborn in their ways and arrogant. They showed no inclination to change the ways they conducted themselves, and it was only a matter of time when the earthquake seized them, and they became within their home [corpses] fallen prone. The very houses, power and wealth they thought will protect them, all fell and wiped out. (Quran 7:91-92)
The same goes for the people of Hud. They were shaken by the earth. In Suratul Ankabuti Allah wars us that each of the civilization will be called to answer for their sins. Some were sent hardened stones, some were perished with water and they were all drowned, some were wiped out by a mighty blast, while for some, Allah caused the earth to swallow them. All these were as a result of their sins. We also remember the story of Kharoun. In spite of the fact that Allah blessed him with wealth like He had never done to anyone, he was arrogant and never believed in Allah. He never believed Allah gave him the wealth. He walked and dealt with people with pride and arrogance. Allah (SWT) caused the earth to rupture and swallowed him.
The concept of Zalzala is something we should all reflect on. It had happened to people before us and right in Turkey and Syria we have seen it again. But I wish to also state that it is not all the time that when such happed, it is caused by sins. Sometimes, Allah uses it to test His beloved people. Remember that Allah is capable of doing all things, He could send earthquake to any where if He so desires. In fact what will Allah loses if He wipes out a whole generation at ones whether they believed or not? Absolutely nothing. He does whatever He likes, and no one can question His action. That is why the Prophet would always seek refuge of Allah against such calamity. While some set of people had it as a punishment, some had this as a means of repentance and coming close to Allah. In Suratul Araf, vs. 155, when Prophet Musa chose 70 men to be with Him at the bottom of Tur Sina and at that point, earthquake occurred and was about to swallow them when Musa cried to Allah. “And Moses chose from his people seventy men for Our appointment. And when the earthquake seized them, he said, “My Lord, if You had willed, You could have destroyed them before and me [as well]. Would You destroy us for what the foolish among us have done? This is not but Your trial by which You send astray whom You will and guide whom You will. You are our Protector, so forgive us and have mercy upon us; and You are the best of forgivers.
Musa was not being punished for any sin, but for reflection of the people. So, it is not right to say every earthquake is meant for punishment for a sin. Allah does whatever He likes and no one can question His authority. Again, as a believer and a student of knowledge, we know that for every single righteous person that was afflicted with any of the form of calamity, it is only meant to raise the status of that person or a means of expiation. What happened in Turkey and Syria was a shock to many. Sometimes we never regard the stability of the earth which we enjoy as anything. Those people afflicted with these earthquakes never imagined the earth will tremble, let alone swallowing them. Same goes for all parts of the world as they are all under the control of Allah. The people affected were just human being like us, going about their livelihood without an iota of idea of such quake despite our technological advancement and scientific knowledge. In fact nobody knows where and when will be the next. When such tragedies occur, no one can boast of safety, no land can be said to have immunity against quake if Allah decides so. We beseech Allah to forgive them and raise their status in Aljanah, while also seeking refuge against such calamity. When Allah loves a people, He tests them. It is a clear test for our brothers in that part of the world.
Prophet Muhammad has told us that in one of the signs of the end of time is frequent earthquakes. The Quran reminds us that when such happens, it is not only about the closeness of the day of judgment, but the actuality of the day of judgment. This is because one of the characteristics of the day of judgment is that the entire world will quake at once. It is not going to be country by country or state by state, it will happen all at once. No one will be spared; Allah will only protect some people from that torment. May Allah make me, my family and my fellow Muslims among those that will be spared of the hardship of that time. Let us all reflect on the wisdom of the Turkey and Syria tragedies and prepare for that single earthquake of the last hour. Let us know that our houses, money or worldly power cannot protect us. If you are the type that have a retinue of security men, protecting you even with the world’s most outstanding equipment, know that you cannot escape the wrath of the last hour. Even those that died and buried cannot even fortify their grave against it. Only those who will have respite are only those with sound eeman, those who are steadfast in the worship of Allah, and those who do what Allah wants and hate what Allah dislikes. What if the earthquake happened now! How prepared are you?