Natural disasters: How do Muslims view them?

Becoming Conduits of divine mercy

Natural disasters are seen as realizations of God’s power, mercy, and wisdom. His power is realized through the sending of natural disasters against those that have violated God’s divine moral law. His mercy is realized two-fold. Those that are affected and lose their lives are given the reward of a martyr. Those that left behind are to viewed as opportunities for mankind to be conduits of God’s mercy through humanitarian aid and rebuilding efforts.

God’s wisdom is realized when both his power and mercy are exercised at the same time. When those affected are the people who have long usurped worldly power and transgressed against the less fortunate, God’s power is realized in cutting their transgression short. The less fortunate are blessed to escape toil, worldly pain and subjugation by others. This too is a mercy. While toil and pain may continue at times, this can be a cause for greater reward in the next life. Natural disasters should not be seen as a punishment from God sent against the less fortunate.

Natural Disasters: Mercy and Punishment?

The culmination of the two is what is at times puzzling to man. With our limited comprehension and knowledge we cannot always see the wisdom of God in sending natural disasters. It is difficult to see how this one event can be both a mercy and punishment at one and the same time.

The question is what should we as believers in that divine wisdom do? The Prophet Muhammad taught that in every living thing, there is an opportunity to give charity. Sacred texts dealing with feeding the indigent, caring for the needy, and taking care of the sick all encompass both specific acts of charity and aid. These texts encompass broader acts such as humanitarian aid as well. Natural disasters are opportunities to realize the divine mandate to become vehicles of mercy. “The merciful, the Merciful Benefactor will show them mercy; show mercy to those on earth, He above the heavens will show you mercy.”

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