Friday, 8 April 2011

Natural Disasters From The Islamic Perspective

Dear brothers,
Islam calls upon us to fully use our senses; our sight, hearing, and all other senses, to look at the environment around us, and to understand this world and universe that we live in. Those who truly observe will see the greatness and vastness of God's creation. Within this greatness, we will realize how small we are as human beings. Allah SWT ways in Surah Yunus verse 101,

My dear brothers,
Our existence in this life is intricately linked to the world and universe around us. In fact, our lives are immediately affected by changes that happen to the world and the environment. Imagine how our life will change, as we begin to adapt to higher temperatures, or constant heavy rain fall that causes floods. Look at how communities have to change when the sea level rises, such as that which is affecting the Maldives islands. As such, part of our responsibilities as Muslims is to care for our environment as best as we can. For example, we are not allowed in Islam to waste natural resources, such as water, electricity and others. The Holy Prophet SAW said to his companion, Saad bin Abi Waqqas, whilst he was talking his ablution (wudhu'), 

"O Saad, why this wastage?" Saad then asked the Prophet,
"Is there wastage even when we take our ablution?" The Prophet replied
"Yes, even if you are taking the ablution from a flowing river." (Hadith narrated by Ibnu Majah)

My dear brothers,
If we truly observe, we will notice that of late, the environment has changed more frequently than ever before. In fact, these changes have had huge impact on human lives. For example, these are more earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, pandemics and others. Both human lives and properties are lost in the process. According to a World Bank study, natural disasters have risen by 30% since 1990. This increase is largely due to calamities caused by climate change. Locally, we have felt the slight tremors of an earthquake and tsunami in Northeastern Japan on 11 March 2011. 

As those who believe, we look at these developments with insaf and introspection. Our iman teaches us that such disasters, to which man has no control, happen with the fate and order by Allah SWT. The plate tectonic movements, the thick clouds that carry heavy rain, the differences in air pressure leading to typhoons and strong winds, all of these move and occur by His will and permission. This is based on what is mentioned by Allah SWT in Surah Al-Hadid verse 22:

Likewise, Allah SWT mentions in Surah Al-An'am verse 17:

My dear brothers,
But we may ask, why do such things happen at a particular place, affecting a certain community or country, and not others? Indeed, these disasters are tests for one's faith and patience. These disasters also call upon us to self-reflect and remind us not to do things against the teachings of Allah or destructive to our lives. If we have forgotten Allah and we we have been negligent in our duties, these disasters are wake-up calls for us to strengthen our iman in Him. Allah SWT says in Surah Al-Baqarah verse 214:

My dear brothers,
Such disasters also test the strength of our brotherhood. Do we love our brothers affected by such disasters, as much as we love ourselves? Do we try our best to help them? Do we pray for them? Here, humanitarian efforts play a very important role. As Muslims, we should support such efforts, so that we can establish good relations as taught to us by Islam.

Similarly, these disasters remind us all, that our lives today are very fragile. Anything can happen. So, we should not postpone, nor delay, good things that ought to do. Do them now. The Holy Prophet SAW said in a hadith which means, "When the day of judgement comes and you have a seed in your hand, plant the seed." (Hadith narrated by Imam Ahmad). Likewise, if we have the intention to stop committing sins, mistakes and all bad acts, and we all know that whey are, then we should not delay them. Leave them now.

Show our love and kindness to those whom we love, our families, friends and others. Many people regret that they did not have a chance to say "thank you", or to seek forgiveness, nor to express their love to those who matter. We must also continue to ask Allah SWT to grant us protection from all these disasters and tests that we cannot endure. 

My dear brothers,
Having said this, there are still disasters caused by our own hands and actions. We know for example, that the heavy industrialization process of the past have led to carbon emission causing the greenhouse effect and contributing to a rise in global temperatures. The burning of forests and cutting of trees may also worsen such conditions. The wastage of natural resources and excessive and uncontrolled use of such resources will only make this planet suffer further. We are reminded of the implications of our own acts in Surah Al-Rum verse 41 which stated:

Therefore, Islam teaches us to be responsible and to do our best. Responsibility in Islam is not only towards ourselves or  our families, but also to the environment from which we enjoy its beauty and facilities. May we become those who are truly grateful to Allah for all these blessings, thus we care for this environment and this world in the best possible manner, in line with our vision to be an ummah that brings blessings to the world, Amin. 

p/s Ini merupakan teks khutbah jumaat pada 1 April lepas yang saya terima daripada Abang Kimi yang menuntut di 京大 (Kyoto University).. 

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