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Article appeared Friday, June 21st, 2013 in The News Today, Bangladesh

The Revelation (283)

yousuf mahbubul Islam, PhD

Can calamities be random events? This is a difficult question. However, we may get clues to the answer by finding and asking other related questions. It is known that computer models cannot predict distant calamities {1}. Also, it is obvious that a calamity does not have control over itself. Would a calamity know when to produce itself? If not, how do calamities come about? Are calamities acts of the Creator? If so, why does He give calamities? Could it be because He has nothing better to do? Can a calamity be intended as a warning for what? If calamities are intended as a warning, should we do some analysis? For example, should we analyze our personal behavior before and after the calamity is over? Before we study calamities that affect entire communities let us analyze calamities that affect us individually. Should one take warning from individual and personal crises? If we dont take such forewarnings into account what might happen? To remind us of our attitudes towards the Creator, the most recent Revelation the Quran mirrors the nature of man in the following Verse: When trouble touches a man he cries to Us (in all postures) lying down on his side or sitting or standing [10.12a] When in trouble, regardless of religious preference, we all directly implore the Creator. We know that it is only He that can get us out of a crisis. We cry to Him in many ways. Often we make false promises, they cry to Allah sincerely offering (their) duty to Him saying "If You deliver us from this (trouble) we shall truly show our gratitude! [10.22] After having made promises to our Creator, what do we do when He solves the problem? The second part of Verse 10.12 enlightens us to our ungrateful nature. But when We have solved his trouble he passes on his way as if he had never cried to Us for the trouble that touched him!... [10.12b] So not only do we overlook to thank the Creator, we often credit things or objects other than He. For example, when the problem is solved, do we feel good about our intelligence, skills and abilities? The last part of Verse 10.12 warns us about such elated feelings, Thus do the deeds of transgressors seem fair in their eyes! [10.12c] The Creator classifies such ingratitude as transgression crossing the boundaries of rightful and proper behavior. Ingratitude seriously displeases the Creator He warns about such unfair feelings, But when He delivers them behold! They transgress insolently through the earth in defiance of right! O mankind! Your insolence is against your own souls an enjoyment of the life of the present: in the end to Us is your return and We shall show you the truth of all that you did. [10.23] The trouble that we face or calamities that occur in our communities are tests. Now when trouble touches man he cries to Us;Nay but this is but a trial but most of them understand not! [39.49] The Creator also enlightens us as to the nature of tests as well as what is classified as appropriate behavior by Him. Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil) but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere. Who say when afflicted with calamity: "To Allah we belong and to Him is our return." They are those on whom (descend) blessings and Mercy from Allah and they are the ones that receive guidance. [2.155 2.157]

If we persist in repeating such ingratitude, the Creator may end up destroying entire communities. Generations before you We destroyed when they did wrong: their Apostles came to them with Clear Signs but they would not believe! Thus do We requite those who sin! [10.13] The following Verses detail an example of how the Creator destroyed a generation after they failed to take warning from repeated tests. The Creator send Moses to warn Pharaoh and his people. He subsequently followed up with various calamities that were repeated tests. So We sent (plagues) on them, wholesale death, Locusts, Lice, Frogs and Blood: signs openly self-explained; but they were steeped in arrogance a people given to sin. [7.133]

7.134 Every time the penalty fell on them they said: "O Moses! On our behalf call on your Lord in virtue of His Promise to you; if you will remove the penalty from us we shall truly believe in you and we shall send away the Children of Israel with you." 7.135 But every time We removed the penalty from them according to a fixed term which they had to fulfill Behold! They broke their word! 7.136 So We exacted retribution from them: We drowned them in the sea because they rejected Our Signs and failed to take warning from them. 7.137 And We made a people considered weak (and of no account) inheritors of lands in both east and west lands whereon We sent down our blessings. The fair promise of the Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel because they had patience and constancy and We leveled to the ground the great works and fine buildings which Pharaoh and his people erected (with such pride). 7.138 We took the Children of Israel (with safety) across the sea. They came upon a people devoted entirely to some idols they had. They said: "O Moses! Fashion for us a god like the gods they have." He said: "Surely you are a people without knowledge.
On the other hand, the Children of Israel, even after having been saved through the demonstration of mighty miracles, themselves quickly forgot who the Creator was. They wanted Moses to fashion them a god. Michel de Montaigne (1533 1592), a French philosopher and writer, brings out the vanity of creating gods for oneself in his famous saying, Man cannot make a worm, yet he will make gods by the dozen {2}

7.139 As to these folk the cult they practice is (but) a fragment of a ruin and vain is the (worship) which they practice. 7.140 He said: "Shall I seek for you a god other than the (true) Allah when it is Allah who has endowed you with gifts above the nations?" 7.141 And remember We rescued you from Pharaoh's people who afflicted you with the worst of penalties who slew your male children and saved alive your females: in that was a momentous trial from your Lord.
------{Notes}: {1} {2}