Why Are There So Many Earthquakes?
By Abd al-‘Azīz ibn ‘Abdallāh ibn Bāz
Question: Many countries have had earthquakes. Does this mean anything (from an Islamic point of view)?
All the Praise is to Allāh, and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allāh, and upon his family, companions, and those who follow his Guidance.
Allāh creates and decrees whatever signs He wills, to frighten His slaves and remind them of their obligations and duties towards Him, and to warn them against associating anything in worship with Him, going against His commands and doing that which He has forbidden.
Allāh says (interpretation of the meaning):
- “And We sent not the signs except to warn” [Al-Isrā’, 17:59]
- “We will show them Our Signs in the universe, and in their own selves, until it becomes manifest to them that this (the Qur’ān) is the truth. Is it not sufficient in regard to your Lord that He is a Witness over all things?” [Fussilat, 41:53]
- “Say: ‘He has power to send torment on you from above or from under your feet, or to cover you with confusion in party strife, and make you to taste the violence of one another.’” [Al-An’ām 6:65]
Jābir ibn ‘Abdallāh (radiallahu`anhu) reported that when the ayah “Say: ‘He has power to send torment on you from above” was revealed, the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, “A’ūdzu bi wajhika (I seek refuge in Your Face”; “or from under your feet”, he said, “A’ūdzu bi wajhika (I seek refuge in Your Face).” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 5/193).
(Abu’l-Shaykh al-Isbahani narrated from Mujāhid concerning the Tafsīr of this ayah, “Say: ‘He has power to send torment on you from above”: (this means) al-Saihah (the shout or tumult), stones and strong wind; “or from under your feet”, (means) earthquakes and being swallowed up by the earth.)
Undoubtedly the earthquakes that are happening these days are among the signs which Allāh uses to remind His slaves. Allāh says (interpretation of the meanings):
- “And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much” [Al-Shura, 42:30]
- “Whatever of good reaches you, is from Allāh, but whatever of evil befalls you, is from yourself” [Al-Nisā’ 4:79]
And Allāh said concerning the nations of the past:
“So We punished each (of them) for his sins, of them were some on whom We sent Hāsib (a violent wind with shower of stones) [as on the people of Loot (Lot)], and of them were some who were overtaken by As-Saihah [torment — awful cry, (as Thamud or Shu‘aib’s people)], and of them were some whom We caused the earth to swallow [as Qārūn (Korah)], and of them were some whom We drowned [as the people of Nooh (Noah), or Fir‘aun (Pharaoh) and his people]. It was not Allāh Who wronged them, but they wronged themselves” [al-‘Ankabūt 29:40]
What Muslims and others who are accountable and of sound mind must do is repent to Allāh, adhere firmly to His Religion and avoid all that He has forbidden of Shirik and sin, so that they may be safe and attain salvation from all evils in this world and the next, and so that Allāh will ward off from them all harm, and bless them with all good. Allāh says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And if the people of the towns had believed and had the Taqwa (piety), certainly, We should have opened for them blessings from the heaven and the earth, but they belied (the Messengers). So We took them (with punishment) for what they used to earn (polytheism and crimes).” [Al-A’rāf, 7:96]
And Allāh says concerning the People of the Book (interpretation of the meaning):
“And if only they had acted according to the Tawrāh (Torah), the Injīl (Gospel), and what has (now) been sent down to them from their Lord (the Qur’ān), they would surely, have gotten provision from above them and from underneath their feet” [al-Māidah 5:66].
And Allāh says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Did the people of the towns then feel secure against the coming of Our punishment by night while they were asleep? Or, did the people of the towns then feel secure against the coming of Our punishment in the forenoon while they were playing? Did they then feel secure against the Plan of Allāh? None feels secure from the Plan of Allāh except the people who are the losers.” [Al-A’rāf 7:97-99]
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allāh have mercy on him) said: “Allāh sometimes grants the earth permission to breathe, which is when major earthquakes happen; this makes people feel scared, so they repent, give up sins, pray to Allāh and feel regret [for their sins]. When there had been an earthquake, some of the Salaf said: your Lord is warning you. When Madīnah was struck by an earthquake, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb (radiallahu`anhu) addressed the people and said: if there is another earthquake, I will not stay here with you.”
And there are many similar reports from the Salaf.
Our response when there is an earthquake or some other sign such as an eclipse, strong winds or floods, should be to hasten to repent to Allāh and pray to Him for safety, and to remember Him much and seek His forgiveness, as the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said when there was an eclipse: “If you see anything like that, hasten to remember Him, call on Him and seek His forgiveness.” (Part of an agreed-upon hadith narrated by al-Bukhari (2/30) and Muslim (2/628)).
And Allāh sometimes allows some people to suffer that could test others, how they would react to them; there are many ayat about it:
- “Who has created death and life that He may test which of you is best in deed. And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving.” (Surah al- Mulk, 67:2)
- “We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirun (the patient).” (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:155)
- “Or do you think that you will enter Paradise before Allāh tests those of you who fought (in His Cause) and (also) tests those who are As-Sabirun (the patient)?” (Surah Al-Imran, 3: 142).
- “You shall certainly be tried and tested in your wealth and properties and in your personal selves.” (Surah Al- Imran, 3: 186)
The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said:
- “Whoever meets the need of his brother, Allāh will meet his needs.” (Agreed upon; Al-Bukhari, 3/98; Muslim, 4/1996).
- “Whoever relieves a believer of some of the distress of this world, Allāh will relieve him of some of the distress of the Day of Resurrection. Whoever makes things easier for one who is suffering hardship, Allāh will make things easier for him in this world and in the Hereafter. Whoever conceals a Muslim’s faults, Allāh will conceal his faults in this world and in the Hereafter. Allāh will help a person so long as he helps his brother.” (Narrated by Muslim, 4/2074).
It is also mustahabb to show compassion to the victims, poor and needy and to give charity to them, because the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said:
- “Show mercy, you will be shown mercy.” (Narrated by Imām Ahmad, 2/165)
- “Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Have mercy on those who are on earth, and the One Who is in heaven will show mercy to you.” (Narrated by Abu Dawūd (13/285), At-Tirmidzi (6/43)).
- “Whoever does not show mercy will not be shown mercy.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhāri (5/75), Muslim (4/1809)).
It was reported that when there was an earthquake, ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azīz (may Allāh have mercy on him) would write to his governors telling them to give in charity.
One of the things which will help to keep people safe and sound is if the authorities impose an immediate crack-down on the foolish elements in society, forcing them to behave and applying the laws of sharī’ah to them, enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil. Allāh says (interpretation of the meaning):
- “The believers, men and women, are Awliyā’ (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another; they enjoin (on the people) Al-Ma‘rūf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do), and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar (i.e. polytheism and disbelief of all kinds, and all that Islam has forbidden); they perform As-Salāh (Iqāmat-as-Salāh), and give the Zakāh, and obey Allāh and His Messenger. Allāh will have His Mercy on them. Surely, Allāh is All-Mighty, All-Wise” [At-Tawbah, 9:71]
- “Verily, Allāh will help those who help His (Cause). Truly, Allāh is All-Strong, All-Mighty. Those (Muslim rulers) who, if We give them power in the land, (they) enjoin Iqamat-as-Salāh [i.e. to perform the five compulsory congregational Salāh (prayers) (the males in mosques)], to pay the Zakāh and they enjoin Al-Ma‘rūf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do), and forbid Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism and all that Islam has forbidden) [i.e. they make the Qur’ān as the law of their country in all the spheres of life]. And with Allāh rests the end of (all) matters (of creatures).” [Al-Hajj, 22:40-41]
- “And whosoever fears Allāh and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allāh, then He will suffice him.” [Al-Talāq, 65:2-3]
And there are many ahadīth on this topic.
Allāh is the One Whom we ask to reform the affairs of all the Muslims and to bless them with proper understanding of Islam and help them to adhere steadfastly to it and repent to Allāh from all their sins. We ask Him to reform all those who are in authority over the Muslims’ affairs and to support the Truth and eradicate falsehood through them, and to help them to rule the people according to the laws of sharī’ah, and to protect them and all the Muslims from misguidance and temptation and the tricks of the Shaytān, for He is Able to do all that.
[Via IloveAllāh.com, April 16, 2010]