Question # 315: We know that due to our disobedience to Allah He put his wrath on us by imposing natural calamities. We see that TOO FREQUENT EARTH QUAKE occurs in Japan and Iran and then may we come into a conclusion that these two countries are the most polluted on earth?

Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) is all fair, just, wise and knowing; He tests His slaves with different kinds of trials to distinguish the believer from the disbeliever, the obedient from the disobedient, the grateful from the ungrateful.  Therefore, all natural calamities (including earthquakes) are among His signs; through these calamities, He might punish: a) the kuffaar (disbelievers) for their shirk and sins; b) the Muslims, who commit sin openly or are blatant evildoers; and c) the impatient Muslims showing displeasure and panic, when struck with calamity. On the other hand, Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) might tests his true believers (for e.g., Prophets, patient, righteous and devoted Muslims) with calamity, then reward and raise them in status and expiate their sins, for their forbearance, acceptance and patience. Hence, it is not appropriate on our part to classify certain regions, countries or places as corrupt or otherwise, since the actions of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) for particular region or group of people cannot be fully comprehended by our incompetent minds.

Long Answer: Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) is the All-Wise, All-Knowing in all that He wills and decrees, and He is the All-Wise, All-Knowing in all that He legislates and commands. He 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; [at the same time, tests the patience and forbearance of His beloved slaves.] Hence, according to the Qur’an and Sunnah, there are two direct causes for calamities and trials:

  • Sins and acts of disobedience that the person has committed, whether they constitute kufr or are no more than regular sins or are major sins. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) test the one who committed them with calamity by way of requital and immediate punishment (i.e., in this world).
  • Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) wants to raise in status the patient believer, so He tests him with calamity so that he will bear it with acceptance and patience, then He will be given the reward of those who are patient in the Hereafter and will be recorded with Allah as one of the victorious. This is similar to calamities befalling the Prophets and the righteous persistently.

Moreover, in most cases these two causes exist together rather than either of them occurring on its own. When Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) tests a person with a calamity so that he will reach the lofty status that He has decreed for him in Paradise, his previous sins are expiated and it is regarded as requital for those sins in this world, so the requital will not be repeated for him in the Hereafter. This is what happened to some of the Messengers and Prophets, such as Adam (عليه السلام) and Yunus (عليه السلام): Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) tested Adam with expulsion from Paradise, and He tested Yunus ibn Matta with being swallowed into the belly of the fish. But by means of these tests, Allah raised them in status because of their patience and seeking reward with Him. It was expiation for what each of them had done of going against His command.

The two reasons are mentioned together in the hadith of ‘Aa’ishah (رضي الله عنها), according to which the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Nothing befalls a believer, a (prick of a) thorn or more than that, but Allah will raise him one degree in status thereby, or erase a bad deed.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Nevertheless, one of these two reasons may be more apparent in some kinds of tests than the other. That may be understood by looking at the circumstances of the calamity.

  1. If the one who is affected is a kaafir, then his calamity cannot be to raise him in status, because the kaafir will have no weight before Allah on the Day of Resurrection. But there may be a lesson and a reminder for others in that, not to do what he did. Or it may be an immediate punishment for him in this world, in addition to what is stored up for him in the Hereafter.

Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “Is then He (Allah) Who takes charge (guards, maintains, provides, etc.) of every person and knows all that he has earned (like any other deities who know nothing)? Yet they ascribe partners to Allah. Say: “Name them! Is it that you will inform Him of something He knows not in the earth or is it (just) a show of false words.” Nay! To those who disbelieve, their plotting is made fair seeming, and they have been hindered from the Right Path, and whom Allah sends astray, for him, there is no guide. For them is a torment in the life of this world, and certainly, harder is the torment of the Hereafter. And they have no protector against Allah” (Soorah ar-Ra‘d, 13:33-34)

  1. But if the one who is affected is a Muslim who commits sin openly or is a blatant evildoer, then it is most likely that he is being requited and punished with this calamity, because expiation of sins comes before raising in status, and the sinner is in greater need of expiation for his sins than of being raised in status.
  1. On the other hand, if the Muslim is a devoted worshipper, obedient and righteous, and there is nothing between him and Allah but true ‘uboodiyyah (servitude), gratitude, praise, repentance and submission to Him, then it is most likely that this calamity is a kind of honor and raising in status, and people are the witnesses of Allah on earth. If they know him to be righteous, then they may give him the glad tidings of raised status before Allah if he is patient in bearing the calamity.
  1. But if the one who is affected shows displeasure and panic, then it cannot be thought that his calamity is an honor from Allah to raise him in status, because Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knew that he would not be patient and accept it with contentment. So, in this case it is most likely that it is a requital and punishment. One of the righteous said: The sign of calamity by way of punishment and requital is lack of patience when a calamity befalls, and panic and complaining to people. And the sign of calamity by way of expiation and erasing of sins is beautiful patience without complaining, panic or impatience, and lack of reluctance in fulfilling commands and doing acts of worship. (Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid)

Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an:

  • “And We sent not the signs except to warn” (Soorah al-Israa’, 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’an) is the truth. Is it not sufficient in regard to your Lord that He is a Witness over all things?” (Soorah 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.’” (Soorah al-An’am, 6:65)

Al-Bukhari narrated in his Saheeh from Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allah (رضي الله عنه) that when the ayah: “Say: ‘He has power to send torment on you from above” was revealed, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “A’oodhu bi wajhika (I seek refuge in Your Face”; “or from under your feet”, he said, “A’oodhu bi wajhika (I seek refuge in Your Face).” (Saheeh al-Bukhari)

(Abu’l-Shaykh al-Isbahani narrated from Mujaahid concerning the Tafsir of this ayah, “Say: ‘He has power to send torment on you from above”: (this means) al-Sayhah (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 Allah uses to frighten His slaves. All the earthquakes and other things which happen and cause harm and injury to people are because of shirk and sins, as Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an:

  • “And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much” (Soorah al-Shoora, 42:30)
  • “Whatever of good reaches you, is from Allah, but whatever of evil befalls you, is from yourself” (Soorah an-Nisaa,’ 4:79)
  • And concerning the nations of the past: “So We punished each (of them) for his sins, of them were some on whom We sent Haasib (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 Thamood or Shu‘ayb’s people)], and of them were some whom We caused the earth to swallow [as Qaaroon (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 Allah Who wronged them, but they wronged themselves” (Soorah al-‘Ankaboot 29:40)

Al-‘Allaamah Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “Allah sometimes gives the earth permission to breathe, which is when major earthquakes happen; this makes people feel scared, so they repent, give up sins, pray to Allah and feel regret [for their sins]. When there had been an earthquake, some of the Salaf said: your Lord is warning you. When Madeenah was struck by an earthquake, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) 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… (Abd al-‘Azeez ibn ‘Abd-Allah ibn Baaz)

[Nevertheless, it is not appropriate on our part to classify certain regions, countries or places as corrupt or otherwise, since a particular place might comprise people from both categories, i.e., disbelievers, sinners and evildoers as well as believers, forbearers and righteous. Moreover, the actions of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) for particular region or group of people cannot be fully comprehended by our incompetent minds.]

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.