لا حول ولاقوة إلا بالله
“There is no transformation or strength except through God”
Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Fires, Floods, Volcanic Eruptions, and Drought are all natural catastrophes reminding us that despite our many technological advances, human beings are subject to a power greater than ourselves. We see suffering on on a micro scale in our own societies, people afflicted with sickness, life shortened in random accidents, victims of random murders and violence. As Americans, we have not witnessed many devastating wars or natural disasters, outside of the World Series quake in 1989 where a highway collapsed and killed 42, September 11 where nearly 3000 people died, or Hurricane Katrina when the levees broke New Orleans where over 1500 people died. There are days when I am dumbfounded by the thought that a quarter of a million people wiped from the face of the Earth that late December day in 2004. Muslim theologians have tried to reconcile the notion of Allah, the omnipotent and omnibenevolent God, and the existence of human evil and natural disasters. No Muslim with solid belief doubts that Allah is omnipotent and benevolent, but human suffering challenges believers on multiple levels.
The aftermath of these tragedies often quickly fades from our imagination.
The Network for good is asking for your help with the most recent tragedy:
A 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck western Indonesia on September 30, 2009, causing landslides and trapping thousands under collapsed buildings. Donations are needed to help provide emergency relief to those currently in desperate need.
Maybe its because I don’t own a tv, maybe it is because the magnitude was not initially known, maybe because I was preoccupied with my own worries and concerns. I can’t imagine the horror of the Tsunami or a mudslide that could engulf a minaret. The Christian Science Monitor’s article points out that aid workers focusing on helping destitute survivors. Islamic relief recently arrived to distribute aid to the survivors. Read their article on their efforts here.
None of us knows our final moment. But we will be held accountable for what we did with our time. Like the suffering of the orphans in Aceh nearly five years after the Tsunami, we cannot let the suffering of the people in Indonesia go overlooked because they don’t live in what us Muslims deem as the central Muslim zones. Even if they weren’t Muslim, we should reach out as human beings to relieve the suffering of our global neighbors. Natural disasters remind us that humanitarian intervention should not just be about politics.