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Islam and Environment ( 27 Jan 2021, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Understanding Pandemics and Natural Calamities: Conceptual Options in the Holy Quran




By Kazi Wadud Nawaz, New Age Islam

27 January 2021

Covid19 a tiny earth-shaking virus as it seems has put the very existence of mankind at stake. The Virus has already cost very dearly more than one million human lives and infected more than 100 millions. Most powerful and scientifically advanced countries like U.S.A, Russia, China, European Union and India   are frantically trying on the stand point of their respective interests to get out of the menace but the situation is worsening throughout the world. The world scientific community including WHO is not in a position to identify the source of origin of the Virus. They are in a fix as to decide if the virus is natural or man-made. The Corporate Media and Intellectual Elites of different schools pass diverse and sometimes contradictory opinions. But none bothers to dig deeper in the roots of the problem which in essence a manifestation of a deep rooted crisis inherent in the Modern Development Paradigm.


Now let us try to understand the Qur’anic Views on such pandemics and Natural Disaster. The Holy Quran has put forward a number of options for mankind to determine the causality of any natural event affecting mankind positively or negatively. Now it is up to man to ascertain through introspection and research which option really holds good in the prevailing situation..  Self-analysis on the part of mankind and critical review of all his activities in the name of economic and scientific development has now become absolutely necessary to sustain human existence as species on earth.  Prior to running after external causes he must go for introspection and self analysis.

The Holy Quran offers four Conceptual options towards understanding of Pandemics and Natural Calamities. All these options are interrelated in Cause and Effect relationships.

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Also Read:  Qur’anic Concept of Meezan: The Law of Universal Balance of Divine Justice

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i.      Divine Punishment For Violating ‘Meezan’ (Universal Balance Of Justice ) And  Refusal To Accept Divine Guidance.

Mankind in different Historical Ages, through their activities, ‘Defacing Fair Nature’, refusing ‘Divine Guidance’ and violating ‘Universal Balance of Justice’ on earth, built up sufficient ground for inviting divine punishment. The Holy Quran has elaborately discussed the background, modus operandi and impact of those divine punishments.

The Holy Qur'an through many of its verses has given an open general call on mankind of all ages to learn from history. The divine punishments inflicted on the past community of Nuuh, Aad, Thamud, Lut , Pharaoh and many other communities for denial of divine signs, worshiping ‘vain desires’ running madly after power and worldly resources in violation of divine Justice, transgression of all moral values, refusal to accept divine guidance  and rejection of the Here-after,  are certainly  great negative lessons for mankind on earth.

The Holy Qur'an says:

  “ Nay, they Charge with falsehood  that whose knowledge they cannot compass, even before the explanation there of  reached them----“ [Verse::10:39]

“Many of them dost thou see, racing each other in sin and transgression and their eating of things forbidden. Evil indeed are the things they do”. [Verse:5:62]

“Has not the story reached you, of those who rejected Faith aforetime? So, they  tasted the evil result of their conduct; and they had a grievous punishment.”[ Verse: 64:5]

“Say:  “He has power to send Calamities on you from above and below, or to cover you with confusion in party strife, giving you--------”[ Verse:6:65]

“And how many Towns We destroyed which exulted in their life (of ease and plenty)!------------”

“-----nor are We going to destroy a population  except when its members practice inequity.”[ Verses 28 :58-59].

 “For their Lord’s punishment is not a thing to feel secure from”. [Verse:70:28 ]

 “Did the people of the town feel secure against coming of our wrath by night while they were asleep? Or else did they feel secure against coming in broad daylight while they played about( carefree)”? [Verse:7:97-99]

"Do they not travel through the earth and see what was the end of those before  them? They were even superior to them in strength, and in the traces (they have left) in the land, but Allah did call them to account for their sins, and none had they to defend them against Allah."  [Qur'an:40:21].

 “ And (remember) Lut: behold, he said to his people :” you do commit lewidness, such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you. Do you indeed approach men and cut off the highway? and practise wickedness (even) in your councils? “But the people gave no answer but this : they said “ Bring us the Wrath of Allah if thou tellest the truth” [Verses 29:28-29]

 “See they not how of those before them We did destroy?---------generations We had established on earth , in strength such as We have not given to you, for whom We poured rain from the skies in abundance, and gave them streams flowing beneath their(feet). Yet for sins We destroyed them, and raised in their wake fresh generation (to succeed them)” [Verse:6:165].

“Then, when they saw the cloud advancing towards their valleys, they said, “this cloud will give us rain’, “ Nay it is the (calamity) you were asking to be hastened ! a wind wherein  is a grievous punishment” . [Verse :6:24]

 “When We decide to destroy a town, We command those amongst them who are given the good things of this life ( to be obedient ) but they continued to transgress so that the word is proved true against him; Then  We destroy them utterly” [Verse:17:16]

“So We sent on them: Wholesale death, Locusts, Lice, Frogs and Blood Signs openly self-explained : but they were steeped in arrogance, a people given to sin.” [Verse:7:133]

“(Remember also) the Ad and the Thamud(people):clearly will appear to you from (the traces) of their buildings (their fate): Satan made their deeds alluring to them, and kept them back from the path, though they were keen-sighted”[ Verse:29:38]

“Each one of them We seized for his crime:of them against some We  sent them a violent tornado( with showers of stone s): some wre caught by a (mighty) Blast;some We caused the earth to swallow up; and some We drowned (in the  waters): it was not Allah Who wronged them : they wronged themselves.”[Verse :29:40]

Wrong doers of the Past Community were all held guilty of moral transgression and refusal to accept truth brought to them by the Prophets of their respective ages. The divine instrument of their punishment was all epidemics and natural calamities like flood, Hail Storm, Thunderstorm, Earthquake  and  fatal pandemics .

The present day world-situation is even worse than that of the Past. The people of the Modern ages have by far exceeded the past generations of the period of Aad, Thamud, Lut and Nuuh in defacing Fair Nature and violating Universal Balance of Divine Justice. So, there is no Logical Ground and Moral Justification that Divine Wrath won’t seize us!

 Now keeping the message of the verses:29:28-29 in view, let us look at the present world -situation. Many advanced Western Countries like U.S.A and European Union, have now legalized homo-sexuality and marriage between same- sexes. They are infusing perversion in the biological system of mankind that is in the language of the Holy Quran “Cutting off the highways.”

Do the ruling classes and people of these countries have any answer different from that of the Community of Lut, to the same moral question raised by the Holy Quran? So divine wrath in the form of pandemics and natural disasters is no-doubt morally justified.

ii.     Back Lash of Human endeavour Defacing Fair Nature.

According to the Holy Quran Mankind is held in pledge for his deeds. So   any misfortune befalling him results as Backlash of his own activities. The Holy Quran has clearly assigned a moral responsibility on mankind   as Allah’s representative on the Earth to refrain from any sort of activities that endanger the very existence

of man and divine creation as a whole. From the view-point of ecological Science over extraction of renewable natural resources beyond sustainable limit causes ecological imbalance and erosion of bio-diversity on global scale. Over-use of chemicals in chemical-intensive farming system causes mass-scale pollution of soil, water and atmosphere. This results in elimination of beneficial bacteria and viruses with harmful microbes filling the vacuum to restore ecological balance. Production and testing of Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Weapons aggravate the situation all the more.

The Corporations and their Institutions have become powerful enough to grasp and plunder global resources on an unprecedented scale and dimension in violation all scientific norms and moral values .This is tantamount to “defacing the fair nature” as the Holy Quran puts it. All these are Human activities that destabilize the stable ecosystem triggering ecological uncertainty beyond human control impacting adversely on life support syste of the earth.

The ongoing pandemic clearly reflects a deep-rooted crisis inherent in modern development paradigm. All these phenomena perfectly conforms to the Quranic verses given below.

I(Satan) will mislead them, I will create in them false desires, I will order them to slit ears of t\he cattle, and to deface the fair nature created by Allah. Whoever forsaking Allah takes Satan for a friend, has of a surety suffered a loss that is manifest. [Sura: An-Nisa Verse:119].

 “Whatever Misfortune happens to you, is because of the things your hands have wrought and for many (a sin) He grants forgiveness”.[ Verse:42:30]

“Mischief has appeared on land and sea because of (the meed) that the hands of men have earned, that (Allah) may give them and taste of some of their deeds: in order that they may turn back (from evils)” [Verse:30:41]

“Every soul will be held in pledge for its deeds”[ Verse 74:38]

“No kind of calamity can occur, except by the leave of Allah: and if any one believes in Allah,(Allah)guides his heart (aright): for Allah knows all things”. [Verse:64:11]

“--------But the plotting of evils will hem in only the authors thereof, Now are they but looking for the way the ancients were dealt with? But no change wilt thou find in Allah’s way (of dealing): no turning off wilt thou find in Allah’s way (dealing with Plotters of Evils).” [Verse:35:43]

“For the Evils of their deeds confront them, and they will be (completely) encircled by that which they used to mock at!” [Verse:39:48]

 “---But the Unbelievers, never will disaster cease to seize them for their (ill) deeds, or to settle close into their  homes until Promise of Allah comes to pass, for verily. Allah will not fail in His Promise. [Verse:13:31]

“Seest thou such a one as taketh for his God his own passion  or impulse? Coudst thou be a disposer of affairs for him?” [verse: 25.43]

Iii.      An Integral Part Of Divine Planning As Agent Of Creative Evolution Leading Towards A New Creation.

According to the Holy Quran, all physical forces, powers and energies evolving out of dynamic physico-chemical processes belong to Allah. Natural disasters, diseases, and calamities are all instruments of Evolutionary Process of divine creation [Ref: Verses: 56:60-61, 70:41, 29:19,6:6,]. Whatever is happening in nature, Universe and human life, is happening according to a fixed Divine plan set for accelerating the evolutionary process of divine creation. The present Global scenario perfectly conforms to the Quranic version on Natural Disaster and pandemics. The Verses mentioned below clearly bear testimony to the prevailing global situation.

This Universe as a Divine creation is not an end in itself but a single link of an infinite chain of divine creations passing sequentially towards the future phase by phase as per divine will.

Evolutionary process of Divine Creation unfurls with forward movement of TIME while its reversal with rolling up of the scroll that is Space and Time will result in ultimate destruction of one phase opening up a new phase in the evolutionary process of divine creations. The Master Plan of the process of divine Creation and Destruction is well-documented clearly in the Record Perspicuous.[Verse: 34:3].

Modern Science holds that natural calamities and known and unknown disease vectors resulting from interaction of different physical forces and physic-chemical processes constitute most powerful and sustained Evolutionary Agents. Michael Brooks in his book “New ideas in Science ” has said:

“ Disease is still a big driver of human evolution: people with particular genetical arrangements are more likely to survive Malaria and HIV, for example. And almost all humans have lost the Caspase 12 gene from their genomes, probably because those who have it are more susceptible to Bacterial Infection. It happens slowly but we are still changing”

The Holy Quran has set four rules for guiding evolutionary process towards new creation.

i.                   Manifestations of divine signs in the physical universe have appointed time.

ii.                 Each and everything in the heavens and the earth after completion of t the predestined evolutionary cycle will finally return to its source of origin.

iii.              Divine Command is constantly in action at every stage of evolutionary process of divine creation.

iv.              Creative Evolutionary process attains climax in Union with the Supreme Ideal

Frustrating or in activating the plan of Allah is beyond the capacity of Mankind or Jinns. Entire physical and spiritual Universe functions according to divine planning. Self-adjustment, interdependence, and mutual balancing are all inherent in the Laws of Nature as integral part and essential criteria of divine planning.

Related Quranic Verses

 “When the Earth is rent asunder, And hearkens to (the Command of) its Lord, and it must need (do so)-And when the earth is flattened out, and casts forth what is within it and becomes (clean) empty. And hearkens to (the command of) its Lord, and it must need (do so) , then will come home the  full reality.”  [Verses:84:1-5]

When the Earth is shaken to her utmost convulsion And the earth throws up her burdens (from within), And man cries (distressed); “what is the matter with her?” on that Day will she declare the tidings, For that your Lord will have given her inspiration” [Verses: 99-1-5:]

 “On the Day,(the Day of Resurrection) when their tongues, their hands and their feet will bear witness against them as to their actions.” [Verse:24:24]

The above three verses have brought Doom’s Day Scenario to the light when Time and Gravity will be reversed on Divine Command. The knowledge of the “Hour” is a Divine secret beyond human comprehension.

According to the Holy Quran Divine Command is the universal Functional Force that operates everything in this world as well as in the Hereafter. Natural Disasters, Calamities and Pandemics all are subservient to the Divine command as Instruments of Divine Governance that governs physical universe as well as material and spiritual life of mankind.

“Of Him seeks (its needs) every creature in the skies and on earth, every day He is in a state of action.”[Verse:55:29]\

“Does man think that he will be left uncontrolled (without purpose)?” [Verse: 75:36]

No misfortune can happen on earth or in your souls but is recorded in a Book before We bring it into existence that is truly easy for Allah.,[Verse :57:22]

 “We have decreed Death to be your common lot, and We are not to be unable,From changing your Forms and creating you (again) in (Forms) that you know not, And you certainly know the first form of creation: why then do you not take heed?” [Verses: 56:60-61]

“Substitute for them better (men) than they; and We are not to be defeated in Our plan.”[Verse:70:41]

“ See they not how Allah originates creation , then repeats it: truly it is easy for Allah”[Verse: 29:19]

“But we think that we can by no means frustrate Allah throughout the earth ,nor we can escape Him by flight.” [Verse : 72:12]

“Nay, I  do call to witness the Lord of all points in the East  and the West that We can certainly-Substitute for them better (men) than they: and We are not to be defeated (in our plan)”.[ Verse:70:40-41]

“-----yet for their sins We destroyed them , and raised in their wakes fresh generations( to succeed them.)” [Verse:6:6]

“See they not how Allah originates creation then repeats it: truly that is easy for Allah.” [Verse:29:19]

“Not on earth nor in heaven will you be able to frustrate (His Plan), nor  have you besides Allah any protector or helper”[ Verse:29:22]

“Did they then feel secure against Allah’s devising but no one can feel secure from the Plan of Allah except those (doomed) to ruin”[Verse:7:99]

iv.      Test, trial and challenge for mankind to prove his mettle as Allah’ representative on earth.

The Short span of man’s life on earth is an opportunity for him to prove his mettle as Allah’s representative on earth. The very Creation of Adam by Allah upholds a divine challenge and declaration of a protracted moral warfare against the Satan, the symbol of Evils. Now it is the Moral Responsibility of Mankind to fulfill divine aspiration and prove himself worthy of great honor and blessings bestowed on him by Allah. But it is a life-long struggle on the path of righteousness towards attainment of the climax of evolutionary process in union with the supreme ideal.

Related Verses

“O you man ! verily you are ever toiling on towards your Lordpainfully toiling, but you shall meet him.”[verse:84:6]

“Verily We have created man into toil and struggle”.[verse:90:4]:

“ Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, “We believe” and that they will not be tested?[Verse:29:2].

“Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in in foods, lives and the fruits (of your toil) but give glad tidings  to those who say, when afflicted with calamity: to Allah we belong and to Him is our return.” [Verse:2:155-156]

“And fear the Fitnah (affliction and trial, etc.) which affects not in particular (only) those of you who do wrong (but it may afflict all the good and the bad people), and know that Allah is Severe in punishment. [Al-Anfal 8:25]

“And verily, We will make them taste the near torment (i.e. the torment in the life of this world, i.e. disasters, calamities, etc.) prior to the supreme torment (in the Hereafter), in order that they may (repent and) return (i.e. accept Islâm)”. [As-Sajdah 32:21]

Epilogue

The modern age that is the 21st Century is an age of  Corporate atrocities. The MNCs and TNCs throughout the world, now dominate all aspects of human life, Economy, Politics, Science and Culture. It is an era that sees all human and moral values  trampled down under the iron boots of Corporate Interests. Fighting the Corporate Menace has now turned out to be an essential precondition for sustaining human existence on earth.  So, I think it will not be irrelevant to recall one  immortal Poem of Rabindranath Tagore that is written in the context of Nazi-menace in the 2oth Century. The poem quoted below, is still relevant and source of inspiration for mankind in their fight against the Corporate Menace in the 21St century.

 Vicious Snakes breath  venom all around,

Sweet Sermon of Peace sounds like a vain mockery.

So before I leave,

Let me call all those getting armed,

For fighting the Demons in every house,

All over the world.

[Translated by the author of this Article]

Since fighting against transgression of Universal Balance of divine justice, Mischief and Corruptions is an integral part of Islamic Faith and Quranic Morality, the poem sounds like an echo of the QuranicVerse:30:41 that call for  fighting the  Mischief Mongers and wrong –doers of all ages.

“Mischief has appeared on land and sea because of (the meed) that the hands of men have earned, that (Allah) may give them and taste of some of their deeds: in order that they may turn back (from evils)” [Verse: 30:41]

What an Immortal appeal to human conscience on the part of the Holy Quran hovering in the horizon of human morality transcending all  barriers of time and ages!

Every Verse of the Holy Quran pertaining to divine creation of the Universe, Man, Nature and Consciousness flickers a ray of Truth that invites mankind to accept the challenge and go for tiresome quest through trial and error step by step from lower to higher level of understanding of the realities. There is nothing in the Universe that might be termed an absolute material entity. The Matter in essence, both microscopic or macroscopic ends up in spirituality at higher stage of its evolution. The Awe, Wonder and Beauty related to Divine Creation lie in its diversity and interrelations as material and spiritual realities. Scientific knowledge as human endeavour for understanding the realities has its inherent limitations in time and space. So a pure materialistic approach towards Pandemics and Natural Disasters won’t solve the problem.

Since the Scientists cannot fore-see the future consequence and impact of their discovery, the apparent solution of one problem might lead to another greater and more complex in an endless spiral. The contemporary history bears testimony to such limitations. The same thing might happen in case of Covid- !9 Vaccines. All countries at present are locked in an unhealthy competition for marketing the vaccine as early as possible without completing the full cycle of test and trial. The main objective is to capture market first for higher economic and political benefits without least concern to human safety.

The holy Quran adopts an integrated approach in addressing any emergency befalling Mankind. So far as the question of handling the emergency arising out of  Pandemics and  Natural disasters are concerned, the Holy Quran encourages tiresome scientific research and  suggests integration of Scientific, Moral , and Spiritual Pursuits as Mechanism of  defence for Mankind.

The Holy Quran demands introspection and self-analysis on the part of mankind for assessment of impacts of all his activities in the name of development. Natural Calamities, and pandemics on one side and human endeavour to avert them on the other, are all integral part of Divine Governance that carry forward Evolutionary process of Divine Creations. For his own safety and sustainability Mankind must refrain from any activity that might destabilize the balanced system of Universal Governance.  So, any attempt to treat Natural Calamities and Pandemics as purely natural phenomena losing sight of the spiritual aspect of Divine Governing System is a Wrong Approach totally inconsistent with Quranic views  of  Pandemics and Natural Calamities.

 So, the Arrowhead of Anti-epidemic Human endeavour must target  the Intersecting point of  Science and Spirituality as Safe-zone for survival of Endangered Human species.

Let mankind listen to the Quranic Message of Warning transmitted as in the following Verses and act accordingly for his own safety and sustainability on earth:

The mutual rivalry for piling up {good things of the earth) diverts you, until you visit the graves. But nay you soon shall know(the reality)Again you soon shall know! Nay were you to know with certainty of mind ,(you would be aware!), you shall certainly see Hell-fire! Again you shall see it with certainty of sight! Then shall you be questioned that Day about the joy (you indulged in!) [ Verse: 102:1-8]

By the time, Verily man is in loss, except such have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in mutual enjoining of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy. [ Verses:103:1-3]

Fighting is Prescribed upon you , as you dislike it. But it is possible that you dislike a thing which is good for you, and and you have a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and you know not. [Verse:2:216]

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