In the Name of God, the Kind, the Beautiful
As I watched the utter devastation of the Japan earthquake and subsequent tsunami, and the enormity of its power, I was humbled to the core. When a natural disaster can move the entire Japanese mainland by 8 feet and tilt the earth’s own axis, I know that I am truly the least significant power in the realm of the universe.
Now, there is no way on this earth that I am calling the Japanese earthquake “God’s punishment.” Who am I to condemn the (likely) tens of thousands of people dead or injured to the punishment of God? What have they done? What do I know of it? And how do I know the mind of God to be able to say such a thing? Yet, there are many who are quick to do so, some being so-called “men of God.”
When these people call out a natural disaster and pin it to some sin that someone, somewhere has committed, it is almost as if he or she rejoices in the suffering of others. Never would I want a terrible natural disaster, such as the Japan earthquake/tsunami, to befall others. If it is terrible for them, it would be equally terrible for me, and as my Prophet Muhammad told me: “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”
It is this sort of lack of compassion that we must all guard against. If we have no compassion for the suffering of others, it is truly poisonous to both heart and soul. In my sermons, I constantly tell the faithful that no matter what the faith tradition of the afflicted, it is our duty to help all those in need. It is the responsibility of the faith community, and it is one that is an honor to take up.
Disasters such as these inevitably raise the question of why such things occur. What was the sin of these people to have such a disaster befall them? What was the sin of the people of the Gulf Coast to have them be afflicted by Hurricane Katrina? What was the sin of the people of Pakistan to deserve the terrible flooding they endured last year? The questions are endless, and the answers are unknown.
Rather than focus on who deserves what type of punishment, the job for us now is to do everything we can to help them get back on their feet. And for me, that includes praying for their safety, security, and shelter to the Beautiful, Merciful God I worship each day.