At the time of this article, the death toll from the two earthquakes – which took place last Monday – has surpassed 41,000. Many are still missing and likely critically injured. The Turkish president has declared a three-month state of emergency in ten of the country’s provinces. We ask Allah to ease the pain of all those affected, and have mercy upon those who have passed on.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, no less than fifty great earthquakes have struck the globe across most continents, eleven of which include the following:
|Year (CE)||Country||Magnitude (Mw)||Deaths|
Though earthquake activity has not in fact increased above the average in recent years , some have argued that we are experiencing some of the “highest rates of great earthquakes ever recorded,” as mentioned by Tom Parsons, a research geophysicist. 
Whilst it is difficult, problematic even, to confidently assert that today’s earthquakes are a fulfilment of the Prophet’s prophecy (ﷺ) of more earthquakes occurring during the latter days, part of preserving our īmān is to brace ourselves for more natural disasters of intensifying severity, as life progresses towards the end of times.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said:
لَا تَقُومُ السَّاعَةُ حتَّى يُقْبَضَ العِلْمُ، وتَكْثُرَ الزَّلَازِلُ، ويَتَقَارَبَ الزَّمَانُ، وتَظْهَرَ الفِتَنُ، ويَكْثُرَ الهَرْجُ – وهو القَتْلُ القَتْلُ – حتَّى يَكْثُرَ فِيكُمُ المَالُ فَيَفِيضَ
“The Hour will not be established until religious knowledge will be taken away, earthquakes will be very frequent, time will pass quickly, afflictions will appear, killing will increase, and money will overflow amongst you.” 
In fact, ‘Abdullah Ibn Hawālah (radiy Allāhu ‘anhu) said:
:وضع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يده على رأسي – أو على هامتي – فقال
يا ابن حوالة إذا رأيت الخلافة قد نزلت أرض المقدسة فقد دنت الزلازل والبلابل والأمور العظام، والساعة يومئذ أقرب إلى الناس من يدي هذه من رأسك
“The Prophet (ﷺ) placed his hand on my head and said,
‘Ibn Hawālah, when you see the caliphate settled in the holy land, then earthquakes, sorrows and grave matters will have drawn near.'” 
Are natural disasters always the product of sins?
In truth, disasters can mean different things to different people; for some, it is a punishment; for some, it is a wakeup call; for some, it is a cleansing of sins; whilst for others, it is to push them to higher ranks in the Hereafter.
The determiner of this is the spiritual condition of individual people at the hour that the disaster arrives.
Generally speaking, however, a sign of Allah’s love for a people is that their hardships are hurried for them in this world, so as to spare them of hardship in the Hereafter.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said:
أمتي هذه أمةٌ مرحومةٌ ، ليس عليْها عذابٌ في الآخرةِ ، عذابُها في الدُّنيا ، الفتنُ ، والزلازلُ ، والقتلُ
“This nation of mine is one to which mercy is shown. It will have no punishment in the next world (meaning no believer will remain in Hell forever), but its punishment in this world will be trials, earthquakes, and being killed.” 
“But did they deserve this?”
The social media scene has revealed one of mass confusion: how do we come to terms with this tragedy? Why would people, particularly those of Syria – already gripped with poverty, freezing conditions, displacement, and war – need to endure such a disaster on top of it all?
Before sharing some of the possible wisdom, three matters of ‘Aqīda should be addressed:
Harbouring such sentiments is not necessarily an indication of hypocrisy or religious scepticism, but can be a reflection of our innate frailty as humans, both physical and spiritual frailty, and one that is particularly inflamed when under duress.
In that respect, even the companions of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) experienced this.
Khabbāb Ibn al-Aratt, a heavily persecuted companion of the Prophet (ﷺ), said:
“I came to the Prophet (ﷺ) as he laid in the Ka’ba’s shade, having made a pillow of his cloak. We had experienced intense torture at the hands of the Pagans, and so I said,
ألا تستنصر لنا؟ ألا تدعو لنا؟
‘Will you not ask Allah to give us victory? Will you not pray for us?’
He (ﷺ) replied,
انَ الرَّجُلُ فِيمَنْ قَبْلَكُمْ يُحْفَرُ لَهُ فِي الأَرْضِ فَيُجْعَلُ فِيهِ، فَيُجَاءُ بِالْمِنْشَارِ، فَيُوضَعُ عَلَى رَأْسِهِ فَيُشَقُّ بِاثْنَتَيْنِ، وَمَا يَصُدُّهُ ذَلِكَ عَنْ دِينِهِ، وَيُمْشَطُ بِأَمْشَاطِ الْحَدِيدِ، مَا دُونَ لَحْمِهِ مِنْ عَظْمٍ أَوْ عَصَبٍ، وَمَا يَصُدُّهُ ذَلِكَ عَنْ دِينِهِ
“Among those people before you were those who would be seized, detained in a pit dug for him in the ground, to then be sawed into two halves from his head. Others would have their flesh torn away from their bones with iron combs; but, in spite of this, they would not wean away from their Faith…'” 
Moments of outpouring are not always blameworthy, nor a necessary indication of hypocrisy.
There is no better coping mechanism during a tragedy, than to accept it as part of the wise Qadr (decree) of Allah.
مَا أَصَابَ مِنْ مُصِيبَةٍ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ وَمَنْ يُؤْمِنْ بِاللَّهِ يَهْدِ قَلْبَهُ
“No disaster strikes, except by the permission of Allah. And whoever believes in Allah, He will guide his heart.” 
Elaborating on this, ʿAlqamah said:
هو الرجل تصيبه المصيبة فيعلم أنها من عند الله فيسلم لها ويرضى
“This āyah is in reference to a person who is struck with a calamity, but realises that it is from Allah, and so he surrenders to it and is pleased.” 
Allah is al-Malik, the King.
Who is Allah accountable to? Absolutely no-one. He is al-Malik, King of all creation, Sovereign of the Heavens and the Earth, and is free to do within His Dominion, as He pleases. We are answerable to Him, and He is not answerable to anyone.
لَا يُسْـَٔلُ عَمَّا يَفْعَلُ وَهُمْ يُسْـَٔلُونَ
“He is not asked about what He does, but they shall be asked.” 
لِلَّهِ ٱلْأَمْرُ مِن قَبْلُ وَمِنۢ بَعْدُ
“The command belongs to Allah, before and after.” 
إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَحْكُمُ مَا يُرِيدُ
“Indeed, Allah commands what He wills.” 
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَفْعَلُ مَا يَشَاءُ
“Surely, Allah does what He wills.” 
An old Turkish man was filmed being pulled out of the rubble, only for him to tell the rescue team,
“Pull out the Qur’ān before me.”
Another elderly man, as he lay flat on his face beneath the rubble, was filmed by others who were trying to rescue him. He was saying:
“I need to pray. How can I make Wudū?”
So, they accepted Allah’s Kingship over them and submitted to His decree, despite them being at the heart of the tragedy; a humbling reality for those who question Allah as they sit within the comfort of their homes.
This is the core meaning of Innā lillāhi wa innā ilayhī rājiʿūn.
“We belong to Allah”, i.e. He is free to do with us as He wishes, and “to Him we shall return”, i.e. that’s where we will see the fruits of this submission.
Naturally, this is not to say that His actions are free from wisdom. How can this be, when He is the source of all knowledge and wisdom?
وَمَا خَلَقْنَا ٱلسَّمَآءَ وَٱلْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا بَـٰطِلًۭا
“We have not created the Heavens and Earth and everything in between without purpose.” 
You would be insulted, had someone accused you of behaving without wisdom. How, then, can Allah be accused of it, when He is the very Giver of your wisdom, which you then use to challenge His?
With these three matters of ‘Aqīda in place, only then can one attempt to scratch the surface of His perfect wisdom behind such disasters:
1 | “To take from you, martyrs” 
Those practicing Muslims who breathed their last beneath the debris of a fallen building were individuals chosen by Allah for the gift of shahada (martyrdom), in what is a highly selective process.
Martyrdom is the greatest station, after that of prophethood and Siddīqiyyah, that is humanly attainable. It is a station that is not exclusive to those who die fighting for a just cause.
In fact, there are, as mentioned by Ibn Hajr , no less than twenty ways that martyrdom can be attained in Islam.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said:
الشهداء خمسة المطعون والمبطون والغرق وصاحب الهدم والشهيد في سبيل الله
“Five are regarded as martyrs: They are those who die because of plague, abdominal disease, drowning or a falling building, etc., and the martyrs in Allah’s Cause.” 
No doubt, it can be difficult to recall this at the moment of heartbreaking scenes of death, but had the deceased been able to talk back, they would reassure us that they’re perfectly content with where they now are, and that they choose the company of Allah over ours.
Allah tells us of a believer, Habīb al-Najjār , who was killed by his community for inviting them to Islam. After being taken to Paradise, he said:
يَـٰلَيْتَ قَوْمِى يَعْلَمُونَ * بِمَا غَفَرَ لِى رَبِّى وَجَعَلَنِى مِنَ ٱلْمُكْرَمِين
“If only my people knew, of how my Lord has forgiven me and made me one of the honourable.” 
Issues will always arise when we measure the events of life according to our deficient standards, instead of the perfect ones of Allah, and when we assess tragedies through a worldly lens that excludes the Hereafter.
2 | “And we do not send the signs, except as a warning”
Muslims do not reject scientific explanations behind natural events; in the case of earthquakes, for example, Muslims acknowledge that they can be caused when underground rock suddenly breaks, causing rapid motion along a fault.
This sudden release of energy causes the seismic waves that make the ground shake. During and after the earthquake, the plates or blocks of rock continue to move until they get stuck again. 
We also acknowledge that some countries, like China, Iran, the Philippines, Italy, and Turkey, are more prone to earthquakes because they’re located on a fault line.
The Muslim, however, argues that in addition to these scientific explanations, there are also religious explanations for them. One of these explanations is to serve as warnings.
وَمَا نُرْسِلُ بِالْآيَاتِ إِلَّا تَخْوِيفًا
“And We do not send the signs, except as a warning.” 
This format of negation (“We do not”) followed by affirmation (“except as”) is the strongest expression of exclusivity (Hasr), where all possibilities are first negated, and then only one is affirmed.
So, here, it’s as if Allah has negated every reason behind the sending of His signs, with the sole exception to causing fear and warning.
So, in that sense, the real purpose of solar and lunar eclipses is to eclipse from our lives all ambitions other than Allah, just as floods are supposed to drown our sinful ways once and for all.
Similarly, the purpose of the Earth’s quaking is to cause hearts to tremor in reflection and reformation. Allah wants us to actively draw links between the world’s happenings and His messages to us.
3 | “And it only increased them in faith and acceptance”
When the Muslims of Madina found themselves besieged by the Pagan alliance, they were put to test.
Eyes grew wild, hearts reached throats in terror, whilst some entertained ill thoughts of Allah.
And yet, the reaction of the believers was phenomenal:
وَلَمَّا رَأَى الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الْأَحْزَابَ قَالُوا هَذَا مَا وَعَدَنَا اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَصَدَقَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَمَا زَادَهُمْ إِلَّا إِيمَانًا وَتَسْلِيمًا
“And when the believers saw the coalition, they said, ‘This is what Allah and His Messenger had promised us, and Allah and His Messenger spoke the truth.’ And it only increased them in faith and acceptance.” 
What was this ‘promise’ that they had recognised? It is Allah’s promise in the Qur’ān:
أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُوا۟ ٱلْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُم مَّثَلُ ٱلَّذِينَ خَلَوْا۟ مِن قَبْلِكُم ۖ مَّسَّتْهُمُ ٱلْبَأْسَآءُ وَٱلضَّرَّآءُ وَزُلْزِلُوا۟ حَتَّىٰ يَقُولَ ٱلرَّسُولُ وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ مَعَهُۥ مَتَىٰ نَصْرُ ٱللَّهِ ۗ أَلَآ إِنَّ نَصْرَ ٱللَّهِ قَرِيبٌۭ
“Do you think you will be entering Paradise without being tested like those before you? They were afflicted with suffering and adversity and were so violently shaken that even the Messenger and the believers with him cried out, ‘When will Allah’s help come?’ Indeed, Allah’s help is always near.” 
Whilst it is perfectly normal to experience shock during tragedies, the concept of tragedies should not shock us.
This is because we have been told to expect them in verse after verse that demonstrate the testing nature of life.
For this reason, at the hour of any disaster, people always divide into two camps:
- A camp that harbours ill thoughts towards its Lord;
- And a second that says, “Yes, this is the promise of Allah, we’ve been told in advance of this”, thus causing their īmān and submission to only grow.
4 | “The earthquake of the Last Hour will be a mighty thing” 
One of the survivors in Turkey said,
“We thought it was the Day of Judgment.” 
Not only are earthquakes a sign of the Day of Reckoning, they will also be a prominent feature on the day of its happening.
Describing it, Allah says,
يَوْمَ تَرَوْنَهَا تَذْهَلُ كُلُّ مُرْضِعَةٍ عَمَّا أَرْضَعَتْ وَتَضَعُ كُلُّ ذَاتِ حَمْلٍ حَمْلَهَا وَتَرَى النَّاسَ سُكَارَى وَمَا هُمْ بِسُكَارَى وَلَكِنَّ عَذَابَ اللَّهِ شَدِيدٌ
“On the Day, you will see every nursing mother distracted from her nursling, and every pregnant woman will abort her pregnancy, and you will see the people appearing intoxicated, although they are not intoxicated; but the punishment of Allah is severe.” 
It is a quaking that will affect every inch of the globe, as it violently convulses in its final quaking, releasing everything within it, and even talking in an audible way about all that was committed on its surface.
إِذَا زُلْزِلَتِ ٱلْأَرْضُ زِلْزَالَهَا * وَأَخْرَجَتِ ٱلْأَرْضُ أَثْقَالَهَا * وَقَالَ ٱلْإِنسَـٰنُ مَا لَهَا * يَوْمَئِذٍۢ تُحَدِّثُ أَخْبَارَهَا * بِأَنَّ رَبَّكَ أَوْحَىٰ لَهَا * يَوْمَئِذٍۢ يَصْدُرُ ٱلنَّاسُ أَشْتَاتًۭا لِّيُرَوْا۟ أَعْمَـٰلَهُمْ * فَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًۭا يَرَهُۥ * وَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍۢ شَرًّۭا يَرَهُ
“When the Earth is shaken in its final quaking, and when the Earth throws out its burdens, and humanity cries, ‘What is wrong with it?’, on that Day the Earth will tell its tales, because your Lord will inspire it to do so. On that Day, people will proceed in separate groups to be shown the consequences of their deeds. So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it. And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.” 
The earthquakes of today are indeed a reminder of what awaits.
5 | “…and indeed, the Hereafter – that is the home of settlement” 
We spend the entirety of our formative years in education, to then spend the rest of our adult lives grafting in the hope of putting, one day, a single property to our name.
If ever achieved, we then spend what little remains of our retirement years within it, before passing away.
Pursuing a livelihood cannot be denounced in principle, but when an earthquake reduces to rubble what we’d built over a span of 60 years in under 30 seconds, only then will many realise the value of this home in comparison to the next.
وَلَكُمْ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ مُسْتَقَرٌّۭ وَمَتَـٰعٌ إِلَىٰ حِينٍۢ
“You will find in the Earth a residence and provision for a time.” 
Though this verse has two parts, many lives are defined only by its first half: “You will find in the Earth a residence”, whilst having overlooked its latter part: “for a time”.
In many instances, this becomes precisely the purpose of such natural disasters: to serve as a global reminder that life, today, is not a permanent home.
يَا قَوْمِ إِنَّمَا هَذِهِ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا مَتَاعٌ وَإِنَّ الْآخِرَةَ هِيَ دَارُ الْقَرَار
“O my people, this worldly life is only temporary enjoyment, and indeed, the Hereafter: that is the home of settlement.” 
Needless to say, Allah’s wisdom cannot be encompassed, and all that was shared was a mere pixel from an infinitely bigger picture, serving as examples of how Allah’s decrees are the epitome of mercy, epitome of knowledge, and epitome of wisdom, even though we may not perceive it at times.
Many of us have never experienced a natural disaster, being familiar only with one version of life: stability and security.
Similarly, some of the regions that were affected by the recent earthquakes had not experienced this type of disaster before.
Their lives were, too, of relative comfort and stability, yet they were caught by surprise, where, within seconds, they were sent from the darkness of their bedrooms to the darkness of the grave.
So we must ask ourselves: are we ready to die? Should the ceiling topple over us tonight, are we confident to meet Allah?
The Prophet (ﷺ) taught us to say before sleeping:
باسْمِكَ رَبِّ وَضَعْتُ جَنْبِي وَبِكَ أَرْفَعُهُ، إِنْ أَمْسَكْتَ نَفْسِي فَارْحَمْهَا، وَإِنْ أَرْسَلْتَهَا فَاحْفَظْهَا بِمَا تَحْفَظُ بِهِ عِبَادَكَ الصَّالِحِينَ
“In your Name, my Lord, I lay myself down; and with your Name, I rise. If You take my soul, have mercy on it, and if You send it back to me, then protect it, as You protect Your righteous slaves.” 
The statement of “If You take my soul” shows that the believer is in a constant state of readiness for death, on each night renewing his pledge to Allah, that he is prepared to meet Him, should that evening be his last.
 al-Bukhāri, on the authority of Abu Hurayrah
Abu Dāwūd, on the authority of Abdullah Ibn Hawālah
 Abu Dāwūd, on the authority of Abu Musa
 al-Bukhāri, on the authority of Khabāb Ibn al-Aratt
 al-Qur’ān, 64:11
 aṭ-Ṭabārī, Tafsīr
 al-Qur’ān, 21:23
 al-Qur’ān, 30:4
 al-Qur’ān, 5:1
 al-Qur’ān, 22:18
 al-Qur’ān, 38:27
 al-Qur’ān, 3:140
 Fath al-Bāri
 al-Bukhāri and Muslim, on the authority of Abu Hurayrah
 As mentioned by Ibn ‘Abbās and others
 al-Qur’ān, 36:26-27
 al-Qur’ān, 17:59
 al-Qur’ān, 33:22
 al-Qur’ān, 2:214
 al-Qur’ān, 21:1
 al-Qur’ān, 22:2
 al-Qur’ān, 99:1-8
 al-Qur’ān, 40:39
 al-Qur’ān, 2:36
Earthquakes are sent to mankind, not specifically to Muslims. As such, they are wake-up call to everybody the witnessing of those who die is a witnessing to gods greatness. A reminder about him to all humanity