Japan’s Tsunami – Natural Fault lines and Artificial Borders
The powerful earthquake, which then triggered a tsunami that has befallen the people living near Japan’s north-eastern coast that began on 11
March has resulted in widespread destruction and suffering, which has beenbroadcasted on television screens around the world. The catastrophic consequences of what was named the"Great Eastern Japan Earthquake” has been that more than 12,000 people have died in the disaster, 15,000people missing, thousands are injured, and more than 440,000 people have fled their homes for their own safety.The earthquake had a scale of 9 on the Richter Scale and is one of the worst earthquakes recorded in the last100 years, this in itself bears a great significance. The tsunami caused tides of more than 10 metres high. Wesaw buildings, ships, buses, trucks, and cars being swept away whilst nuclear power stations have had theirsafety compromised leading to sections of Japans water supply becoming polluted, radioactive and thereforeundrinkable.With such an emotive subject it is difficult to try and make sense of it all and yet despite the good will of Muslimsand non-Muslims in raising money for those in need and worldwide sentiment for those suffering, the magnitudeof this event raises broader questions about life, death, mortality, divine will and the metaphysical realm beyondour control. As Muslims we are being questioned on various issues that pertain to our understanding of Islam, sothis article will endeavour to shed some light on the questions that this tsunami has raised and also some that weas Muslims need to explore and think about beyond this article.
A brief look at some ayaat related to natural disasters
There can be no doubt that we will be punished for our misdeeds on Earth and in the Akhira (afterlife) but howdoes this manifest? There are many people who will look at this disaster and form judgements based on moralgrounds, stating that the culture of licentiousness and general decadence of a society is what brought upon usAllah’s (swt) punishment. It is not our place nor is it within our ability to make an external judgement on aperson and speculate which individual is being punished or not, rather it is important to take stock of our ownlives and the situation we live in. Allah (swt) reminds us:
“Whatever disaster afflicteth you, it be by the earning of your own hands, And Allah forgiveth much.”
(Surah As-Shuraa v.30 TMQ)Also in another ayah:
“Destruction appears in the land and sea by the actions of men that they may suffer the consequencesfor some of their misdeeds in order that they may return (to Allah in obedience).”
(Surah Ar-Rum v.41TMQ)These horrific scenes brought to mind the warnings given by Allah (swt) about the Day of Judgement, what willtake place during it, the condition of the Earth and the condition of the people in relation to it:
“When the Earth is shaken in its convulsion. And the Earth throws up her burden. And human beings cryin distress what is the matter with it, on that Day it will declare its information. For that your Lord willhave given her inspiration. On that day will you proceed in companies sorted out to be shown the deedsthat they had done. Then shall anyone who has done an atom’s weight of good see it, and anyone whohas done an atom’s weight of evil will see it.”
(Surah Zilzal v.1-8 TMQ)The Prophet (saw) elaborated on a part of this ayah “on that Day it will declare its information”:
“Verily, its information is that it will testify against every male and female servant, about what they didupon its surface. It will say that he did such and such on such and such day. So this is its information.''
(At-Tirmidhi)Ibn Abbas (RA) stated about the ayah “for that your Lord will have given her inspiration” that the Earth would begiven permission to speak about good and bad actions we undertook:
“It is apparent that the implied meaning here is that He (swt) will permit it (the Earth)”