Every year 8th October is commemorated as “National Resilience Day” in memory of the tragic and horrendous earthquake of 8th October, 2005 that wreaked havoc in Azad Jammu Kashmir and Northern areas. That tremor not only caused death of about one hundred thousand people but also caused severe injuries and physical disabilities to much more. The huge financial /material loses were apart from human loses. Nearly all buildings and houses in main cities like Muzaffarabad and other town were either wholly or partially damaged. At that critical time, Government of Pakistan and the people of Pakistan came to the rescue/support of their brothers and practically proved to be a resilient nation.

The international community and aid organisations also extended financial and technical assistance to the Government of Pakistan in that hour of trial. As every cloud has a silver lining, that calamity also taught us certain useful lessons for our future course of action in disaster management. Certain factors like lack of preparedness for natural disasters, loopholes in the existing system, non-availability of plans for rehabilitations of disaster hit people etc. came into the limelight. On the basis of these, government took certain steps for future planning in disaster management. New organisations like National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) were established for mitigating the effects of that disaster as well as for making preparation for facing future disasters. Apart from taking other concrete and laudable steps, NDMA is also in the forefront for sensitising the people to taking precautionary measures at individual and collective level for averting the negative effects of disasters.

The teachings of Islam provide us guidance in every sphere of life including disaster management. The Holy Quran is replete with incidents of disasters. Islam concentrates on protecting humanity from eternal disaster of hell they may face in the life after death, if they do not come to the right path ordained by Allah Almighty. In the Holy Quran there are references about people of previous prophets who were obliterated due to disobedience of prophets and on account of practicing misdeeds. Like the nation of Prophet Noah (Hazrat Nuh A.S.) including his son was destroyed by the disaster of flash flood as they were adamant on not eschewing their false dogmas and wrong deeds. The nations of Aad and Smood have been mentioned many times in the Holy Quran. Allah Almighty sent Prophet Hazrat Hud (AS) for guidance of Aad but they refuted the right path and resultantly they were destroyed in a disaster of high speed winds. Prophet Hazrat Saleh (AS) was sent for guidance of people of Samood but they mocked the miracles and signs of Allah Almighty and resultantly they were destroyed though a shrill cry and tremor. The Holy Quran also mentions the nation of Prophet Hazrat Lut (AS) who was punished through the disaster of earthquake and rain of stones as they were practicing the evil deed of sodomy. The Holy Quran also mentions the nation of Hazrat Shoaib (AS) who indulged in highway robberies and weighing less. Allah Almighty sent flames of fire upon them and then the earth shook with a severe jolt and a shrill cry that finished them once for all. Allah Almighty expressed his wrath on the people of prophet Moses, Hazrat Musa (AS) in the shape of different disasters as mentioned in verse No.133 of Surrah Araaf / Chapter the wall with Elevation that states, “So we sent on them: the flood, the locusts, the lice, the frogs and the blood as manifest signs, yet they remained arrogant. They were of those people who were criminals.”

Unfortunately all the vices owing to which people of previous prophets were destroyed are present in Muslims of present age in one way or other. But on account of supplications of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) we are safe from complete annihilation. However, the disasters of people of yore mentioned in the Holy Quran are clear signs and eye openers for us, that must make us realize that we may be meted out the same treatment if we followed in their footsteps as mentioned by Allah Almighty in verse 12 of Surrah Al-Buruj / Chapter the big Stars of the Holy Quran that states, “Verily the seizure (punishment) of your Lord is severe and painful.” Narrated Abu Musa: Allah’s messenger said, “Allah gives respite to a ZALIM (Wrong doer, oppressor) but when He seizes (catches) him, he never releases him.” (BUKHARI)

Second Quranic aspect of disasters is that Allah Almighty inflicts disasters and trials on believers in order to test that whether they remain patient, perseverant and steadfast. In this regard Allah Almighty says in verse No. 155 and 156 of Surah Baqara, “And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tiding to those who remain patient (155) Who, when afflicted with calamity say: Truly to Allah we belong and truly to Him we shall return (156).” That’s why even during the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), Muslims faced disasters like drought. Then during the reign of four orthodox caliphs, Muslims of certain areas faced differed kinds of disasters. For example during the caliphate of 2nd Caliph Hazrat Umar (May Allah be pleased with him), Muslims faced a severe disaster of plague in Syria in 17 A.H after the great conquest of YARMOOK that took lives of about twenty five (25) thousand Muslims including great companions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) like Hazrat Abu Ubaida bin Jarrah (May Allah be pleased with him) and Hazrat Maaz bin Jabal (May Allah be pleased with him). In subsequent times too, the Muslims of different areas have faced several disasters. Ergo if Muslims of a specific area face a disaster, it does not mean that Allah Almighty is displeased with them and is pleased with the Muslims of other areas as we are not better than the companions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and because of ups and downs present in life of everybody. In this regard Allah Almighty says in first four verses of Surah Al-Balad / Chapter the City, “I swear by this city (Makkah). And you are free in this city. And by the begetter (i.e. Adam) and that which he begot (i.e his progeny). Verily we have created man in toil.” In the same way the Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, “Allah forgives the sins of believers on account of grief and afflictions they face even for a thorn that penetrates their bodies. (Masnad-e-Ahmed).” In this regard Jesus said to his disciples:” The sweetness of this world is the bitterness of the hereafter and the bitterness of this world is the sweetness of the hereafter. Allah’s true slaves do not live in luxuries.”

Third Quranic aspect of disasters is that it must make believers realize their sins so that they could repent over these and seek forgiveness and mercy from Allah Almighty. In this regard Allah Almighty says in verse 126 of Surrah Toba/Chapter the Repentance, “See they not that they are put in trial once or twice every year (with disasters or calamities), yet they turn not in repentance, nor do they learn a lesson.” So disasters can also be construed as warnings from Allah Almighty and must refresh the fear of Allah Almighty in our lives.

 

Atta-ur-Rehman Khilji

The writer is a Political Secretary to Balochistan Governor. He can be approached at attayaseen@yahoo.com