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Articles Section > A Warner Came to the World -- Quranic Philosophy of Crises, Calamities, Disasters and Devastations
A Warner Came to the World:
Quranic Philosophy of Crises, Calamities, Disasters and Devastations
by the Late K.B. Dr. Saeed Ahmad Khan, S.K., M.B.B.S.
The Light (January 24, 1971, pp. 4-7.)
[Note: Way back in 1971, the Late Ameer (Head) of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, Dr. Saeed Ahmad Khan Sahib, wrote this article for the 'Official' organ of the Movement, The Light. In the wake of the current world situation, viz., earthquakes, typhoons, cyclones, tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, mud slides, floods, hijackings, bombings, wars, genocide, aeroplane/train/ship mishaps, school-shootings, murders, serial killings, parliament shootings, nuclear accidents, etc., we have chosen to present this article to our web-community once again, to bring to mind the significance of these rapidly changing events in the present era.]
"And indeed We sent Messengers to nations before thee, then We afflicted them with poverty and adversity that they might humble themselves. Why, then when Our punishment came upon them; did they not grow humble? But their hearts were hardened and Satan made all that they did seem fair to them. Then when they forgot that with which they had been admonished, We opened unto them the gates of all things; until, when they became exultant at what they were given. We seized them suddenly, and lo! they were plunged into despair. So the last remnant of the people who did wrong was cut off; and all praise belongs to Allah -- the Lord of all the worlds". (6:42-45).
Every now and then it is learnt that in some or other part of the world, calamities from above or from below have occurred. There are earthquakes at some places. At other places there are disastrous floods and typhoons. In short, the world experiences calamitous visitations, which cause colossal loss of human lives. As for wars, they have become routine features of the present age. These wars are not like the wars of the ancient times. They bring in their wake death and destruction on an unprecedented scale. Apart from the numberless lives which are swept away and the vast property which is destroyed, the harrowing tales of distress and torture make one's flesh creep. Only recently, there occurred an unprecedented "Dooms-day" cyclone in East Pakistan. The details of its widespread havoc are still fresh in our memory. The people there are still wallowing in the quagmire of its aftermath. We hear the hair-raising reports. We also listen to the talks on the overt and covert causes of the disasters. Serious endeavours are also made to devise preventive measures. Some devices are actually put into practice. But they all prove of no avail. They rather do more harm than good.
Very few people give any serious thought to these calamitous occurrences, which appear to have no end and have defied and humbled human intellect. Hence, very few realise that these awful visitations have a close affinity with the Divine chastisement and that there is Unseen Hand which is at work behind all these bloodcurdling ruinous happenings. The utter failure of human intellect to forestall them or avert them should make us search for that Unseen Hand and we should abandon fruitless mundane measures and should turn to such plans by following which humanity can immunise itself. In fact, there are such remedies. Where our material science and technology fail to salvage us, we should revert to and adopt this remedy which in all times and climes the God-ordained Saviours have revealed to us. It has been tried and has brought sure salvation to the stricken humanity. The world will be disillusioned by the failure of its efforts, and will be driven to the straight path. It is our faith that it will then find the unfailing solution of its problems.
When we study the commands of God's Apostles and read their scriptures we get light and guidance. We find a clue to the causes of these calamities, their different categories and guidance about measures to come out unscathed. The Holy Quran calls them 'Lasting Commandments' and refers to them as 'the Pure scriptures'. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who enshrined in his person the excellences of all prophets said that his teachings contain all that is really needed by man.
In our own times, one Imam-uz-Zaman (Hazrat Mirza Sahib) -- the vicegerent of the Messenger of God was sent by God that he should draw our pointed attention to the future disasters and place before us the revitalised teachings of Islam. Others may have some pretext for their ignorance. But this Jamaat (Movement) has been left no room for any pretext for not knowing these matters and for lying inert and inattentive like others. I have chosen this theme to be able to remind the Jamaat of the significance of these disastrous occurrences.
Two Types of Punishments:
In the Holy Quran there is a frequent mention of the Divine chastisement, and instances are cited to kindle our awareness of the causes behind these grievous visitations which overtook the ancient people. There are frequent references to Noah's people, Aad, Thamud, Lot's people and the Pharaoh. Therein we are told of their mischiefs and their doom. The Holy Quran says:
"That We might make it a reminder for you, and that retaining ears might retain it." (69:13).
It is stated that there are two types of divine chastisements. Firstly, there are grievous visitations which come as a warning to some nation. In this connection the Holy Quran says:
"And most surely We will make them taste of the nearer punishment before the greater punishment, so that they may return to Us (with repentance)." (32:22).
Thus warning is intended to wean the people from the devious ways and turn them to the paths of peace and amity. When the people disregard this warning, the punishment overtakes them. It accomplishes the ruin of the entire nation. This thesis is elaborately mentioned in the Quranic verses which I recited in the beginning of this lecture. They mean that God sent His Apostles. Troubles and tortures engulfed the nations to fill their hearts with humility. When they were in distress, their hearts should have become humble and they should have repentantly turned to God. But what happened was that their hearts hardened and under the impact of the satanic tendencies, they were enamoured of their misdeeds. When they completely forgot the exhortation and warning, God opened the doors of His blessings on them. They were beside themselves with joy. Then God's punishment overtook them suddenly. Then they lost hope. Thus the intransigent people were totally uprooted. At this juncture God says:
"All praise to Allah Who is the Nourisher."
It means that the punishment emanates from the Divine attribute of sustenance. All praise to Allah Who frees His world of the unholy people. This is a matter for glorifying God.
The Affluent Class:
The Holy Quran says that punishment does not erupt from wrong convictions or from disbelieving the Apostles. But it arises from the mischief and intransigence of the opponents of truth. The Holy Quran says:
"Why, then, were there not among the generations before you persons possessed of understanding who would have forbidden corruption in the earth -- except a few of those whom We saved from among them? But the wrong-doers followed that by which they were afforded ease and comfort, and they became guilty." (11:117).
It is stressed here that the wrong-doers abandoned themselves to the comforts and thus they became guilty. At another place, Allah says:
"And when We intend to destroy township, We address Our commandment to its rebellious people, but they transgress therein; so the sentence of punishment becomes true against it, and We destroy it with utter destruction." (17:17).
Herein the causes of punishment are said bare. The affluent class falls into transgression and profanity and thus reaches a degree when it courts punishment and it is then punished in a manner which is commensurate with its degree of transgression. The destruction may take the form of death. It may also manifest itself in the loss of power and glory. It is obvious that it is excessively sinful life that calls down punishment. God alone knows when the sentence of punishment for any erring nation has become due. The God-fearing people are always in trepidation about such time. It is said that when the sky was overcast and clouds appeared, the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was always filled with the fear lest the clouds should be a forewarning of the Divine punishment. But the rebellious people behave differently. Even when they see clouds of Divine punishment, they always said:
"This is a cloud which will give us rain." (46:25).
They take it lightly and feel that it will fertilise their fields.
Humility Averts Punishment:
There are also circumstances which defer the Divine punishment. Allah says:
"And Allah would not punish them while thou wasn't among them. And Allah would not punish them while they sought forgiveness." (8:34).
The presence of the beloved of God or people's humility and supplications defer the onset of Divine punishment.
If the People persist in transgression, the punishment does come. To this effect the Holy Quran says:
"And what excuse have they now that Allah should not punish them when they hinder men from the Sacred Mosque, and they are not true guardians." (8:35).
Obviously it is the transgressors who invite punishment by preventing people from the Sacred Mosque.
Nature of Divine Punishment:
In regard to the nature of the punishment, the Holy Quran says:
"Say, 'He has power to send punishment upon you from above you by splitting you into sects and make you taste the violence of one another', See how We expound the signs in various ways that they may understand." (6:66).
These verses refer to those punishments which are from above as famines or devastating rains or the earthly calamities as earthquakes, storms, floods and epidemics. The calamities from above allude to tyrannical rule of the profane and oppressive rulers. In this connection there is the Holy Prophet's (pbuh) prayer:
"O our Lord! Do not inflict on us the merciless people."
The punishments from under the feet also mean the violent uprising of the suppressed people. It manifests itself in the mob-violence. For this we are taught the prayer:
"My Lord I seek Your protection from the fury of the masses."
Not infrequently do we witness the sanguinary fury in the bloody revolutions. Sometimes a nation is split up into warring parties which start a civil war which in turn destroys life, limb and property in the country. The punishment may also take the form of an attack by one nation on another nation. This causes pillage and carnage. When we look around we witness that all these different types of punishments are in full swing all over the world.
A Divine punishment here is a pointer to the punishment of Hereafter. The Holy Quran cites an instance of the owners of a garden, whose arrogance and rank ingratitude precipitated a sudden punishment which brought to naught the garden overnight, When its owners went to gather and bring home the fruit of their labour, they found the garden in ruins. To this effect Allah says:
"Such is the punishment of this world. And surely the punishment of the Hereafter is greater. Did they but know." (68:34).
Mujaddideen (Reformers) and the Ordained Imams (Spiritual Leaders):
The teachings referred to are available in the sacred scriptures for the guidance of humanity. But by way of warning and for further elucidation, Allah sends the Ordained Renovators who exert their utmost to wean the people. This is done to leave no one in doubt about the impending visitations. To this effect the Holy Quran says:
"And if We had destroyed them with punishment before it, they would have surely said. 'Our Lord, wherefore didst Thou not send to us a Messenger that we might have followed. Thy commandments before we were humbled and disgraced." (20:134).
The Quranic verses quoted above related to the onset of the Divine punishment. The Holy Quran is the Last Book of guidance. In order to revive its teachings, God established a line of Mujaddideen (Renovators). After their advent, God endows them with insight through revelations and reveals to them the unseen things so that they should arouse the people from their slumber of neglect and indifference. They strive to redeem them from their erratic ways. They warn them of their misdeeds which in reality presage the trials and tribulations. From time immemorial, we see that these Divinely-ordained Warners face severe opposition. But as it is the way of God, these Ordained Warners enjoy the Divine protection and God helps them in their mission.
God fills their mind with solace by saying:
"Is Allah not sufficient for His servant."
Living as they do under the Divine protection, the Warners experience neither fear nor sorrow. They foresee the tragic end of their foes. Some of their enemies taste of discomfiture and disgrace even after the Warner's departure. The world witnesses the fulfilment of:
"He who is hostile to My friend, I surely declare war against him."
These are the people who are the Real Successors of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. As a reward of their passionate dedication and total devotion to the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, they attain the status of fana-fir-rasool -- Annihilation in the love of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). They are heirs to the spiritual blessings of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
Mujaddid-e-Azam (The Great Renovator):
In our own times we found a person of the status of Mujaddid-e-Azam - the Great Renovator - who belonged to this Chosen Sacred Class. It is our good fortune that this Ordained Imam (Religious Leader) dispelled the prevailing darkness by the light derived from the Radiant Quran. He brought the heavenly light to the people, but the people paid no heed to his forewarning of the coming disasters in this benighted age. The world turned a deaf ear to his voice. It should have taken to the straight path and could have then found the haven of peace and security. Nothing daunted, the Ordained Imam warned the people again and again. He exhorted them to mend their ways. But his advice and admonition fell on deaf ears.
The extraordinary calamities of this age are mentioned in the ancient scriptures.
Prophet Daniel prophesied the advent of this great Ordained Imam. He said:
"And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was nation even to that same time." (12:1).
Jesus Christ also made a prophecy about the advent of the Promised Messiah thus:
"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be (Matthew-24:21).
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also prophesied about the mischiefs and tribulations of these times. The Ahadith (compilations of the sayings of the Holy Prophet [pbuh]) Books are full of them. There is no man of knowledge who does not know it.
We see that with the advent of this Great Renovator begins the age of tribulations.
Plague in its pestilential form broke out in this subcontinent of Indo-Pakistan. The like of that plague was not to be seen in any previous age. Many cities experienced earthquakes. The Promised Messiah published a revelation in 1905:
"There is death and destruction in full swing."
He strove to alert the slumbering world. Then there was an out-break of hostilities in China, Tripoli, the Balkans and Greece. These wars cost thousands of lives. The First World War broke out six years after his departure. There is a definite pointer to the Great War (1914) in his forewarnings. For an instance there is a prophecy about the Czar of Russia in the following verse:
"The terror (of the war) will make men and jinn languish. Even the Czar (of Russia) will at that tragic moment find himself in great misery."
The Second World War:
Even after the First World War, the wars did not come to an end. After twenty years, the Second World War broke out and raged for six years, it overshadowed the first one, because new destructive weapons were used. Thus many places were wiped out of existence. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known to all as victims of the Atom Bombs. In the Battle of Britain, several cities were subjected to aerial bombing for eight months. The misery which came in its wake beggars description. In this connection the wording of the dreadful prophecy of the Ordained Imam requires realistic assessment. The prophecy is rendered into English and is given below:
"The earth shall witness such destruction as had never been seen since the creation of man. Many places shall be so completely ruined, as if they had never existed. That day is near at hand. Rather I see it at the door, when the world shall see the scene of Doom's Day. Not only earthquakes, but many other calamities shall erupt. 'O Europe! You are not in peace. O Asia! You also are not safe. O you the inhabitants of the Islands, no artificial deity shall come to your rescue. I see the cities collapsing and populous towns becoming wildernesses. That One God remained silent for some time. He saw the perpetration of disgusting acts. But He remained silent. But now He will reveal Himself in a terrible manner. He who has ears should hear. That day is not far off. I strove hard to bring all under the protection of God. But it was imperative that the dictates of Destiny should come true. I speak the truth when I say that this country is approaching its doom. You shall see with your own eyes the resurrection of Noah's times. You shall also witness the recurrence of what befell Lot's land. But God's mills grind slowly. Repent that you may be shown mercy. He who abandons God is a despicable worm and not human being. He who does not fear Him is dead and not alive."
It is all too evident that the world has learnt no lesson. Its negligence persists. To crown all, man is inventing new death-dealing weapon and is thus hastening his Doom. There is now no place but is the scene of war. Other calamities and disasters are occurring on a vast scale. Not a day passes without some report of breath-taking destruction in some part of the world. Now we witness the scene described in the Quranic verse:
"And We showed them no Sign but it was greater than its preceding sister and We seized them with punishment, that they might turn to Us." (43:49).
It makes one's flesh creep when we think of what is to ensue after this. The Holy Quran has also a recipe for salvation. It says:
"Why should Allah punish you if you are thankful and if you believe." (4:148).
Time for Self-appraisal:
The calamities that have descended are in a way Divine punishment. They are discussed every where, but seldom or never any one delineates the heavenly causes nor does any one turn to the spiritual recipes. It is against the present-day fashion to think on these lines. But when I have dealt with this topic before the Ahmadiyya assembly, I think I have not done any thing amiss. As these themes abound in the writings of the Promised Messiah (peace be on him). I sincerely feel that our Jamaat (Movement) must pause and ponder and do heart searching. Every one knows what passes in his mind and he is answerable to God for his thoughts and actions. But so far as appearances go, I feel that we have yet to experience a state of contrition. We have yet to be true to what is stated in: "that they might humble themselves." We should do self-appraisal and see whether we have answered the Divine call; "that they might turn to Allah." It is an acid test of our sincerity of our conviction. We must subject ourselves to rigorous assessment. If we react to the calamitous occurrences in the way as sincere believers should, and if we humble ourselves before God and our mind is sufficient with real fear of God and if we consequently experience change of heart, then we belong to the group which has been promised security by Allah. We then enter the bower of bliss, the glad tidings of which was vouchsafed by the Ordained Imam. May God grant us mercy and save us from calamities and disasters.
"Our Lord! We pray for your forgiveness and security here and in the Hereafter."
This page was printed from the 'Official Website of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at-e-Islam Lahore (Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement for the Propagation of Islam)'
located at http://aaiil.org or http://www.aaiil.org