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The Effects of Sins: Evil upon Land and Sea

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Bismillah

Have you ever wondered why there is so much evil on the earth? Why are there so many environmental problems, so many wars, so many famines and sickness?256468_dirty_hunt

It’s because of you. Yes, you. And me, and the rest of man.

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Many times when we are struck with a trial or calamity, our first reaction is the thought: “why me?!” Yet the sad fact is that we do not realize these trials are a result of what our own hands have reaped.

Allah azza wa jal says in a monumental ayah for our times:

ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُمْ بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ

Evil has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of men have earned, that He (Allah) may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return. (30:41)

Allah ta’ala says ‘fasaad’ has become apparent. Fasaad means an imbalance and is the opposite of ‘islaah’ (reformation).  Fasaad is when something decays, spoils and it is not as it should be. There are two types of fasaad: tangible evil such as famine, drought, wars and intangible such as bad manners and doing shirk.

This ayah does not only state that evil has appeared on the land, but it includes the land and sea. On the land, there is physical land pollution, drought, earthquakes and vegetation is scarce. There is also an imbalance in the people of the land. Such fasaad is also evident in the sea: the water is polluted, and certain species that live within it are nearing extinction.

How is it that we are the cause of this fasaad? Allah ta’ala says:

بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ

because of what the hands of men have reaped.

The “ba” in the beginning is known as the ‘ba of reason’ or ‘ba of causation’, showing that it is through continuous sinning without repentance, disbelief in Allah and corruption that fasaad has appeared.  Abu Al-‘Aliyah said: “Whoever disobeys Allah in the earth has corrupted it, because the good condition of the earth and the heavens depends on obedience to Allah.”

Allah ta’ala only mentions the hands of men because most of our deeds are done by our hands and our hands represent action.

This fasaad has appeared:

لِيُذِيقَهُمْ بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا

that He (Allah) may make them taste a part of that which they have done.

The ‘laam’ here is known as ‘laam of  ‘illah’, of reason. The reason for the appearance of evil is so that we are made to taste and experience what our own hands have reaped.

An interesting part of this ayah is the word  بَعْضَba’dha, which means “some” of the consequences. The fasaad on the earth is not a complete retribution of what people have done, rather Allah ta’ala only gives us a taste of the consequence in this dunya. Imagine, everything that is going on around us is only some of what man has done!

May Allah have mercy on Imam Sa’di who said in his tafseer of this ayah:

Then how Exalted and Glorified is Allah! He blessed through His trials and favored by His end results, and if He made the people taste the full consequence of what they earned, not even one creature would remain on the earth.

Allah azza wa jal then ends the ayah,

لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ

in order that they may return.

SubhanAllah, the reason as to why there is fasaad upon this earth is so that we may return to Allah azza wa jal: from wrong actions to right actions, from disobedience to obedience, from imbalance to the balance of the earth.

Islaah, reformation, is a part of tawbah. Allah ta’ala says:

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ تَابُوا وَأَصْلَحُوا

Except those who repent, and do islaah: reformation to good. (4:146)

Take these signs around us as a blessing; how Merciful is Allah to let us see what our own hands have repead so that we may repent! Turn back to Allah and ask for His Forgiveness before it’s too late.

Shaykh ibn al-Uthaymeen rahimahullah beautifully said:

“By Allah, sins effect the security of a land; they effect its ease, its prosperity, its economy; and they effect the hearts of its people. Sins cause alienation between people. Sins cause one Muslim to regard his Muslim brother as if he were upon a religion other than Islam.

But if we sought to rectify ourselves, our families, our neighbors, and those in our areas, and everyone we are able to rectify, if we mutually encouraged good and forbade evil, if we assisted those who do this with wisdom and wise admonition- then it would produce unity and harmony”

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Amatullah is a student of the Qur'an and its language. She completed the 2007 Ta'leem program at Al-Huda Institute in Canada and studied Qur'an, Tajwid (science of recitation) and Arabic in Cairo. Through her writings, she hopes to share the practical guidance taught to us by Allah and His Messenger and how to make spirituality an active part of our lives. She has a Bachelors in Social Work and will be completing the Masters program in 2014 inshaAllah. Her experience includes working with immigrant seniors, refugee settlement and accessibility for people with disabilities.

30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. AMW- BrandyAminah-Zahira

    May 23, 2009 at 1:00 AM

    Salam, Masha’Allah this is absolutly fasinating.

    I had never read this before but it’s an amazing and percfect explination! It truly makes me think about those nations who are makinggenocide on other nations how many earthquakes and floods they cause… subhanAllah.

    Insha’Allah if more people think clearly about this ayah they can see it’s not only in THEIR best interest to be a good person but to save the world back into balance. MashaAllah.

  2. AsimG

    May 23, 2009 at 2:06 AM

    Asalaamu Alaykum,

    May Allah reward you for every sin a person repents for after reading this article.
    Ameen

    Also, are you familiar with a saying of (I think) Umar (ra) who felt an earthquake and said he would leave the city if the people did not stop sinning.

    Could you please find it for me if you know of it?

    Jazakullah khair

    • Amatullah

      May 23, 2009 at 12:45 PM

      wa alaykum salam wa rahmatullah,

      barak Allahu feek.

      Yes the story goes that an earthquake occurred in Madinah during the time Umar radi Allahu anhu was khalifah and then there was the aftershock. Umar radi Allahu anhu gathered the people and went up to the pulpit and said, if you do not stop sinning, I will leave you.

      I’ve heard it many times, inshaAllah I will look for a reference. I was thinking of putting it in the article but I forgot, jazak Allahu khayran for the reminder.

      Allah knows best.

      • AsimG

        May 25, 2009 at 4:02 PM

        awesome jazakullah khair,
        post a reference if you ever find it

  3. Umm Fulaanah

    May 23, 2009 at 5:13 AM

    Ma shaa-allaah……. I always love reading about ways in we can change for the better by seeing what we do wrong… I remember writing an essay (maybe 2 yrz ago….??) about this topic… and its facianting when you see all the evil being caused… subhaanallaah…

    May allah – azaa wa jal- forgive us for all our past and future sins… and guide us on the straight path tio him… Aamiin…

  4. Rabiah

    May 23, 2009 at 7:23 AM

    Assalamualykum sr.Amatullah,

    Jazakumallahu khairaa .It`s really amazing to read , to ponder upon each verse of Quran.Allah is so kind ,so merciful to us and in return we don`t even thank him, worship him .

    “By the ‘Asr,Indeed all of mankind is in a state of loss,Except those who have eemaan,Conduct righteous actions,Call each other to the Truth,And call each other to having patience.”

    May Allah include all of you in the last ayah and reward all of you abundantly in the hereafter.

    • Amatullah

      May 23, 2009 at 12:46 PM

      wa alaykum salam wa rahmatullah,

      Ameen, wa iyyaki.

  5. AsiahK

    May 23, 2009 at 12:41 PM

    Subhanallah. Great post! Really makes you ponder. Inshallah may our remembrance of Allah cause us all to turn back to Him and seek forgiveness, ameen.

    Jazakum Allahu khairn

  6. iMuslim

    May 23, 2009 at 12:53 PM

    Sins cause alienation between people. Sins cause one Muslim to regard his Muslim brother as if he were upon a religion other than Islam.

    I found this to be particularly eye-opening. Especially when you consider our conduct online.

  7. Sakina Al-Amin

    May 23, 2009 at 1:54 PM

    Good article.

    But with respect, I don’t think it is because of you and me. It is because of the uber rich people whose desires require to keep Africa poor, to fight Islam, to instigate wars between nations, and to run industries that destroy ecosystems. Own a bank, need people to be in debt, and you’ll know what I mean.

    **********
    I write for Examiner.com. I am one of the few Muslim voices there.

    • Amatullah

      May 23, 2009 at 1:57 PM

      Sister Sakina, this is based on the words of Allah azza wa jal — not my own.

      I understand what you mean, but we all commit sins and if we do not repent from those sins, it causes fasaad on a greater or smaller scale. One of the past scholars said that he would see the effects of his sins in the way his wife treats him and his riding animal.

      Allah knows best.

      • Sakina Al-Amin

        May 23, 2009 at 3:16 PM

        I know– I read the verses.

        My reply was to the first lines of the article. Our sins do have physical results, I believe this.

      • Danish Syed

        May 23, 2009 at 11:29 PM

        One of the past scholars said that he would see the effects of his sins in the way his wife treats him and his riding animal.

        SubhanAllah….i liked the article, but this line in the feedback has just swayed my heart in continuous repentance.

        JazakAllah khair for sharing. May Allah give barakah in your knowledge and rizq (Ameen)

  8. FearAllah

    May 23, 2009 at 2:13 PM

    Short but powerful explanation subhanAllah. Jazakillahu khayrun!

  9. Me

    May 23, 2009 at 4:04 PM

    Assalaamu alaikum,

    Jazaki Allahu khairam for the very beneficial reminder. May Allah forgive us our sins and increase us in eman and taqwa.

  10. ilmsummitee

    May 23, 2009 at 10:27 PM

    Mashallah, jazakyallahu khairan once again ukht Amatullah.

    Concise, to the point, and a major reminder for all of us…..May Allah make us of those who recognize our weaknesses and sins, and repent from them.

  11. Muslimah4good

    May 23, 2009 at 10:31 PM

    This was one of the most beautiful, rich, fruitful pieces of reminder! Full of wisdom and gems!
    Jazakallahu Khayran

  12. References Please

    May 23, 2009 at 11:45 PM

    Jazak’Allahu Khair for the article.

    Could you please post your references for the article?

    Barak’Allahu Feek

  13. Amatullah

    May 23, 2009 at 11:54 PM

    wa iyyakum. Barak Allahu feekum for the kind comments, this was a reminder for myself first.

    References Please, here you are:
    1. Al-Huda Institute
    2. Tafseer Sa’di, which can be found online here.
    3. Ill Effects of Sins by Shaykh Uthaymeen, which can be found here: http://www.onlineislamicstore.com/b4258.html

    @Danish, here is the exact quote: One of the Salaf said, “I disobey Allah to find its effect in the way my animal behaves and my wife.”

  14. Marya

    May 26, 2009 at 12:51 AM

    One of the examples that I always use to illustrate this point is – think of the minor sins that we sometimes commit, thinking they are not significant. Examples: cheating on a test, or having someone help us write a paper, or disobeying our parents… In the heat of the moment we think they are small, and yet if you were to look at those in leadership today – these are the types of sins they commit.

    If we cannot stop ourselves from taking advantage of others (by cheating) then whose to say we won’t be taking advantage of others unjustly when put in a position of leadership?

    If we do not follow the rules in school, then whose to say we’ll follow the government’s rules when we are given status and power? If we do not respect our parents and obey their commands, whose to say we will be obedient to Allah (swt) and serve Him and our people well, in a position of leadership?

    Obviously the sins are definitely exaggerated, but the Ummah’s leaders are a reflection of the state of the Muslims. And many of the problems of the world today would be eased of the Muslims were fulfilling their trust of being witnesses over humanity. If we were truly practicing Islam, enjoining the right, forbidding the wrong, and establishing the Islamic way of life, then there would definitely be a huge difference in the world. Don’t believe me? Just imagine if third world countries had an alternative to IMF and the World Bank, to get their loans – imagine them going to a Muslim country to get an interest-free loan!

    SubhanAllah, may we live to see the day that the justice and truth of Islam are reestablished within the hearts of the people, and throughout the Earth. Ameen.

  15. darthvaider

    May 27, 2009 at 10:50 AM

    excellent post masha’Allah. Jazaki Allah khayr.

  16. Holly

    May 28, 2009 at 6:32 PM

    SubhanaAllah the more I read, the more I grow, the more I learn, the more I understand these messages. JazakAllah Khair for sharing these.

  17. NasirMuzaffar

    May 31, 2009 at 5:01 PM

    Here’s another relevant Ayah:

    وَمَا أَصَابَكُم مِّن مُّصِيبَةٍ فَبِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِيكُمْ

    “And whatever tribulation befalls you, then it is from what your hands have earned” [42:30]

  18. NasirMuzaffar

    May 31, 2009 at 5:18 PM

    MashAllah, this was an excellent post

    You wrote : “Have you ever wondered why there is so much evil on the earth? Why are there so many environmental problems, so many wars, so many famines and sickness?

    It’s because of you. Yes, you. And me, and the rest of man.

    Many times when we are struck with a trial or calamity, our first reaction is the thought: “why me?!” Yet the sad fact is that we do not realize these trials are a result of what our own hands have reaped.”

    Sister I would like to mention an important point. regarding this…………

    The concept of there being “a cause and effect relationship between virtue and vice on the one hand, and prosperity and ruin on the other” is indeed true.

    However, this must be understood in the most general of terms.

    I feel you should have mentioned this point in your post

    I say this because our sins cannot be used to analyze specific circumstances and situations. Health, affluence, and a happy family life cannot be used as an indicator that Allah is pleased with a particular person, or that the person is being rewarded for his or her good deeds. These circumstances might be given to the person as a test. They might even be given to give the person trespass in his iniquity.

    In some cases, they may even be a form of punishment. Allah says: “Let not their wealth nor their children dazzle you: in reality Allah’s plan is to punish them with these things in this life, and that their souls may perish in their (very) denial of Allah.” [Sûrah al-Tawbah: 55]

    The same can be said for poverty. It is not necessarily a punishment from Allah. It may actually be a mercy. There is a hadîth where it is related that the Prophet (peace be upon him) quotes Allah as saying: “Indeed, among of my servants are those whose faith cannot endure except in poverty. If I were to enrich them, they would fall into disbelief.” [Târîkh Baghdâd (6/15) – However, the hadîth is weak, as discussed by al-Albânî in al-Silsilah al-Da`îfah (1774)]

    Sickness is no different. We should consider the supplication the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us to make on behalf of a sick person: “May it be a purification, Allah willing.”

    This supplication shows us that we should adopt an optimistic outlook about sickness and other misfortunes. At the same time, the fact that the Prophet (peace be upon him) has us say “Allah willing” shows us that we should not express certainty about the sickness being a purification. It might, alternatively, be a means of raising the sick person’s station in the Hereafter. It might possibly be a punishment for some sins.

    Allah says: “Every soul must taste of death, and We try you with evil and with good, for ordeal. And unto Us you will be returned.” [Sûrah al-Anbiyâ’: 35]

    We should look at having children in the same way. A person may wait years to have children, or might even be sterile. This is not necessarily a punishment. It would be wrong to even assume that it is a misfortune. It could very well be due to Allah’s mercy and His being pleased with the person. Maybe, it is a tribulation by which Allah raises the person’s status in the Hereafter. There may be a great wisdom behind Allah not granting someone children that the person will never come to know.

    We should consider the incident when Khidr, while traveling with Moses (peace be upon him) , killed the young boy. Allah tells us : “So the two of them journeyed on until, when they met a lad, he slew him. (Moses) said: “What! Have you slain an innocent soul who has slain no man? Verily you have done a horrid thing’.” [Sûrah al-Kahf: 74]

    There can be no doubt that the child’s parents must have thought the death of their son to be a great tragedy and misfortune. However, Khidr explains his action to Moses (peace be upon him) as follows: “And as for the lad, his parents were believers and we feared lest he should oppress them by rebellion and disbelief. And we intended that their Lord should change him for them for one better in purity and nearer to mercy.” [Sûrah al-Kahf: 80-81]

    How often do we regard something that befalls us to be a great misfortune, when in fact it is really Allah showing His mercy to us. The opposite is equally true. Allah says: “Perhaps you hate a thing that is best for you, and you love a thing that is bad for you. Allah knows, while you know not.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 216]

    Allah’s decree in the world is known to Him alone. Therefore, it is wrong for us to take the general texts that show a cause and effect relationship between virtue and worldly consequences and try to apply them to specific people and circumstances. We should certainly not make decisive judgments about ourselves or others on such a basis, saying things like “Allah is punishing that person” or “Allah is pleased with him”.

    The Prophets and the righteous people of the past were all tried with serious hardships. We cannot say that they suffered because Allah was punishing them. We can also see that Allah has granted certain sinners and unbelievers with considerable prosperity in this world. We cannot say that this shows Allah is pleased with them.

    And Allah (SWT) knows best.

    Please refer to: “…and whatever of ill befalls you, it is from yourself.”

  19. NasirMuzaffar

    June 5, 2009 at 3:53 AM

    There’s a lecture series (in Urdu) on this topic, by DR. Fadl Elahi Zaheer (Hafizullah), titled

    <strong>”Tribulations and Tests- مصیبت وآزما‏ئش

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  23. Searn

    January 16, 2011 at 3:16 AM

    Muslim Matters. I am generally a very forgiving and kind person. However.. I usually get something called GUT feeling.. I do not know why.
    This site spooks me.
    I am a serious Muslim. I love Allah SubhanahuwaTa’la and Prophet Muhammad is my messenger.
    Why I feel as if a snake crawling under my skin when I log into read ANY article on Muslim Matters?
    Why?

    • Amad

      January 16, 2011 at 6:25 AM

      You should read audhubillah 3 times and spit on ur left side. It’s obvious that the Shaytan is bothering you from reading materials that may be of benefit to you against him.

      That is, if you are not attempting to jest here.

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