Divine Plan or Natural Forces – Reflections on the Pakistan Floods

By Maryam Sakeenah

One stands the risk of being dubbed illiberal and unenlightened if one sees in the deluge that has drowned one-fifth of Pakistan, the Hand of God. The floods have, among other things, again brought to the fore the gaping ideological split that cuts across Pakistani society, making it deeply fractured and polarised. The flood, and the way we choose to look at it raises some fundamental questions that strike at the heart of our very self-definition and our worldview – in fact, our very identity.

The Liberal “Fatwa” & The Punishment Theorists

Pakistan’s clique of English writers flaunting liberal credentials are clearly irked by those who insist on seeing the flood as God’s handiwork, and emphatically stress on the fact that inanimate nature and its ‘inhumane’ forces act mechanically and indiscriminately. On the other end of the divide are the ‘punishment theorists’, whose understanding that the floods are God’s anger unleashed on a sinful people does not really sit well. It is both arrogant and ignorant to brand everyone with the same iron. There is a certain unease and discomfort for a thinking mind to buy into either theory. The problem with the punishment theory arises when it leads one to indiscriminate judgement rather than self-reflection. The punishment theory also deflects emphasis from the actual, material factors and ground realities directly responsible for wreaking a tragedy of these dizzying proportions: that no dams have been built in the country for years, that in a routinely flood-prone country there is no proper flood management system in place, and that we have not been sufficiently alerted to the very real effects of the global climate change.

Both perspectives are reductionist and lopsided.  The liberal view for ignoring the normative dimension and failing to appreciate the worth of the realization of one’s powerlessness and the humility and humbleness that come with it. It ignores the understanding central to the Muslim worldview that everything that happens must be seen as a piece in the Divinely-laid scheme of things. Every occurrence fits into the mural of God’s Plan; that there is no random accident, no meaningless chaos or anarchy in nature. For, Nature is Allah’s manifestation, and its processes are by His Design.

The punishment theorists, on the other hand, oversimplify a complex, multi-faceted reality in order to make sense of an inordinate phenomenon. Ignored in the process is the insight offered by some basic religious texts that deal with the subject. For one, the Quran speaks at great length of natural calamity and cites historical instances of punishment through natural disasters to rebellious peoples. However, this should be understood from within a framework of Absolute Justice. Punishment becomes justified only when Truth has been clearly established and vindicated, and Falsehood exposed for all to see; and when the choice between Truth and Falsehood has been made in complete earnest by all. This criterion was fulfilled in the lifetimes of Prophets. Hence the utter rejection and hostility after full knowledge, of a Prophet’s message warranted divine punishment. With the ending of the line of prophethood, this is no longer the case. Hence, it is erroneous to see a natural calamity in this day and age as wholesale, all-out, indiscriminate punishment to its victims of the kind mentioned in the scriptures.

A More Balanced View

Natural calamity after the time of prophets, functions as a reminder to man of his vulnerability as opposed to the Power of the Universal Sovereign, and of the transience of life. This serves to revive in the heart of man that God-consciousness, awe and fear so necessary to cut him down to size when he tends to get out of his boots. It functions as a test of faith, of patience and of man’s capacity to heal, help and alleviate the suffering of his fellow-man.

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Another dimension that needs to be brought into focus is that God, in His infinite Mercy, recompenses every iota of suffering borne by His slaves , and that people of faith who lose their lives to accidents, disasters, calamities are blessed with the ranks of martyrdom. Clearly, being struck by a calamity does not make one less fortunate or more deserving of God’s Wrath. This understanding infuses in the Muslim’s heart compassion towards the sufferers.

A tradition attributed to Aisha, the Mother of the Believers (radiy’Allahu anha) sheds light on the matter with amazing precision. When asked how natural calamities were to be interpreted, she said: “(It is) a punishment for the disbelievers and a reminder to the believers.” (From the audio \”Natural Disasters\” by Shaikh Faisal Abdullah). What this makes clear is that there can be no generalizations and no judgement, for the knowledge of the state of belief in people’s hearts lies with Allah alone. The question of whether a calamity becomes a punishment or a test for those affected by it and those witnessing it depends on every individual’s inner state, impossible to be judged by you or me. It is our attitude towards a calamity – whether we respond to it with patience and learn from it the right lessons, or whether our hearts remain hard and unyielding that makes it either a punishment or a reminder for us. It is always those who humble themselves and can acquire the courage and faith to say “We belong to Allah, and to Him alone is our return”, that emerge triumphant out of every calamity, and whose indomitable spirit no calamity of whatever magnitude can crush.

Out of an instinctive aversion to a ‘not-so-liberal’ worldview, the ‘liberal fatwa ‘ on the flood by our dogmatic friends on the left misses the essential point. It fails to appreciate the value of understanding ourselves as underlings to a Greater Power. An understanding that as we conduct ourselves in life humbles and imbues us with a sense of responsibility and a God-consciousness that makes us constantly strive to better ourselves. That gives us resilience and stoicism in the face of trial as well as compassion towards fellow human beings. That makes us conscious of our greater purpose and that at the end of the day we all are to stand in the Court of the Ultimate Sovereign with nothing but ourselves; knowing that “His grasp is over all vision… and He is acquainted with all things.”

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29 responses to “Divine Plan or Natural Forces – Reflections on the Pakistan Floods”

  1. Leo says:

    I wondered if the floods were a punishment as it happened quite soon after the “pornistan” article.

  2. HadithCheck says:

    The article has several flaws, but not a bad reflection none the less.

    The “punishment theory” which the author tried to refute actually falls under the “balanced view” in this matter.

    Note: I am not suggesting that, specifically, the floods in Pakistan are definitely a punishment, however, to completely dismiss that a calamity or a natural disaster could be a punishment in general is not accurate. It might be a punishment just like wicked people have been punished in the past for their evil deeds, or it might be ibtilaa’ or a test from Allah just like Allah tested the Prophets and righteous people before as well. Either way, it is a sign from Allah for the rest of us to reflect upon such incidents.

    The following statement is incorrect:

    Punishment becomes justified only when Truth has been clearly established and vindicated, and Falsehood exposed for all to see; and when the choice between Truth and Falsehood has been made in complete earnest by all. This criterion was fulfilled in the lifetimes of Prophets. Hence the utter rejection and hostility after full knowledge, of a Prophet’s message warranted divine punishment. With the ending of the line of prophethood, this is no longer the case.

    The message of the Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings upon him) is still preserved up till this day and the Truth is clearly established. Those who reject the message are just like those who reject the messenger! To say that this can no longer be the case without having any Prophets alive today is completely wrong.

    “And a disaster will not cease to strike those who disbelieved because of their (evil) deeds or it (i.e. the disaster) settles close to their homes, until the Promise of Allah comes to pass. Certainly, Allah breaks not His Promise” [al-Ra’d 13:31]

    The second incorrect claim is that every single person who is affected by the calamity has to be a wrongdoer, and that is not the case.

    Narrated Zainab bint Jahsh may Allah be pleased with her: That one day Allah’s Apostle entered upon her in a state of fear and said, “None has the right to be worshipped but Allah! Woe to the Arabs from the Great evil that has approached (them). Today a hole has been opened in the dam of gog and Magog like this.” The Prophet made a circle with his index finger and thumb. Zainab bint Jahsh added: I said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Shall we be destroyed though there will be righteous people among us?” The Prophet said, “Yes, if the (number) of evil (persons) increased.” (Bukhari)

    The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: :An army will invade the Ka’bah. When they are at Baydaa’, the earth will swallow them up from the first to the last of them.” Aishah may Allah be pleased with her said: “I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, how will it swallow them up from the first to the last of them when their traders are among them as well as others who are not really part of them?’ He said, ‘It will swallow them up from the first to the last of them and then they will resurrected according to their intentions.'” (Bukhari)

    “And fear the Fitnah (affliction and trial) which affects not in particular (only) those of you who do wrong (but it may afflict all the good and the bad people), and know that Allah is Severe in punishment” [al-Anfaal 8:25]

    It is narrated that Abu Bakr may Allah be pleased with him made a speech and he said “Oh people, you are reading this verse and misinterpreting it {O you who believe! take care of your own souls; no hurt can come to you from those who go astray if you are guided} and I heard the prophet peace be upon him say “if the people see the wrong and they do not change it, Allah will cover them with a punishment from him”” (Recorded by Ibn Maja, Ahmad, Tirmizi, and others; Authenticated by Al- Albani)

    Another wording of the above hadeeth: “Any people in which there are sins done among them, they can change the evil and they do not change, Allah will cover them with a punishment from him” (Recorded by Abi Dawud and authenticated by Al- Albani)

    The prophet peace be upon him said “By Allah, you shall enjoin good and you shall forbid evil, or Allah will send punishment over you, then you will call upon Him and He shall not respond to you” (Recorded by Tirmidhi; Authenticated by Al- Albani)

    The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever among you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand (by taking action); if he cannot, then with his tongue (by speaking out); and if he cannot, then with his heart (by hating it and feeling it is wrong), and that is the weakest of faith.” Narrated by Muslim (49)

    Al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) commented on this hadith:

    With regard to the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): “let him change it” this is a command which makes that obligatory, according to the consensus of the ummah. There is a great deal of evidence in the Qur’an, Sunnah and the consensus of the ummah concerning the command to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, and this is also part of that sincerity or sincere advice which is Islam. It should be noted that this – enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil – has been lost for a long time, and nowadays there is nothing left but a few traces. This is a very serious issue which is of the utmost importance for the society to prosper, because if there is a great deal of evil, the punishment will encompass both righteous and evildoers, if they do not take hold of the wrongdoer’s hand (i.e., restrain him) or they doubt that Allah will also encompass them in His punishment. End quote.
    Sharh Muslim (2/22-24).

    Alternatively, the calamity might befall a righteous person and could be a test from Allah rather than a punishment.

    “Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: ‘We believe, and will not be tested [la yuftanoon]” [al-‘Ankaboot 29:2]

    Al-Tirmidhi (2398) narrated that Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqaas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: I said: “O Messenger of Allah, which of the people are most severely tested?” He said: “The Prophets, then the next best and the next best. A man will be tested in accordance with his level of religious commitment. If his religious commitment is strong, he will be tested more severely, and if his religious commitment is weak, he will be tested in accordance with his religious commitment. Calamity will keep befalling a person until he walks on the earth with no sin on him.” (Classed as saheeh by al-Albani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 143)

    “And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As‑ Saabiroon (the patient). Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: ‘Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return’” [al-Baqarah 2:155-156]

    “And We tried them with good (blessings) and evil (calamities) in order that they might turn (to Allah’s Obedience)” [al-A’raaf 7:168]

    • Son of Adam says:

      But that doesn’t mean that the Pakistan floods were necessarily a punishment; it does, however, mean that they could have been a punishment.

      Right?

      “(It is) a punishment for the disbelievers and a reminder to the believers.”

      • HadithCheck says:

        But that doesn’t mean that the Pakistan floods were necessarily a punishment; it does, however, mean that they could have been a punishment.

        Right?

        Right, it could be a punishment, and it could be a test, only Allah really knows, but it is an opportunity for us to look at our situation and try to improve it, because the believer does not feel safe from the punishment for his/her sins. Also looking at our general condition as an Ummah, I would say this is a warning for us all to go back to our deen and practice the original teachings of Islam properly before we really get a punishment. The state of our Ummah being in humiliation and weakness is itself a form of punishment, as the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him said: If you engage in ‘eenah (a prohibited type of transaction that involves a form of riba), and are content with farming and hold on to the tails of cattle, and you forsake jihad for the sake of Allah, Allah will cause you to be humiliated and will not relieve you of that until you return to your religion.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood, 3462; classed as saheeh by al-Albani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 11).

        As for the following statement which was attributed to Aisha may Allah be pleased with her, then further research is needed to determine whether it is authentic or not. However, a calamity can be a punishment for a person’s sins, even if he is a believer.

        “(It is) a punishment for the disbelievers and a reminder to the believers.”

  3. The Critically Cognitive says:

    Allah either tries us to punish us or to raise our state.

    As Shaykh Nuh Ha Min Keller said about the Haiti flood, have some humility and do not pass judgment on millions from a single event. Each person is a unique soul and what comes to him is individualized.

  4. Yus from the Nati says:

    Has the idea of the flood not being a “punishment” been checked by any of the people of knowledge. I mean that in a respectful way, not in that I am saying what is written is incorrect.

    I was under the same assumption as what “hadith check” wrote re: Prophethood and Muhammad صلى الله عليه Ùˆ سلم is the messenger for times after him.

  5. Muslim says:

    It is interesting to note that the rains of the floods started right after the bombing of the sacred “Data Darbar” or the blessed resting place of Hazrat Ali Hujweri also known as “Data Gunj Baksh”, who is one of the most revered scholars and saints of the Indian Subcontinent. The bombing took place July 2, and the rains began in the beginning of July and flooding began around July 22.

    Of course every soul is individually tested and tried – but ask most in Pakistan and they will tell you they feel that THIS act was the cause of the destruction.

    • HadithCheck says:

      It is interesting to note that the rains of the floods started right after the bombing of the sacred “Data Darbar” or the blessed resting place of Hazrat Ali Hujweri also known as “Data Gunj Baksh”, who is one of the most revered scholars and saints of the Indian Subcontinent.

      No brother I don’t think the 2 events are related, if anything it might have been a coincidence.

      First of all, one action that a person or few people do is not going to cause punishment for the entire people there. As the Prophet peace be upon him said “… if the (number) of evil (persons) is a lot.”

      So if the wicked people and deeds are more than the righteous people, and having a few people bomb something once does not cause punishment of the entire people.

      Furthermore, only Allah knows what some people go to this “Data Darbar” shrine to do, such as acts of innovation and shirk by calling upon this dead “saint” and what not. Perhaps because they had shrines such as this one to begin with is what caused this punishment, as I am sure it is not the only one they have, as places like this are unfortunately wide spread in our Muslim countries.

      • Muslim says:

        Wasalaam,

        It wasn’t just one event that took place. Before the masjid and resting place of Data Gunj Baksh, Hazrat Ali Hujweri, May Allah have mercy on him, was bombed, there were a lot of other places in Pakistan that were bombed and attacked that were religiously significant and some that weren’t. Although, as Muslims, we believe that the blood of a Muslim brother or sister is more sacred than even the Kaba itself, so I would consider all the attacks that are taking place in Pakistan, attacks against sacred places and beings. Whether they are markets or police stations, Muslims were there, therefore all of these attacks are against sacred places of Islam.

        The bombing of Data Darbar would be the climax of this violence in Pakistan because that is probably one of the holiest and most sacred places in the entire country. An attack against that sanctuary is an attack against Islam in Pakistan. And I think the difficulty for many people in the west to understand this, especially the youth, is the lack of understanding of how important of a station Hazrat Ali Hujweri holds in the Muslim world. Again, it is through him and his students and his dawah, May Allah have mercy on him, that Allah caused the people of northern India to convert to Islam. That place is known as the heart of Lahore to almost anyone living there.

        An attack against Data Darbar is an attack against Islamic heritage in Pakistan. It is an attack against a personality who the majority of the people in that country know as their religious and spiritual elder. He is known, rightly so, to be a friend of God. No one in Lahore will sleep hungry because there is so much charity of food handed out at Data Darbar that it cannot finish at the end of the night and they usually have to beg people to take extra food before it might be wasted. And all of this is given from people as a donation of rewards to Hazrat Ali Hujweri. And this has been going on for almost 1,000 years brother.

        Now you tell me, when someone attacks a police station in Pakistan, what are they attacking? The policing establishment maybe. When someone attacks the busy markets, what are they attacking? The innocent people in those markets maybe or maybe the economic stability of a region. When someone attacks Masjids during Jumah time, what are they attacking? They are attacking the people’s religion and their will to keep practicing their religion. And when someone attacks the Masjid at Data Darbar, and the resting place of Hazrat Ali Hujweri, what are they attacking? They are attacking the religion of the people, and they are attacking the heart of their religion in India/Pakistan, the fountain from where there religion came forth in that specific land. It is the HEIGHT of disrespect and outright treason for the Muslim people of Pakistan. There is NO OTHER place in that country that they could attack that would be more sacred than this place.

        If you had an enemy and they attacked your business, or they attacked you on the street, or they attacked you in your home – would any of these things be worse than if they went to your mother and father’s grave and tried to blow it up??

        I would encourage everyone to look up the life of Data Ganj Buksh – Hazrat Ali Hujweri and read about his life and read his book “Kashf-ul-Mahjoob” to understand how important a person he was to Islam in India/Pakistan region.

        In regards to whether or not this was a punishment from Allah subhanahu wata’ala, only Allah knows. It could be a punishment or a test. And this has been debated back and forth in the comments above left by others as well as you. But the way I think about it is pretty simple. There are certain things in our religion which are obligations for the individual. And there are certain things that are obligations for the community at large. Even though a few individuals committed that act, isn’t there more people to blame within the country? Can the whole country, as a whole, be blamed for their lack of respect of their religion, and lack of respect for each other as brothers and sisters? Isn’t the whole Muslims world being tested right now for our running away from the Qur’an and Sunnah? Whether it is a punishment or a test, I don’t know. But if you ask me, and ask most people in Pakistan, when that place was attacked people shook their heads in disbelief of what happened and they knew something bad was going to happen. And Allah knows best.

        In regards to those acts of “innovation” and shirk that you speak of, I believe it is obvious that you are either wahabi or salafi or follow wahabi or salafi teachers. The only thing you will get out of those types of teachers is that they are correct and right, and the rest of the Muslim world is a bunch of innovating, shirk lovers who do nothing but commit shirk and kufr all day. Kind of close to the ideology these extremist have in Pakistan who are committing these crazy acts of violence. If you take a few hours to do some research, these acts are not considered “shirk” by the majority of Muslim scholars that have existed and exist today. This is not the place or time or even forum to discuss religious differences such as this, but in essence what you are saying is exactly the same thing that started these extremists on the road to their violent actions. They literally BELIEVE the Muslims in Pakistan are NOT Muslim, therefore they create some stupid justification that has no basis in Islam to commit violent acts against innocent people. I think you people need to learn how to tone down your overly simplistic analysis of other people’s Islam and Iman.

        “Perhaps because they had shrines such as this one to begin with is what caused this punishment, as I am sure it is not the only one they have, as places like this are unfortunately wide spread in our Muslim countries.”

        By your logic in the above paragraph, the Holy Shrine of Rasulullah, Sall Allahu Alayhi Wasalam, would be next in regards to being the source of punishment from God all over Saudi Arabia because people from all over the world also come to his blessed resting place and commit these acts of “shirk”,as you say, as well??? Brother, ask yourself how long these shrines have existed all over the Muslim world. They have been around for hundreds of years and are located ALL over the Muslim world starting from the Prophet Muhammad, Sall Allahu Alayhi Wasalam. Muslims have and always will have extreme love and respect for their Prophet, and his religious inheritors until the end of time. I don’t understand your logic?

        My initial intention for leaving my first comment was to bring extra light to the fact that there is a case and understanding of Muslims around the world that natural disasters, such as the Pak floods, can be caused by the society moving away from Islam and their religious values and moving towards outright disrespect of it and some of its most important religious personalities.

        • HadithCheck says:

          You bring up several points brother, and I will try to reply in detail if I get the chance later on. However, to comment briefly, there are some of the things which you mentioned that I agree with you on completely. I agree that all such bombings and violence is not from Islam and is wrong, regardless of who or what the target is. I hope I clarified this so that you don’t misunderstand me. As for what you mentioned about going to extremes about righteous people and calling upon the dead and making du’a and asking them for things like to cure the person or give him money, etc.. then yes my dear brother that is a form of shirk. Now some thing very important that we should note here is just because I say that this act is shirk does NOT mean that every single person who falls into it automatically becomes a mushrik or a kaafir. The scholars have talked about this in details in many books and lectures, I won’t go into the details here, but in no way would this be a justification to declare a Muslim a kaafir or commit acts of violence. But again that doesn’t mean we don’t properly identify an act as it is in reality. The Prophet peace be upon him says in a hadith that “Du’a is worship” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2969) so it is only appropriate for us to only make du’a and call upon Allah alone since it is an act of worship so it should not be directed at anyone else. Don’t you read all the verses in the Quran my dear brother which mention that the disbelievers or mushrikeen call upon those besides Allah:

          “Such is Allah, your Lord; His is the kingdom. And those, whom you invoke or call upon instead of Him, own not even a Qitmeer (the thin membrane over the date stone). If you invoke (or call upon) them, they hear not your call; and if (in case) they were to hear, they could not grant it (your request) to you. And on the Day of Resurrection, they will disown your worshipping them. And none can inform you (O Muhammad) like Him Who is the All-Knower (of everything)”
          [Faatir 35:13-14 – interpretation of the meaning]

          So Allah calls their prayers to others and calling upon them and making du’a to them as shirk.

          And Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):

          “And who is more astray than one who calls on (invokes) besides Allah, such as will not answer him till the Day of Resurrection, and who are (even) unaware of their calls (invocations) to them?

          And when mankind are gathered (on the Day of Resurrection), they (false deities) will become their enemies and will deny their worshipping”
          [al-Ahqaaf 46:6]

          So Allah tells us that those who are called upon other than Him such as the Prophets and the righteous, are unaware of the call of those who call upon them and will never respond to their calls, and on the day of judgment they will deny their worship of them.

          And Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):

          “Do they attribute as partners to Allah those who created nothing but they themselves are created? No help can they give them, nor can they help themselves. And if you call them to guidance, they follow you not. It is the same for you whether you call them or you keep silent. Verily, those whom you call upon besides Allah are slaves like you. So call upon them and let them answer you if you are truthful”
          [al-A’raaf 7:191-194]

          “And whoever invokes (or worships), besides Allah, any other ilaah (god), of whom he has no proof; then his reckoning is only with his Lord. Surely, Al-Kaafiroon (the disbelievers in Allah and in the Oneness of Allah, polytheists, pagans, idolaters) will not be successful”
          [al-Mu’minoon 23:117]

          • Muslim says:

            I don’t think this is the correct forum to discuss theological disputes and differences of opinions of the Ummah in regards to acts of worship, etc. It would just take up too much space and time and it is off topic.

            One thing I do have a question on, however, is a claim you make that if a person (whether or not he claims himself to be Muslim) falls into acts of Shirk, this doesn’t necessarily make him a Mushrik of a Kafir. Can you please explain to me how this works? A “mushrik” is one who associates other partners with Allah. A “mushirk” is one commits shirk. A “kafir” is a disbeliever who disbelieves in the main articles of faith in Islam and other points as well. A “kafir” is one who commits “kufr”.

            This is why I have no idea what you mean when you say not everyone who commits acts of shirk is a “mushrik”. Then what in the world would he be?

            On the Day of Judgement, I don’t think you get a “get out of hell” free card if you commit shirk for any reason. You have to meet Allah subhananu wata’ala without having comitted shirk on that day to be saved.

            Shirk is Shirk – Kufr is Kufr. If you believe that there are partners with Allah subhanahu wata’ala, or you commit blasphemy or disrespect towards Allah and His messengers or you don’t believe in the day or judgement or the fact that you have to pray, etc etc – you have either committed shirk or kufr and you are out of the fold of Islam.

            I think this thing you said is very confusing or you might have confused a concept you heard in a lecture or speech. You cannot commit shirk, or think someone else CAN commit shirk, and not be considered a “mushrik”. In the case of you KNOWING someone is committing shirk, you would HAVE to label that person a mushrik.

            I think I remember hearing this from someone else too and it seems to me that this is a type of tool used to be able to keep the argument up that other Muslims are committing acts of “shirk”, but not completely turning them off of your argument, because by certain groups standards, most of the Muslim world is committing shirk. The debate would be ended very quickly in societies where these groups don’t have much pull or financial backing or political support because the idea that masses of Muslims are committing shirk is obviously not acceptable or reasonable, and would cause too much negative backlash against those groups, therefore they need a twist in their argument to be able to keep affecting peoples’ minds. It also allows them to gain support from more people since the people who join their ranks would not have to right away accept the fact that their mother and father are “mushrik” by their own groups standards.

            To me, shirk is shirk, and a mushrik commits shirk – kufr is kufr and a Kafir commits and is in a state of Kufr. If people have gone to extremes and started labeling things “shirk” that they shouldn’t have, and now need a way out to keep arguing on a stage, labeling certain acts of “shirk” as leading one to be a mushrik and other acts of “shirk” as leading one to be still Muslim because of some excuses is not genuine and very confusing.

          • HadithCheck says:

            One thing I do have a question on, however, is a claim you make that if a person (whether or not he claims himself to be Muslim) falls into acts of Shirk, this doesn’t necessarily make him a Mushrik of a Kafir.

            To answer your question my dear brother, and the things that you mentioned aren’t really the reason for this, but the actual reason why if a Muslim falls into an act of shirk then you can’t automatically call him a mushrik or a kaafir is because you have to establish the proof on this person before you can do so. I am not talking about non-muslims here, this only applies to muslims. If a muslim falls into an act of shirk, you can’t label him a mushrik right away and declare him to be a kaafir, because there are certain requirements and restrictions that need to be applied before you can declare him a kaafir, and mind you this is something very dangerous so it should only be left for the scholars and not every person can go around declaring takfeer on other muslims. As for the act itself, then yes we all must label it as it is, so if an act is shirk then we must say it is shirk, but that does not necessitate that the muslim who is doing it automatically becomes a mushrik.

            To give you an example will make things clearer insha’Allah. One of the requirements is that a person does the act willfully out of his own will. So for example, prostrating to an idol is an act of shirk, but what if a muslim was forced to prostrate to an idol, would he automatically become a mushrik? No, there answer is no because one of the requirements to establish the proof on that specific person was not met, which is doing the act willfully, and since this person was forced to do this act or was threatened and was afraid to lose his life maybe, then we can not say that this specific muslim automatically becomes a mushrik and a disbeliever who will go to hell for eternity. You see the difference brother?

            So this is the answer, that there are several requirements that need to be met in order to establish the proof against a muslim who has fallen into an act of shirk or kufr before we can declare him to be a disbeliever right away.

            {He who disbelieves in Allah after having believed, not he who is compelled while his heart is at rest on account of faith, but he who opens (his) breast to disbelief– on these is the wrath of Allah, and they shall have a grievous chastisement.} 16:106

            In Saheeh al-Bukhari (6104) and Saheeh Muslim (60) it is narrated from ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “If a man declares his brother to be a kaafir, it will apply to one of them.” According to another report: “Either it is as he said, otherwise it will come back to him.”

            The other thing brother is that I quoted for you several verses from the Quran that clearly state that making du’a and supplicating to anyone other than Allah is considered shirk and only the disbelievers did it and were criticized in many verses for calling upon others besides Allah. So are you convinced akhi that du’a is an act of worship that should only be done for Allah alone, and that calling upon anyone besides Allah is an act of shirk? I hope the verses I provided from the Quran were enough to show you the truth insha’Allah, and I ask Allah to make the truth clear for you and guide you to following it. Ameen.

          • Muslim says:

            Wasalaam Brother,

            I am replying to your last post, located at the bottom on Dec 11th, at 10pm. I did not see a reply button there, so just moved up a few posts.

            Firstly, I apologize for not replying sooner. Very busy at work.

            Secondly, I would like to thank you for making dua for me to follow the Ayahs of the Holy Qur’an that you included in your post. I also make dua for myself that I will follow them, as well as all the Ayahs in the Qur’an, and also for you as well, Ameen.

            Thirdly, I would like to thank you for your clarification on labeling certain acts as acts of shirk, NOT being the same thing as labeling someone a Kafir or a Mushrik.

            Fourthly, I would like to address your point of “making dua to dead ‘saints’ “. I think by this you mean the act of “Istighatha” or “beseeching for help”. Basically, calling upon “non-God” for their help. According to many scholars ( I would argue MOST) this act is completely acceptable in Islam. For example, when you ASK someone to help you move things from your old house to a new one, you are calling upon them to help you do something or to even do it for your completely. This is NOT an act of shirk. It will only be SHIRK if you actually think the ABSOLUTE cause of your furniture moving from your old house to the new one was your FRIEND and not God Almighty.

            Another example would be calling upon a friend who is 10,000 miles away in another country to help you with getting a travel visa to that country. Is that an act of SHIRK because you called upon “non-God” to ask for something, to ask for help and aid? NO. The reason why you are not committing shirk is because YOU KNOW that ABSOLUTE cause of you getting that visa or not is Almighty Allah and NOT your friend.

            It just so happens that Allah has created our world and our nature in a way where he expects us to SEARCH for rizk and help THROUGH the creation in a DERIVATIVE way. Meaning, we take medicine, we work out, we eat food, we make political connections, we procreate, we learn from scholars but WHILE doing these things, we realize that it is only Amighty Allah Who heals us, gives us physical strength, sustains us, creates children and gives us knowledge.

            As Muslims, we also believe in a spiritual realm. We believe that this spiritual realm is present in all stages of life. So when you refer to the “saint” as DEAD, it is a very incorrect statement from a spiritual perspective. As Muslims, we believe people’s souls do not DIE and remain DEAD. They just transition to another realm known as the “Barzakh” or the “Life in the Grave”. There is a great book written by the Scholar Ibn Qayyim Al Jauzia called “Ar Ruh: The Soul’s Journey After Death” and is available in English. In it, you will read that the soul, even though it has passed from this earthly world, STILL has interactions with the earthly life. It is affected by what happens in the world it came from, it knows what the people living on the earth are doing (especially their close relatives and loved ones) and benefits from the the good deeds that are donated to it by the people of this wold and it BENEFITS the people that are still alive in the earthly life by MAKING dua for them (if it is a righteous soul). It hears people when they visit them at graves, returns their salaam, and HAS the ability to make dua for them.

            Now, in regards to “Istighatha”, it is NOT a form of shirk because the person who is asking the saint who has passed away for something, is NOT asking them as if the saint will be the ABSOLUTE cause for what they are asking for. They are asking them KNOWING about the spiritual realm of existence, KNOWING this person has been declared a SAINT, a Friend of God, by hundreds of Ulama and scholars. They are asking them because they are a FAVORITE creation of God and they believe and know that the LIFE in the grave gives righteous people who lived on this earth even MORE power than they had when they lived on this earth. But all the while, KNOWING that is is Almighty Allah who is the ABSOLUTE cause of the answer to their prayer.

            If someone asks another person for anything and ACTUALLY believes that THAT person they asked is actually the ABSOLUTE cause of the answer of their request, than that person has committed SHIRK. If a person take pills for a health condition, and you BELIEVE the pills are the ABSOLUTE cause of your recover, than that person has committed SHIRK. If a person goes to the grave of a righteous saint of Islam, beseeches help from that person or seeks intercession through that blessed personality, and believes that saint is the ABSOLUTE cause for him receiving help, than that person has definitely committed SHIRK. But if all of these people KNOW in their heart that all of these methods of help they are seeking and calling upon are all DERIVATIVE and just methods to properly seek the help of Almight Allah, than that person has not committed shirk, he is just an intelligent person who is doing what he is supposed to do.

            In regards to acts of shirk and innovation such as people doing tawaf around graves (which is not many people) and who hand pieces of cloth around pillars around graves and who do things such as this, yes these are acts of shirk or acts of innovation that fall within your category where if a person is ignorant of them, you cannot label them a Mushrik until you inform them properly.

            But in regards to Istighatha or beseeching a righteous saint or scholar who has passed away into the life of the grave for help, it is an act that is accepted by most scholars as well as seeking righteous people’s intercession as well.

            And Allah Knows Best.

  6. Mantiki says:

    Floods, fires, famines and earthquakes are caused by natural forces. Australia has its share of droughts and floods but because we use our understanding of planning principles and forecasting, the loss of human life is minimal. If God were to punish because of unbelief and secular practices half the country would be wiped out. Instead we thrive.

    Lets face it, if God were the almighty punishing force portrayed by some, He would appear as a mighty pillar of fire or as a permanent omnipresent visible Presence – laying down the law in a transparent and unambiguous way. Anyone showing disrespect would be smitten down immediately!

    The obvious conclusions are either:

    1 God is not.

    or

    2 God is not like that.

    • HadithCheck says:

      If God were to punish because of unbelief and secular practices half the country would be wiped out. Instead we thrive.

      {If Allah were to punish the people for their wrong-doing, He would not leave on earth a single creature, but He respites them till an appointed time; so when their doom will come they shall not be able to delay (it) an hour nor can they bring (it) on (before its time).} 16:61

  7. “It is our attitude towards a calamity – whether we respond to it with patience and learn from it the right lessons, or whether our hearts remain hard and unyielding that makes it either a punishment or a reminder for us.”

    -very well said, jak!

  8. HadithCheck says:

    Fourthly, I would like to address your point of “making dua to dead ‘saints’ “. I think by this you mean the act of “Istighatha” or “beseeching for help”. Basically, calling upon “non-God” for their help. According to many scholars ( I would argue MOST) this act is completely acceptable in Islam.

    Brother “Muslim”,

    I provided many verses for you that clearly and explicitly identify istighatha as shirk and kufr, and this is what the mushrikeen of Makkah used to do which is not any different than what people do today from calling upon saints. The gods of the mushrikeen of Makkah were righteous people from the time of Noah peace be upon him, and as it states in the Quran that the excuse which the mushrikeen in Makkah used to say is that they only use those righteous dead people to bring them closer to Allah. The exact same justification that many use today to call upon saints.

    In your reply brother, you did not provide any verses nor authentic ahadith nor authentic statements of any of the companions that justify or support that istighatha is acceptable. As for your claim that most scholars say that istighaatha is completely acceptable, then this claim is not true whatsoever. Rather, you will not find any of the early scholars who say that it is acceptable! Please provide proof or evidence from the statements of the early scholars that say istighatha is acceptable, making sure to mention the proper reference for the statements (if they exist). I will give you the freedom to pick whichever early scholar you wish to choose to bring an authentic statement of his in which he says that calling on anyone besides Allah is acceptable and not considered shirk. You choose who you want, whether it is Imam Malik, or Imam Shafi’i, or Imam Abu Haneefa, or Imam Ahmad, or any of the early scholars of Islam! None of them said that istighatha is not considered shirk and that it is acceptable. If you say otherwise, please provide the proof. You will be surprised that those people who say that istighatha is acceptable are opposing the teachings of all the early scholars.

    My dear brother, read this verse and contemplate on it very carefully:

    Allah says: “Verily, those whom you call upon besides Allah are slaves like you. So call upon them and let them answer you if you are truthful” [al-A’raaf 7:191-194]

    How can a Muslim read what Allah is saying in this verse, and then think that it is acceptable to call upon anyone besides Allah, slaves who are just like you and i !

    It was the sunnah of ALL the Prophets peace be upon them to call upon Allah alone! Like the Prophets, Raise Your Complaints to the Creator

    None of the Prophets ever called upon anyone besides Allah! They are our role models, and Allah sent them to guide us and teach us the proper way. We should follow them in everything that they do! If they called upon Allah alone and never did istighatha, why don’t we do the same?!

    My dear brother, this issue is something very serious and I truly fear for you and for all my fellow Muslims who are playing with fire when they call upon others besides Allah. This is no small matter, and I urge you to forget all what you have been told by “scholars or shuyookh” and simply read the Quran, the words of Allah, the book which Allah sent down as a guidance for mankind! Read and see what Allah says in the Quran and follow that and you will be safe upon your deen and practicing what Allah has sent in His book.

    READ AND UNDERSTAND WHAT ALLAH SAYS IN THE QURAN, IT IS STATED VERY CLEARLY AND IN SIMPLE TERMS SO THAT EVERY SINGLE PERSON MAY UNDERSTAND IT, AND SO THAT NO ONE HAS AND EXCUSE ON THE DAY OF RESURRECTION WHEN THEY ARE STANDING IN FRONT OF ALLAH AS TO WHY THEY DID NOT FOLLOW WHAT HE SAID IN THE QURAN:

    Allah says: “Verily, those whom you call upon besides Allah are slaves like you. So call upon them and let them answer you if you are truthful” [al-A’raaf 7:191-194]

    • Mantiki says:

      Re punishment either now or in the afterlife, I believe that as God’s plan, we are all connected. So we suffer for the sins we commit either in this life or afterwards. Perhaps much of the Quran points correctly to the way we ought to act and so avoid inflicting suffering on our others and therefore on ourselves. Read up on near death experience accounts and they verify we are judged and suffer for our sins. But the suffering is in the form of mental anguish and in proportion to what we deliver to others – not infinite.

      But I cannot believe a place of eternal torture has been constructed for God’s amusement. Especially when the Quran says you go there for unbelief etc while the Bible says you go there for unbelief in Jesus as your Saviour. God would be a sadistic bully to leave such ambiguity and then torture those who are deceived by the wrong choice.

      Is Allah a bully or are we deceived by these tales of eternal torture?

    • Mantiki says:

      Similar arguments occur between Catholic and Protestant Christians. Both groups believe in saints, but only Catholics pray to them.

      There are many reports of spiritual beings providing material and spiritual help to the living and to the dying. Can Muslims pray to Allah for angelic or saintly assistance?

      • Umar says:

        “Similar arguments occur between Catholic and Protestant Christians.”

        Abu Sayeed reported that the messenger of Allah said: “You shall follow the practices of those before you, inch by inch and mile by mile, to the degree that if they enter into the hole of a lizard, you will follow them.” He was asked: “O messenger of Allah, are they the Jews and Christians?” He replied: “Who else?”

    • Muslim says:

      Waslaam Brother HadithCheck,

      You are ignoring many things that I wrote previously. There are many sunni scholars who have accepted the act of istighatha and tawassul, etc and have said it is not haraam. Many have encouraged it.
      I think this issue has become so distorted because there are groups of Muslims who have perversions and jealousies in their hearts and who want to label other Muslims has Kafir or Mushrik who are saying over and over again, they are not.

      The Ayah from the Qur’an that you have quoted above about the Makkans saying they are not worshiping the idols, but just using them to bring them nearer to me shows that they were LYING. Meaning, when accused by the Muslims of Makkah that they were worshiping these idols, they made an EXCUSE up and said, “No, we are only using them as means”. When you make an excuse up, you usually use something that is not the same thing as what you are being accused of. Anyhow, in the end they were just lying and making excuses and that is how I interpret the case. I can elaborate further, but it would take too much time.

      The way others interpret the Ayah is to use it to label other Muslims Kafir and Mushriks who are very openly explaining to them that they are not committing these acts nor do they feel this in their heart.

      Again, many many Sunni Scholars have accepted these acts and have said they are okay.

      In regards to your question about authentic proofs – what do you consider authentic proofs? You use the word authentic when you write these Hadiths, but have you ever taken these Hadith with Ijaza from teachers who have learned them from their teachers, etc? A lot of people are in the habit of becoming “scholars” after reading a few books or having a mass published book named “Sahih Bukhari” without ever learning it the proper way and then presenting those words as proofs when they don’t even know themselves if they are of they are not.

      I am not presenting “authentic proofs” to you because I would much rather leave the point to you and to anyone else who is reading this that MANY mainstream Sunni scholars accept the acts of Istaghatha and Tawasul and visiting the graves of the righteous Friends of God. It is as simple as that. Also, it would just take way too much space on this blog to start actually debating these things with proofs, etc. If you would like to read books on the matter, I can put the name and author of several books that you can read.

      • HadithCheck says:

        There are many sunni scholars who have accepted the act of istighatha

        Akhi if there are many then name some of them! I asked you which of the early scholars said that Istighatha is permissible, and you say many! If this is true, then it won’t be hard for you to name some of them and provide the proper references where we can see their words saying that it is permissible!

        You can keep saying many scholars and many scholars, but until you name some of the early scholars who said that Istighatha is permissible and provide references to their books where we can read their words, know that your claim is not true.

        That is all I want from you! Just provide me with the words of one of the 4 imams saying that Istighatha is permissible, or even any one of the early scholars like Bukhari, Ibn Al-Mubarak, Al-Thawri, Uwza’i, or any one of the other early scholars.

        I wonder why aren’t you even providing the name of any of the early scholars, and just claiming that many of them approve of Istighatha?!

        I don’t know who you are trying to fool brother, I mean do you really believe your claim that many of the early scholars accept Istighatha, yet you are not able to provide the names of any of these scholars and references to their statements in which they approve of Istighatha??

        Let us stick to this point and not change the subject or move on to another point before solving this one, because if you are not able to provide which early scholars approved of Istighatha then there is no point of us continuing this discussion because you can keep claiming that many sunni scholars approve of it when in fact this claim has no truth to it at all!

        I ask Allah to guide you to the truth and to show you the right path and you follow it, because I really fear for you akhi and I fear for all my brothers and sisters who have been deceived by the shaytan and by some deviant people into believing that this act of Istighatha is something acceptable in Islam, when in reality it is major shirk that has nothing to do with Islam or the Sunnah.

        Btw, it seems that you don’t know the difference between Tawassul and Istighatha and think that they are both the same thing, when in reality they are very different. We are talking here about Istighatha which is calling upon a dead person (whether a prophet or a righteous person) and asking them to fulfill your need. This is called Istighatha and this is what we are talking about right now. Once (if) we finish discussing this issue, we can move on to discuss Tawassul which is calling upon Allah and asking Him to fulfill your need by the status of so and so, and so Tawassul is completely different than Istighatha and has its own ruling (Istighatha is what is considered shirk), but we will keep that until later after you have provided me with some of the early scholars who have said that Istighatha is permissible.

  9. Of course the hand of Allah is involved, in the sense that Allah created the natural laws that govern these types of events. He created this universe, and its system of checks and balances, actions and consequences.

    What human actions led to this? Three factors combined to create this devastation:

    1. Decades of deforestation upriver causes heavy silt to wash into the river, raising the river bed and making it more prone to flooding. Deforestation downriver means there is no vegetation to check the spread of the waters.

    2. Because there has not been a bad flood in many years, people have settled in the flood plain. 20 million people live in the Indus flood plain. The lack of flood planning and management only exacerbates the problem. If these people resettle the flood plain after this disaster, the same problem will reoccur with the next terrible flood in one year, ten years or twenty years.

    3. Global warming has caused the annual monsoons to become more intense and less predictable, and scientists say it will only get worse, and Allah knows best.

    So it’s a man-made crisis. Allah is the one who sends the rains, but human actions caused the consequences of the intense rains to be far worse than in the past. If we ignore these factors and simply write it off as a punishment from Allah, then we fail to take responsibility for our role, and we ensure that future disasters of this magnitude will occur.

    On an individual level, it is a test from Allah, just as every hardship that befalls an individual is a test. A believer responds with sabr and steadfastness, showing compassion to others, and working cooperatively to find solutions.

    • HadithCheck says:

      If we ignore these factors and simply write it off as a punishment from Allah, then we fail to take responsibility for our role, and we ensure that future disasters of this magnitude will occur.

      Brother Wael, I don’t think that saying this was (or could have been) a punishment from Allah writes it off without taking responsibility for our actions. The two don’t contradict but rather go hand in hand. By saying that this could have been a punishment from Allah because of our actions (some of which might be the things you mentioned) it makes us realize that our actions do have consequences and that we are responsible for the wrong that we do. Saying that it is definitely not a punishment from Allah and is only due to deforestation and global warming isn’t very accurate, and it also disregards what has been established in the Quran and sunnah that sometimes Allah does punish a person or a people for their wrong doings in this life. Sure we shouldn’t say that this definitely was a punishment from Allah, but at the same time we shouldn’t say that this definitely was not a punishment. It might have been a punishment, and it might not. Only Allah really knows, but it should be a cause for us to reflect on our situation and assess ourselves as individuals and as a people to see whether what we are doing overall is good and pleasing to Allah or not. We should hope that this was not a punishment, and at the same time fear that it might have been a punishment, but we should not affirm nor deny it being a punishment for sure, because there is no way for us to definitely know, and either way whether it was a punishment or not, it should be a reminder for us all to reflect on our situation and ourselves.

  10. Mantiki says:

    There is no meaning in floods and natural disasters other than we may either take preventative action if possible, mitigate the effects, assist the affected and plan to reduce the impact of similar future occurrences. We can do these things through completely human responses. We can also, I believe act as God’s instruments to assist people. There are so many examples of this, I have to believe that when you pray to God, He sends people to help if available and sometimes miraculously.

    We have a flood crisis in Australia at this time with thousands of homes under threat and whole communities flooded and around 80 people missing with a death toll at 10 so far. Over a period of weeks, no one has mentioned that God’s will is in this. Probably most Aussies believe in a God of some description but we also know that this country floods regularly and severely interspersed with severe droughts. The Churches and Mosques have congregations praying certainly, but those same people along with atheists and agnostics, are rolling up sleaves and helping each other out.

  11. […] Divine Plan or Natural Forces – Reflections on the Pakistan Floods Tagged as: blessings, Disaster, hardship, Nature, pakistan, Pakistan floods, spider, spider's web […]

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