Most days I open the daily newspapers with considerable trepidation. As a former student of Geography, I understand or have some understanding of what we call the “natural” disasters that have been happening in the world over the last year . Almost every day when one opens the newspaper, the news is about a new disaster. Perhaps if I had not studied Geography and History, I would not be so concerned, and perhaps if the path we are walking together has not given us so much sensitivity to human suffering, I would also not have been so concerned. The knowledge of Geography and sensitivity to human suffering do not make a good combination in certain ways. In other ways, it is an excellent combination for assessing the extent to which these disasters have damaged many of the urban and rural environments, and one’s heart goes out to those people who have died or have lost friends and relatives during these disasters.
There is one major consolation for many of us, and that is that our Lord is in charge. He knows why He has made these things happen and He knows the extent of the disaster that He has decreed. We should not interfere in any way when it comes to what our Lord has decreed to happen, neither pass judgement on such decrees. We should be careful of wanting to interfere in what is not our concern. What He has decreed is His concern and how those decrees work themselves out is also His concern. We can only be spectators to the large range of Divine Workings and should refrain, very consciously, from wanting to have our say on these matters. Allah’s (ﷻ) Decrees and their operation are solely and purely Divine business. It is not our business.
So many times, we have to say: “O our Lord! Thou knowest why. We do not know.” We must have full confidence that how matters operate in the creation, is as our Lord wishes them to operate. Our primary duty is to give thanks, whether such operations are to our benefit or not. We must always give thanks and accept that Allah (ﷻ) is our Lord and that He is sufficient for us. There must never come in our thinking even an extremely small thought of disobedience or disregard with regard to our Lord and His (ﷻ) Actions.
Many people call His Existence into question when major human tragedies occur or when there are major, what we call, “natural disasters.” We are in Tariqah, and always have to be in submission and obedience. We have no choice in this. When it comes to our Lord and His Action, He decides and we do not; He is in operation and we are not. And so, even if the human tragedy is immense and affects us very personally, we still say Alhamdu lillah. Even if the natural disaster wipes out half the world, we still say Alhamdu lillah. We are people of Alhamdu lillah irrespective of what happens and when it happens. We are people of Alhamdu lillah even if there is major human loss. We have been trained to always say Alhamdu lillah, and it is these adhkar that place us at a station of deep appreciation of what our Lord does. As people of Alhamdu lillah, we accept and we help but we do not criticize or sit in judgement. How can we, as very minute particles of God’s creation and with very little or no understanding of His Workings and with no understanding of the nature of His Decrees, want to judge what our Lord does? In Tasawwuf, we try our very best to be in a state of submission.
Of course, our hearts go out to those who have suffered major losses, because we feel for each other. He has also placed those feelings in us for each other. We also help where we can and we advise where we can. This does not mean that we, in any way, want to criticize or sit in judgement. We try our best to be obedient servants and we act as obedient servants with regard to whatever happens in God’s creation. We ask that He makes us of people who submit, amin.