Are disasters such as earthquakes coincidental? Or are they our fate?

Details of the Question

Are disasters such as earthquakes coincidental? Or are they our fate?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Are earthquakes fate or not? In order to analyse this, first of all, let us recall what fate means:

Fate, briefly, means that every creature and every event is known by Allah Almighty with every detail with His eternal knowledge, that they are ordained and created accordingly. Every event is “predestined”, that is, its place and time have been determined in the pre-eternity. Allah (SWT) knows everything which is to happen just as He knows those which had already happened in the past. There can be nothing left outside of the divine knowledge. Whatever happens remains within the boundaries of divine knowledge, which we briefly call fate. There is nothing in the world which happens by chance, but rather happens by divine ordaining. The reality of fate, which has surrounded all spaces and all times, has given no scope to chance.

Earthquake is also an action. Like every action, it also points to its doer. Is it ever possible for Allah (SWT), Who created the world from nothing, Who makes it go around the sun like a spacecraft, Who changes the seasons within such a great system, Who created plants, animals, human beings on earth, Who arranges infinite happenings in time, without confusion, and with a great measure, Who creates wonderful works by bringing atoms together miraculously with His vast knowledge, will and power, not to know an important occurence such as earthquake which is closely related to human beings, not to will it, to leave it unsupervised, and to leave it to chance… Is it ever possible?

Like all happenings in the world, earthquakes are also known and commanded by Allah (SWT). Every detail with regard to an earthquake exists in fate such as when, where and how it will occur, who will die and who will survive.

Having stated this basic truth and refreshed our faith, let us examine another point.

Someone may as well say: “We do not utter this sentence in order to deny fate and state that earthquakes happen by chance. Our purpose is to invite people to take the necessary measures. We can somehow prevent the destruction of this disaster with the measures such as not building constructions on seismic regions, making buildings which could resist a probable earthquake and using strong materials. We just want to warn those who ignore earthquakes by reminding them of these points.”

If the point is this, it becomes clear that calling a blind submission "fate" and suggesting that taking measures is “to change fate” are wrong standpoints. The Islamic way of true reliance on Allah (SWT) is not to await the outcome without taking any measures, but await the outcome with submission after having done everything possible. It is to act in accorance with causes and to expect the result from Allah (SWT). For, there is not such a rule as to there will be a fine result if the causes favour. The causes are not a creator but means. Whatever one might do as a measure, it is Allah (SWT) Who will create the results.

No matter whether one takes measures or not, in either case, whatever happens is “fate”. One cannot get out of fate by taking measures. If a ship changed its route, that would not mean that it got out of the ocean. We human beings are like ships going on in the ocean of fate. No matter what way we may take, no matter if we take measures or not, we cannot get out of that ocean of knowledge. It has nothing to do with true belief and understanding of fate to call going without measures fate and to suppose that taking measures mean getting rid of fate.

Situations may change, but fate does not. For example, a poor person cannot say, “I have changed my fate” by working hard and being rich. What only changes is his situation; poverty has been replaced by richness. He needs to say: “I have predestined to be poor first and then be rich.”

Islam does not tell us, “If you believe in fate, you will take no measures.”  On the contrary, it wants us to take measures first and to truly rely on Allah (SWT) then.

Zafer Magazine

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