The recent earthquake in Indonesia has evoked memories of the catastrophic Tsunami of 2004 that left hundreds of thousands dead. Natural disasters of cataclysmic proportion always raise the question of how a merciful God can permit indiscriminate carnage and devastation. How can a just God allow such injustices to take place? The secularists, atheists and agnostics use such catastrophic events to reinforce their belief in a Godless universe. They reason, if God does exist He should stand trial for murder and cruelty.
Murder by definition means to take a life unlawfully. But which laws has jurisdiction over God? He is the lawgiver, the creator and the owner of the entire universe and its content; hence it is His prerogative to give and take, life. He is above any law by definition.
Furthermore, God created mankind and placed them on earth with a limited life span as the giver and taker of life. Therefore, according to secular ‘logic’ He has been committing ‘murder’ from the death of the very first man! By the way: what is about the 'mass murder' of cattle, sheep and chicken in the slaughter-houses just to satisfy the nutritional needs of humans: how does this squares with ‘murder’ and 'justice' in the secular minds.
Another point is the ability to resurrect life. The creator has the ability to recreate mankind after they have perished, as recreating is easier than creating from scratch. The divine can easily undo the alleged ‘murder’ of his subjects and He will on the Day of Judgment by resurrecting everyone! This is something a human being could not do to the murdered victims. Thus, the concept of murder can only be applied to those human beings that take another life unlawfully; they are guilty as they did not create the life in the first place, thus have no rights over it. And they are not able to resurrect the victims: the guilt persists forever.
Who knows the fate of those who have perished? Who has this knowledge? To assume that they are worse off is an assumption. The creator may have given them a better life and spared them further sufferings in this world. From the Islamic perspective those who have perished are martyrs, they will be rewarded greatly and the young will enter paradise as they are innocent, they do not need salvation and no one needs to die for their ‘sins’. Therefore, to pass quick judgment upon the divine without the full picture is premature, foolish and in reality impossible.
As for the hardship suffered by those who have survived the recent disaster, it cannot be construed as evil. Many tend to confuse between evil and suffering in general. According to the Islamic text, evil is rebelling against Gods commandments and the consequential suffering inflicted upon the victim. But not all forms of hardship constitutes evil by definition, a serious error often made by many. The creator is entitled to test us from time to time and how quick are we to forget all the bounties that He has given us prior to that.
Adjectives like ‘love’, ‘merciful’ used in describing God Almighty should be understood not in terms of human qualities but as divine attributes. When for example God says He hears everything that does not mean He has big powerful ears but the use of such vocabulary allows the limited human minds to get an infinitely small appreciation of the power of the divine, whilst remembering that HE is nothing like the creation, not part of it and not subjected to the laws of the creation.
There is a clear distinction between the creator and created. This is fundamental point about the notion of God. He created human beings and their mind, given it the ability to compose, analyze and deduce ideas. By rational necessity the finite human mind cannot comprehend the nature of the infinite and eternal God. Furthermore, the reality shows that the human mind being finite struggles to comprehend the creation itself let alone the nature of the creator.
Despite this, the secularists, atheists and agnostics have attempted conceptualize the essence of God using their limited mind, and perhaps the Christian and Pagan traditions have also contributed to this; the end result is God is a more powerful being with super human qualities. Naturally God is now thought of as a being that can be understood in terms of having human qualities and therefore subjected to the same principles that are applied to human beings. And this is where the error begins with charges of murder.
By rational necessity the eternal and uncreated God can never be subjected to the principles that have been derived from the minds of those who HE has created. Similarly, He cannot be subjected to the laws and ethics derived from the human mind as He has created the mind, body and soul. Just as a slave cannot command his master in the same way the eternal sovereign God cannot be commanded or evaluated by His own creation.
These major events like earthquakes and tsunamis are for us to reflect about the meaning of life, the limitations of human beings, these events are proof that the span of life on earth is pre-determined.
Yamin Zakaria (email@example.com)