Natural Disasters – Climate Change or a Time of Reckoning?
The Promised Messiah(as) and Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, said over 100 years ago:
‘Remember, God has informed me of many earthquakes. Rest assured, therefore, that as earthquakes have shaken America and Europe, so will they shake Asia.’ (Haqiqatul Wahi, pp.256-57)
‘…the world shall know for certain that they are in fact signs from God which have appeared in support of His servant, the Promised Messiah.’ (Essence of Islam – Vol. V, p.142)
Natural disasters have been occurring since time immemorial; however their intensity, frequency and severity have increased over the last 100 years. This year, floods in Australia and Pakistan, earthquakes in New Zealand, tsunami in Japan and the recent Hurricane Irene to hit the Caribbean, United States East Coast and Atlantic Canada, have all left extensive damage in their wake. An analysis by UNEP/GRID-Arendal shows an exponential increase in the numbers of natural disasters from 1900 to 2000.1 According to a report issued by the International Development Ministry, major disasters like the Japanese earthquake and tsunami or Pakistan’s floods are likely to increase. Scientists believe recent natural disasters were not an aberration, but “the beginnings of a new kind of future in which mega-disasters are going to be more frequent. The scale, frequency and severity of rapid onset humanitarian disasters will continue to grow in the coming years, and at an accelerating pace,” says Paddy Ashdown a member of the British House of Lords.2
Why are scientists predicting this huge rise in “mega-disasters”, and why has there been such a dramatic increase in natural disasters over the last 100 years?
Scientists don’t really have an answer, with most blaming global warming, climate change and consumerism. The giant reinsurer, Munich Re, explained: ‘The high number of weather-related natural catastrophes and record temperatures both globally and in different regions of the world provide further indications of advancing climate change.’3 But scientists and climate change experts negate this view. Sapir, Director of the CRED said for example: ‘It is not clear that climate change itself is an important factor.’4
Earthquakes are not linked to climate change, so what explanation could be given for the sharp rise in their occurrence? Earthquakes made up 60 percent of the natural disasters from 2000 to 2009.5 The governor for Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara was quoted as saying the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan was “divine punishment” for excessive consumerism. Similarly, the rightwing Fox News radio talk show host and TV presenter Glenn Beck said the earthquake could be “a message from God”. Obvious from such statements is that even in this contemporary and secular world, the question of a supernatural, divine force causing these does arise.
All religions, especially Islam, Judaism and Christianity believe it to be a form of divine act , that is, God showing His wrath. Both the laws of nature/climate changes (as scientists posit) and divine wrath are causes. Natural disasters caused by climate changes or the laws of nature happen unexpectedly, in accordance with existing climatic conditions, whereas a disaster that occurs as divine punishment has been foretold to us in detail. Chapter 71 of the Holy Qur’an describes how Prophet Noah(as) forewarned his people about the impending deluge that would occur if they disobeyed God. Prophet Noah(as) states:
I said to them: seek forgiveness of your Lord; He is the Great Forgiver. He will send down rain on you in abundance, and will help you with wealth and children, and will bestow gardens on you, and will cause rivers to flow for you. (Ch.71:Vs.11-13)
However, those rejecting his claims came under the might of the great deluge. Describing this, Surah Al-Qamar of the Qur’an states:
Thereupon, We opened the gates of Heaven with water pouring down (Ch.54:V.12).
The Holy Qur’an gives numerous examples of how a people were annihilated because they rejected the prophets sent by Him. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba) in his Friday Sermon of 18th March 2011 explained:
“It is true that natural disasters occur due to natural laws or that climatic changes are a trigger, but noteworthy is that, is there someone commissioned by God in the current age who foretold earthquakes and natural disasters to support his advent? The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the Promised Messiah(as) has indeed connected his advent with earthquakes and other natural disasters.”
The Promised Messiah(as) said:
‘…the world shall witness a terrible sight: not only earthquakes but also many fearsome calamities shall overtake man, some from the skies and some from the earth. This will happen because mankind has stopped worshipping its true God and has become lost in the affairs of the world…But with my coming the secret purposes of an affronted God which were hidden so far, became manifest.’ (Haqiqatul Wahi, pp.256-57)
Being informed by God, he foretold that natural disasters would take place as a sign of his advent. His warning was an act of mercy, so we recognise our Creator, accept his Chosen Messiah and hence not fall under His wrath. His book Haqiqatul Wahi– Essence of Islam, Vol. V explains this further. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has been propagating this true message of Islam to convince mankind to recognise its Creator and accept the Messiah of Muhammad (saw) thereby saving it from God’s wrath and also warning mankind of the consequences if they do not. Resources of the Community such as Muslim Television Ahmadiyya (MTA) International, The Review of Religions, its thousands of missionaries etc. are all helping to further the message of the Promised Messiah: to bring man closer to God and to discharge the rights due to His creation.
1. Trends in natural disasters, http://maps.grida.no/go/graphic/trends-in-natural-disasters (Last visited September 10, 2011)