"This hurricane is from Allah." He said. "The Americans are destroying one of our cities. Now Allah is destroying theirs."
The first of his statements was not open to debate. All things, good or bad, ARE from God. But I argued with him about his second statement.
"One cannot presume to know why Allah does what He does." I said. "These things happen, and its not always a cause-and-effect morality system. You cannot say this is because of that."
He was not alone in blaming the hurricane on the sins of Americans. Alabama State Senator Hank Erwin said the damage done by Katrina was God's wrath on a sinful coast. I am so glad I did not take that position because today, as the earthquake in Pakistan's death toll crosses 20,000, I would like to ask my friend what was his explanation for this natural disaster.
The racists at Little Green Footballs did not even pause.
"Where's your God now?" Taunted one.
"We had a hurricane that killed 1000 people." Said a more mathematical one. "You had a tsunami with 200,000 dead and now an earthquake with 20,000. That's 2-1 for our God."
Ignoring the fact that both Muslims and Christians worship the same God of Abraham, natural disasters are now being turned into a one-up
"If God loves a servant, he sends tribulation upon him," so goes a Hadith in Islam. The saying has always pointed to the parable of Job in the Bible (Ayub in Islam - peace be upon him) who suffered through decades of disease but kept his faith in God. In Islam those who die in a natural calamity are accorded the status of martyrs. I am told Christianity has something similar. For those left behind, a tragedy of this scope is a reminder of God's power and our own mortality.
If you still believe disasters are due to our sins, look at these natural calamities.
- For the first 300 years after Jesus, any Christian in the Roman Empire was subject to persecution.
- Moses' (Musa in Islam - peace be upon him) people were bound in slavery for decades.
- Severe draught afflicting the Muslim empire during Omar (R) 's time.
- and many more (trials and hardships of Joseph (Yusuf), Jacob (Yaqub), Jonah (Yunus) and so on).
As we can see, earthquakes, tsunamis and the like affected those before us, the best of us. And now it affects us. And it will affect those after us. If God is indeed sending a tribulation on those He loves, then He must love both the American Christians and the Pakistani Muslims, as we know He does.