Friday, October 14, 2005

Pakistan, Earthquakes, and the Spirit of Brotherhood ...

The 7.6-magnitude, devastating earthquake that jolted Pakistan on 8th October, 2005 was one of the greatest tests Nature has put to the Pakistani nation. With tens of thousands of people dead and literally millions rendered homeless in Kashmir, this was an unprecedented situation for the country. Never before, except maybe at the partition of Pakistan from India in 1947, have we experienced such death and destruction. But in a response that was almost as swift as the earthquake itself, the Pakistani nation sprang forward as one to aid their Kashmiri brothers in plight. Within a few hours of the quake, thousands of relief camps had been established all over the country, where people donated generously with whatever they could: money, clothes, blankets, and food items. I offer my salutation to the spirit of brotherhood of the Pakistani nation, who have always related to the pain and suffering of their afflicted brothers and sisters in the World, be it our brethren in Yugoslavia, in Palestine, or in Kashmir.

Yet, amidst this greatness, this brotherhood, and this generosity, there were people, quite well-to-do people, wealthy, rich, affluent people, who have not had a single rupees' worth on their credit to the quake victims. They may have listened to the news on the television and cast a pitying glance at the faces of the tormented victims, but they could not be motivated enough to actually do something for the victims. Their love of wealth prevented them from spending their wealth, their love of comfort prevented them from going out of their way to help those in need, and their love of power prevented them from heeding to the cries of the powerless and the helpless.

Earthquakes are an unusual time in history, for they tend to bring out the good and the bad in people. In this respect, it is instructive to study what the Qur'an says about the Final Earthquake, the harbinger of the Day of Reckoning:

1. When the Earth is shaken with its [final] earthquake.
2. And when the Earth throws out its burdens.
3. And Man will say: "What is the matter with it?"
4. That Day it will declare its information [about all what happened over it of good or evil].
5. Because your Lord has inspired it.
6. That Day humankind will proceed in scattered groups that they may be shown their deeds.
7. So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom, shall see it.
8. And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom, shall see it.

(Qur'an: The Earthquake)

May God grant us with more than a mountain's weight of good and less than an atom's weight of evil.