What a disaster!
"You should have seen those pictures," exclaimed Farid his already squeaky voice reaching its highest pitch, "The houses were smashed like matchboxes. And the cars...you should have seen the cars; they were like someone just thrown them together in a heap. Where there were houses nothing was left. I mean nothing! It was utter total destruction."
Pausing just enough to take a deep breath, his eyes wide open in amazement as if the scene was being played out before him, he continued, "Just total destruction, a wipe out, sheikh. If I didn't see the pictures I would never have believed it. I mean how much power must there be in one earthquake...they say it's like a few million atomic bombs. That's powerful!"
Sheikh Hamaad listened attentively, saying nothing, but his lips continued to move in harmony with his tasbeeh. It was rare to find him without his Tasbeeh in hand and his lips moving in silent prayer.
"Now you can see the Power of Allah! If Allah could do this in just five minutes of shaking...what kind of Power must He have?" Farid continued without waiting for an answer. He continued to describe the scenes of destructions waving his arms wildly in a feeble attempt to capture the extent of the destruction. Then his voice fell and in almost a whisper he asked, "But...but why, sheikh. Why did this happen? Some people say Allah was punishing them. But we know Allah is so Merciful, I mean there were children there, and old people too."
His head dropped as his voice trailed away filled with sadness at the incomprehensible destruction, struggling to make sense of it all. The two sat in silent reflection, the clicking of the tasbeeh filled the space.
When Sheikh Hamaad noticed that Farid has calmed down a little, he said in his ever soft voice, "There are many reasons for this earthquake and all the other natural disasters, and only Allah knows the true reason. It could be His punishment, or a sign, or something we didn't even think about. Allah's knowledge is beyond us."
"But let me ask you...," Hamaad continued, "if your little brother was trying to stick his fingers into the wall plug what would your mother say to him?"
Farid perked up, "My mother would scream at him. And pull him away from the plug."
"And if he tried again?
"Then sheikh,....then you see my mother in action. He would have got the hiding of his life. And maybe even get put in the naughty corner?"
"Your mother is so cruel!" exclaimed Sheikh Hamaad with mock surprise, "It seems she doesn't love your little brother at all. I mean, she will punish him so severely."
"No sheikh, she loves him a lot. She was just trying to protect him. If he puts his finger in the plug and gets shocked he could get hurt....or even die. No sheikh, she loves him a lot, she is just trying to save him."
"So out of love she punished him to save him from a greater danger?" the sheikh asked.
"Yes, definitely!" cried out Farid, his hands making an involuntary fist.
"Allah loves us more than our own parents and sometimes he does something that may seem nasty, but is actually trying to protect us from greater harm, just as your mother punished your little brother to save him from hurting himself or even getting killed. You think your brother understood what was happening?"
"No ways! He will cry and complain about my mother. He wouldn't even want her to feed him after that...he would be so angry with her,"
"Just like that, we don't appreciate what Allah does for us. Sometimes these terrible events happen so that we can learn from our mistakes. As Allah Ta'ala says in Surah Sijdah verse 21 – "And we will surely let them taste the lesser punishment rather than the greater punishment, perhaps they will repent."
"So Allah is just like a mother," said Farid in amazement, "He also wants to protect us from the bigger harm."
"Yes," replied Hamaad straightening his immaculately white kurtha, "Allah loves us more than our own parents, so, sometimes, He sends down these problems so we can take a lesson and change our ways. Like you said, if that's the power of Allah in five minutes, what can He do for the whole of Eternity?"
"So those people must catch a wakeup call!" cried Farid, his face alive with excitement.
"No, no!" replied Hamaad, "We must all, as you say catch a wakeup call. We have to look into our actions see what is wrong and put it right before we face the Big Punishment. Allah wants us all to learn when we see such things. To change our ways before the greater punishment of the hereafter befalls us. So it's not only about those people but about us, we also need to take the lesson. As our The Messenger of Allah(peace be upon him) has said – "An intelligent person is one who suppresses his desires and works for that which is after death." [Hadith-Tirmidhi]