But if We should send a [bad] wind and they saw [their crops] turned yellow, they would remain thereafter disbelievers. (Quran 30:51)
There’s nothing quite like a natural disaster to demonstrate just how small and insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things. The girth, speed and energy that a hurricane produces has mesmerized scientists since the 1800’s.
One of the worst natural disasters known to mankind, people throughout the centuries have had their lives permanently altered due to the fury of hurricanes and the aftermath they leave behind.
It is through Allah’s Design and Decree that hurricanes form in the first place. Each one is a terrifying and awesome display of the Might and Majesty of our Creator. And with each one that whirs through the ocean blue, we have an opportunity as Muslims to strengthen our faith.
This past week, with the arrival of Hurricane Florence on the South-East coast of America, I was reminded once again that Allah’s Mercy prevails over His Wrath. I also learned, first hand, that when a natural disaster strikes, the only thing we really have to hold onto is our faith.
Strength in Preparation
How does one prepare for a hurricane? There is plenty of advice online and on the news. However, making the right decision for my family was no easy feat. I lived abroad for most of my adult life and had only experienced two hurricanes, Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016, prior to the arrival of Hurricane Florence.
Forecast to be the “Worst Hurricane in the History of America” and predicted to make a direct hit on my city of Raleigh, North Carolina as a Category 5 storm, I was flustered to say the least. But I held tight to this hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as I began to prepare:
Anas ibn Malik reported: A man said: “O Messenger of Allah, should I tie my camel and trust in Allah, or should I leave her untied and trust in Allah?”
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
Tie her and trust in Allah. (At-Tirmidhi)
I followed the advice of our local news station to stockpile water and food for at least a week. Yet, I did not anticipate all the grocery stores in a 5 mile radius of my home would sell out of bottled water.
People flooded the stores, in their own ‘hurricane’ of greed and self-preservation, and bought everything they could get their hands on. I wasn’t surprised to see the chaos in my mostly non-Muslim community.
Sadly, anyone that does not have a connection with Allah will instead rely on others or false gods, both of which will lead them further away from our Creator.
Through my connection with Allah as a Muslim, I was able to prepare physically and mentally for the approaching hurricane. And through the soundness of the Quran and Sunnah of Muhammad (peace be upon him) I was able to prepare for whatever was to come.
Strength in Worship
It’s a very peculiar feeling to be waiting for a disaster to strike. With the advancement of hurricane tracking technology, forecasters were able to predict Hurricane Florence’s every twist and turn as it slowly churned towards my city. Yet despite the threat, our local mosque continued to fill up with worshipers for each of the daily prayers.
Tears flooded my eyes as I stood in prayer, shoulder-to-shoulder with my sisters in Islam, knowing that if Hurricane Florence struck right at that moment, our Ummah would stand strong.
After the prayer, many of us gathered to listen to a special lecture on how our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) handled calamities. By the time I left the mosque, the threat of the Hurricane diminished in my eyes as I reaffirmed my faith in my Creator and put all my trust in Him.
Strength in His Mercy
Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina on the evening of September 13, 2018. It was a slow-churning hurricane that brought devastating winds and dumped an endless deluge of rain that flooded entire cities overnight. Yet, as it churned right towards us, it began to slow down and was soon downgraded to a tropical depression.
Unexpectedly, it shifted to the South and circled away from us. While cities like Wilmington and New Bern were severely damaged, the city that was supposed to be a “direct hit” was spared by the Mercy of Allah.
Our collective duas were answered! The city of Raleigh weathered the storm with heavy rain, minor flooding and strong winds. The Mercy of Allah always gives us strength to deal with life’s challenges, especially natural disasters that can alter one’s life forever.
A Reminder for All
At last count, 32 people and millions of farm animals died as a result of Hurricane Florence in North Carolina and South Carolina combined. Rivers have just barely crested and more flooding is expected as people begin to leave the places they sought shelter and return to what’s left of their homes.
Hurricane Florence, while devastating, also serves as a reminder of Allah’s Love for His creation. What was expected to be a catastrophic storm that had the potential to deliver a much deadlier blow, it ultimately was a milder hurricane than projected. Through Allah’s Love and Grace, the impossible becomes possible.
As Allah says in the Noble Quran:
O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful. (Quran 39:53)
If we look inward, through quiet introspection, we can see all those storms that rage inside us and drive us away from our Lord. Reminding yourself of this will help you draw nearer to Him and strengthen your faith in the eye of any storm.