Natural calamities often hit some parts of the earth or the other, causing great loss of lives and properties. The World Health Organisation (WHO) on July 22 said that the ongoing ‘unprecedented, frightening, and apocalyptic’ heat wave in Europe has claimed more than 1,700 lives in Portugal and Spain alone. Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe noted that wildfires, known for their disastrous impact in southern Europe, are now occurring as far north as Scandinavia, while fires in London have destroyed 41 homes.
On July 23, a report said that a forest fire has forced evacuations from a seaside resort on the island of Midilli (Lesvos) of Greece, gutting an unknown number of homes and businesses. In the Evros region, another wildfire consumed more than 800 hectares (nearly 2,000 acres) of dense pine forest. Also devastating blazes scorched more than 2,750 hectares (around 6,800 acres) on Mt. Pendeli on the outskirts of the capital Athens, with over a dozen houses destroyed and thousands forced to flee.
Some people dismiss such calamities as mere happenings that take place as a matter of chance. But the believers, who have faith that nothing happens in the universe without the will of God, take them as trials sent by God. The trials may be test for believers, warning for sinners or divine punishment for those who are either disbelievers or cross His limits.
The Qur’ān has repeatedly clarified that natural disasters result from the disobedience of God. “And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much.” (The Qur’ān – 42:30) While the Qur’ān (35:45) asserts, “And if Allah were to punish men for that which they earned, He would not leave a moving (living) creature on the surface of the earth, but He gives them respite to an appointed term, and when their term comes, then verily, Allah is Ever All Seer of His slaves.”
When the people of A’ad practised polytheism, rejected Prophet Hud, and claimed that they were the super power and say: “Who is mightier than us in strength?”, they were punished by God by a windstorm. “As for A’ad, they were arrogant upon the earth without right and said, ‘Who is greater than us in strength?’ Did they not consider that Allah who created them was greater than them in strength? But they were rejecting Our signs.” (The Qur’ān – 41:15)
The tribe of Prophet Noah, People of Sodom, Pharaoh, Qaroon and the polytheists of Makkah, all were punished by sending floods, turning their dwellings upside down, or raining them down with a rain of stones. The lesson these stories of earlier nations present for us is to learn, reform and reshape our life in the light of the guidance of divine teachings.