By Sikandar Azam

A devastating snowstorm, with wind gusts reaching up to 115 kilometres (over 71.45 miles) per hour, hit the US and Canada on December 24. At least 31 people were killed in weather-related accidents in the US. The snowstorm left more than 1.7 million homes and work places nationwide without power. In British Columbia, Canada, the December 25 bus rollover caused by icy roads left four people dead and sent 53 to the hospital, including two still in critical condition early on December 26.

The severity of the weather condition in the US can be gauged with the fact that a state of emergency has been declared in several states, including New York, Virginia, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Oklahoma. More than 8,000 flights were cancelled and more than 25,000 flights were delayed ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays. And, more than 200 million people are expected to be affected by the freezing temperatures in the country.

On December 21, weather reporting agencies had warned of severe cold and snowy weather conditions that could be seen “once in a generation.” The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) had announced that cold weather conditions that have not been experienced in the last 40 years are approaching in some parts of the country. US President Joe Biden urged citizens to heed the warnings.

It is an irony that they are wary of the warning issued by weather reporting agencies but not of those issued by the Lord Creator: “Recount to them the story of (Hud), the brother of (the tribe of) A’ad. Hud warned his people beside the sand-dunes and there have been other warners before him and since his time, saying: Serve none but Allah. Verily I fear that the chastisement of an awesome day shall come upon you.” (The Qur’ān, 46:21)

The people of A’ad were popular for their intelligence and physical strength; they carved mountains to build mansions supported by beautiful and strong pillars. Deeply immersed in mundane pleasures, and having been proud of their power and strength, they did not heed the warnings of Prophet Hud. Therefore, the Lord Almighty punished them with a tornado which hit the city of Iram, wiping out the people of A’ad. The world can still see the giant skeletons of the A’ad people. The Qur’ān (89:6-7) tells us: “Have you not seen how your Lord dealt with A’ad of Iram, known for their lofty columns.”

This shocking experience of man’s own history tells us that that denial of the Hereafter has been instrumental in corrupting every nation and sending it ultimately to its doom. While the fact is that the Hereafter indeed is a reality, clashing with which leads to the same inevitable results. And, retribution for deeds will at some time in the future take place in its full and complete form also, for the people who touched the extreme limits of corruption and depravity. Thus, it would be wise for us to take heed, realise the Truth and mend our ways accordingly.

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