By Sikandar Azam

A 7.6-magnitude earthquake hit eastern Papua New Guinea on September 11, which damaged buildings, triggered landslides and killed many people near the coastal town of Madang and further inland. The quake struck at a depth of 61 kilometres, about 67 kilometres from the town of Kainantu. And the shaking was much more vigorous than that in previous quakes. “Very strong, everything was like sitting on a sea – just floating,” Hivi Apokore, a worker at Jais Aben Resort near Madang, was reported as saying.

Papua New Guinea seems to have been sitting on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, causing it to experience frequent earthquakes. The question is why environmental catastrophes hit human habitations more frequently in recent times. The fact remains that catastrophes like floods, earthquakes, tsunami, hurricanes, landslides and global warming, all of these are signs for the imminence of the Doomsday or the Day of Resurrection. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “The Day of Resurrection will not come until the earthquakes happen frequently.” (Bukhari) The Prophet, who was living in the desert, informed the world about the frequent earthquakes and what they meant for human beings, over fourteen centuries ago when no one at that time knew anything about the geographic distribution map of earthquakes.

Today we see earthquakes all over the world that kill thousands and thousands of people. They often cause tsunamis. The tsunami is a manifestation of the earthquake as it happens at the bottom of the ocean which causes powerful tide waves that hit beaches, destroy houses and kill people. All this happens in the twinkling of an eye. Despite remarkable advancements made in science and technology, man is unable to predict the tsunami. It means that the Divine torment and chastisement comes suddenly with no or little warning. Allah says: “And they ask you to hasten on the torment (for them): and had it not been for a term appointed, the torment would certainly have come to them. And surely, it will come upon them suddenly while they perceive not!” (The Qur’ān – 29:53)

“Do they then await (anything) other than the Hour, that it should come upon them suddenly? But some of its portents (indications and signs) have already come; and when it (actually) is on them, how can they benefit then by their reminder?” (The Qur’ān – 47:18) The verse confirms that Day of Resurrection is coming and it is so near. So, don’t we repent to Allah and obey His orders? Allah says: “Will they not turn with repentance to Allah and ask His Forgiveness? For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (The Qur’ān – 5:74).

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