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Kashmir Earthquake: Is God a Mass 'Murderer'?
"This temporary short life in this world is a test. God Almighty is testing the individuals and the collective community, as to how they will respond to such catastrophic events. Answers will be revealed on the Day of Judgment. Hence, life is not meaningless without purpose."
“How can you disbelieve in Allah (SWT) knowing that you were without life and he gave you life? Then He will cause you to die and will again bring you (resurrect) back to life, then to Him you shall return” -- (Quran, 2:28)
A natural disaster of cataclysmic proportions always raises the question of how could a just and a merciful God, permit or decree such indiscriminate carnage and devastation? For those who have conviction in the supreme creator, they will pray for their forgiveness, in case the disaster was punishment for their sins, committed as individuals and/or collectively as a society. Reflecting on such cataclysmic events ever greater would be their need to seek refuge with the omnipotent creator, as the event serves as a clear reminder of His power and the fragility of mankind.
In contrast, those who disbelieve (militant secularists, agnostics, atheists and like minded people) in a supreme creator, such events are further evidence of their conviction in a Godless universe. They argue, how can a just God allow such devastation and carnage to take place? They reason if God does exist, He should stand trial for murder and cruelty, referring to the mass casualties in the recent disaster in Kashmir and similar events like the earlier Tsunami in the Indian Ocean. So they ask the following question and the answers to that question are also listed below:
Is God a Mass 'Murderer'?
a). What constitutes murder? Why is the killing of 1,000,000 Iraqi civilians according to the militant secular-fundamentalist regimes of the US and UK, ‘a price worth paying’, but the retaliatory killing of 3000 US citizens on 9/11 is murder? Because, the notion of murder is subjective, as it varies according to the law that one violates in taking a life. But whose laws can determine that God Almighty has taken those lives unlawfully? Who has jurisdiction over God Almighty? The creator is the ultimate owner of the entire universe and its content; hence it is His prerogative to give and take, life. How can His created subject put Him on trial?
b). The supreme creator has the ability to recreate mankind after they have perished. God Almighty can easily undo the alleged ‘murder’ of his subjects, and He will on the Day of Judgment by resurrecting everyone! This is something a human being could not do for the victims of murder. So, the concept of murder can only be applied to those human beings that take another life unlawfully; they are guilty as they did not create the life in the first place, thus have no rights over it; and they are not able to resurrect the victims, undoing the initial crime; the guilt persists for ever.
c). What is the difference between someone dying of a natural death or due to earthquake? In both cases their limited life span has come to an end, and in both cases it is the Creator who has taken the life as it is He who assigned it with limited life span in the first place. Therefore, He has been committing ‘murder’ as secularists/atheists/agnostics would assert, from the death of the very first man! The guilt is not in taking the life en masse, at a particular event like earth quake or Tsunami, but by the fact that all human beings were created in the first place with a limited life span in this world!
According to this line of reasoning of accusing God of murder, everyone must concede firstly that they were created by a God, for only then can that God stand trial for creating us in this faulty manner, the complaint being that He should have created us with an unlimited life span. So the accusation from the created human beings is that the creator is deficient and faulty. If the creator is faulty then naturally it follows that His creation is also faulty, then who can demand who is right? Who can set who right? Such is the absurdity of their arguments of accusing the omnipotent Creator of murder.
d). Those that have perished, the supreme creator may have given them a better life in the hereafter and spared them further sufferings in this world. If you are going to refer to the omnipotent creator, then one needs to refer to the possibility that Prophets were sent to warn and guide us to His worship, of accountability for our conduct in this life, and the reward and punishment that follows in the hereafter. So to pass quick judgment upon the divine without the full picture is premature, foolish and in reality impossible. Those who have perished may be looking at us now as the unfortunate ones.
e). As for the hardship suffered by those who have survived the recent disaster, it cannot be construed as evil. Many tend to confuse between evil and suffering in general. According to the Islamic text, evil is rebelling against commandments of the Creator and only the consequential suffering inflicted upon the victim. But not all forms of hardship constitutes evil by definition, a serious error often made by many of the atheists/secularists/agnostics. The supreme Creator is more than entitled to test us from time to time, and how quick are we to forget all the bounties that He has given us prior to that and He may give in the future. The test is not just for the victims but also those who have not been affected, how will they respond to such events.
Where is the source of error?
Because the disbelievers (atheists/agnostics/secularists etc) in their minds have already constructed what God is and how He should behave, they pose questions like why a merciful or a loving God permits such indiscriminate carnage and destruction. Here God is not the self-sustaining and supreme creator, but a construction in the minds of those disbelievers. By attempting to conceptualize the essence of the supreme creator, using their limited mind and perhaps the Christian and Pagan traditions have also contributed to this; the end result is God is a more powerful being with super human qualities. Naturally the omnipotent creator is now thought of as a being that can be understood in terms of having human qualities, and therefore subjected to the same principles that are applied to human beings. And this is where the error begins.
So they use adjectives like ‘love’, ‘merciful’ in describing the supreme creator, but these should be understood not in terms of human qualities but as divine attributes. When for example the omnipotent creator says He hears everything that does not mean He has big powerful ears. The use of such vocabulary allows limited human minds to get an infinitely small appreciation of the power of the divine, whilst remembering that HE is nothing like the creation, not part of it and not subjected to the laws of the creation.
By rational necessity the eternal and uncreated God can never be subjected to the principles that have been derived from the minds of those who HE has created. Similarly, He cannot be subjected to the laws and ethics derived from the human mind, as He has created that mind, body and soul; which are all limited, unlike the Creators unlimited abilities. Just as a slave cannot command his master in the same way the eternal sovereign God, cannot be commanded or evaluated by His own creation. It is illogical to question God after recognizing His existence, because He is the creator and if the creator is faulty so is His creation. How can then the faulty creation that is limited, set right the faulty creator that is unlimited, in the first place?
There is a general consensus that the meaning of God within the Monotheistic religions is that He is sovereign and the omnipotent creator of man, life and the universe. There is a clear distinction between the creator and created. God created human beings and their minds, given it the ability to compose, analyze and deduce ideas. By rational necessity the finite human mind cannot comprehend the nature of the infinite and eternal God. Furthermore, the reality shows that the human mind being finite struggles to comprehend creation itself let alone the nature of the creator.
This temporary short life in this world is a test. God Almighty is testing the individuals and the collective community, as to how they will respond to such catastrophic events. Answers will be revealed on the Day of Judgment. Hence, life is not meaningless without purpose. Every component in the universe has a purpose, therefore the entire universe itself and human life must have a purpose. From the Islamic perspective those who have perished are martyrs, as defined in Islamic texts, they will be rewarded greatly and the young will enter paradise without any accounting as they are innocent, they do not need salvation and no one needs to die for their ‘sins’. This universe will eventually end with the accounting of all our deeds, finally reaching the eternal destination. That is a far more consistent and meaningful position then to assert that life began and ended by chance, without any meaning. So a human being is only material, no different to a piece of metal or an animal in the jungle.
by courtesy & © 2005 Yamin Zakaria
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