Why does Earthquake occur?


All praise be to Allah. May Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon Allah’s Messenger and upon his family, Companions, and those who follow his guidance!

Allah (Glorified be He) is All-Wise and All-Knowledgeable with what He predestines and what He legislates and commands. He creates what He wills of portents. He predestines them to make His servants fear Him, reminds them of what they have to do and warn them against Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship), disobeying His commands and violating His prohibitions. Allah (Glorified be He) says:

“And We sent not the signs except to warn, and to make them afraid (of destruction).” [Surah al-Isra, 17:59]

Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) also says:

“We will show them Our Signs in the universe, and in their ownselves, until it becomes manifest to them that this (the Quran) is the truth. Is it not sufficient in regard to your Lord that He is a Witness over all things?” [Surah Fussilat, 41:53]

Allah (Exalted be He) also says:

“Say: “He has power to send torment on you from above or from under your feet, or to cover you with confusion in party strife, and make you to taste the violence of one another.”” [Surah al-An’am, 6:65]

Al-Bukhari narrated in his Sahih on the authority of Jabir Ibn ‘Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said when Allah’s saying was revealed: “Say: “He has power to send torment on you from above””, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “I seek refuge in You.” Allah (Exalted be He) says: “…or from under your feet”, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “I seek refuge in You.” [Narrated by al-Bukhari, 4262; al-Tirmidhi, 2991]

Abu Al-Shaykh Al-Asbahany reported from Mujahid in the interpretation of Allah’s saying: “Say: “He has power to send torment on you from above” [Surah al-An’am, 6:65], he said that it means an awful cry or a stone. “…or from under your feet” [Surah al-An’am, 6:65], he said: “It means an earthquake and causing the earth to swallow them.”

Why does Earthquake occur?

The People differ (in their views) concerning earthquakes – some say that it is a natural phenomenon and it has nothing to do with religion; others say that it (occurs) by Allah’s decision and pre-decree and it has nothing to do with the sins (of the people); and others say that it is warning for (the slaves to fear Allah’s punishment) and it has nothing to do with (their sins); and others say that it (occurs) as a result of the sins (of the people)?

The answer to this is: It may occur as a warning, a decision and pre-decree of Allah and as a result of the sins (of the people). Earthquakes can occur as a warning for those who are witness it and are alive. He (The Most High) said:

“And there is not a town (population) but We shall destroy it before the Day of Resurrection, or punish it with a severe torment. That is written in the Book (of our Decrees); And nothing stops Us from sending the Ayat (proofs, evidences, signs) but that the people of old denied them. And We sent the she-camel to Thamud as a clear sign, but they did her wrong. And We sent not the signs except to warn, and to make them afraid (of destruction).” [Surah Al-Isra, 17:58-59]

As for it being the decision and pre-decree of Allah, He (The Most High) said:

“No calamity befalls on the earth or in yourselves but is inscribed in the Book of Decrees (Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz), before We bring it into existence. Verily, that is easy for Allah.” [Surah al-Hadid, 57:22]

And He (The Most High) also said:

“No calamity befalls, but with the Leave [i.e. decision and Qadar (Divine Preordainments)] of Allah, and whosoever believes in Allah, He guides his heart [to the true Faith with certainty, i.e. what has befallen him was already written for him by Allah from the Qadar (Divine Preordainments)], and Allah is the All-Knower of everything.” [Surah at-Taghabun, 64:11]

As for it being a result of the sins (of the people), Allah (The Mighty and Majestic) said in His Noble Book:

“And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much.” [Surah ash-Shuraa, 42:30]

He (The Most High) said:

“This is because your Lord would not destroy the (populations of) towns for their wrong-doing (i.e. associating others in worship along with Allah) while their people were unaware (so the Messengers were sent).” [Surah al-An’am, 6:131]

“And your Lord would never destroy the towns wrongfully, while their people were right-doers.” [Surah Hud, 11:117]

And He (The Most High) said:

“And how many a town (population) have We destroyed, which were thankless for its means of livelihood (disobeyed Allah, and His Messengers, by doing evil deeds and crimes) ! And those are their dwellings, which have not been inhabited after them except a little. And verily! We have been the inheritors. And never will your Lord destroy the towns (populations) until He sends to their mother town a Messenger reciting to them Our Verses. And never would We destroy the towns unless the people thereof are Zalimun (polytheists, wrong-doers, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, oppressors and tyrants).” [Surah al-Qasas, 28:58-59]

He (The Most High) said:

“And Allah puts forward the example of a township (Makkah), that dwelt secure and well content; its provision coming to it in abundance from every place, but it (its people) denied the Favours of Allah (with ungratefulness). So Allah made it taste the extreme of hunger (famine) and fear, because of that (evil, i.e. denying Prophet Muhammad ) which they (its people) used to do.” [Surah an-Nahl, 16:112]

He (The Most High) said:

“Indeed there was for Saba’ (Sheba) a sign in their dwelling place, – two gardens on the right hand and on the left (and it was said to them) “Eat of the provision of your Lord, and be grateful to Him, a fair land and an Oft-Forgiving Lord. But they turned away (from the obedience of Allah), so We sent against them Sail Al-‘Arim (flood released from the dam), and We converted their two gardens into gardens producing bitter bad fruit, and tamarisks, and some few lote-trees. Like this We requited them because they were ungrateful disbelievers. And never do We requit in such a way except those who are ungrateful, (disbelievers).” [Surah Saba, 34:15-17]

“Verily, Qarun (Korah) was of Musa’s (Moses) people, but he behaved arrogantly towards them. And We gave him of the treasures, that of which the keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men. When his people said to him: “Do not be glad (with ungratefulness to Allah’s Favours). Verily! Allah likes not those who are glad (with ungratefulness to Allah’s Favours).

But seek, with that (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on you, the home of the Hereafter, and forget not your portion of legal enjoyment in this world, and do good as Allah has been good to you, and seek not mischief in the land. Verily, Allah likes not the Mufsidun (those who commit great crimes and sins, oppressors, tyrants, mischief-makers, corrupts).

He said: “This has been given to me only because of knowledge I possess.” Did he not know that Allah had destroyed before him generations, men who were stronger than him in might and greater in the amount (of riches) they had collected. But the Mujrimun (criminals, disbelievers, polytheists, sinners, etc.) will not be questioned of their sins (because Allah knows them well, so they will be punished without account).

So he went forth before his people in his pomp. Those who were desirous of the life of the world, said: “Ah, would that we had the like of what Qarun (Korah) has been given? Verily! He is the owner of a great fortune.”

But those who had been given (religious) knowledge said: “Woe to you! The Reward of Allah (in the Hereafter) is better for those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and this none shall attain except those who are patient (in following the truth).”

So We caused the earth to swallow him and his dwelling place. Then he had no group or party to help him against Allah, nor was he one of those who could save themselves.

And those who had desired (for a position like) his position the day before, began to say: “Know you not that it is Allah Who enlarges the provision or restricts it to whomsoever He pleases of His slaves. Had it not been that Allah was Gracious to us, He could have caused the earth to swallow us up (also)! Know you not that the disbelievers will never be successful.” [Surah al-Qasas, 28:76-82]

And He (The Most High) said:

“So We punished each (of them) for his sins, of them were some on whom We sent Hasiban (a violent wind with shower of stones) [as the people of Lout (Lot)], and of them were some who were overtaken by As-Saihah [torment – awful cry, etc. (as Thamud or Shu’aib’s people)], and of them were some whom We caused the earth to swallow [as Qarun (Korah)], and of them were some whom We drowned [as the people of Nuh (Noah), or Fir’aun (Pharaoh) and his people]. It was not Allah Who wronged them, but they wronged themselves.” [Surah al-‘Ankabut, 29:40]

Allah (The Most High) says:

“And if the people of the towns had believed and had the Taqwa (piety), certainly, We should have opened for them blessings from the heaven and the earth, but they belied (the Messengers). So We took them (with punishment) for what they used to earn (polytheism and crimes, etc.).” [Surah al-A’raf, 7:96]

Allah (Exalted be He) says concerning the people of the Book:

“And if only they had acted according to the Taurat (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel), and what has (now) been sent down to them from their Lord (the Quran), they would surely have gotten provision from above them and from underneath their feet.” [Surah al-Ma’idah, 5:66]

Allah (Exalted be He) also says:

“Did the people of the towns then feel secure against the coming of Our punishment by night while they were asleep? Or, did the people of the towns then feel secure against the coming of Our punishment in the forenoon while they were playing? Did they then feel secure against the Plan of Allah? None feels secure from the Plan of Allah except the people who are the losers.” [Surah al-A’raf, 7:97-99]

There is no doubt that what happens these days of earthquakes in many countries are of these portents that Allah (Exalted be He) brings to make His servant fear Him. All the earthquakes that happen in this world and other things that cause harm to people are because of Shirk and evil deeds.

Therefore, it is incumbent upon Muslims and others to repent to Allah (Glorified be He) and to observe Istiqamah (integrity) upon his religion. They have also to avoid all that He prohibits of Shirk and evil deeds in order to have well-being and salvation in this world and the hereafter and to safeguard themselves against any calamity and evil. They have also to do that so that Allah (Exalted be He) might grant them all goodness.

Ibn Al-Qayyim (may Allah be merciful to him) said: “Allah (Glorified be He) may sometimes permit the earth to breathe. Great earthquakes happen due to this breath. These earthquakes may cause people to fear Allah (Exalted be He), repent to Him, supplicate to Him, forsake sins and regret what they have done. Some of the Salaf (righteous predecessors) said when the earth was shaken: your Lord admonishes you.

‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) delivered a speech to admonish people when an earthquake happened in Al-Madinah and said: “If this happens again, I will not live among you in Madinah.” End of quote.

There are many narrations reported from the Salaf in this regard.

Therefore, we have to repent to Allah (Exalted be He) immediately on the occurrence of earthquakes, eclipses, fierce winds, and floods. We have also to supplicate to Him and ask Him to grant us well-being. Moreover, we must mention Him a lot and seek His forgiveness. As the Prophet (peace be upon him) said on observing Solar Eclipse: “If you see such thing (i.e. solar eclipse) hasten to remember Allah, supplicate to Him and beg forgiveness from Him.” [Narrated by al-Bukhari, 999; Muslim, 1518]

It is desirable also to show mercy to the poor and the needy and to give them charity. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Show mercy to others and surely you will be shown mercy.” [Narrated by Ahmad, 6255]

“The Compassionate One has mercy on those who are merciful. If you show mercy to those who are on the earth, He Who is in the heaven will show mercy to you.” [Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 1847]

He (peace be upon him) also said: “Whoever is not merciful to others will not be treated mercifully.” [Narrated by al-Bukhari, 5538; al-Tirmidhi, 1834]

It is reported that ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul-‘Aziz (may Allah be merciful to him) used to write to his employees if there were earthquakes telling them to give charity.

One of the causes of well-being and avoiding evil is the rulers fast punishment of evildoers and forcing them to follow the truth and Allah’s laws. They should also enjoin good and forbid evil as it is said by Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He):

“The believers, men and women, are Auliya’ (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another; they enjoin (on the people) Al-Ma’ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do), and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar (i.e. polytheism and disbelief of all kinds, and all that Islam has forbidden); they perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), and give the Zakat, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will have His Mercy on them. Surely Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.” [Surah at-Tawbah, 9:71]

Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) also says:

“Verily, Allah will help those who help His (Cause). Truly, Allah is All-Strong, All-Mighty. Those (Muslim rulers) who, if We give them power in the land, (they) enjoin Iqamat-as-Salat [i.e. to perform the five compulsory congregational Salat (prayers) (the males in mosques)], pay the Zakat and they enjoin Al-Ma’ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do), and forbid Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism and all that Islam has forbidden) [i.e. they make the Quran as the law of their country in all the spheres of life]. And with Allah rests the end of (all) matters (of creatures).” [Surah al-Hajj, 22:40-41]

Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) also says:

“And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him.” [Surah at-Talaq, 65:2-3]

There are many Ayahs (Quranic verses) in this regard. Moreover, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever fulfills the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs.” [Narrated by Al-Bukhari, 2262; Muslim, 4677]

He (peace be upon him) said: “He who removes from a believer one of his difficulties of this world, Allah will remove one of his troubles on the Day of Resurrection; and he who finds relief for a hard-pressed person, Allah will make things easy for him on the Day of Resurrection; he who covers up (the faults and sins) of a Muslim, Allah will cover up (his faults and sins) in this world and in the Hereafter. Allah supports His slave as long as the slave is supportive of his brother.” [Reported by Muslim in his Sahih, 4867.] There are also many Hadiths in this regard.

I ask Allah (Glorified be He) also to set right the affairs of all Muslims everywhere, grant them understanding of their religion and follow it strictly. We ask Him also to grant Muslims repentance to Him from all sins, set right the affairs of all Muslim leaders and use them in supporting the truth and overwhelming evil. We invoke Him to guide rulers to rule people according to Allah’s law and to safeguard them and all Muslims against misleading temptations and devilish insinuations. He is the Guardian of all these things and the only One who is able to achieve them.

Peace and blessings of Allah be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon his family, Companions and those who follow him with righteousness till the day of Judgment.

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