Sunday, 2 September 2012

The Wrath of God on Mankind

In one of the military expeditions headed by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to the Roman Empire, the Muslim army passed through the City of Petra. They were very thirsty, yet the Prophet forbade them from drinking from the spring. The Prophet specifically told them that this ancient city was cursed by God. In the Old Testament, it is commonly believed that the initial people of the cave-dwellers of the City of Petra were the Horites (Genesis 14:6) who were eventually replaced by the Edomites (Genesis 36), descendants of the brother of Jacob (PBUH). Even the Israelites headed by Moses (PBUH) during their exodus passed through this city in around 1445 BC. Obaidah and Jeremiah (PBUH) (Jeremiah 49:16-18) prophesied that the city would be powerless and uninhabited due to the arrogance of the dwellers. True enough, the city was soon destroyed by a large earthquake.

The arrogance of the Pharaoh during the time of Moses was another reason for its massive military destruction. When crossing the sea in pursuit of Moses and his followers, God’s people safely crossed the dry sea bed, but the Pharaoh’s army was destroyed when water overwhelmed them and not one of them survived. Many times and in many ways God had been kind to the Pharaoh - by giving him plenty of opportunities to repent and to appreciate the things which were bestowed to his rich kingdom. Then God sent plagues, killed all their male firstborns, created famines for many years through the invasion of the locusts on the crop, yet the Pharaoh stood his ground. Such arrogance was humbled finally in the Book of Exodus through the destruction of his army. Nonewithstanding, inspite of all the miracles performed by God, the followers of Moses still betrayed him in the wilderness by creating a calf’s idol to worship when Moses went to Mount Sinai to receive the revelations from God through angel Gabriel. These are the peoples of the prophetic time who had such demeanor!

Perhaps of grave consequence were the cities located near the Dead Sea commonly known as Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19-22) which were well known for their association with sins of the heart and those of the flesh. Lot (PBUH) had chosen to live in Sodom due to its good grazing ground for his flocks. God sent angels to Prophet Abraham (PBUH) to inform him of the great sins committed by the peoples there. Abraham, through his kindness, asked the angels to spare the cities if there was even one inhabitant who was righteous. God Most Gracious agreed to his request, but the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were so well described in the Revealed Books to have been destroyed with fire and brimstone. It took the life of Lot’s wife when she looked back. It is quite obvious from the account of Abraham that there was not a single righteous person left in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Let us observe what have been mentioned about the two cities:

In the Old Testament (Ezekiel 16:48-50), God spoke about the arrogance of the dwellers of the cities, who did not bother to help the poor and the needy and they did detestable things before God. The Books of Isaiah in the Old Testament associated the cities with grave sins which even the dwellers were no longer ashamed of. The Books of Jeremiah associated the cities with deceits and adulteries of many kinds. In the New Testament, the Books of Luke depicted the cities as a place where careless living took place, and whose inhabitants held an indifferent attitude. The Books of 2 Peter refer to the cities as a place where the ungodly lived.

In the Quranic text, the Verses of Hud (Surah 11) has a major focus on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah where Lot (a nephew of Abraham) was sent to warn the peoples of the need to turn away from their evil acts. Surah Al-A'raf (Surah 7) confirms the Revealed Books' account of Sodom and Gomorrah as well. The Quran also specifically gives an account of the cities of 'Ad and Thamud (Al-Haqqah, Surah 69: 4-8). Although these cities were not mentioned in other Revealed Books (possibly due to its location somewhere in new Yemen), grave destruction took place there. Hud (PBUH) was sent to the people of 'Ad. God destroyed the disbelievers of 'Ad by violent wind but saved the believers at the same time. A similar event took place when Saleh (PBUH) was sent to the people of Thamud. The Quran refers to the nation of Thamud to be a nation after 'Ad. The peoples of 'Ad were infamous for their transgression. And for this reason and for their practice of idolatry, they were destroyed.

There are many more of such accounts in the Revealed Books although of lesser prophetic scale. In the current context, which I don’t see as being much different from the ancient times, mankind is constantly challenging God through their actions, be they believers or otherwise. All the Revealed Books show that mankind will choose not to believe even when they are shown the might of God. The lack of appreciation and the arrogance of mankind are the major attributes of such demeanor. No wonder, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) warned his followers that acts of jealousy, egos, and arrogance are not of the dwellers of Paradise. Now I truly understand what he meant by observing what mankind has done to deserve massive destruction from God.

When God chooses to exert His power, no one can be spared and no one can overcome what has been pre-ordained. I am humbled by the might and the wrath of God when He decides to show mankind of their folly. Let us look back and think if there is any difference between those days and today. I dare say that mankind is still challenging God without fear and remorse.

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