Wednesday, 15 Jumada al-awwal 1445 | 2023/11/29
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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 News Right Now: The Blame Game

Not one but two disasters have struck the Muslim world! The earthquake in Morocco and then three days later the devastating flooding in Libya. In Morocco at least 2,900 people are known to have died and 5,500 have been injured by the 6.8 magnitude earthquake which struck Oukaïmedene, a rural area in the Atlas Mountains 50 miles southwest of Marrakesh. The hilltop villages were reduced to rubble as the quake struck soon after 11pm when many people, especially children were sleeping. It was followed by an aftershock of 4.9 just twenty minutes later causing disruption to the rescue efforts.

Three days later, Eastern Libya was hit by Storm Daniel, a Mediterranean cyclone, which dumped as much as a meter of rainfall in a single day - almost three times more than the region sees in a typical year!. The port city of Derna which sits at the end of a long wadi, or valley is protected by two Dams known as the Al Bilad Dam and the Abu Mansour Dam. However the torrential rains caused both aging dams to collapse, creating waves over 20 meters high and sending 30 million cubic meters of water down a river that runs through the city’s center, erasing entire neighborhoods. Some 11,300 people are currently believed to have died, but this number is rising and it’s speculated that up to 30,000 people may have lost their lives, and that at least 38,000 residents of the area have been displaced.

We offer our sincerest condolences to all the families affected in this tragedy and pray for their utmost security and ease in the time that follows. Likewise we pray the dead are granted the status of shaheed inshaAllah, as is promised by Allah az wa jal for those killed by drowning.

Reported by Jabir ibn ‘Atik:

«الشَّهَادَةُ سَبْعٌ سِوَى الْقَتْلِ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ الْمَطْعُونُ شَهِيدٌ وَالْغَرِقُ شَهِيدٌ وَصَاحِبُ ذَاتِ الْجَنْبِ شَهِيدٌ وَالْمَبْطُونُ شَهِيدٌ وَصَاحِبُ الْحَرِيقِ شَهِيدٌ وَالَّذِي يَمُوتُ تَحْتَ الْهَدْمِ شَهِيدٌ وَالْمَرْأَةُ تَمُوتُ بِجُمْعٍ شَهِيدٌ»

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “There are seven martyrs besides one who is killed in the way of Allah: the victim of plague is a martyr, the one who drowns is a martyr, the one who dies of chest pain is a martyr, the one who dies of stomach infection is a martyr, the one who burns to death is a martyr, the one who dies under rubble is a martyr, and the pregnant woman who dies in labor is a martyr.”
Source: Sunan Abī Dāwūd 3111. Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Arna’ut.

As Muslims we must clearly recognise that this disaster occurred by the might and will of Allah (swt), and that both the displacement of people and the high death toll is from His (swt’s) Divine plan and Great wisdom. Also that despite the suffering and pain, there is inevitably much mercy and good in these incidents as well.

In Surah At Taghabun Aya 11:

[مَاۤ اَصَابَ مِنۡ مُّصِيۡبَةٍ اِلَّا بِاِذۡنِ اللّٰهِ​ؕ وَمَنۡ يُّؤۡمِنۡۢ بِاللّٰهِ يَهۡدِ قَلۡبَهٗ​ؕ وَاللّٰهُ بِكُلِّ شَىۡءٍ عَلِيۡمٌ‏]

Allah (swt) reminds us that, “No disaster strikes except by permission of Allāh. And whoever believes in Allāh - He will guide his heart. And Allāh is Knowing of all things”.

Likewise Al-Hasan Al-Basri said: “Do not resent the calamities that come and the disasters that occur for perhaps in something you dislike will be your salvation, and perhaps in something that you prefer will be your doom”.

Also, narrated by Umm Salamah RA, the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:

«مَا مِنْ مُسْلِمٍ يُصَابُ بِمُصِيبَةٍ فَيَفْزَعُ إِلَى مَا أَمَرَ اللَّهُ بِهِ مِنْ قَوْلِهِ: إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ اللَّهُمَّ عِنْدَكَ احْتَسَبْتُ مُصِيبَتِي فَأْجُرْنِي فِيهَا وَعُضْنِي مِنْهَا - إِلاَّ آجَرَهُ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهَا وَعَاضَهُ خَيْرًا مِنْهَا»

“There is no Muslim who is stricken with a calamity and says what Allah has enjoined – ‘Verily to Allah we belong and unto Him is our return. O Allah, reward me for my affliction and compensate me with something better’ – but Allah will compensate him with something better”.

As such, for the people of Morocco and Libya this trial is foremost one of patience, reliance, acceptance and deep trust in Allah (swt's) plan. However it does not mean anyone within or far beyond these borders should turn a blind eye to the economic stagnation of a country that results in the neglect of vital infrastructure and public service industries. Both the dams in Libya were made in the early 1970’s and suffered decades of neglect by officials who knew the dams needed repairs.

Abdelwanees Ashoor, a hydraulic engineer at Omar Al-Mukhtar University in Libya, warned that the hydrologic design of the dams was inadequate. In a paper he published in 2022 he wrote, “the residents of Derna are extremely vulnerable to flood risk,” warning that “it would not require a storm of biblical proportions to overwhelm the dams”. Having lost several members of his own extended family this week he said, “we’re living in shock, we can’t absorb what’s happening to us, the state wasn’t interested in this. Instead, they guzzled money, practiced corruption and fought political squabbles”.

Professor Ashoor’s sentiments are based on a 2021 report by a Libyan state run audit agency, whereby more than $2.3 million was allocated for the maintenance of the two dams – but was simply never used. Even Libya’s Tripoli based Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah couldn’t deny the plethora of misdemeanors and endemic corruption around the maintenance, admitting in a Cabinet meeting, “the state of the dams had not been addressed for decades, and now we have discovered through documents from the Ministry of Planning, that we have contracts and maintenance agreements, but they have not been utilized”.

Libya, Morocco and all the Muslim lands are in dire need of a political system that will be systemically invested in prioritizing the needs and welfare of the people, whilst rooting out neglect and corruption. This said, it isn’t an unreasonable suggestion or an untenable thesis to support the idea of Islamic Shari solutions for Muslim countries as an alternative to the political chaos that has gripped regions like Libya and Iraq since the horrific events and disastrous consequences of the US led War on Terror.

So in light of this, the heavy accountability of the rulers to establish security and the well-being of all citizens is best achieved through domestic policies extracted from the Fiqh and Shari rulings related to zakat, welfare, land regeneration, privatization and the ownership of essential public utilities. Inevitably this is how Allah (swt) has intended ease for the believers, whereby the implementation of Islamic Shari rules hold our governors to account in both worlds, thereby facilitating ease and safety for all InshaAllah.

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