Acts of God  

Category: Faith & Spirituality, Featured Topics: Allah Views: 6046
6046

Whenever one signs a purchase contract for a new home, the builder makes sure it inserts a clause that absolves it from responsibility for "Acts of God." Thus, if the builder states that the closing date is December 15, but is then delayed due to "Acts of God," it is not responsible. Similarly, new home warranties explicitly exclude any damage caused by "Acts of God." The same goes with some insurance policies, although, in reality, practically the entire insurance industry exists to protect against damage due to "Acts of God."

"Acts of God" are perhaps the most frightening phenomenon for human beings, because humans have no power to prevent them. And being powerless is something we humans hate almost more than anything else. Modern Medicine tries everything possible to alter the course of disease, to prevent the devastating effects of disease. This is a noble cause, and I am blessed and privileged to be in that profession. Yet, some times, we physicians do more harm to patients when we try to intervene medically, when we try to stand in the way of "Acts of God." Trying to find the balance between knowing when to intervene and when not to intervene is a struggle physicians go through on a daily basis.

Recently the Midwestern section of the United States has been pummeled with storm after storm, producing dozens of tornadoes that have caused devastating damage. In Pierce City, Missouri, tornadoes destroyed buildings that probably can never be rebuilt, essentially destroying the city, in ten seconds. In Algeria the worst earthquake in two decades killed more than 1,600 people and left thousands of others injured or homeless.

For people facing such Acts of God is a terrifying experience and a feeling of utter powerlessness and we humans hate feeling powerless.  

And that is exactly the point of Acts of God. They remind us of our utter powerlessness before God. It is difficult to imagine the pain and torment of the people in the Midwest who were victims of the severe weather or the people in Algeria who were the victim of the devastating earthquake. Nevertheless, we should stop and reflect upon these situations when we see them happen before our eyes.

We live in a time of, in the West at least, unprecedented life expectancy, technological advances, global dominance, and prosperity. We can wage war with precision so as to minimize (supposedly) loss of civilian life. I have seen people "come back" from the brink of death with a relatively small amount of fluids and antibiotics. It almost seems as if modern Medicine has succeeded in cheating Death. Although the recent bout of severe weather has caused significant damage, weather predicting technology has become so advanced that early warning of severe weather is the norm. No doubt, this early warning has saved countless lives.

All this prosperity and ability can easily lead us to become arrogant and make us think we are in no need for God at all. God told us this much in the Quran: "Nay, mankind does transgress all bounds in that he looks upon himself as self-sufficient" (Quran 96:6-7). Now of course, I can't speak for God and speculate why such "Acts of God" occur. That is beyond my realm. Yet, I know that they always serve to remind me who is really in charge.

On the night of frightful storms that passed through the metropolitan Chicago area on May 10, what kept me from panicking was constant prayers to God for protection. It seems that many of us usually remember God in difficult or fearful times. The challenge is to remember God at all times, even when the going is great.

 Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Chicago physician and columnist for the Independent Writers Syndicate. He is author of "Why I Love the Ten Commandments," published in the Book Taking Back Islam: American Muslims Reclaim Their Faith (Rodale).

 


  Category: Faith & Spirituality, Featured
  Topics: Allah
Views: 6046

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Older Comments:
YAHYA BERGUM FROM USA said:
Fairwell, Dr. Hollifield. Take care and be sure to enjoy yourself. It is Allah to whom we return.
2003-07-17

KING FROM UK said:
I see Michael Hollifield is still trolling Muslim websites claiming that his "challenges" are going "unanswered." The "challenge" ofcourse is that Muslims do not fit that cardboard cut out stereotype of his. He also harbors the all too common definition of "semite" as Jews only....
I dealt with Mr. Hollifield at iviews.com where he himself disappeared from a certain thread titled "crusade vs jihad," only to post in an entirely different thread claiming he wasnt attended too. For my utter non-adherance to his racist and condescending views on Islam and Muslims I was labelled the all too ferocious title of "e-mujahideen." Its safe to say he doesnt take too kindly to uppity brown folk who disagree with his uninformed views.
Muslims in the US need to rethink priorities before rushing to the Left, as rabid bigotry is not a characteristic of the Right exclusively as Hollifield continues to demonstrate.
2003-06-01

ABDUR RAZZAQ FROM USA said:
As Salaamu Alaikum
In the words of our Shaikh-Nasser Ad-Deen al-Albanee: For the antagonistic kuffar and munafiquun " May allah either guide them, or shatter their bacbone". I thank Allah for making us better than arrogant fools who believe verbose language and misguided quotes provide more insight into this life than His Book and the Sunnah of His Messenger. May we all remain steadfast in our faith as we realize Allah's victory, and let us not allow people to shake our faith. May we all hold firmly to the Book of Allah and continue to assist one another as we travel through this dunya.
And let us make du'aa for our brothers and sisters in Algeria.
2003-05-29

AMINA ABAWI FROM GUAM US said:
A good reminder to all muslims, specially those, who live in comfort of affluent societies. Jazzakumallakhair. sister in Islam.
2003-05-29

MICHAEL HOLLIFIELD FROM US said:
To Mr. Razzaq,

Once again, as I expected, no response at all, especially after I hammered your last comments into oblivion. In any event, my previous postings were actually meant to be my last session with this website. I didn't intend to waste any more of my time with someone who cannot offer a relevant response, remain focused on an issue, justify a single assertion that they make, give an argument, nor even put together a coherent paragraph. (I initially thought that you were from another country because of your poor language skills. Catholics usually do a better a job educating their students with respect to grammar and clarity of expression.) If you are content to have beliefs that you are incapable of rationally defending, then so much the worse for you, and the many other religious people that are in the same position. Faith without reason is a comfortable position for many.

However, your "arguments" and those of others that appeared here served some pedagogical
purposes. They illustrated the persistence of the "pre-critical" attitude among Muslims that was
described by an Islamic academic in one of my earlier postings. They were interesting to my
students, who have little difficulty in following arguments, avoiding fallacies, and recognizing
obvious points. Their reaction ranged from amusement, perplexity, to simply being aghast at the dogmatism of people in these posts, and being horrified at your overt defense of male chauvinism. I did no more than let them read the actual words, they are rational enough make their own judgments regarding Islam and his adherents. And my close friends, at the CDC, who are real scientists, also found your comments to be a source of great amusement (and wondered aloud, as did I, where you learned science.)

So, we go our separate ways, though there is no "other side" for us to meet again. And there is no need to respond as I have no intention of
revisiting this Website after today.
2003-05-29

ABDUR RAZZAQ FROM USA said:
M. Hollifield: Eventhough King served you well I will say in conclusion that I too, like Dr. Hessaballa, work for in the field of medicine, for one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies. In doing research here, I know what I do will, God willing, assist all of humanity and I am grateful for that opportunity. I treat with kindness and respect all peoples, regardless of faith or any other pretense, unless they the show hatred and hostility towards me or my faith. And even then Allah has blessed me with extreme patience to handle those situations. I was not born and bred in an anti-modern, Islamic society. Philly, and America, are chauvinistic, however, and I went to Catholic school for 12 years. So that shoots down your claim of my inborn, or traditionally, backward Islamic upbringing. Like I told you before don't waste my time, and stop defending the lack of morality in this country. No the country is not all evil, and I did not say or hint at that. This country does a lot of good worldwide and its inhabitants are, for the most part, good natured (even you I guess). But again, please, stop wasting my time.
2003-05-28

MICHAEL HOLLIFIELD FROM US said:
This article clearly illustrates the intellectually servile attitude that one must maintain in order to believe that the presence of pain, death, and suffering is not a serious problem for rationally consistency within religious belief. Of course, we cannot question, reason, or think for ourselves, for that would amount to "speaking for God" and that "is beyond my realm." Instead Muslims must retreat into the sanctuary of ignorance and deny that a problem exists, a problem that strikes at the very heart of religious belief.

The real "challenge" in the face of evil is not to "remember God," but to provide an argument for why anyone not brought up to believe these fantasies and illusions, would accept the central tenets of monotheism, or why anyone should continue to accept them.

But I suppose that to raise these kinds of justificatory questions is to encounter the threat of God's omnipotence and suffer the consequences. As today's nugget of wisdom posted at the top of the web page states: O' Prophet! Fear Allah, and hearken not to the Unbelievers and the Hypocrites: verily Allah is full of Knowledge and Wisdom. al-Qur'an 33:1. Another great example of appeal to force or fear. God, who "is in charge" coerces human intellect into
submission as we saw in the most egregious example in God's response to Job's audacity to
question the suffering that was visited upon him.

The French philosophe, Denis Diderot, wrote: ''Wandering in a vast forest at night, I have only a faint light to guide me. A stranger appears and says to me: 'My friend, you should blow out your candle in order to find your way more clearly.' The stranger is a theologian.''


2003-05-28

MICHAEL HOLLIFIELD FROM US said:
But shaking someone's hand when it is offered, is an act of respect in this culture, and the refusal to do so shows a lack of respect to the other person. The point is that religions can divide as well as unite.(Read the wonderfully tolerant quotation from the Koran appearing at the top of this web page today.) And this episode demonstrates how reactionary and incompatible with Western values Islam can be. (And similarly with Orthodox Judaism which endorses the same practice.)

Only someone brought up in an anti-modern, chauvinistic religion would attempt to defend polygamy by invoking statistics concerning adultery. And allowing men to have four wives to satisfy their promiscuous desires (Mohammed made himself a convenient exception with his nine or more) makes "monogamy" a bit easier I suppose. Each time you broach this subject you only further manifest the depths of Islamic sexism.

So, Mr. Razzaq, I have no regrets in reading that you are "planning on leaving this country when I feel as though I have benefitted myself and the Muslim community to the best of my ability."

I did notice that you didn't say that you benefitting the country, its democracy, or its non-Islamic citizens. And that is probably not an accident.
2003-05-28

MICHAEL HOLLIFIELD FROM UD said:
Sure, not all is perfect here as there are serious social injustices that as a social democrat I have engaged with my entire
adult life. And I prefer life in Europe, or in Australia, where I once lived. But people aren't exactly beating down the doors of the immigration offices in the Middle East are they?

Much more can be said about all of this. But in the end, Muslims lose this argument, they know it, resent it, and that is what motivates these churlish and childish attacks on Western values and societies, especially the sexual freedom permitted to women, that is such an offense to the chauvinist masculinity of Muslims that they cannot bear it. (We saw the high point, or rather low point in Nigeria's Muslim response to some remarks about a beauty pageant. So offensive that it warranted killing people.)

I will take the values and consequences of life in a liberal society any day over the brutal segregation, oppression, and domination of women that exists in Islamic countries because they follow Islam. And I doubt many women in the West would ever exchange their freedoms for the social position of women in Islamic countries. Only someone brainwashed into this religious ideology would do so. I reminded of an episode reported in the Boston Globe by Ellen Goodman and also occurred here in Atlanta. Shortly after 9/11, as with the "Day of Prayer" in Washington Cathedral many people from different religious faiths appeared together for purposes of unity and to head off acrimony towards Muslims. A schoolteacher in a gesture of goodwill approached one of the Muslim clerics afterwards to shake his hand and to express her belief that Islam had nothing to do with 9/11. His response was "my religion does not permit me to shake the hand of a woman." Yes, all religions proscribe certain forms of physical contact between men and women as do most nonreligious ethics. (continued)
2003-05-28

MICHAEL HOLLIFIELD FROM US said:
Regarding Mr. Razzaq's sociological comparisons.

I live in Atlanta, but you didn't make a specific claim regarding the social conditions of people, nor give any kind of argument for any kind of conclusion. And, of course, there are volumes of analysis in sociology regarding the causes of poverty, which also exists among whites in Appalachia.

But consider these more relevant facts: Western societies (and Japan which has adopted Western
liberal values) have the highest educational levels and the best health care systems in the
world. The major discoveries in science, most basic research, developments in medicine and
technology, and contributions to human knowledge come overwhelmingly from Western universities. The quality of graduate education draws international students predominately to American universities. The citizens of the West have the longest life spans, highest overall standards of living and are rated by the U.N. and WHO as having the highest quality of life. According to numerous studies of subjective well-being Western citizens are, in general, the happiest in the world, and enjoy the greatest range of political freedoms and personal choice. Islamic countries,especially those in the Middle East, have low levels of education, shorter life spans, poorer public health, lower standards of living, higher unemployment rates, few democracies, many monarchies and/or dictatorships,little freedom for religious minorities, little freedom of speech, gender apartheid, and populations
generally dissatisfied with their lives, especially among the huge populations of young people. And despite the promises of an afterlife. Why do people from the Middle East flood into Europe? Why does the United States have more applicants for immigration than all countries combined? Mostly for the economic opportunities but also for the political freedoms that are sadly lacking in the Muslim world. (continued)
2003-05-28

MICHAEL HOLLIFIELD FROM US said:
All the evidence we have regarding life points to biological death as the complete end of life. What motivates people to believe that there is some sort of disembodied existence after our death is wishful thinking, fear of death, and,
understandably, hope. But note that these are all subjective emotional states and can hardly
provide evidence for such a robust claim as immortality or an afterlife. The presence of evil in the world, especially the quantity experienced daily by so many people, is incompatible with the claim that a benevolent, all powerful being, brought this world into existence. All of the philosophical attempts to prove God's existence over centuries of effort with the ontological, cosmological, and teleological arguments have come to naught. And many of the claims of monotheism are proving impossible to reconcile with scientific knowledge.

I don't have to "disprove" the existence of God. These considerations, when elaborated, are sufficient to support my claim that it is most
unlikely that God exists. Just as unlikely as the invisible, intangible, elephant that I can't "prove" doesn't exist in my room. The ball is back in your court, unless you have forfeited the match. But I have more to say in the next post about your disconnected sociological claims and what you seem to think they show.
2003-05-28

MICHAEL HOLLIFIELD FROM US said:
Similarly, appeals to the lack of human intellectual capacities cannot constitute evidence for the existence of God. This is merely another widely used fallacious device to insulate the belief in God from rational criticism by simply asserting that he is "beyond human understanding." The question, to begin with, is why believe that such an entity exists? How does appealing to human limitations provide any evidence for the plausibility of such a grand metaphysical thesis as the existence of an all powerful, all knowing, creator? I don't doubt the sincerity of the many who make this argument, but it begs the question. Your remarks also remind me of the accusation of "intellectual pride" directed by Catholics at those who have the audacity to use their rational capacities to critically assess the plausibility of belief in God. Given Mr.Razzaq is studying science I wonder why he bothers. Why use a "feeble" human mind to try to learn about anything? Or why place arbitrary limits (or self-serving limits for the religious believer) such as it is acceptable to critically investigate the natural world, but God is off limits. A bit of inconsistency is inevitably the result of trying to use reason to argue against reason.

We can proceed on the practical assumption that the universe as a whole is intelligible through
reason and empirical investigation. We may have only gotten a good start and have much to learn,
but we will learn nothing as long as we view ourselves as "feeble minded" creatures who have to
defer to some supposed inscrutable mysterious divine being. All the evidence we have regarding
life points to biological death as the complete end of life.

Continued.
2003-05-28

MICHAEL HOLLIFIELD FROM US said:
Suppose that it is a fact that a conclusive disproof of God's existence is unavailable. Nothing follows from this regarding the truth of the claim that God exists. How can a state of ignorance,or lack of proof, provide evidence for the truth of the statement that "God exists?" To argue that the absence of a disproof constitutes evidence for a claim is to commit the argument from ignorance fallacy. A stock illustrative example is: Can you prove that ghosts do not exist? No. Then I conclude that ghosts do exist. Now just substitute "God" for "ghosts" and we have the argument that I think Mr. Razzaq intends, and it is obvious that it fails to show anything. Here is another, more subtle example that I sometimes use in my classes. "To ignore the possibility that America was discovered by Africans because these explorers are "unknown" is irresponsible and arrogant. If we are unaware of an event, does that mean that it never happened? (Andrew J.Perren, "To Search for Truth," New York Times, 16 November 1990) No, it does not, but the burden of proof is upon Mr. Perren to provide evidence for the truth of his statements.

If this move were allowable, then anyone could make up virtually anything and claim it to be true, without giving an argument or any evidence. Can you prove that there is not an invisible, intangible, elephant in this room? No. Then there is an invisible, intangible elephant in this room. Does my inability to disprove someone else's claim that there is such an entity in the room provide evidence for the truth of that claim? No, it doesn't and neither would my ability or inability to provide a "disproof" for God's existence constitute an argument that God does exist. (Here I would ask you and any readers to examine any logic text for the terms "burden of proof" and "appeal to ignorance" fallacy and you will likely find discussions of variations of Mr. Razzaq's argument.)

continued next post
2003-05-28

MICHAEL HOLLIFIELD FROM US said:
To Mr. Razzaq,
This is my response to your last set of comments. Firstly, philosophy, as one of the oldest forms
of human thought and inquiry, requires no defense, and I don't take mischaracterizations of it by uninformed detractors seriously. But a couple of remarks of clarification are still in order. Philosophy is a rigorous, conceptual discipline, not an empirical science, though philosophical theses and arguments are appropriately informed by the results of science. Unlike your theological statements which you have "justified" by emotion, feeling, fancy, and name calling, I expect rational argument, logical consistency, and empirical evidence for testing the truth of statements. Disparaging philosophy and denigrating reason can hardly be of assistance in showing that God exists.

In my first posting I invited anyone to provide an argument for the central tenets of Islamic
monotheism that would be acceptable to a rational, objective, person who had not been already indoctrinated into the religion. (Something no reader here has seriously attempted to do.) Your challenge to prove that God does not exist or that there is no afterlife is an illegitimate attempt to shift the burden of argumentative proof back to me. The burden of proof regarding existential claims (claims that something exists or an event has occurred) is normally upon the person who makes the claim. If one says that God exists (or ghosts, devils, or an afterlife, or spirits, or at one time quarks) then the burden of proof is upon them to provide some reason for accepting that claim. Other things being equal, the burden of proof with respect to controversial claims falls
automatically on those supporting the affirmative side of an issue rather than on those supporting
the negative side. In other words, we generally want to hear reasons why something is the case
before we require reasons why it is not the case.

Continued in the next post.
2003-05-28

ASHIF AZAM FROM AUSTRALIA said:
Sign after sign after sign and still some people fail to understand that there is a higher power, and much respect due to him.

Excellent article, really enjoyed it.
2003-05-28

AAMIR FROM CANADA said:
Everything that happens in the Will of God:

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Mercifull
"And with Him are the keys of the unseen treasures-- none knows them but He; and He knows what is in the land and the sea, and there falls not a leaf but He knows it, nor a grain in the darkness of the earth, nor anything green nor dry but (it is all) in a clear book." (Holy Qur'an, 6:59)

The Prophet Muhammad, may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

"And know that if the whole world were to join hands in order to benefit you with something, they couldn't benefit you except by what Allah already wrote for you. And if they join together to harm you, they wouldn't be able to harm except what Allah has ordained or you. The pens are lifted and the ink has dried on the pages (of the Preserved Tablet)." (Tirmidhi)

So you see, everything is an "Act of God." It seems that, in your article, "Acts of God" refers to natural disasters.
2003-05-28

LOUAY GUZLAN FROM USA said:
Thank you DR for your high class approach to your subject. I enjoyed reading your article tremendously.
2003-05-27

MEBROCKY FROM USA said:
Wonderful article! The author says,"All this prosperity and ability can easily lead us to become arrogant and make us think we are in no need for God at all." How true! The terrible political problems we all face are acts of men who have completely forgotten, or ignored the central message that God has sent us. All of the great religions have a version of the "golden rule" - treat your fellow man as you would like to be treated. Anything we do as humans that is done ,"in God's name", or in the name of any religion, should never, EVER, be something that would harm another human being.
2003-05-27

YOUNUS FROM USA said:
Allain Jean-Mairet, i believe YOU are delusional and confused. You acknowledge God, but not His Religion, His Books, or His Prophets. Why would The Divine put you on this planet without guidance? Islam is that guidance. Islam DOES give you a direct relationship with God (that's what distinguishes it from other religions and makes it the True Path). Islam gives the proper way to reach God and His bounty. Don't ignore this fact.

May God help you, me and all others searching for the truth

ameen
2003-05-27

ALAIN JEAN-MAIRET FROM CH said:
The challenge is not to remember, it is to live, to make the divine living in our perceptions. The challenge is to put our conscience to the test, and not our memory. Memories of prayers, of miracles, of images of what God is supposed to be are but obstacles on that path. I strongly doubt one can have in the same time a religion and a true contact with God. If you love God, with a clear mind, you'll abandon cults and religions as being the results of past lies. Nothing from the past can help you to find God in your present or in your future, not even the most wonderful testimonies, not even the most beautiful words. God is reached directly only. The rest is delusion. Using delusion instead of the real thing is easier, more instantly reassuring, more socially gratifying too, but it leads you nowhere near God.
2003-05-27

AKHTAR H. EMON FROM USA said:
Do Muslims Worship the Same God ?
---------------------------------
By: Akhtar H. Emon

A misconception seems to have captivated the minds of many people that Muslims worship
a God other than theirs. This misunderstanding is quite prevalent amongst Western societies.
However, Qur'an is very clear on this subject - A Verse addressed to the entire mankind proclaims:

"Your God is One God, there is no God but He; the Merciful, the Compassionate" (Qur'an 2:163).

The Arabic equivalent of God is Allah, which is also the same word in Aramaic, spoken
by Jesus. Allah means "One and Only worthy of worship". This noun has neither a plural
nor it has any gender associated with it. The center-piece of this description is that Allah
is the Creator of the universe and life. The Sovereignty belongs to Him alone.

If we observe the constant operation of this universe, and reflect on it rationally, we will find signs, for example, in the creation of the heavens and earth, and in constant alternation of night and day to convince us that this entire system is absolutely subservient to the Will of the Omnipotent and Wise Being, Who alone wields all power and authority.

So, brushing the semantics aside, the Qur'an urges mankind to focus on the substance: "Whether
they are the ones who believe (in Qur'an), or whether they are Jews, Christians or Sabians - all
who believe in Allah (God) and the Last day of Judgment, and do righteous deeds - their reward
is surely secure with their Lord ...." (Qur'an 2:62).

Since this One True God, Allah, is the Lord of all creation and none else is in possession of any
power or authority, none is entitled to any share in His Godhead or Lordship. There are certain
attributes that belong exclusively to God as well as certain rights that God alone may claim:
"Your Lord is One God, so submit to Him alone ...." (Qur'an 22:34).

His creatures should prostrate before Him alone as their Sovereign.
2003-05-25