Common Word, Common Lord

In the Name of God, The Extremely and Endlessly Loving and Caring

Here we go again. It appears that tropical storm Maria is likely to become a hurricane and ravage the very same islands which her cousin Irma attacked just a few weeks before. And the very same islands, which already lost dozens of lives from Irma, are at risk of further damage and loss of life. It is still too early to know if Maria will threaten the mainland United States.

No one ever wants to face a hurricane, or any other natural disaster. I would not wish it on anyone, and the images of the devastation wrought by Irma and Harvey were terribly heartbreaking. At the same time, these disasters present humanity with a choice: do we let our altruism shine, or do we look the other way with callous disregard?

Herein lies the “opportunity” of a hurricane, and thankfully, humanity has shown itself to be able to rise to the challenge.

The stories of people helping each other in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma abound. In Houston, when other houses of worship were closed, the mosques of Greater Houston opened up their doorsfor the victims of Harvey. The same goes for Hurricane Irma, where Muslim groups were among many who helped tend to those affected by the storm. In Atlanta, a number of mosques served as shelters for those fleeing the wrath of Irma.

We live in a time where there is war being waged across the world. There is a full-on ethnic-cleansing campaign of Muslims in Myanmar. And, unfortunately, extremist savages continue to attack innocent civilians. All this makes it easy to become pessimistic about the fate of humanity.

The Quran tells the story of the angels who asked God, when He announced he was creating our father Adam, why he would make someone who:

will spread corruption on [the earth] and shed blood? (2:30)

Unfortunately, throughout human history, we have been true to this prediction of the angels.

Yet, situations like the hurricanes of late summer 2017 show ourselves, and our Creator, the beautiful potential of humanity. The numerous stories of people putting themselves at risk to help complete strangers is truly heartwarming. And it reminds me that, if we simply resist the selfish part of our nature, we can rise to the occasion and become better than even the angels.

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