Mankind faces misery and suffering through natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, avalanches, floods, etc. People of faith believe that these are a consequence of God's wrath or anger at humans who committed sins. Sometimes this type of reasoning is not valid because many times innocent and pious people also get killed or suffer. Only God (Allah) knows the true reason.
The recent Hurricane Hugo which struck at the Southeastern United States resulted in a loss of about one billion dollars in September 1989. Here the author would like to present the Qur'anic and scientific views on Hurricanes.
In Surah 77 (Mursalat) of the Qur'an we read:
"By the (Winds) Sent Forth One after another (to man's profit);
Which then blow violently
In tempestuous Gusts (Hurricanes),
And scatter (things) far & wide
Then separate them
One from another
Then spread abroad a Message, —Verses: 1-5
Abdullah Yusuf Ali believes this is a' highly mystical Surah. In note 5864 he writes, "Understanding the reference to Winds, we can see that they are powerful factors in the government of the physical world.
(1) They come gently as harbingers of the blessings of rain and fertility; but
(2) they can come as violent tornadoes, uprooting and destroying;
(3) they can scatter seeds far and wide, and
(4) they can separate chaff from grain, or clear the air from epidemics; and
(5) They literally carry sound, and therefore Messages, and metaphorically they are instrumental in making God's Revelation accessible to hearers, whether by way of justification or repentance for the Penitent, or warning for unrepentant Sinners. All these things point to the power and goodness of God, and we are asked to believe that His promise of Mercy and Justice in the Hereafter is indeed true."
In another verse, the Qur'an says:
"Among His Signs is this
That he sends the Winds
As herald of Glad Tidings,
Giving you a taste
Of His (Grace, and) Mercy
That the ships may sail
(Majestically) by His Command
And that ye may seek Of His Bounty: in order
That ye may be Grateful."
Surah Rum (30):46
A. Yusuf Ali in note 3565 explains, "In the physical world, the winds 'not only cool and purify the air, and bring the blessings of rain, which fertilize the soil, but they help international commerce and intercourse among men through seaways and now by air-ways. Those who know how to take advantage of these blessings of God prosper and rejoice, while those who ignore or fail to understand these Signs perish in storms. So in spiritual world: heralds of glad tidings were sent by God in the shape of apostles: those who profited by their Message prospered in spiritual gain and those who ignored or opposed the clear Signs perished spiritually."
Allah (SWT) mentions the benefits of winds as His Mercy and Bounty to mankind. Are there any benefits to mankind from gusty Windsor Hurricanes? As human beings we know that. Gusty winds or hurricanes always bring havoc and destruction to humans and their material goods. This seemingly paradox statement can be explained in the context of Islamic history as one example of the benefits.
In A.H. 5 (Islamic calendar) there was the fateful struggle of the Siege of Medina. The confederate forces of Abu Sufyan (Qureysh). Bani Nadir (a Jewish tribe) and desert tribe of Ghatafan, consisting of ten to twelve thousand Fighting men came to destroy the Muslims at Medina. This battle is popularly known as the Battle of the Trench (Khandaq). The case of the Muslims seemed, humanly speaking, hopeless, because the Muslims were only 3,000 and they were outnumbered by a factor of more than 3 to 4. How the Muslims won this battle of the Trench is revealed in the following verse:
"O Ye who believe!
Remember the Grace of God
(Bestowed) on you, when
There came down on you
Hosts (to overwhelm you):
But We sent against them
A Hurricane and forces
That ye saw not:
But God sees (clearly)
All that ye do."
Surah AHZAB (33): 9
Yusuf Ali explains in his note 3680. "After a close investment of two to four weeks, during which the enemy was disheartened by their ill success. There was a piercing blast of the cold east wind. It was a severe winter, and February can he a very cold month in Medina, which is about 3,000 feet above the sea level. The Fierce, bitter wind from the sea blew for three days and nights so furiously that the enemy's tents were torn up, their Fires were extinguished, and the sand and rain beat in their faces. And they were terrified by the portents against them.
"They had already well nigh fallen out amongst themselves, and beating a hasty retreat, they melted away. The Medina Fighting strength was no more than 3,000 and the Jewish tribe of the Banu Uraiza who were in their midst was a source of weakness as they were treacherously intriguing with the enemy. And further there were the Hypocrites. But there were hidden forces that helped the Muslims.
"Besides the forces of nature there were moral forces — mutual distrust and bickering in the enemy camp. And on the other side perfect discipline among the real Muslims, and the superb leadership of the Noble Prophet."
A hurricane is an area of low pressure that forms over oceans in tropical regions in either the North Atlantic Ocean or eastern North Pacific Ocean. When such a storm is developed in the western Pacific Ocean, then it is called a typhoon. The Indian subcontinent is devastated by storms developed in the Indian Ocean, which are known as cyclones.
North Americans are familiar with hurricanes. Hurricane is a powerful, whirling storm that measures 320 to 480 kilometers (km) or 200 to 300 miles in diameter. The winds near the center of a hurricane blow at speeds of 119-km or 74 miles per hour or more. North Americans have witnessed widespread death and destruction caused by many hurricanes.
Hurricanes develop from easterly waves. These long, narrow regions of low pressure occur in ocean winds called trade winds. Easterly waves wilt be converted into a tropical depression, with winds up to 50 km per hour or 31 miles per hour: then into a tropical storm, with winds of up to 119 km per hour or 74 miles per hour; and finally, into a hurricane. The center of the hurricane is called an eve which is a calm area. Hurricane winds swirl around the eve. The eye of a hurricane measures about 32 km or 20 miles in diameter and has few winds or clouds. Storm clouds called wall clouds surround the eye. The strongest winds and heaviest rain of a hurricane occur within its wall clouds.
In the United States, most hurricanes affect areas near the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricanes develop in the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans from June to November—peaking in September, as we witnessed in the September of 1989 the hurricane Hugo. Usual estimates are about six to eight hurricanes occur in the North Atlantic or North Pacific each year. However, as many as 15 have occurred in the Atlantic in a single year.
POWER OF DESTRUCTION
Winds in the wall cloud area of the hurricane blow at speeds of 210 to 240 km per hour or 130 to 150 miles Per hour. The winds and rain, combined with the force of the ocean, produce huge waves. These waves are called storm surge and they rise several feet above normal and cause floods. When a storm surge occurs at high tide, it will be especially destructive. Also, tornadoes are often present in hurricane clouds. When a hurricane moves over land. Strong winds and heavy rain will hit the land area for several hours. When the eye of the hurricane reaches the land area. The rain stops and the air becomes calm. Less than an hour later, the eye passes and the rain and wind return. The hurricane loses its destructive power as it moves over land because it needs the warm ocean to supply energy by evaporation. The rougher land surface produces friction and thereby slows the winds. Although the wind's power is decreased the heavy rain continues. In Galveston, TX. a hurricane and storm surge killed 6,000 people in 1900 AD In 1974, 8,OOO people were killed by Hurricane Fifi, which struck Honduras and resulted in $1 billion damage.
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