2. The Earthquake
“No calamity can ever befall the earth and your own selves, unless it is in Our decree before We bring it (the calamity) into being. Verily, this is easy for Allah.” [Q: 57.22].
2. The above is an approximate translation of Verse 22 in Chapter 57 of the Qur’aan. It unmistakably means that Allah knows beforehand when, where and why any calamity takes place. Its occurrence is pre-recorded in His Book of decrees.
3. The sceptics are bound to raise their eyebrows on this divine claim, but keeping aside their scepticism for a while let us consider another divine claim. "Soon will We show them Our Signs in the regions, and in their own selves, until it becomes manifest to them that this (Qur’aan) is the Truth --------" [Q: 41.53]. As per this latter claim, Allah in His mercy gives some signs to help the sceptics get over their doubts about the divine statements.
4. One such sign has recently come to light. It has been lying concealed for fourteen centuries in the 99th Chapter of the Qur’aan, which Chapter starts with a Verse having 20 letters of the Arabic alphabet. The Chapter is entitled, ‘The Earthquake’, and has 8 Verses. The 4th Verse therein, which could literally be rendered as, “The day when its news would be broadcast”, has, in the original, 17 letters of the Arabic alphabet, counting the Arabic letter da, with a Tasdid thereon, twice. The 3rd Verse describes the immediate spontaneous reaction of the people crying out, “What is happening”, when the earthquake strikes them suddenly and devastatingly. The 7th and 8th Verses each contain the word misqaal, which inter alia means a unit by which to weigh or measure.
5. The underlined numbers in the preceding paragraph, viz., 99, 20, 8, 17, 3, 7 and 8, and their sequence are very significant. These numbers have an amazing correspondence with the timing and the severity of the earthquake that struck Turkey recently. This earthquake occurred in the 99th year of the 20th century. The month was the 8th (August) and the date, the 17th. It struck at 3 a.m. and its intensity was measured as between 7 and 8 (at about 7.8 to be more specific) on the Richter scale! Its severity drove people, in their thousands, out of their homes and onto the streets, crying out, “What happened?” And thousands died.
6. Can this amazing correspondence be dismissed as a series of mere coincidences? Let us examine this important question in greater details.
7. Events taking place in a year can well be considered as a distinct Chapter in the book of all events in the relevant century. As such, the numbering of the Chapter on the Earthquake as the 99th of the Qur’aan has a striking analogy to the event of the earthquake in Turkey occurring in the 99th year of the 20th century. It is as if somebody, who could clearly look into the future, consciously numbered it so. There are, after all, 114 Chapters in the Qur’aan and the Chapter on the Earthquake could have been numbered as any one of the other 113. The sceptics may well say, “Earthquakes occur almost every year in some or the other part of the world. Had this particular Chapter in the Qur’aan been given any other number from 1 to 98, the same would have been claimed to be alluding to the earthquake occurring in that particular year.” But, as may be seen from what is mentioned herein above, the signs, alluded to in this particular Chapter of the Qur’aan, are specific to the earthquake that occurred on the 17th August 1999 in Turkey. These signs, together, could not be made applicable to other earthquakes. So, the odds are heavily against the Chapter being numbered as 99th. These are 1 to 113. The chance of its being so numbered is an infinitesimal 0.88%. Even so, let us concede to the sceptics that they have a chance of 1 in 114 here. That is some chance indeed!
8. The 99th year could come in any century. The indication that the earthquake in Turkey would befall in the 20th century is given in the very first Verse, which contains 20 letters of the Arabic alphabet. The link between the 20 letters to the 20th century is aptly indicated by the word izaa, meaning ‘when’, at the beginning of the Verse. Now Verses in the Qur’aan could be containing any number of letters up to over 270 as in the 11th Verse of its 4th Chapter. There could be Verses containing letters still more in number. Making however a very, very conservative estimate, letters contained in various Verses of the Qur’aan could be, at the least, in 100 different numbers. So there could be only one-in-a-hundred chance for that first Verse of the 99th Chapter being of 20 letters. And, the likelihood of both – (1) the Chapter being numbered as 99th and (2) its first Verse containing exactly 20 letters – happening simultaneously would be 1 in 11400, as per the law of probability. The chance – of both the things happening together – is now reduced to 0.0088%. The chance – of all the 7 things mentioned in the foregoing paragraphs happening together amazingly in the one Chapter on the earthquake – would be further reduced to almost an impossibility at 0.00000000000088%. That too, by taking a very, very conservative estimate of only 100 different ways in which the rest of the 5 things could happen. In fact, there are many, many more than 100 different ways that every one of these 5 things could happen.
9. Scientifically and mathematically speaking therefore it would be impossible, by mere chance, for the said seven things to be there in such a combination as to unmistakably indicate the occurrence of the earthquake in Turkey. It was as if the signs were put there in the Qur’aanic Chapter by someone who knew beforehand every detail of the earthquake – fourteen centuries before its actual occurrence. That someone could be none other than Allah Himself. The signs therefore unmistakably point to the Truth that Allah is the Author of the Qur’aan. Not only did the Verses originate from Him, but He also determined the order in which the Verses were placed in the Qur’aan.
10. The sceptics may wonder how the Qur’aan could indicate the date of the earthquake by the solar calendar whereas in Islam the lunar calendar is followed. This apparent anomaly gets resolved the moment it is realised that the Author of the Book knew the future. He knew beforehand that in this age all communities including Muslims would generally follow the solar calendar. Moreover, it is significant to note that the Qur’aan mentions both the moon and the sun as Allah’s signs for mankind to count time thereby.
11. It should very well be noted in this context that Allah’s plan is for mankind to realise the reality of His existence primarily through the faculty of intellectual reasoning, with which it is specially endowed. Mankind has moreover been granted the freedom of choice unlike other animals. Whether one believes it or not, every man or woman has been given a fixed spell of life on this earth, within which to realise that reality and submit his/her self to that reality completely and unequivocally. Human life is nothing but a test for that purpose. Freedom to make a choice is an essential prerequisite of that test.
12. Now if in the Qur’aanic Chapter on the Earthquake, had it been clearly mentioned that an earthquake of a devastating magnitude of 7.8 would befall a section of mankind at 3 a.m. on the 17th of August, 1999, mankind would have been deprived of its freedom. Everybody, aware of such a clear prophecy in the Qur’aan, would know for certain that there is Allah and there would be no question of making a choice in this regard. Allah has therefore given only some indications or hidden signs as mere aids to mankind’s special attribute of intellectual reasoning with which to recognise His existence and thus for mankind to pass the test.
13. The hidden signs in the said Qur’aanic Chapter have to be understood in that perspective. Such signs are to be recognised by means of the very same intellectual or scientific reasoning, as has been done in this case herein above. The obvious theme, otherwise, of the Chapter is the cataclysm that is to happen on the Last Day.
14. But, alas, the bulk of mankind obstinately refuses to make use of the Allah-given gift of intellect to recognise the innumerable such signs that Allah, in His mercy, has been sending down for its guidance!