Thursday, January 01, 2009

Trusting Allah (swt) - Remembering the 2006 Sago Mine Tragedy

(12 Black ribbons at Sago Mine - AP Photo)

On January 2, 2006, the new year started for the people of a small West Virginia town with an accident that occurred at the Sago coal mine in Tallmansville. After an explosion in the mine, 6 men made it out, but 13 were still trapped underground. Anxious families and friends maintained an agonizing vigil at the Sago Baptist Church for almost two days.

Then, through a series of miscommunications, family and friends were told that one trapped miner had died, but 12 were found alive. Reports started to fly that the miners would be brought to the church for reunification with their families after they were brought out of the trapped area. The elated crowd praised God and cited a miracle. In the church, hymns such as “How Great Thou Art” and “Amazing Grace” were sung. There were hugs, tears, laughter, and gratitude that God had answered prayers.

But after three hours, stunned and angry families were told that the information was false. Unconfirmed, conflicting information had been disseminated from the Command Center. Elation, relief, and joy turned to confusion, fury, anger, rage, blame, shock, anguish, and horror. Some, who had praised God just three hours earlier were lashing out to news reporters.

One woman cried, “We’re Christian people … we don’t even know if there’s a Lord anymore.”

One man reported that when the pastor tried to comfort families and encourage them to look to God, another man replied, “What in the hell has God done for us?”

We all watched on television as people expressed their despair.

As I watched the news on the television during this crisis, I thought to myself: Would a Muslim curse out Allah (swt) like this? Would a Muslim doubt Allah's (swt) very existence during a trial?

Abdullah Bin ash-Shikhkhir (ra) reported that the Prophet (saw) said “The example of the son of Adam is (as though) he has ninety-nine causes of death beside him. If all causes of death miss him, he will fall into old-age – until he finally dies.” (at-Tirmithi)

Muslim and non-Muslim alike suffer in this life; but, what direction do we Muslims have from Quran and Sunnah for dealing with tragedies and trials?

We read:“If a Muslim is priced by (as little as) a thorn in the worldly life and he anticipates Allah’s reward for it, he will be absolved of some of his sins on Judgment Day.” (al-Bukhari) In Arabic, this is "ihtisab," the expectation of Allah's rewards and forgiveness.

And, there is the story of Ayyub (as) (Job) who Allah tried with years of adversity. "And remember Ayyub, when he called to his Lord, “Verily, adversity has touched me, and You are the Most Merciful of the merciful.” So, We answered his call, and removed his affliction.” (21:83-84). Ayyub (as) exhibited "sabr," patience, knowing that Allah is merciful.

“Affliction continues to befall believing men and women in their body, family, and property, until they meet Allah, burdened with no sins.” (Ahmad)

“When Allah loves some people, He subjects them to affliction.” (at-Tirmithi)

“When Allah loves some people, He afflicts them. He who perseveres will receive the reward of perseverance. And he who despairs of Allah’s mercy will receive (the burden of) despair.” (Ahmad)

“A believer’s parable is like that of a fresh and moist plant; the wind tilts it this way and that way. So is a believer: he continues to be subjected to affliction, until he reaches his appointed term (of death). And a hypocrite’s (or kafir’s) parable is like that of a firm cedar tree; it does not shake – until it is uprooted all at once.” (combined narration, al-Bukhari, Muslim, and others)

“Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe,” without being tried? We have surely tried those before them. Indeed, Allah will make evident the truthful, and He will make evident the liars.” (29:1-3)

Although it sometimes is not easy, we must trust Allah and exhibit sabr, ihtisab, and acceptance when faced with adversity and trials. Like Ayyub (as), many people did reach out to Allah for help and comfort during the Sago mine disaster.

It was the few, who were overcome by grief, who lashed out and became angry with Allah.

I pray that He grant them His comfort and show them the Right Path/Ameen.


بنت بيتر said...


Lovely post and lovely blog sis!

Yasemin said...

Safiyyah, I completely forgot about this story. Thanks for reminding me!

I agree that Muslims would never lash out like this. They are much stronger when despair comes their way. This is one of the things I initially loved most about Islam.

Saaleha said...

Assalaamu alaikum Sis

Muslims do become despondent, especially when darkness seems complete. but Allah is nearer to man than his jugular. and He tells us never to despair of His mercy. The hadith where Nabi SAW speaks how amazing the state of a believer is sums things up beautifully. When good comes his way and he praises Allah it is a source of increase/blessing. and when harm afflicts him and he exercises sabr, that too is a source of blessing.

Subhanallah. Just that sometimes we forget. and posts like this remind us all over again