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Where is God when Disaster Strikes?

By Abdul Alim

Disaster is not to despair, and not to give into sadness. Life is a package with ups and downs.

On the evening of June 25, 2006, about 50 people of various religious affiliations gathered at the Islamic Center of Northridge, Granada Hills (USA) to listen to an inter-faith panel discussion on the topic, “Where is God when Disaster Strikes?” The event was sponsored by Valley Interfaith Council’s Interfaith Relations Committee and moderated by Fr. Bob Bonnet. The writer brings a first-hand account of the event.


Manish Sahu, a Marketing Executive said, “When disaster strikes, God is in the same place where He is right now. One would ask where to find God now. If we need to contact a person, we try to get his address or phone number. Since we cannot see God, we can contact Him through prayers.”

Manish indicated that the Hindu faith believes in one God and God has many names. He concluded his speech stating that during disaster, God is in the same place where He is right now comforting and blessing us.


Rabbi Jan Offel, Temple Judea member started her speech with a humorous saying, “When there are two Jews then there are always three opinions”. Rabbi Jan indicated that the book of Job in the Old Testament discusses on the subject, where God is when disaster strikes. Job loses his family, and is inflicted with a terrible skin disease and his friends tell him that he must have done something wrong because of which he is undergoing all the suffering. Job rejected this notion and calls out to God.

God does not really give Job an answer to his painful question, but speaks about how far God’s ways are above our own. Further, Job shows that God continues to hear and respond to our cry. From this story, it is quite evident that when disaster strikes, God is with us and comforting us.


Rev. Wayne Christiansen said, “Adam and Eve were instructed not to eat the fruit from that particular tree, but eventually they eat the fruit. God asked if they ate the fruit. Adam replied that if there was no fruit to begin with then it should not have happened and things like that. When God asked again if they ate the fruit, Adam finally conceded that they ate the fruit due to the peer pressure (satan and serpent)”. From this story we need to understand that we cannot keep blaming others for our mistakes.

Where was God when Jesus was executed on the cross? Did God abandon Jesus as the language in the scriptures say? Rev. Christiansen said: “When we (Christians) see Jesus crucified, we believe that is God”.


Omar Ricci, Chairman of Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) said, “According to Islam, the relation between human and God is, He is the Creator and we are His creation, He is unlimited and we are limited, He is powerful and we are weak always seeking improvement. Omar explained that at the time of disaster, God speaks directly to us: “No calamity can ever befall the earth, and neither your own selves, unless it be laid down in Our decree before We bring it into being: verily, all this is easy for God. Know this, so that you may not despair over whatever good has escaped you nor exult unduly over whatever good has come to you: for, God does not love any of those who out of self-conceit, act in a boastful manner. (Quran 57: 22-23).


Munireh Moore from the Bahai faith said, ‘Whatever happens is due to the will of God.” She recalled the event of Abd al-Baha, the son of Bahai founder Bahullah, who chose to come to America on the more modest Cedric of the same line that British passenger steamship Titanic operated. Abd al-Baha had reached America a few days before the Titanic disaster. He remarked that he had travelled as far as Naples with some of those who died in the Titanic disaster. Explaining that in everything there is divine wisdom, he then spoke of death as the gate to the other world of God and said that disaster showed both the need for man’s technical skill and his ultimate dependence on God. Abd al-Baha’s remarks are notable for avoiding both the most common reactions to disaster: excessive sentimentality and intemperate criticism of society.

(The writer can be reached at


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