It has been reported that a prominent Christian leader, Pat Robertson, has said that Haiti has been “cursed” by a “pact with the devil.” Fortunately, this is not the mainstream Christian position and my friend, the Reverend Paul Raushenbush, has rejected Robertson’s “blaming the victims” theology. Religious leaders must take a stance against extremist voices in their community, and I am glad to see Rev. Raushenbush respond to Robertson’s ridiculous and offensive suggestions.
As Muslims, we believe that human suffering is not always explainable or understandable. We do know that innocent people suffer all the time, from sickness and natural disaster, and that in such cases, we are required to do two things: First, pray and remember, as the Qur’an says that “to God we belong and to Him we return.” Second, we must help those who are suffering. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, reported in a Sacred Hadith that if we want to be close to God, we should visit the sick and feed the needy. On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will say, “O son of Adam, I fell ill and you did not visit me.” The person will say, “O Lord, how could I visit you when You are the Lord of the worlds?” He will say, “Did you not know that So-and-so fell ill and you did not visit him? If you had visited him, you would have found Me with him [the hadith continues].”
We realize from this hadith that the path to closeness with God is, after worship, service to humanity. Perhaps the most needy collectivity of people in the world today are the Haitians after enduring this terrible earthquake. Helping the Haitians in this time of need is certainly a sign of religious sincerity.