The earthquake in Turkey and Syria on February 6, 2023, is not just a natural disaster. This is an occasion to think about the signs of the times, because it is no coincidence that such terrible earthquakes are one of the signs of the end of the world in both Christianity and Islam.
The Turkish-Syrian tragedy has knocked on every house, even in those regions of the planet where there has never been a hint of an earthquake. At the first moment, when you look at the footage of how high-rise buildings are stacked like houses of cards, it causes shock. Consciousness does not want to perceive as reality what is behind the crumbling reinforced concrete – thousands of human lives, including children’s.
Turkish seismologist – geophysical engineer – Dr. Ovgun Ahmet Ercan, shared a publication where he calculated the number of buildings destroyed after the two earthquakes in the Kahramanmaras-centered earthquakes that devastated 10 cities and the possible number of people who may be under from the ruins and the results are terrifying.
The seismologist calculated the apartments that were in the flattened buildings and multiplied them by the likely number of people inside them.
According to him, 13.5 million people were affected by the earthquake. The collapsed apartment buildings are about 6 thousand, subtracting those who were rescued or managed to escape, there are claims that 184 thousand people are under the rubble in the ten affected cities, according to the Karar newspaper!
Unfortunately, many simply “run away from death”, figuratively closing the eyes and ears of their souls. A modern person who sees tons of artificial and virtual blood on TV screens and in computer games every day does not appreciate this blood itself. As a result, we got rid of centuries-old burial traditions, which become overhead for “mere mortals”.
However, as soon as the smell of blood is felt very close, even modern man wakes up and there is a clear division: some sign up as volunteers, being ready “to lay down their lives for their friends.” Others skip the news and look away. However, even among the disciples of Christ, the apostles, the ratio was 11 to one. And even Apostle Peter once denied the Christ, having experienced a banal human fear, which he later redeemed again with his own blood.
What exactly are we responsible for today, when thousands of ordinary people die in a matter of minutes – no matter what color of skin and religious hope. For some, such a terrible death in natural disasters is a reason to doubt God’s mercy. But for believers there is no doubt: on the contrary, by doing so we are reminded of the transience of earthly existence and about the fact that behind the Creator there is a subtle plane, about which one should think more often.
So, even in the pre-Christian Roman Empire, the generals returning with a victory put a servant behind them, reminding the victor that he was mortal. They say that it was from there that the catchphrase Memento mori (“Remember death”) went. Subsequently, some Christians fell in love with the catchphrase very much, giving it much more semantic facets than it was in ancient Rome. In some monastic orders, this phrase has become a motto-greeting.
A terrible lesson for humanity
People of the older and middle generations remember very well the Spitak earthquake of 1988 in Armenia. About 25,000 people died, 514,000 were left homeless, 140,000 were disabled. People took this tragedy so close to their hearts that it temporarily extinguished the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, already flaring up in its bloody inhumanity.
Unfortunately, that terrible lesson has not been learned by humanity itself. The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh continues today.
in Byzantine times, people of different ethnic origins and beliefs could live in peace and harmony. But as soon as the imperial structure began to stagger, chaos and bloodshed ensued. And after the blood that people shed with their own hands, natural disasters often came.
It is difficult to say why this time the trouble first came to the Turkish province of Kahramanmarash. But the fact remains: before Turkish rule, these were Armenian lands and the genocide of 1915 also affected these Ottoman provinces. That is, again, this specific example confirms: the blood shed by people who have forgotten God’s commandments, as a result, entails new, already spontaneous sacrifices. But whether we learn this terrible lesson depends only on ourselves.
Earthquakes as a Sign
By the way, many Muslims have already noted that, according to their creed, multiple earthquakes are a sign of the nearness of the Day of Judgment. So, in some Islamic sources it is directly stated that this is his “thirteenth sign”:
From Abu Hurayrah … it is transmitted that the Messenger of Allah said: “The Day of Judgment will not come until there are many earthquakes” (al-Bukhari). It is also narrated from Salam ibn Nufeil: “We were sitting next to the Messenger of Allah, and he said: “There will be many deaths before the Day of Judgment, and then years of earthquakes” (Ahmad). Ibn Hajar in the book “Al-Fath” writes: “There were many earthquakes, both in the east and in the west, but, most likely, by the multitude of earthquakes they mean their constancy and continuity”…
Modern Islamic interpreters interpret these ancient sayings quite simply and intelligibly:
We are witnessing today many natural disasters: earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, snowstorms and other disasters that claim many lives and cause great damage. The more a person explores the Earth, the more it seems to him that he is able to predict certain natural phenomena, but even weather forecasts are not accurate, not to mention the prediction of natural disasters, which destroy that human illusion of universal control.
It’s hard not to agree. Moreover, Christians have the same sign in Holy Scripture – in the prophecies of the Book of the Apocalypse, the Revelation of John:
And in the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell, and seven thousand names of men perished in the earthquake; and the rest were seized with fear and gave glory to the God of heaven (Rev. 11:13).
Moreover, it is worth noting that these words refer to the great earthquake in the Middle East: it is about the great city, “which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where our Lord was crucified” (Rev. 11:8). And in these February days, as you know, not only the lands of Turkey, which once belonged to the Byzantine Empire, shook. The tremors also reach the places of Christ’s earthly ministry.
Of course, none of us is given to know the days and dates of the End Times. But the fact that by such natural disasters we are reminded of the nearness of the last days, which we ourselves are actively bringing closer with the way our life goes, is obvious to many. These signs are not only constant wars, but also the complete rejection of anything good by our modern world. And it is no coincidence that Sodom is mentioned in the Apocalypse, which suffered God’s punishment precisely because of the debauchery and perversions so characteristic of our modern world.
Of course, both Turkey and Syria are mired in these vices to a lesser extent than the post-Christian world. Therefore, it is difficult to judge what exactly the people of these countries are responsible for. Although the fact that in recent years the Turks have again returned mosques to many former Orthodox churches, including Hagia Sophia of Constantinople, is a serious reason to think. The main thing is to understand that this punishment is a very important warning for all of us and a clear reason to once again think about our own sins, be always reminded of ‘Memento mori’.
What happened is a very important sign that the people of the Christian and Islamic worlds should be together. This is especially clearly indicated by the closeness of the eschatologies – the teachings about the End Times. Therefore, it is no coincidence that some modern Muslim theologians-traditionalists say that this is the only way of keeping humanity from the final fall into the abyss and the total war of all against all, which will destroy our earthly world.