What got cleared when suez canal got blocked: lessons beyond maritime

Not long ago, the world was spellbound by the extraordinary sight of a massive container ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal in Egypt. The gigantic ship ‘Ever Given’ that was carrying 18,300 containers, was 400 m long (1,312 ft) and weighed 200,000 tonnes. While it provided no end of memes and mirth on social media for weeks, it too became a thing of past after that. And, as someone said that the only lesson of the history is that people never learn their lessons from the history; the world missed the mark although the Suez Canal definitely hit the target.

Just like everyone else I was also done with the blather of the Suez Canal blockage. It too had passed. Or, you can say it had passed the meme stage at least to land only in the experts-hands. It was the time when maritime security experts were unpacking the lessons learnt from the incident; God blessed me with the vision to be able to look beyond, to take lessons beyond maritime and economy only, to take lessons for the life.

And, as usual as i keep sharing my riches with you. Here goes the story.

I was reading the Tafseer of chapter ‘Shoora’ in the Holy Qur’an that day.

Praise be to Allaah, what the Divine Book that moment offered me simply made me speechless. The extraordinary sight of the huge ‘Ever Given’ stuck in the Suez Canal suddenly surfaced in my mind, while reading the verse.

And among His signs are the ships in the sea like mountains.

[AL-QUR’AN; SHOORA: 32]

Allah tells us that one of the signs of His great power and dominion is the fact that He has subjugated the sea so that ships may sail in it by His command, so they sail in the sea like mountains.

And among His signs are the ships in the sea like mountains. [Al-Qur’an]

Focus on word ‘like mountain’.

Just to remind the Ever Given is 400 m-long (1,312 ft) and weighs 200,000 tonnes, with a maximum capacity of 20,000 containers. It was carrying 18,300 containers.

If He wills, He causes the wind to cease, then they would become motionless on the surface (of the sea). Verily, in this are signs for everyone patient and grateful.

[AL-QUR’AN; SHOORA: 33]

As per the exegesis of the verse, (If He wills, He causes the wind to cease) means, the winds that cause the ships to travel on the sea. If He willed, He could cause the winds to cease, then the ships would not move and would remain still, neither coming nor going, staying where they are on the surface of the water.

I stress on these words, and I can not stress it enough, the eyes of my mind saw the words ‘the ships would not move and would remain still’, ‘neither coming nor going’, ‘staying where they are’ in an altogether different light.

By, Allaah! I was transfixed by these words.

The ship that didn’t move, didn’t move for no reason. As if the Suez-Canal stuck to make us understand this single verse of the Holy Qur’an. The humanity couldn’t get a better visualisation. The acuteness of the verse with the incident was so real.

At the end the verse said:

‘Verily, in this are signs for everyone patient and grateful.’

One might become inquisitive here, ‘why the winds that cause ship to travel are a sign for patient and grateful’. Quite possible, one of us might question the big deal in ‘ceasing of the wind’ as we never really knew what a big deal it might become.

THE SUEZ CANAL GOT STUCK TO MAKE US APPRECIATE THIS VERSE FROM THE QUR’AN.

I will quote here a few figures from the international news:

As per the reports, the stranded ship was holding up an estimated $9.6bn of trade along the waterway each day. That equates to $400m and 3.3 million tonnes of cargo an hour, or $6.7m a minute. The Suez Canal blockage didn’t just affect the global shipping industry or the Egyptian economy – countless businesses, from domestic transport providers to retailers, supermarkets and manufacturers were also impacted. Looking at the bigger picture, experts said that the blockage could reduce annual trade growth by 0.2 to 0.4 percentage points.

Unbelievable!

I don’t know about you. But I would have never imagined this stupefying impact the halt in water travel might bring, lest the Suez Canal had never blocked.

And, you know how it started?

A gust of wind was thought to be the precursor. (Yes, reports of involvement technical and human errors were floating too; nevertheless, the wind was the precipitating factor)

Then I read the next verse.

Or He may destroy them because of that which their (people) have earned. And He pardons much.

[AL-QUR’AN; SHOORA: 33]

Commentary says:

if He willed, He could send the wind to blow fiercely so that it would take the ships and divert them from their courses, driving them to the right or the left, so that they would be lost and would not be able to follow their intended path. This interpretation also includes the idea of their being destroyed. This also fits the first meaning, which is that if Allah willed, He could cause the wind to cease, in which case the ships would stop moving, or He could make the wind fierce, in which case the ships would be lost and destroyed.

Can’t emphasize this enough!

Mentioning again: ‘and divert them from their courses, driving them to the right or the left, so that would not be able to follow their intended path.’

SubhanAllaah!

I was following the news when they were trying to free the vessel; and, I remember the mention of wind conditions time to time. First, the gush of winds diverted the ship; and, later the still ship, the rows of jammed water traffic, and the perplexed world kept waiting for the same wind to create the desired tides so that the vessel could finally float completely.

Commentary of the verse continues:

But by His grace and mercy, He sends the wind according to their needs. Allah has subjugated the sea and He sends as much wind as they need in order to travel, there are signs of His blessings to His creation for everyone who is patient, i.e., at times of difficulty, and grateful, i.e., at times of ease.

SubhanAllaah!

In many places in Qur’an, God emphasizes that one of the most crucial purposes of the Qur’an’s revelation is to invite people to ponder. He keeps sending His signs time to time. Only if we could have eyes to see!
He shows us His signs so that we could believe in Him and could save ourselves from the eternal doom.

For me, the Suez Canal Blockage didn’t happen for no reason. It taught me lessons for the life.

Know Your Limits before the Unlimited God

Doesn’t matter how long, doesn’t matter how heavy, doesn’t matter how huge; we make our ships, containers and constructions, we are very small, just a speck of dust in this universe. There can’t be anything more foolish to disprove the existence of God as we advance and grow bigger. Our advancement in life is the subjugation of His very resources, made for us, as His mercy. Handling the same tools and speaking the same language of the science that has been given us to explore this natural world, forgetting the Supernatural, or the worst, denying it, is foolish.

To God belongs the Kingdom of the heavens and of the earth; and God is powerful over everything. If He willed, He could cause the winds to cease, then the ships would not move and would remain still, neither coming nor going, staying where they are on the surface of the water.

Noah just built the arc, his God only made it sail.


Be Grateful at Ease

God has given us so many blessings that are too often taken for granted, especially those blessings from God, which He gives to everyone. The resources on the earth that He has subjugated for us are taken for granted each and every day.

Talking of the same incidence the blockage could reduce annual trade growth by 0.2 to 0.4 percentage points; and, it was just one trade route blocked, mind it!

We could have never imagined this stupefying impact the halt in water travel might bring, lest the Suez Canal had never blocked. We would, thus, have never realised how much benefit we derive daily from the resources around us, without paying anything back even.

Allah tells us that one of the signs of His great power and dominion is the fact that He has subjugated the sea so that ships may sail in it by His command, so they sail in the sea like mountains.

Shouldn’t we be more appreciative towards each and every thing around us?
Shouldn’t we be grateful?

Next time, at times of ease, when the vessels keep moving as planned, the Suez Canal continues to operate; remember Allaah by being grateful.

Be Patient at Difficulty

If we remain indebted at the time of easy, always appreciative, we must also know whom to beseech in times of difficulty. Fearing being accountable to our own shortcomings and ingratitude, submitting to Him only in humility knowing that He is always in control is the key to sail through the journey.

Next time, at times of difficulty, when Suez Canal gets stuck, remember Allaah whose favors we have taken for granted. And, also remember that if He wanted, He would have destroyed the vessel, no matter how big, in pieces (remember Titanic!).


For now, Alhamdulillaah, Allaah sent the winds as much as needed in order to make the vessel move.

Or He may destroy them because of that which their (people) have earned. And He pardons much.

[AL-QUR’AN; SHOORA: 33]

The Suez Canal got cleared.

Hope we understood the verse.

I am not sure about you; I could never appreciate it this way if Suez Canal hadn’t blocked.

(I am not sure about you; I could never appreciate it this way if Suez Canal hadn’t blocked.)

SubhanAllaah!

Sisterly Yours

The Might of Pen


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