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Islam: Pandemic Response

The Islamic tradition is replete with teachings from the Prophet Muhammad about protecting individuals and communities, including in the event of an outbreak or pandemic. For example, a well-known tradition of the Prophet (Hadith) states:

If you hear of an outbreak or plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague breaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place”

More fundamentally, understanding the objectives of the Shariah (Islamic law) can be helpful in clarifying what an appropriate Islamic response ought to be. The elucidation of these objectives comes through scholarly analysis of the Qur’an and Hadith. The aforementioned tradition, for example, enables the extraction of the objective of ‘protection of life’ underlining the status and value of life in the Shariah.

Is Coronavirus a Punishment from Allah (SWT) to Humanity?

We don’t have to reinvent the wheel when the same question was asked to Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم (from Aisha (RA) about the plague. She said: I asked about the plague, and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم (responded

” It is a punishment sent by Allah on whom He wants to punish.”

“And Allah made it a source of mercy for the believers,”

“If one in the time of an epidemic plague stays in his country (or stay in his house as mentioned in different narration) patiently hoping for Allah’s reward and believing that nothing will befall him except what Allah has written for him, then he will get the reward of a martyr.”

 

What do we learn from this statement of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم?

  • To earn that mercy and reward, one must stay in his house or his town and trust the infinite wisdom of Allah (SWT). Even if one doesn’t die from the deadly virus, one will still obtain the reward of a martyr because the hadith doesn’t put death as a condition.
  • Any plague, including the Coronavirus, can be either a punishment or mercy for someone depending on if one is patient and trusting in Allah (SWT).
  • To make plague (or any deadly contagious disease) a source of mercy and reward, one must believe in the Oneness of Allah (SWT) and that all good and bad happens because of Allah’s will.
  • The hadith also illustrates the importance of being patient during this struggle with Coronavirus. In order to earn Allah’s mercy, one should not blame others, and one should seek help in the way that is pleasing to Allah (SWT): taking all preventative measures and seeking medical treatment while believing spiritually that only Allah (SWT) is the One who cures. (5) Martyr, in this hadith, means the one whose actions serve as a witness to his patience (by not leaving his house/town) and trust in Allah (SWT). Ameen.

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