OUTBREAK! THE CURRENT corona virus threat is on the news everywhere. The children were hearing about it. My teenage son was naturally curious about viruses, mutations, origins and what was happening.
Taking the opportunity, I decided to explore the issue and connect it to Islam. It’s important to show that Islam has a view on all issues and gives guidance.
وَنَزَّلْنَا عَلَيْكَ ٱلْكِتَٰبَ تِبْيَٰنًا لِّكُلِّ شَىْءٍ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةً وَبُشْرَىٰ لِلْمُسْلِمِينَ
‘And We have sent down to you the Book as clarification for all things and as guidance and mercy and good tidings for the Muslims.’ (an-Nahl 89)
- Controlling disease spread
The images of cities on lockdown, scanning travellers at airports and stations and empty streets can be scary.
But this is not strange for Muslims. When it comes to highly contagious communicable diseases, Islam has given guidance.
Whilst they probably did not have novel coronavirus in the time of the Prophet ﷺ, they did have the plague.
The Prophet ﷺ said, “If you hear about it (the plague) in a land that you are in, do not run away from it, and if you hear that it broke out in a certain land, do not enter that land.” (Bukhari)
The second part of this hadith is pretty obvious, but the first part is more difficult to realise. The natural response of a person confronted with a highly contagious disease is to run. However, the hadith is clear not to run. What would motivate a person not to run though?
The Prophet ﷺ gave an incentive like no other. He said: ‘plague was a punishment which Allah used to send on whom He wished, but Allah made it a blessing for the believers. None (among the believers) remains patient in a land in which plague has broken out and considers that nothing will befall him except what Allah has ordained for him, but that Allah will grant him a reward similar to that of a martyr.’ (Bukhari)
The reward of the shuhadaa (the martyrs) is amongt the greatest rewards of all in Islam and it is given to the one who is patient and does not leave the area of plague. This is tied with Islamic concepts of tawaqqul and knowing that life and death lie solely in His ﷻ hands. But it is not just
that Islam institutes. Basic hygiene that prevents transmission is well known.
‘Whenever the Messenger of Allah ﷺ sneezed, he would cover his mouth with his hand or a piece of cloth…’ (at-Tirmidhi).
Washing hands, wudhu, ghusl and personal hygiene are all strong aspects of Islam. Islam, therefore, lays down the basis of controlling disease spread.
- Prevention is better than cure.
How much of what we are seeing is man-made?
In Islam there is an understanding of halal and tayyib (pure). This applies to what we eat, how we farm, how we look after and transport livestock etc. There is certainly Divine wisdom in this, that we may or may not be aware of.
Many practices these days are far from normal.
Back in the 90’s there was an outbreak of mad cow disease. It was later shown to be the result of producers, under pressure to make cheaper meat, grinding up the remains of dead livestock and feeding it back to their herds to save money on grain. Really! Did no one think that turning herbivores into cannibals was going to be a bad thing to do?