Coronavirus: An Islamic Perspective

The coronavirus is a reminder to us all of our weak state. Allāh says: “Mankind was created weak”

By Adil Saleem

Allah has blessed us with a religion that is complete and perfect for all times and places. Allah tells us in the Qur’an:
“This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as your religion”
We also have in the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wa sallam), the best of examples, as Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Surely there was a good example for you in the Messenger of Allah”
Whatever problem or issue a Muslim is facing, he returns back to Allah and his Messenger for guidance; there is nothing that happens in the life of a Muslim except that his religion has a solution to it.
We recently heard about the coronavirus which is spreading to a number of countries, affecting the lives of many people, causing death to others.
There are a number of thoughts that should cross the mind of a Muslim when they hear something like this. Below are some points that a person must remember and internalise when they see or hear of such incidents:
Trials and tribulations
Trials and tribulations are part of life, this is something that Allah informs us of and warns us so that when we are afflicted, we remember that it is ultimately Allah who controls of our affairs. It is He who will provide help and His knowledge of our affairs surpasses our restricted intellect. As He says in the Qur’an:
“Do you think you that you will enter Paradise without such [trials] as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, ‘When [will] the Help of Allah [come]?’ Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allah is near!”
Allah sends us tests to see how we will react and handle them. How are we going to respond? When you hear the news that your umrah trip is cancelled because of this virus, how will you respond? When you hear your flights have been cancelled, your loved ones have fallen ill, how will you respond?
Allah says in the Qur’an:
“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient”
So how do we respond to a calamity? Allah tells us immediately after the previous ayah:
“Who, when disaster strikes them, say, ‘Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.’”
A Muslim is patient in trials; he knows Allah will never forsake him, nor will Allah burden him with a trial that is more than what he can handle.
This is not something new
Illnesses and viruses such as the coronavirus are not something new, nor is the fact that people are afflicted with illnesses.
The companions once asked the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wa sallam):
“Oh Messenger of Allah, who from amongst the people were tested the most? The Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wa sallam) responded and said, the Prophets, then the next best and then the next best.”
We see the great Prophet of Allah, Ayyub (alayhi al-Salam), was tested with a great illness. His story is synonymous with patience. He lost everything; his family, wealth, and health. Some narrations say he was bedridden for 18 years, tested with a great illness, yet we find he did not give up hope in Allah and turned to him in this great trial. Some scholars have said that his illness was so severe that his flesh dropped from his body and nothing remained on him except his bones and muscles.
Allah tells us his story in the Qur’an:
“And Ayyub, when he called to his Lord, saying ‘Harm has inflicted me and You are the Most Merciful”
“So We answered him and removed his affliction and We gave him his family and the like of them with them, as a mercy from Us and a reminder to Worshippers.”
The story of Prophet Ayyub is one filled with lessons for us to ponder over. The virtue of patience is shown to us in the Prophet Ayyub through some of the most dire situations that one can come across in life.
Taking necessary precautions
A Muslim should not overreact; at the same time he should not be oblivious about a situation and do nothing!
Taking the necessary means and then relying upon Allah is something which is emphasised in Islam.
“One day Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wa sallam), noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it. He asked the Bedouin, ‘Why don’t you tie down your camel?’ The Bedouin answered, ‘I put my trust in Allah’. The Prophet then said, ‘Tie your camel first, then put your trust in Allah’.
We also find in the incident of Umar (radiy Allahu anhu) taking necessary precautions is a must when you know of a harm or potential danger that could afflict you.
Umar ibn al-Khattab was traveling with a group of companions during his reign. They approached a town in which it was said had a contagious /infectious disease. Umar asked his group whether they should proceed or return (to Madinah). The majority of the companions said they should go back but some said they should proceed. Then one companion said he knew a hadith where the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “If you hear that this disease exists in a country, do not travel to that country.” So Umar decided that they should go back. Another companion asked him whether he was running away from qadar. Umar replied that they were moving away from one qadar to another qadar.
Whenever there is a problem, a challenge, or any hardship which we can remove, overcome, solve, or minimise, we must do so.
Many of the health guidelines given by the NHS are in fact normal practices for Muslims, some of which are as follows:

  1. Washing hands: this is a part of ablution, a Muslim’s daily ritual of purity.
  2. General cleanliness
    The Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said:
    “Cleanliness is part of faith”
    Keeping our surroundings tidy, cleaning up after ourselves, and wiping surfaces down are all aspects of cleanliness which must be adhered to in these situations.
  3. Covering your mouth when sneezing
    The Prophet would cover his mouth when he sneezed. This basic etiquette can take big part in the stopping of the spread of viruses
    “Whenever the Messenger of Allah (sall Allahu alayhi wa sallam) sneezed, he would cover his mouth with his hand or a piece of cloth.”
  4. Quarantine in times of viruses which can spread
    The Prophet gave instructions on what to do if there is an outbreak. Abd al-Rahmān ibn Awf (radiy Allahu anhu) that he said:
    “I heard the Messenger of Allah (sall Allahu alayhi wa sallam) say: “If you hear that it (the plague) is in a land, do not go there, and if it breaks out in a land where you are, do not leave, fleeing from it.”
    The Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wa sallam) also taught us how to protect ourselves by maintaining our adhkar from the Sunnah. One such dua that he taught us was:
    “In the name of Allah with Whose name nothing can harm on earth or in heaven, and He is the All-Hearing, All-Knowing”
    Being positive and having an optimistic outlook
    Always have a positive outlook regardless of the situation you’re in, this is what our Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wa sallam) taught us, when he told us
    “Amazing is the affair of the believer, verily all of his affairs are good and this is not for no one except the believer. If something of good/happiness befalls him, he is grateful and that is good for him. If something of harm befalls him, he is patient and that is good for him.”
    He also said:
    “There are no omens, but the best of it is optimism”
    Conclusion
    The coronavirus is a reminder to us all of our weak state. Regardless of our social standing and our financial position, we are helpless. Allah says:
    “Mankind was created weak”
    Situations like this remind us to turn back to Allah. Allah controls everything and he is the one that can relieve us from our difficulties, we must return to Allah and seek refuge in him and ask his protection.
    NOTES:
    [1] Muslims
    [2] Tirmidhi
    [3] Tirmidhi
    (Extracted from www.islamicity.org)
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