Islamic recommendations on epidemics, going back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad can help people cope with Covid-19.
Islamic rules over epidemics to protect people from death and sickness go back to the very early stages of the emergence of the monotheistic religion.
History says that the Prophet Muhammad advised his followers to value their lives as the most importance over death in his hadiths, urging people to stay away from places where there were epidemics.
The Prophet famously said, “When you hear that [a plague] is in a land, do not go to it and if it occurs in a land that you are already in, then do not leave it, fleeing from it.”
As the Covid-19 outbreak continues killing lives across the world, the Prophet Muhammad’s advice on responding to a pandemic offers a motivation to people to stay their homes and protect themselves from the disease.
The most important aspect of the pandemic is the element of human contact, which should be decreased to the lowest possible level to minimize the virus’s deadly effect.
Islam and epidemics
Centuries ago, Prophet Muhammad urged his people to eliminate the element of contact to save lives.
The Prophet also strictly observed what he advised his companions about the epidemics as he had done in other issues as well.
During the rule of Caliph Umar, who was one of the four righteous caliphs after the Prophet according to Sunni Islam teachings, Muslims also tried to practice what the Prophet urged them to do in the time of an epidemic.
When one of the Muslim armies approached a location in current Syria or in the old Levant, where there was a plague, back in the mid 7th Century, the commanders fell into confusion over what to do.
Caliph Umar urged the army commander to retreat from the expedition in the face of the plague. But the order did not appear to be fulfilled wholeheartedly.
Then, he personally moved to a location to meet with commanders to discuss the situation.
When the disagreement continued, he consulted with a diverse range of advisers to reach an ultimate decision.
Finally, he settled on the decision to stay away from the plague.
Abu Ubaydah ibn Jarrah, the commander of the army and one of Umar’s best friends, who passed away later from the plague, expressed his dislike of Umar’s decision, asking: “Are you fleeing from the decree of Allah?”
Umar famously replied, “Yes, we are fleeing from the decree of Allah to the decree of Allah." The plague led to the deaths of nearly 25,000 Muslims at the time.
Muslims need to abide by social distancing rules in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic in accordance with the advice of the Prophet.