What Islam tells us about responding to deadly pandemics

News Desk
5 July 2020, Sun
Published: 02:09

What Islam tells us about responding to deadly pandemics

Experts say Islamic guidelines 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. 

On many occasions, the Prophet Muhammed advised his companions to value their lives as the utmost importance over death in his numerous sayings (hadiths), urging people to stay away from places where there were epidemics. 

“Our Prophet speaks about the concept of quarantine fourteen hundred years ago,” says Cafer Karadas, professor of divinity at Uludag University, referring to one of the widely known hadiths. 

“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,” the Prophet famously said. 

“This saying exactly refers to the principle of modern quarantine. What it has been currently practiced [concerning the coronavirus outbreak] is the same principle as the advice of the Prophet,” Karadas told TRT World. 

As the Covid-19 outbreak continues to kill tens of thousands of people across the world, the Prophet Muhammed’s advice on how to respond to a pandemic offers a motivation to people to stay put in their homes and protect themselves from the deadly virus.

Islam and epidemics
“Many centuries ago, our Prophet urged his people to eliminate the element of contact to save lives. It shows how much Islam values the protection of life and health,” Karadas analysed. 

The Prophet also strictly observed what he advised his companions about the epidemics as he had done in other issues. 

“The Prophet gives utmost importance to his own health and public health. When he was in Medina and was about to make an agreement with one of the delegations, he refused to shake hands with one of the people [from the delegation], who had a contagious disease, sending him back [to where he came from],” said Huseyin Ari, an expert in the High Council of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs. 

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. 

Finally, he settled on the decision to stay away from the plague. 

“I am returning in the morning, so return as well,” Umar said, declaring his decision to retreat. 

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?”

“Yes, we are fleeing from the decree of Allah to the decree of Allah,” Umar famously replied.  

Islam’s priorities
In different instances, the Prophet Muhammed demonstrated his dislike of wishing for death under any circumstances. 

“None of you should wish for death due to a calamity that has afflicted him,” Prophet Muhammed said in one of his famous hadiths, urging Muslims to find legitimate and protective ways to survive.  

Even under the direst developments, he urged his companions to pray for a good fate and wellbeing (hayr in Arabic). 

“If the infected person dies because of the virus-related disease, ― May Allah protect ―, it means the person, who infected the other person, also led his/her death in a sense.” Source: trtworld

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