Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Prevention of the Spread of Corona Virus: Islamic Point Of View On Infectious Diseases

By S. Arshad, New Age Islam
18 March 2020
Recently Corona Virus commonly known as Covid-19 has become a pandemic which originated in Wuhan in China and is spreading across the globe affecting millions and killing more than 6000 people. Most of the victims have been reported from China, Iran and Italy. Gulf countries, India and some European countries are catching up fast with this disease and therefore have taken preventive measures on government level. Since no medical cure is known to this malady so far, only precautions and preventive measures are what can be taken to contain this epidemic. Avoiding physical contact with others, washing hands often, abstaining from vegetarian food and isolation and quarantine are some of the measures that have been taken individually and on government level. Public gathering, attending marriage ceremonies and parties have been banned, school and colleges have been suspended for a period in some countries. In Gulf countries, religious congregations have been banned. Muslims are being advised to offer their five time prayers at home. Oman and Kuwait are two such countries.
Let's discuss what Islam says about the infectious diseases and what it asks it's followers to do as precautionary and preventive measures.
The Hadith (traditions of Prophet Muhammad pbuh) are very clear and scientific on this issue. The holy Prophet pbuh prescribed isolation and quarantine during an epidemic.
According to some hadiths, the holy Prophet pbuh advised people not to enter a place or area infected by plague and also advised people not to leave a place infected by it. The Prophet pbuh also advised the sick people not to go near the healthy people.
The holy Prophet pbuh also inculcated principles of general hygiene among Muslims to avoid diseases. He (pbuh) stressed on the need to wash hands before and after meals and using Miswak. These are all advised by modern day health experts and doctors.
However, it needs to be seen from the Islamic perspective whether banning collective prayers in mosques for fear of the spread of the Corona virus is justified by the Quran or Hadith or is it an overreaction?
Though the Quran says that taking care of one's own life is necessary and people are advised by the Quran not to put one's life at risk, it also says that if death is decreed by God, it will come even in the strongest of the forts. (Al Nisa:78). A Hadith also says that "There is no adwa". It means that no disease is transmitted from one person to the other without the permission of Allah. The Hadiths also forbid only infected people from visiting or going near the healthy. Therefore banning collective prayers in mosques may be an overreaction. Muslims should only be told that only people with flu like symptoms or diagnosed to be infected with the disease should not visit mosques for prayers. Such people should offer prayers at home. Barring healthy people from entering mosques seems to be an unnecessary step even when the disease has not taken the shape of an epidemic in the Gulf States.
Preventions and precautions like not shaking hands, and not eating and mixing with people freely with strangers in parties and weddings should be taken. According to a report, a muezzin started crying while calling the Azan when he said, 'Assalato fi Buyutikum'. Such emotional reactions are the result of collective fear created by people and the government in the name of creating awareness about the disease. Though the disease should not be ignored or taken lightly, it should also be kept in mind that unnecessary hype and mass hysteria over precautions will only cause unjustified trouble to people.
S. Arshad is a regular columnist for

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