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How to Contain the COVID-19 Spread: Lessons Learned from the Quran and Ahadith

How to Contain the COVID-19 Spread: Lessons Learned from the Quran and Hadith

COVID-19 has already quaked the whole world. Every one of us finds ourselves turned upside down. We can’t meet because the danger is invisible, and it passes among people who are too near to each other. To get through COVID-19, we need to relearn what we’ve learned about how we interact. Lessons from the Quran and hadith would help contain the COVID-19 spread.

Virus spread is a sad and scary example of network effects. Think of your networks when sharing spaces. If you have a power lunch in person, you’re risking the safety of yourself and your mates. And the groups of people you have each shared air within the days and weeks near your luncheon are also at risk.

Why Studying Plagues or COVID-19?

It’s not a pleasant subject. The history of plagues is full of suffering and death. It often seems random or just bizarre, the bane of most historians. There is no happy ending.

The reason for studying COVID-19 is to help debunk popular COVID-19 vaccine myths (see the video). Vaccine hesitancy is widespread in Pakistan. It is all because of rumors and conspiracy theories on social media. While some say that there is alcohol in it, others argue that it contains pork (or other things prohibited in Islam). There are still others claiming that the vaccine may affect some parts of your brain. These claims are wrong and misleading.

But something about COVID-19 is still intriguing. It is that COVID-19 tempers the whole world. There is no middle ground. It puts us all on a litmus test.

How the Quran and Hadith Would Help Contain the COVID-19 Spread?

Now come to the point: How should we act to contain the COVID-19 spread? It isn’t just a question about how and when to shut down public spaces and schools to slow its spread. It’s all about what to do in line with the Quran and hadith to make changes happen. There’s a dire to learn what plans worked and what will not.

In Quran and hadith, Allah wants us all to repent. When corruption is widespread, Allah sends us a warning or reminder (similar to COVID-19). He puts us all on trial to desist. Allah says:

Quran and Hadith send us a warning or reminder to desist.

 It is indeed a form of warning for our evil work we have done with our own hands. Allah says:

Whatever misfortune befalls you is the result of that evil which you have done.

COVID-19 also serves as a sign of mercy and love for believers. When Hazrat Aisha (R.A.) asked about the plague, our beloved Prophetﷺ responded:

A hadith about the plague.

It means that COVID-19 comes from Allah. No one can escape it. But we can take all measures to help contain the spread of it.

What Scholars Say?

It is indeed Allah’s decision whether we will become ill. But it is still a complex dilemma for many. Perhaps the best answer is provided by Imam Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (R.A.), a prolific scholar, saint, jurist, and historian. Al-Suyuti (R.A.) lived in Egypt during the final years of the Mamluk sultanate. As plague was frequent in Mamluk Egypt, al-Suyuti wrote a tract on the origins, spread, and appropriate responses to it.

Al-Suyuti (R.A.) was the admirer of Allama Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (R.A.) and reiterated his ideas on the plague. In light of the hadith above, al-Suyuti (R.A.) equated dying from the epidemic with a martyr’s death in battle. It was to convince people to contain the COVID-19 spread. He also insisted that both the one who survived the plague and the one who succumbed to it would get the reward.

Imam Al-Suyuti (R.A.) condemned flight from plague-struck area. He argued that the most prominent of the Prophet’sﷺ companions disavowed Amr bin al-A’s (R.A.) for his flight from a plague in Syria. 

The Plague of Amwas: How Umar Ibn al-Khattab (R.A.) Contained Its Spread?

The Plague of Amwas (Amwas is a word derived from the town in Palestine) presents a convincing case study to help contain the COVID-19 spread. It also marks the first known application of stopping people from entering or leaving a plague-struck area. The plague of Amwas broke out in Syria and Mesopotamia in 638-639 and claimed around 25,000 lives.

When Hazrat Umar (R.A.) heard of the plague, he was on his way to Syria. He asked his companions whether they should continue toward the plague-stricken area.

A debate ensued about what to do. Some urged the caliph to keep going and not turn back. Others suggested not to expose himself and other leaders, including the Companions of the Prophetﷺ, to the plague.

After consulting his aides, Hazrat Umar (R.A.) decided to return to Medina. Hazrat Abu Ubayda (R.A.) posed an exclamatory question on whether by going back “Umar would be fleeing from the will of Allah.” Hazrat Umar (R.A.) then employed the parable of grazing camels on a lush slope rather than the opposite, barren slope to explain how they were:

“Fleeing from Allah’s destiny to Allah’s destiny.”

The debate ended when Hazrat ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn ʿAwf (R.A.) arrived on the scene to quote Muhammad’sﷺ saying:  

Umar (R.A.) was happy that his decision was in line with the saying of the Prophetﷺ. This hadith has thus established the general rule:

“One should avoid entering a plague-struck city but should not try to flee from it if already there.”

Umar’s (R.A.) move was a wise decision that presaged the concept of (self) quarantine.

What We Should Do to Contain the COVID-19 Spread?

It is the moral duty of our scholars to teach us NOT to commit suicide. After taking all medical precautions and getting vaccines, we must trust in Allah and seek His forgiveness. We should adopt online gatherings as a rule. As the cases are growing day by day, I’d suggest that we must hold classes, prayers, and get-together online to contain the COVID-19 spread. There is nothing more important than the life of an individual.

Saving a life is an act of worship. In light of the Quran and Hadith, the government of Pakistan must take all (strict) measures to contain the COVID-19 spread until there is no single case left (take an example of China). And we should all as a nation ask Allah to forgive our sins, desist from the sinful life, and commit not to return to it.

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