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Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) On Fighting a Pandemic

If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague breaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place. (Prophet Muhammad PBUH)

Since the earliest of times, various diseases have affected humanity, in some cases, even changed the course of history itself. From the prehistoric Chinese epidemic (before 3000 B.C.), Antonine Plague (A.D. 165-180), Spanish Flu (1918-1919)– to the currently ongoing novel COVID-19 also known as coronavirus, deadly pandemics, and outbreaks have plagued humanity from time to time and killed millions of people globally.

Today, while the whole world is trying to fight corona-virus and coming up with ways to minimize or limit the global impact, Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) talked about it around 1400 years ago.

There are countless times where Allah and his messenger (PBUH) have guided the Muslims regarding diseases, pandemics, and different ways to tackle them.

Let’s have a look at few of those occasions, in relevance to the current COVID-19 pandemic:

Sahih Bukhari Volume 7, Book 71, Number 624: Narrated Saud: The Prophet said, “If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague breaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place.”

Isn’t this what the WHO and all other world health-related organizations telling us to do currently? All the citywide and countrywide shutdowns that we see in the world to contain the spread of the virus is exactly what Islam talked about a long time back. Why do you really think the global transportation system was closed down as soon as the world realized the severity of this virus? Air travel was ceased right away – just to ensure that the virus can be contained as much as it possibly could. This exactly what Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) mentioned in the aforementioned hadith.

On another occasion, quarantine was mentioned by the Holy Prophet (PBUH): Abu Huraira narrated that Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said: “Do not quarantine the healthy with the infected.” Sahih Bukhari:5771, Sahih Muslim: 2221

Abu Malik al-Ash’ari reported that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Being clean and pure is half of faith.” Sahih Muslim: 223

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we have been witnessing how the world has been taking adequate measures to ensure the medical staff, all other front line workers and quarantined people do not get exposed to the patients who already tested positive – exactly what Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) mentioned in the Hadith above.

Islam has emphasized on cleanliness and hygiene on a number of occasions. The most visible example is the prayers that are offered five times a day after performing ablution – which means that five times a day a Muslim is supposed to wash his or her hands. Isn’t this what the healthcare sector and doctors are asking us to do in order to protect ourselves from the virus currently?

During any global pandemic, natural disasters, or a catastrophe, the biggest test that a human goes through is the strength of his faith. If we look at the message given by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in the aforementioned Hadith, it is quite evident that believers need to understand that firstly, why these catastrophes occur in the first place and secondly, how the affected with strong faith can achieve the status of a martyr once they become a victim of it and pass away. Aisha, Mother of the Believers, said: I asked the Messenger of Allah about plagues and he said, “They are a punishment which Allah sends upon whomsoever He wills, but Allah has made it a mercy to the believers. Anyone who remains in a town which is plagued with an epidemic, remaining patient and anticipating Allah’s reward, while firmly believing that nothing will befall him other than what Allah has preordained for him, then he will receive a reward of a martyr.”

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