Coronavirus and Islamic guidelines

M. Arif Yousafzai

At the end of March, 2020, the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) had spread to six continents, and approximately over 8,40,000 cases are reported while over 38,000 people had died after contracting the respiratory virus. The virus has damaged almost all the developed and developing nations of the world. Around 11,591 deaths occurred in Italy, followed by Spain 7716, China 3305, USA 3170, France 3024, Iran 2757, UK 1408, Netherland 864, Germany 645, Belgium 516, Switzerland 359, Turkey 168, and Brazil 165.

Whatever problem or issue a Muslim is facing, he returns back to ALLAH and his Messenger Mohammad (PBUH) for guidance. Before the Outbreak of the Disease, Islam calls its followers to protect themselves against diseases through the following guidelines: (1) One of the objectives of the Shariah is the preservation of the soul.

Therefore, everyone must take all necessary measures to protect themselves against any harm. (2) Islam emphasizes the importance of cleanliness. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:“Purification is half of faith.” (Muslim). Islam made ablution a pre-requisite for the validity of prayer. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If there were a river at the door of one of you in which he takes a bath five times a day, would any soiling remain on him?” They replied, “No soiling would left on him.” The Prophet said, “That is the five obligatory prayer. Allah obliterates all sins as a result of performing them.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim). Purification includes washing the mouth. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:“Had I not thought it difficult for my Ummah, I would have commanded them to use the Miswak (tooth-stick) before every prayer.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

Therefore, ablution and using tooth-stick are one of the means of protecting our bodies from diseases and viruses.(3) Islam urges Muslims to observe the characteristics of fitrah. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Five practices are the inborn characteristics of man; circumcision, shaving the pubes, plucking out hair under the armpit, paring the nails and clipping the moustaches. (Abu Dawud).

A close look at these rituals would reveal that they play a great role in protecting the body from diseases.(4) Islam made lawful for Muslims all the good foods and drinks and made unlawful to them all what causes harm to them and their bodies. We read in the Quran what means: Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them.

So they who have believed in him, honored him, supported him and followed the light which was sent down with him – it is those who will be the successful (Al-Araf 7:157).(5) Islam urges Muslims to be moderate in consuming lawful food and drinks. Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) said:“A human being has never filled any vessel which is worse than his own belly.” (At-Tirmidhi). Holy Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) commands Muslims to cover their food and drinks. He said:“Cover up the (kitchen) containers (i.e., pots, pans, etc.), tie up the mouth of the water-skin, lock up the doors and extinguish the lamps, because Satan can neither untie the water-skin nor open the door nor uncover the containers.

If one can cover the cooking pot even by placing a piece of wood across it, and pronounce the Name of Allah on it, let him do it. A mouse can sometimes cause a house to burn along its dwellers.” (Muslim). (6) Islam has put rules and regulations on interactions with the opposite gender. Islam prohibited adultery and homosexuality which are the causes of many diseases.

After the Outbreak of the Disease, Islam has given the following guidelines:(1) when a Muslim is afflicted with a certain disease, he has to look at it as a test from Allah the Almighty. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “How wonderful is the case of a believer; there is good for him in everything and this applies only to a believer. If prosperity attends him, he expresses gratitude to Allah and that is good for him; and if adversity befalls him, he endures it patiently and that is better for him.” (Muslim). (2) Islam orders Muslims to seek medication.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:“Make use of medical treatment, for Allah has not made a disease without appointing a remedy for it, with the exception of one disease, namely old age.” (Abu Dawud).(3) When there is an outbreak of a disease, Islam commands Muslims to practice quarantine. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:If you get wind of the outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; and if it breaks out in a land in which you are, do not leave it.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).(4) It is an act of sunnah to say these duaas (supplications) to protect yourself from coronavirus and other infectious diseases: Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) used to say:“O Allah, I seek refuge in You from leprosy, madness, elephantiasis, and evil diseases.” (Abu Dawud). When Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) visited any ailing member of his family, he would touch the sick person with his right hand and would supplicate: [O Allah! the Lord of mankind! Remove this disease and cure (him or her)! You are the Great Curer.

There is no cure but through You, which leaves behind no disease].” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

The coronovirus is a reminder to us all of our weak state. Regardless of our social standing and financial position, we are helpless. ALLAH says: “Mankind was created weak”. Situations like this remind us to turn back to ALLAH because ALLAH controls everything and he is the one that can relieve us from our difficulties. We must return to ALLAH and seek refuge in him and ask his protection.