Life is a gift entrusted to mankind. Preservation of life is one of the most sacred imperatives in Islam. This is mentioned time and again in its primary sources, namely, the Holy Quran and the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). To take a life amounts to a sin against Allah. Islam urges Muslims to protect five main things during their lifetimes: life, intelligence, faith, belongings, and offspring.
The Covid-19 pandemic threatens both personal and public health. A Muslim should strictly follow instructions of experts to protect his/her life as well as of others, because Islam promotes life, not death. Some Muslims argue that God created the coronavirus to warn and punish humanity for not obeying religious duties and for destroying the environment or for rampant immorality. Some say the Almighty is showing his power. Therefore, fighting the pandemic is futile and people should rely (Tawakkul) on God to protect the righteous. Such thinking may help in reducing the sense of fear and panic, but it means that a follower of Islam has no right to use his/her intellect, even though Islam is based on intellectual thinking and rationality. Those who do not use their intellect are not followers of Islam. The Quran addresses, “Li Qaw Min Yaaqiloon”, which means, “to people who think.”
The signs of God are revealed to those who use their brains to reflect, analyse, and contemplate. These are all characteristics mentioned in the Quran as a prerequisite for a believer. Those who abort their intellect are reduced to the state of animals or even worse. It is in the absence of thinking that people are misled or blinded by emotions, hypnotised by quacks, and deprived of wisdom.
One day, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) asked him, “Why don’t you tie down your camel?” The Bedouin answered, “I put my trust in Allah.” The Prophet then said, “Tie your camel first and then put your trust in Allah.”
Allah has blessed Muslims with a Deen (religion) that is complete and perfect. Allah tells Muslims in the Quran: “This day I have perfected for you your Deen (religion) and completed my favour upon you and have approved for you Islam as your Deen (religion).” [SurahAl- Ma’idah] From the above verses it is clear that Islam guides its follower in every situation and in every aspect of life. So it can be said that Islam guides its followers also in this situation of pandemic. Islam is not a rigid religion or a denomination which adopts a superstitious approach. The precautions advised by experts during this pandemic are backed by the Hadith of Khalifah Umer Ibn al-Khattab (RA) who explained that necessary precautions must be taken in situations where harm or danger could affect you. The Khalifah was travelling with a group of companions towards a town when he was informed that the area was afflicted with a contagious disease. He asked his companions whether they should proceed ahead or return to Medina. The majority of the companions said they should go back, but some objected. Then one companion said that he knew a Hadith where the Prophet has said: “If you hear that this disease exists in a country, do not travel to that country.”
The Caliph decided that they should return home. Upon this, one companion asked him whether he was running away from Qadar (destiny). The Caliph replied that they were moving away from one Qadar to another. On the basis of this Hadith, scholars and Muftis of Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries have advised that we Muslims should avoid gatherings and should offer prayers at home. There is no need to go to mosques till the situation gets normal. From Indonesia to Morocco, mosques are closed on Fridays. In Libya, the government has closed all mosques, a step never taken before even in times of war on revolution. In Kashmir, too, Muftis have advised people to pray at home. An Algerian expert in Islamic Law, Mohammad Mouloudi said it best: “Islam promotes life, not death.”