Muslims! Allah has blessed us with a Deen that is complete and perfect for all times and places. Allah tells us in the Qur’an, in Surat al-Ma’ida:
“Today I have perfected your Deen and completed My blessing upon you and I am pleased with Islam as a Deen for you.” (5:3)
We also have in the Prophet, may Allah’s Peace and Blessing be with him, the best of examples, as Allah says in the Qur’an:
“You have an excellent model in the Messenger of Allah, for all who put their hope in Allah and the Last Day and remember Allah much.” (Surat The Confederates 33:21)
Whatever problem or difficulty a Muslim faces, he should turn to Allah and His Messenger for guidance.
Right now we are in the midst of what has been called a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, caused by the coronavirus that is spreading to many countries, affecting the lives of many people and causing death to others. In Spain, as you all know, schools and universities have been closed and entire populations have been quarantined in order to contain the spread of the virus. There are a number of thoughts or reflections that should go through the mind of a Muslim in a situation like this:
1. Trials and hardships are a part of life. This is something that Allah informs us about and warns us so that when we are afflicted, we remember that ultimately Allah controls our affairs. And His knowledge of our affairs surpasses our limited understanding. As He says in the Qur’an:
“Or do you suppose that you would enter the Garden without facing the same as those who came before you? Poverty and illness afflicted them and they were shaken to the pint that the Messenger and those who believed with him said, ‘When is Allah’s help coming?'” (Surat The Cow 2:214)
2. Allah sends us tests to see how we react. How do we respond when we have to cancel trips, get sick or suffer financially? Allah says in the Qur’an:
“We will test you with a certain amount of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and life and fruits.” (Surat The Cow 2:155)
Allah continues to say:
“But give good news to the steadfast: Those who, when disaster strikes them, say, ‘We belong to Allah and to Him we will return.'” (Surat The Cow 2:155-156)
The Muslim, the believer, is patient in the face of trials and is certain that Allah will not burden him with a trial he cannot endure.
3. Diseases and viruses like the coronavirus are not new and have affected everyone throughout history, including the best of creation.
Companions once asked the Prophet, may Allah’s Peace and Blessing be with him:
“O Messenger of Allah, who among the people was most tested? The Prophet, may Allah’s Peace and Blessing be with him, answered and said: “The Prophets. Then the best [of people].”
Another matter that we should think about is the Qadar, the Decree, and it is very important to understand it. When events, accidents or incidents occur, the Muslim should know that this is what Allah had decreed before the creation of the universe. And that despite our efforts to control all aspects of our lives, and believe ourselves to be masters of our destiny, Allah is the One who has Power and He is the One who decrees. And everything comes from Him, both what we perceive as good and what we perceive as bad, as mentioned in the famous Hadith of Jibril. He also explains it in another Hadith narrated by Jabir:
“No slave of Allah will truly believe until he believes in Al Qadr, its good and bad, come from Allah, until he knows that what has befallen him was not going to miss him and that what missed him was not going to befall him.” (Tirmidhi)
Allah does not wish any evil to befall us, but because of our experience and our limited vision and understanding we may think that something is bad for us, but in every situation there is something good and positive. And Allah tells us that we may hate something but it is good for us, and we may love something but it is bad for us.
In the face of destiny, the believer trusts in Allah, seeks help from Him and asks Him. When something has already happened we are grateful if it has been good. And we are patient if it has been negative, having the certainty that Allah is the best Planner. This is a quality of the believer, as the Prophet said:
“Amazing is the business of the believer, truly all his business is good and this is for no anyone but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is grateful and that is good for him. If some harm happens to him, he is patient and that is good for him.” (narrated by Muslim)
Muslims, we should not react irrationally or overreact; but neither should we be oblivious to a situation that concerns us.
Knowing that Allah has decreed everything, is not contradicted by taking necessary measures and means (al-ajdhu bil-asbab) to resolve the affairs of this world, nor is this contrary to trust in Allah.
“One day, the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah’s Peace and Blessing be with him, noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel untied. He asked the Bedouins, ‘Why don’t you tie up your camel?’ The Bedouin replied, ‘I trusted Allah’. The Prophet said, ‘Tie up your camel first and then trust Allah.’”
Whenever there is a problem, a challenge, or any difficulty that we can eliminate, overcome, solve, or minimize, we must do so. Many of the health guidelines given by health authorities are in fact normal practice for Muslims, some of which are as follows:
1. Hand washing, something we often do during Wudu. [ritual washing before prayer]
2. General cleanliness and hygiene.
The Prophet, may Allah’s Peace and Blessing be with him, he said: “Cleanliness / purity is part of the belief.”
Keeping our environment neat and clean, as well as our body and clothes, is a basic part of Deen [religion / life transaction of Islam].
3. Covering your mouth when you sneeze, which is also part of the Sunna [traditional customs and practices of the Prophet Muhammad and his community]
“Every time the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s Peace and Blessing be with him, sneezed, he covered his mouth with his hand or a piece of cloth”.
4. Quarantine and population measures in times of disease that can spread.
The Prophet gave instructions on what to do if there is an outbreak of a contagious disease. Sa’ad, may Allah be pleased with him, he said: “I heard the Messenger from Allah, may Allah’s Peace and Blessing be with him, say: ‘If you hear that (the plague) is in a land, do not go there, and if it appears in a land where you are, do not leave it.'”
Muslims! We must always take a positive view, regardless of the situation we find ourselves in. This is part of having a good opinion of Allah and is what our Prophet Muhammad, may Allah’s Peace and Blessing be with him, taught us. He said:
“There are no omens, the best thing (regarding the future) is optimism.”
And this was the attitude of the Prophet when a great coalition of tribes besieged Madinah and many of the Sahaba were worried and morale was low as defeat seemed inevitable, and yet the Prophet gave them the good news that Islam would come to Persia, Syria and Yemen.
O Allah, we ask You to give us a good opinion of You at all times! (Amin.)
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says:
“You who believe! if a deviator brings you a report, scrutinize it carefully in case you attack people in ignorance and so come to greatly regret what you have done.” (Surat The Private Quarters 49:6)
Just as we protect ourselves from illness, we should be judicious in processing the information we constantly receive. Human beings have a limited attention span, and that which captures our attention takes precedence in our daily thinking and experience. The media, both traditional and social networks, constantly strive to capture our attention and exploit the phenomenon of ‘breaking news’. But if we let the media dictate what we pay attention to, we are letting them dictate our conscious experience. Without underestimating the risk that the virus poses, mainly to the elderly and sick people, and being careful in our daily lives to avoid catching it or passing it on to others, we cannot let overexposure to information about this virus monopolise all our attention and dictate how we act.
As Muslims we must be careful and cautious, but not afraid, and not allow ourselves to be carried away by the collective psychosis, hysteria and anxiety, which are more dangerous and more easily transmitted than the virus, and which ultimately encourages a selfish attitude and very little solidarity.
Muslims! Another important aspect that we must remember in a situation like this is that each of us is responsible for himself, his family and his environment. We cannot delegate this responsibility to anyone else, neither to our doctor or hospital, nor to the health system or the state, for Allah will hold us individually accountable for our actions. Health is an Amanah [trust] that Allah has given us and we must take care of it (without making a cult of it) in a conscious way. To the extent that we can, we must strengthen our immune system, through practices that we know from the Sunna and that are universal and common sense, regarding diet and lifestyles.
Today it is especially important to protect ourselves from toxic elements whatever their origin may be.
We ask Allah to give us discernment and protect us from all evil! (Amin.)