A search through prophetic traditions in the light of Covid, pandemic

Muhammad Salman Abdul Azeez

The entire community is concerned about the spread of Covid-19, which has quaked the entire world. As the Covid-19 pandemic is indeed global in reach, it is injecting pressure to the governments and medias to provide the most accurate and effective direction to the whole humanity, how to combat this pandemic. Hence, it is of great value to health care professionals and scientists who research the impact and transmission of pandemics. The whole world of science is working hard to invent the drug or vaccine to tackle the corona virus. The government is also working hard in all countries by announcing the break the chain measures and by giving awareness on quarantine and cleanliness. The experts like medical officers are advising that the good hygiene and quarantining or the practice of isolating from others in the hope of preventing the spread of contagious diseases, are the most effective mechanism to contain Covid-19.

Nevertheless, it can be seen as advised 1400 years back by the holy messenger Muhammed [let the peace and salutation of Allah be upon him] in an epidemic stage about these hygiene practices, quarantining and isolating measures. He had put forward sound advice to prevent and combat these pandemics.

If one thing people have learned over the past several weeks, it is proper hand washing techniques and hygiene practices. What holy messenger also strongly urged to human beings that to adhere to hygiene practices that would keep people safe from infection. Any Muslim child can quote verbatim the tradition of Islam that states, “Cleanliness is half of faith”[Sahih Muslim]. Before each of the five daily prayers, a Muslim performs an ablution that comprises of ritual cleaning from head to toe with clean water. The holy messenger taught through his practice that the right and left hands should be used to handle pure and impure things respectively further committing to a high standard of cleanliness on a day to day basis. The holy messenger said, “The blessings of food lie in washing hands before and after eating.” Furthermore, when he would sneeze, the holy messenger would cover his face and muffle the sneeze, effectively containing the spread of airborne bacteria and viruses. From the above stated teachings of holy messenger we can perceive the emphasis he given to those hygienic measures.

The holy messenger recognized and preached the significance of travel bans and quarantine in places contaminated with disease in order to mitigate the spread of illness. He said, “if you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it, and if the plague breaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]. The wisdom in these teachings asserts that when confronting any outbreak, it is absolutely imperative that we assume the worst until we know otherwise. Thus, strict travel bans imposed much earlier in Covid-19’s timeline could very well have curtailed the spread of the virus.

The holy messenger practiced social distancing as well. Regarding isolation, the holy messenger taught that those who are sick should not in any way compromise with the community at large. He said, “Do not place a sick patient with a healthy person.” This teaching was extended to animals as well, “The cattle suffering from a disease should not be mixed with healthy cattle” [Sahih Al-Bukhari].
It is also most relevant to what kind of advise the holy messenger provide to his comrades who are suffering from pain and those who fall ill. He exhorted believers to rely on medication and seek medical treatment. Once, he was asked by a group, if it would be considered sinful if they did not seek medical treatment. He replied, “Seek medical treatment, O slaves of Allah, for Allah does not create any disease but he also creates with it the cure, except for old age” [Sunnan Ibn-Majah]. But in recent times, some have come to the conclusion that prayer alone is the remedy against corona virus, rejecting the basic rules of social distancing and quarantine. The holy messenger had repeatedly remained his comrades to pray to the almighty in the situation of crisis and so on. On the other hand he encouraged people to seek medical assistance alongside relying on the power of prayers.

The holy messenger also clarified that seeking medical assistance coupled with divine intervention is the key to successful treatment. “Every disease has a cure, if a cure is applied to the disease; it is relieved by the permission of almighty Allah” [Sahih Muslim]. It is clear from the above stated that, the prayer in conjunction with causes produces the result.
In conclusion, any believer who adheres what the holy messenger exhorted and demonstrated throughout his life should not have to fear at any situations even during and without the pandemics. The holy messenger’s teachings around pandemics propose an infection control mechanism that calls for faith and practical measures to be taken in order to effectively contain infectious diseases.

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