TO A POST COVID-19 WORLD Dr Muhammad Qaseem
The COVID-19 pandemic is raging like a wildfire, impacting human life in ways that we may not fully comprehend today; and humanity is at a loss to find a way out. Every nook and corner of the world has been affected, with the developed nations having been hit the hardest. Those who loved to lord it over the rest of humanity have been brought to their knees, and their healthcare systems are crumbling before their eyes like houses of cards. People are dying by the thousands every day, and the living are scared to death, deeply worried about their survival and future challenges.
The virus doesn’t seem to go away anytime soon and we have to learn how best we can cope with the situation. Our success or failure in the future depends on the choices that we make today and the path that we select for our journey onwards. Mankind is, therefore, at a crossroads. Our choices must be well thought out and based on an in-depth and collective analysis of our past, as they will have serious repercussions for the entire humanity. We are doomed if we don’t join hands globally to face this challenge and to tackle the bigger economic, social and moral issues that it would entail. United we shall stand; and divided we shall fall. Therefore, there is a pressing need for serious efforts to engage in a global dialogue in order to prepare mankind for a substantially different post-COVID-19 world.
Lockdowns have, apart from saving lives, brought many a blessing in disguise. Suddenly, we have plenty of time for reflection; most of the polluted cities of the world are fit again for human life, and people have realised that they can comfortably live without most of the ‘essentials’ in their lives. Health care, personal development and other important issues, constantly pushed to the backburner in the mayhem of life, have come to the fore. People have started reflecting on their worldviews and the fundamental questions of life which they had ignored for so long. They are pondering on their futures as individuals, families, communities and nations, a future in which many of the restrictions of today may become the new normal.
Islam’s Contribution to this Debate
In this context, we would like to share the perspective of Islam on how to manage and cope with a pandemic and its fallouts, with the hope that it will not only serve humanity in this hour of need but will also contribute significantly towards its future wellbeing and safety.
What is Islam and How Do We Know its Teachings?
Islam is the religion chosen by Almighty Allah and revealed through His last Prophet (SAW) for the guidance of humanity. The source of Islamic teachings is the body of the knowledge-based on and derived from the Holy Qur’an and the authentic traditions of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). The Holy Qur’an is the revealed book of Allah to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) through Angel Gabriel; preserved through memorisation by hundreds of thousands of Muslims in each generation and recorded in written form from the days of the Prophet (SAW) till date. The traditions of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) that Divine knowledge whose meaning has been revealed to the Prophet who has expressed them in his words. They have been preserved through memorisation by countless scholars in each generation and compiled in authentic books. These teachings are so comprehensive that they cover, explicitly or by inference, every aspect of life from apparently trivial personal matters to the enormous issues facing institutions, states and humanity at large.
The following are the main features of Islam’s message to Humanity
- Allah has addressed His Prophet (SAW) in the Holy Qur’an, saying: “We haven’t sent thee but as the source of mercy and blessing for the entire universe”
This Divine gift of mercy to mankind was manifested through the last Prophet (SAW) who provided Allah’s guidance to people on how they should conduct their lives in conformity with His laws and commands as revealed in the Holy Qur’an and implemented by the Prophet (SAW) in his life. The Prophet’s life was the perfect model and complete embodiment of all the teachings of Allah for humanity in different roles.
- The cornerstone of this message is the emphasis on the purpose of human life on earth; the realisation that man has been created and sent to earth by Allah as His vicegerent and, therefore, he must act in line with the orders of his Creator without any transgression and breach of the boundaries set by the Lord. Islam respects the entire humanity as children of Adam and does not discriminate based on colour, race, nation or any other material consideration. The only
consideration for preference is based on piety, adherence to the moral values and laws of Shari’a, and sincere submission to the Divine Guidance.
- Once a man realises this sublime objective and follows the Divine Wisdom, he finds himself on a path of unity and conformity with the entire universe surrounding him. Consequently, he rises above his personal whims and desires and transcends his selfish inclinations and tendencies a distractions from the Right Path that humanity has to follow to ensure its success and wellbeing With this responsibility comes the concept of reward and punishment; both in this world and in the Hereafter, which is the permanent abode of humanity.
- These teachings are the real beacons of light at all times, especially during times of adversity and crisis where people find themselves groping in the dark, losing their ability to move in the right direction. These teachings are also far superior to man-made laws and philosophies; for the simple reason that they are from the Creator of mankind who knows, and orders, what is beneficial for the entire of humanity without any bias or discrimination. They are also all-encompassing covering the spiritual as well as the material aspects of our lives.
- Moreover, these teachings are not mere rituals or out-of-this-world practices. Rather, they aim to achieve human prosperity and wellbeing in this world by enabling people to adhere to the Shari’a code and strive for their success in the Hereafter. Human history is a testimony to this fact.
How These Teachings Turned Arab Bedouins into World Leaders
By following this Divine Wisdom in the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), the Arab desertdwellers, who had little worldly knowledge and civilisation, turned, within a few years, into world leaders who emancipated mankind from the clutches of tyranny, injustice and evil. It was the rationality of the Islamic faith and the practical manifestations of the blessings and mercy of its teachings in all spheres of life that made hundreds of thousands of people from the region known as MENA1 today flock, with love and devotion, to the fold of Islam en masse in a short span of time.
Women found their dignity as equal human beings with economic independence, rights to select their spouses, inherit and carry out their duties and obligations as responsible members of the Muslim community. Children were told that Paradise lay at the feet of their mothers, parents were given the glad tiding of Heavens if they properly raised and educated two daughters, and husbands were told that the best amongst them were those who were the finest in dealing with their wives. Rights of elders, children and the down-trodden were emphasised to protect them against neglect and wrongdoing. People were warned that they will be held accountable on the Day of Judgement for mistreatment of animals. Trade, land cultivation, tree plantation and all other forms of serving humanity were encouraged as righteous deeds. In short, there was not a single creature who did not enjoy its due share of the mercies of Allah through the message brought by the Last Prophet (SAW) and the examples set by him and his Companions wherever the true message of Islam prevailed.
People of all walks of life, Muslims and non-Muslims, enjoyed these rights and privileges to the extent of adherence of the Muslim regions and states to the teachings of Islam. Religious minorities found protection for the first time under the banner of Islam. During the reign of Umar, the second Caliph of Islam, the Jews were allowed to resettle in Jerusalem after they had been forced out from there by the Christians.
Unfortunately, with the passage of time and adverse influence of the foreign cultures and ideologies with whom the Muslims came into contact, that level of strict compliance with the tenets of Islam was not maintained. Consequently, not only the Muslims but all the segments of society suffered adverse impacts. Mankind as a whole lost the protection and mercy they enjoyed under the banner of Islam.
If history bears testimony to this glowing spiritual and material transformation of humanity to the high pedestal of the real vicegerent of Allah when Islamic teachings were adhered to, why don’t we turn to these teachings once again to regain that lofty position? Islam no doubt provides beacons of light of Divine Wisdom for all aspects of life, but to begin with we may focus on some of the areas which are most relevant to our present-day crisis. The following seven gifts from Islam, in our opinion, are not only the most significant for addressing our present-day challenges but would also contribute enormously to positively reshaping the post COVID-19 world.
- A Spiritual Worldview
This pandemic has proved how worthless and vulnerable our material life is, and how helpless we are in protecting it. Mankind, as a whole, has been knocked out by some of the tiniest creatures of Allah, despite its tall claims of harnessing diseases and having built the best medical care systems. This situation has led many to despair, anxiety, depression and several other miseries. However, we observe that people with faith in Allah and the Hereafter, signifying the purpose of their life beyond this material world, have been spared these agonies to a great extent. It may be of interest for us to know why.
Muslims believe that this worldly life is a test from Allah, which entails various trials and tribulations, preparing them for their permanent abode in the Paradise. Death is not the end of life for them; rather, it is the beginning of a new phase of life; and it has a pre-ordained time that will not change.
This belief has served them well in facing the present crisis, like a ship anchored firmly in the harbour,
which can withstand any types of typhoons. The Holy Qur’an has highlighted this fact by saying:
“And this worldly life is nothing but a source of momentarily joy and play; while the real life is in the
Hereafter. If they understand this, (they will never cling to the worldly life.)”
Further, Islam considers those who pass away in such a pandemic as martyrs as stated in a tradition of the Prophet (SAW). Therefore, Muslims can gather the required courage and strength to withstand the calamity and follow the Islamic quarantine instructions, the first known guideline for quarantine in the history of mankind, even if compliance with those instructions may result in their death.
The Prophet (SAW) said, “If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague
breaks out in a land and you are there, do not leave it.”
So, one gift of Islam to humanity would be this precious worldview, which gives human life a purpose beyond its material aspects. It raises mankind above other creatures, emphasising the sense of nobility as well as accountability in man, as implied by the word vicegerent.
Moreover, Islam highlights human limitations and helplessness in the face of challenges of such magnitude. It reminds us that the world has a Creator with a grand scheme and design. Mankind, as God’s vicegerent in that grand scheme, is required to comply with the orders of His Lord and desist from all forms of transgression and rebellion against Allah. Otherwise, he should be ready for chastisement and severe punishment in this world and the Hereafter.
Therefore, such crises serve as a warning from the Creator for those who deny Allah’s existence or think that He may have created the universe but has left it to man’s machinations for enslaving their peers and shaping the world according to their whims. It serves as a shock chastisement to those who snatch the rights and resources of others to quench their greed, imposing their hegemony on smaller communities and nations. It is a rebuke to those who believe in the philosophies of “might is right” and “survival of the fittest”. In short, it puts all these tyrants at the notice of war with the Creator for oppressing His servants. Allah, therefore, wants mankind to take heed and turn to their Lord with
prayers and supplications, seeking forgiveness for their sins and transgressions, which are the primary causes of their miseries and tribulations.
This Muslim worldview hinges on three important components: faith in Allah (SWT), the All-Wise and All-Powerful; faith in the Prophet (SAW) and His Divine Message about how to carry out the mission assigned to him by Allah; and faith in the Hereafter and the Ultimate Reward and Punishment. The concept of mankind’s accountability, by Allah, the All-Knowledgeable and All-Just, on the Day of Judgment for all their deeds, moral as well as legal, is something that humanity desperately needs during this pandemic that has laid bare human temptations of selfishness and tactics that are reminiscent of the law of the jungle, whether it is about ‘snatching’ the best medical supplies and equipment by the most powerful nations, or the advance booking of the potential vaccines by the most affluent, or denying provision of medical services to the most vulnerable segments of the society.
It would be absurd to think that Allah has created man with no purpose. Equally absurd is the belief that He is our Creator and Sustainer but has ignored our spiritual and moral needs, or that Allah would not hold mankind accountable for their deeds, despite giving them the knowledge to differentiate between good and evil and the power to choose between the two in the light of Divine guidance in the form of His books and prophets.
Allah’s Divine message to mankind is like a manual of a manufacturer for maintenance of his product, which one can ignore at one’s peril. No sane person would throw away the manual of any machine or try to create his manual for its maintenance. However, by laying down our own conflicting and contradicting laws that we continuously change in line with our ever-changing whims and desires, we are doing exactly that.
Islamic faith is distinct from almost all other faiths in the world with its emphasis on human intellect and reason, and the Qur’an denotes this faculty of mankind as the selection criteria for his role as the vicegerent of Allah on earth.
“And We have certainly honoured the children of Adam and carried them on the land and sea and provided for them of the good things and preferred them over much of what We have created, with [definite] preference.” [Al Isra:70]
However, left to his intellect alone without being guided by Divine Wisdom, man is fallible and susceptible to errors and mistake. Therefore, Islam commands mankind to use its intellect in order to carry out its mission. Without Divine revelation, man would be groping in total darkness, like a person who may enjoy excellent eyesight but cannot see anything in total darkness. He has to seek light to be able to use his eyes.
Intellect should be used to trace the source of Divine knowledge. However, after reaching this real beacon of light, man must submit to it in totality, whether or not he comprehends, with his little knowledge, the wisdom behind all its teachings and instructions fully. He needs to believe that guidance from the All-Wise will always be full of wisdom. This is just like a sick person who uses his brain, experience, friends’ network and reviews etc. to get to the best doctor or medical facility that can treat his medical condition; but once there, he has to submit to the judgment of the doctors and the course of action that they advise, relying totally on their professional wisdom. The biggest blunder would be to refuse to trust and submit to the Will of Allah, even to the extent we trust and submit to the professional judgment of a doctor for treatment.
It may be argued that there is no genuine Divine wisdom anywhere in the world; otherwise, we would have undoubtedly submitted to it and followed it in letter and spirit. This view is contrary to our belief in Allah, who loves us to be on the Right Path. How can He leave us without His Divine Wisdom and Guidance? Moreover, the Muslims, one-fourth of the world population, believe that the Holy Qur’an, the word of Almighty Allah revealed to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) fourteen centuries ago, is fully intact and preserved as it was revealed to Prophet Muhammad. So, why don’t we examine this assertion?
Most of the independent scholars of Islam and the orientalists who studied Islam from an adversarial perspective have all agreed that the Qur’an which the Muslims recite today has been fully preserved from the day of Muhammad (SAW), the last prophet, till date by hundreds of thousands of those Muslims who have memorised Qur’an by heart in each generation, eliminating the minutest chance of any change or fabrication by anyone. Some of the oldest copies from the first century of Islam still existing today proves beyond any doubt the fact that the Holy Qur’an has been preserved in its original language and script.
Secondly, the Qur’an always invites its readers to think, contemplate, observe and examine issues openly before accepting them. Therefore, we call upon the entire humanity to read the Qur’an and analyse its message to humanity, examine the guidance provided in it and observe the realities of life, soul, and moral values in the light of the Divine wisdom contained in it. They should analyse the assertions of Qur’an about the universe, its statements about the natural phenomena surrounding our life, and the future events predicted by it that were beyond the presaging means and resources of the entire humanity at the time of its revelation; let alone the untutored Prophet Muhammad (SAW)
in Arabia, and we are sure that they would reach the only logical conclusion — that all these facts were revealed by the All-Knowledgeable Allah to His Prophet (SAW). They will certainly find that the Qur’an is the pure word of God and the ultimate manifestation of His Mercy, as each chapter of it, except one, starts with the same verse denoting Allah’s Mercy and Compassion. They will realise that only by compliance with the Divine Wisdom contained in this book they can get their due share of His mercy in both the worlds.
i. Personal Hygiene: COVID-19 has ignited a widespread debate on the importance of personal hygiene and cleanliness, highlighting the health dangers posed by unhygienic practices and ways of life. The instructions given by healthcare experts, in the wake of this pandemic, about frequent washing of hands, mouth, nose etc. are surprisingly parts of the daily ablutions of the Muslims all over the world— the mandatory act of washing for the five obligatory daily prayers of the Muslims.
Muslims are required to clean certain parts of their bodies; especially those parts which are exposed to outside elements such as dust, dirt, etc., for their five daily obligatory prayers. In each ablution, they wash their hands up to their wrists three times, their mouths and noses by brushing and gargling three times, and their faces and hands again up to the elbows three times, and then touch their heads with wet hands, and then wash their feet three times. They are required to thoroughly clean every part, even the spaces between the fingers as well as the clefts, and ensure that water reaches them even in chilly winter weather5.
Would it not be miraculous to see such amazing teachings with regard to hygiene and health in a desert life where water is always scarce? Does it not point to its real source, Allah’s revelation? And isn’t this emphasis on hygiene a great gift of Islam to humanity?
A tradition of the Prophet (SAW) states that cleanliness is considered equal to half of the faith,
which means that half of the rules of Islam are in one way or the other related to cleanliness.
“The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: Cleanliness is half of faith.6”
Muslims are also required to keep their clothes and the places of their prayers clean. Droplets of urine, stool, semen and blood are considered to be unclean and hence have to be thoroughly rinsed, from the body, the clothes and the prayer place. Moreover, it is strongly recommended to take a shower before the weekly Friday prayer7, while it is mandatory for the spouses to have a comprehensive bath by washing their entire bodies after intercourse8.
In line with the teachings of the Prophet (SAW), Muslims also wash their hands before and after taking a meal, after answering the call of nature, and whenever they wake up from their sleep. This is to ensure that their hands are clean before they put them in their mouths or use them for any purpose. They also have to cut their nails regularly, preferably every week, but in no case delaying it long enough to allow dirt to accumulate there.9 10 ,
I heard the Prophet (SAW) saying. “Five practices are characteristics of the Fitra (sound nature): circumcision, shaving the pubic hair, cutting the moustaches short, clipping the nails, and depilating armpit hair.” 11
ii. Cleanliness of the Community: These measures do not only keep the individuals personally clean but also contribute towards cleanliness of the community and their surroundings. To ensure the cleanliness of body and clothes, they would also then keep their communities and surroundings clean. Many Muslims in Medina used to pray, during the time of Prophet, without removing the soft leather socks that they put on while roaming on the streets of Medina, which shows that they kept their streets cleaner than most of the courtyards of our present-day houses, and hence did not need to remove their socks during their prayers.
Islam strongly prohibits answering the call of nature in a public place as a nuisance and health hazard. A tradition counts removing dirt from people’s path and anything detrimental to the surroundings as a branch of faith. The benefits of the cleanliness of one’s surroundings and the health hazards posed by dirty surroundings may be easy to understand today due to the scientific awareness, but such details in an Arabian desert fourteen centuries ago could not come but from only one source, the Creator of the universe.
Abu Huraira has reported:
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Beware of two things which provoke cursing.” The Companions
said: O Messenger of Allah, what are those things which provoke cursing? He said: “Easing on the
thoroughfares or under the shades (where they take shelter and rest).”12
iii. Clean Food: Allah has made pure and clean things permissible and prohibited impure and unclean things, and this is one of the biggest lessons that humanity should learn from Islam during this pandemic. However, with his limited knowledge and temptations, man cannot decide what is pure and clean from what is impure and unhygienic for his consumption. That is why he keeps doing things even when their hazards are scientifically established, such as smoking, drinking etc. Therefore, he must turn to his Creator for Divine Guidance, as no one needs to endure a pandemic of this magnitude to understand that eating carnivorous animals is hazardous for humanity? Shouldn’t mankind get this knowledge about pure and impure food from Islam, which provides God’s teachings? The Holy Qur’an says:
“O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.” [Al Baqarah: 168]
In another place, the Qur’an states:
“He has forbidden you from eating dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been
dedicated to other than Allah.” [Al Baqarah:173]
Islam has forbidden pork and alcohol. It has been scientifically proven that pork causes fatal diseases such as trichinosis, liver cirrhosis, multiple sclerosis, as well as obesity. The recent reports from China indicate that another swine flu pandemic may be in the making. Alcohol is also one of the main causes of multiple liver diseases, including liver cirrhosis. Europe’s consumption of alcohol during the 1990s decreased significantly when these facts started being highlighted, but they soon reverted to their old habits, as people tend to forget their lessons without constant reminders or religious conviction.
iv. Clean Sexual Relationship: Islam confines sex to the permissible relationship of a husband and wife. This is similar to the teachings of other revealed religions on the subject but by rebellion against this command of his Lord, man has sowed the seeds of his destruction. Medical research has proven that having multiple sex partners results in the spread of devastating STDs, cervical cancer etc. which are killing tens of thousands every year and sterilising countless other people. These diseases are one of the reasons behind the falling fertility rates in many countries, apart from other moral social as well as economic complications that they create for the community13
This pandemic has made it clear that the consequences of our choices, whether they are related to our food, sex or general lifestyle, do not remain confined to us only; rather they spill over to the wider community and may have global repercussions for generations to come. Therefore, we cannot remain silent spectators, while others are bent upon destroying our habitats, societies and environments with their unscrupulous attitudes and behaviours. In societies known for sexual promiscuity, many people lose their bonds with their family members because of doubts about their lineage, shredding the social fabric to pieces and causing crumbling of the family structure.
Shari’a prohibits intercourse, during monthly periods as well as acts of sodomy and homosexuality. There is no doubt that these acts are not only unnatural, but they are also medically hazardous for the perpetrators. The Holy Qur’an says:
And [remember] Lot when he said to his people, “Do you commit such debauchery acts in which no one has preceded you in the world? Indeed, you pursue men with sexual desire, instead of women. Rather, you are a transgressing people.” [Al A’raf: 80-81]
Physical Fitness & Health
The pandemic, on a positive note, has raised the level of health consciousness. People have realised that with better health and physical fitness, they will have a better chance of winning the fight against this disease.
Islam acknowledges fitness as a source of strength. In a tradition, Prophet (SAW) says that a strong and healthy Muslim is better than a weak one, although both have virtues14.
This proves that Islam wants its followers to keep themselves strong and healthy, as keeping oneself healthy enough to be able to offer one’s daily prayers and carry out other obligations is not a matter of personal choice, rather it is an obligation. This is based on the Shari’a maxim that a prerequisite for an obligation becomes an obligation itself. The Muslims have also been advised to teach their children cavalry games, archery and swimming, to develop the required strength and skills to defend their faith and lands.
‘Uqbah bin ‘Amir Juhani (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
I heard the Messenger of Allah (SAW) saying, “Lands shall be laid open to you, and Allah will suffice
you (against your enemies), but none of you should neglect practicing his skill in archery.”15
The human body, from an Islamic perspective, is like an official machine that needs to be diligently and thoroughly taken care of and used for the official work only. You must constantly remind yourself that your body is not yours to use the way you like; rather it has to be used for the purpose for which your Lord has created it. And if you neglect the maintenance of this official machine, or you put it into impermissible use, you shall be held accountable for that.
slam has taken care of physical health through multiple teachings; amongst which the most frequent are the five regular obligatory prayers, which also contribute to the physical fitness of practising Muslims. While this may be one of the least significant aspects of prayer if compared to its real essence of spiritual purification, supplication and total submission to the Lord, there is no doubt that walking to the Masjid and following the prescribed postures during prayer are serving Muslims’ physical fitness also. Standing, bending or bowing and prostrating so frequently every day are so soothing for the body and joints that no better alternative may exist. A comparison with yoga will prove that the physical benefits of Muslim prayers are far superior, suitable for all people and ages, and more in line with nature and genuine scientific research. On the contrary, many yoga postures cannot be performed but by a very healthy and agile person, and many postures and positions could be medically hazardous.
Similarly, the obligatory fasting in the lunar month of Ramadhan once a year (which, we must note, falls in different seasons of the year with varying lengths of the day and in different climatic conditions), have far-reaching benefits for health. Muslims are also encouraged to fast twice a week, which is very similar to modern-day medical experts’ recommendations about intermittent fasting to overcome a variety of health conditions. However, we must mention again, that these are only small benefits of prayer and fasting compared to the spiritual benefits of these pillars of Islam as they aim to instil fear of Allah, teach submission to Him, purify the intention, discipline the self with regard to time and diet, boost resilience and inculcate a sense of oneness with the rest of the humanity and connection with
the have-nots, amongst countless other benefits.
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you so
that you may become righteous.” [Al Baqarah:183]
i. A clear list of do’s and don’ts with regard to dietary practices and supplements the above instructions with regard to physical wellbeing and fitness. We have already mentioned that Islam prohibits eating all kinds of carnivorous animals and birds as they are considered impure. This is to keep humanity out of the harm way by declaring forbidden whatever is not good medically or spiritually or in any other way. It is only through this Divine Wisdom that we will be able to know what we can eat and what we should not.
ii. Islamic scriptures have mentioned certain fruits, plants and foods as Allah’s blessings in this world and in the Paradise, which by inference encourages Muslims to consume the same. Honey, milk, olives, figs, dates, and water are all mentioned as Allah’s blessings in the Quran16.
iii. The Prophet (SAW) has shown by example to have been leading a simple and natural life, consuming mostly natural food, and that also in moderation. The Prophet’s wives would seldom cook food. At times a whole month or more would pass in the house of the Prophet (SAW) without cooking any food. In a tradition, Hazrat Aisha, his wife, mentioned that they would never get full even from wheat bread for three consecutive nights, which means that they would have nothing or very little to eat at least twice a week17 18. In another Hadith, she says:
“A complete month would pass by during which we would not make a fire (for cooking), and our food would be only dates and water unless we were given a present of some meat.”19
The Prophet (SAW) used to sit on the floor like ordinary people and servants while eating, underscoring not only the importance of humbleness but also the benefits of a humble seating on the floor like that of a servant.
Traditions Related to Health
i. The Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said:
Abu Huraira narrates:
The Prophet (SAW) said, “There is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its treatment.”20
This tradition indicates that the correct medicine for any ailment would be based on natural remedies
ii. In another tradition, the Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said that black seed is a cure for every
ailment but death.
Abu Huraira narrates:
I heard Allah’s Messenger (SAW) saying, “There is healing in black seed for all diseases except death.”21
iii. Honey has been mentioned as a source of treatment for ailments both in the Holy Qur’an and in
the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW)2
iv. Similarly, Prophet (SAW) has advised using saussurea costus.
“Treat with the Indian incense (saussurea costus), for it has healing for seven diseases; it is to be sniffed by one having throat trouble, and to be put into one side of the mouth of one suffering from pleurisy.23
v. In another Hadith, the Prophet (SAW) has recommended cupping24.
vi. An analysis of all these traditions shows how they emphasise the use of natural plants for medicine which not only boosts immunity but also have minimum side effects.
Allah has blessed man with the inherent knowledge of right and wrong based on his intellect. But with limited knowledge and due to biases, animalistic desires etc., his judgment could be tainted unless he turns to Divine Wisdom for guidance and suppresses his base desires and selfish tendencies. To that end, Islam has given elaborate instructions on how to control and discipline one’s nafs (self) and to make it submissive and subservient to one’s intellect and the Divine Wisdom. These instructions can be summarised in four points: minimising consumption, conversation, socialising and sleep. An analysis of these points shall prove how great these gifts are to humanity especially during this pandemic, the best opportunity to start implementing this regime for the desired control over the ‘self’.
i. Eating when hungry and prohibition of overindulging: The Prophet (SAW) has said that “a filled stomach is the worst pot to be filled by a human being. Even if one is too hungry, he should not fill more than one-third of his stomach with food, one-third with water, and leave one-third empty for proper breathing”.’”
Hazrat Umar once, explaining the reason for the physical health of the Muslims, said, “We are a people that don’t eat unless we feel hungry; and when we eat, we don’t fill our stomachs” . Obesity, one of the leading causes of many health conditions globally, results from over-eating, wrong dietary choices and a sedentary lifestyle, all of which have been strongly discouraged by Islam.
ii. Minimising Conversation:
Abu Hurairah RA has reported:
The Prophet (SAW) said, “He who believes in Allah and the Last Day must either speak righteously
or remain silent.”25
This means that one has to keep silent unless he is sure that what he says is virtuous in the eyes of Islam. Therefore, a Muslim must think carefully before uttering even a single sentence, and this would automatically lead to less speech and less responsibility in this world and the Hereafter.
Rumour-mongering as well as spreading fake news are considered as major sins in Islam.
Abu Hurairah RA has narrated:
The Prophet (SAW) said, “It is enough for a man to prove himself a liar when he goes on narrating whatever he hears.”26
In this tradition, the Prophet (SAW) has declared someone who spreads whatever he hears without checking its veracity a liar.
Similarly, Islam prohibits its followers from peeping into other’s lives or interfering in their personal affairs.
Abu Hurairah RA has reported Allah’s Messenger (SAW) as saying:
Avoid suspicion, for suspicion, is the gravest lie in conversation, and do not be inquisitive about one another and do not spy upon one another and do not feel envy with one another, and nurse no malice, and nurse no aversion and hostility against one another. And be fellow-brothers and servants of Allah.”27
This serves as a great lesson in the modern age where falsehood thrives at the expense of truth, and it has become almost impossible to differentiate between truth and falsehood. People spread falsehood for vested interests, dubbing them as alternative facts. Nothing could be more disastrous than a world devoid of truth and veracity, lacking the basic standards to distinguish between right and wrong, or truth and falsehood.
iii. Restricting Socialising: The third pillar of this regime for self’s discipline is restrictions on
socialising. ‘Uqbah bin ‘Amir RA reports:
I asked the Messenger of Allah (SAW), “How can salvation be achieved?” He replied, “Control your tongue, keep to your house, and weep over your sins.”28
This tradition shows that the best way of building a pious character is to avoid dubious characters, to think before you talk, and to reflect on your sins to get rid of them29.
Islam discourages gatherings unless they serve a virtuous purpose, as they mostly lead to gossip, backbiting and countless other undesirable consequences. The above tradition highlights real social distancing, which is to distance oneself from socialising with people of dubious characters, unnecessary acquaintances and situations which might result in committing wrongdoings. This objective cannot be achieved without complete social distancing, which requires limiting conversation, surfing and any kind of interaction to what is necessary and virtuous.
In this context, it is important to note that Islam emphasises the segregation of sexes, even during prayer in a mosque, let alone in any other context. Handshake between men and women, (except between some close relatives like siblings, or aunts or nieces), is not permitted for moral reasons, as the consequences of free mixing between sexes are not hidden from the eyes of any sane person. Muslims have been constantly at the receiving end in certain countries for these religious etiquettes, but ironically the same countries are now enforcing these rules for medical reasons.
The Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said that marketplaces are the worst places in the world30. This may be because such places are frequented by all types of people including elements with dubious moral characters who leave their mark on their surroundings.
During the lockdowns and restrictions on travel etc., we must have realised the futility of too much travel and socialising. There is no doubt that a lot of people need to travel for various reasons, but we must draw a line between what is necessary and what is purposeless roaming, being promoted by the consumerist culture, with little care about pollution, exposure to incurable diseases and wasting precious natural resources and our hard-earned money. The present halt in this mayhem should serve as an hour of reckoning, allowing us to rethink our lifestyles to ensure a better future for the generations to come.
iv. Sleep Management: The fourth component of this regime for self’s discipline is sleep management. The life of the Prophet (SAW) is the epitome of perfection and management, which cannot be achieved without proper timekeeping and sleep management. A man with a disturbed sleep pattern can never carry out his assigned duties efficiently within
the allocated time. The Prophet (SAW) used to go early to bed immediately after his Isha prayers, which is normally offered about two hours after sunset. Then, by dividing his night between worship and sleep, and taking a midday nap called Qailoolah, the Prophet (SAW) used to get optimum results from the little time he would spend sleeping.
Aishah RA has reported:
The Prophet (SAW) used to offer eleven Rak’ah of Salat (prayers) in the latter part of the night. Before the dawn, he would offer two short Rak’ah and then would lie down on his right side till the Mu’adhdhin (one who calls for prayer) would come to inform him that the congregation had gathered (for prayer). 31
This habit of the Prophet (SAW) indicates that the sleep management technique in Islam is based on four components: going to bed early after Isha prayers, waking up in the wee hours of the night before dawn for worship, early start of the work and a mid-day power nap.
- Economic Moderation
One of the casualties of the coronavirus pandemic is the global financial system because it has been built on shaky pillars of greed, injustice and exploitation of the weak. Not only are the finances of individuals and companies in shambles, but the whole system is in a nosedive, leading to a recession that is already worse than the Great Depression. To get out of this quagmire, it is important to look for drastic measures and out-of-the-box solutions. The capitalist economic system—with its consumerist culture, debt financing, inherent injustices and inequitable distribution of wealth— is not only responsible for crippling many nations economically, but it is also the main culprit for the fast depletion of our natural resources, devastating wars waged to grab more and more, pollution of the planet and endangering human life as a whole. The Islamic financial system is the answer for this situation, and a proper analysis of its principles will certainly contribute to a serious rethinking for a more equitable, resilient, environment-friendly and fair economic system to replace the prevalent capitalist system, which is the main cause of our present economic mess. After the global economic crisis of 2008, a number of countries and regulators adopted some of these Islamic economic principles to save their sinking stock exchanges and control the damage. Even today, the first intervention by the USA government on the economic front was to bring interest rate to zero, which is what Islam wants to be the norm at all times.
Islam has a fully functional and coherent economic and financial system, with elaborate teachings on all aspects of economic and financial matters. There is not a single economic or financial activity for which Islam doesn’t have instructions based on the Divine Wisdom, either explicitly or by inference. In the following, we are going to mention some of the basic principles of Islamic economic philosophy, its institutions and contracts, highlighting their significance in these times of extreme economic hardships, and pointing out the role they can play in getting humanity out of the vicious circle of recurring economic crises:
a. One of the cornerstones of Islamic economic philosophy is that people should live within their means. It underlines the fact that human needs are limited and can be satisfied with very little economic activity. On the other hand, if we try to fulfil our unbridled desires, there will be no end in sight as no one will ever feel satisfied. This is true for individuals and nations alike. Based on this logic, Islam discourages taking loans unless it is extremely necessary. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) used to seek Allah’s refuge from debt32. And to dissuade his Companions from getting
loans, he would refuse to lead the funeral prayer of any of them who would die while still under debt, unless someone else repaid his debt33.
In the modern world, debt financing is used as a tool to first create false needs, then satisfy them through debt, and in the process enslave people and nations. Debt financing is also responsible for the creation of economic bubbles, leading to circular debts and many more ills, all of which come crashing down on the heads of not only the debtors but the creditors as well at times of uncontrollable global crises.
Debt financing, however, is allowed in a limited way to cater to the genuine and pressing needs of a business, where the business is capable of paying it within the stipulated time. But debt financing turns to a huge risk when people are lured into financing their non-developmental expenditure by taking loans or pursuing luxuries of life without the means to procure them.
Therefore, it is very logical that Islam should condemn unbridled desire and greed for more that push people to resort to debt financing. When someone lives beyond his means and is consequently compelled to take loans, it creates such a pressure of repayment on him that he would do anything for money even if it is by breaching the boundaries of Haram (impermissible in Shari’a) and Halal (permissible in Shari’a). A tradition of the Prophet (SAW) states that
“If Adam’s son had a valley full of gold, he would like to have another one also, for nothing can fill his mouth except dust (of the grave). And Allah forgives those who repent to Him.”34
b. Islam does not suppress private entrepreneurship nor does it ban private ownership as propagated by communism, but it also does not allow individuals to have a free passage, bulldozing all legal and moral boundaries and monopolising natural resources or means of production to enrich themselves at the cost of the community as allowed by capitalism.
c. Islamic economic system advocates moderation in spending, guiding humanity to a path of
economic welfare falling between the extremes propagated by communism and capitalism, as
both have drifted away from the middle way. Its teachings are not only in conformity with human
nature but they also take care of the natural habitat and environment. To that end, Islam wants
its followers to shun extravagance. The spendthrift has been labelled as brethren of the Devil
in the Holy Qur’an; because by wasting Allah’s provisions, they prove, like the Devil did, their
ungratefulness to their Lord Indeed, the wasteful are brothers of the devils, and ever has Satan been to his Lord ungrateful. [Al Isra: 27]
Consumerism, no doubt, is a social evil that has to be curbed, and it is heartening to see that
COVID-19 has taught us that we can live without the scores of the highly expensive luxury items
that we considered essential or the unhealthy food products of the global giants that our new
generations have become addicted to.
A proper analysis of the so-called lawful industries (let alone the unlawful and morally corrupting activities) will reveal that every year we waste hundreds of billions of dollars on activities and gadgets that we don’t need in the first place, or we already have enough of them to fulfil our genuine needs. A fraction of these funds would not only take care of our health issues but would also be enough to feed all the malnourished people on our planet
d. Islam also wants people to enjoy the blessings and provisions of Allah but in moderation, encouraging them to spend on themselves and their dependents reasonably, and condemning niggardly attitude and futile accumulation of wealth. The Prophet (SAW) has said:
Abu Huraira has reported Allah’s Messenger (SAW) as saying:
“A person says, my wealth! My wealth! However, only three things of his wealth are his: whatever he eats and uses, or he puts on and it wears out, or he gives as charity, which he stores for himself (as a reward for the Hereafter), and what is beyond this (is of no use to him) because he shall die, leaving it for others.”35
e. One of the main themes of the Islamic economic philosophy is that the money that you earn is not considered to be yours in the sense that you can spend the same the way you wish. On the contrary, Islam tells you, in line with its basic philosophy of man as the vicegerent of God, that you are not the real owner of the money. Rather you are a trustee that should act in conformity to the duties assigned to you by Allah, the real owner of the asset.
“Believe in Allah and His Messenger and spend out of that in which He has made you successors. For those who have believed among you and spent, there will be a great reward.” [Al Hadid: 7]
f. This is why Muslims cannot spend their money on Shari’a repugnant activities, nor can they disinherit their spouses and children, nor can they destroy their assets36. Moreover, they have to pay a fixed percentage of their wealth to the poor and needy. In addition, they have further financial obligations to family members such as their parents, children, siblings and other relatives in need of financial assistance.
g. The well-to-do are also required to take care of the destitute and the downtrodden in the society
such as to provide, at least, their basic needs. This is, in fact, a duty of the Islamic state, but in its
absence, people in the community have to take care of those who are in need, especially at times
of calamities and general economic crisis. This is not just an act of generosity; rather it is a financial
and religious obligation on the wealthy to take care of the people they know and can reach, at the
bare minimum. This obligation has played an important role in alleviating the hardships of the poor
and the destitute amongst the Muslims, especially at times of crises.
h. Moreover, Islam has parameters for lawful and unlawful economic activities, spurring economic
activity towards a genuine economy in line with its moral ethos and social values, away from the
illusionary economy and worthless paper money created through credit and fractional banking,
the bubble that keeps bursting at regular intervals. An income generated only through activities
and/or rules and principles complying with these parameters is considered lawful, while a breach
of any of these parameters would render the income unlawful and, hence, not fit for use. To
understand the concept of lawful and unlawful financial activities in Islam, the following basic
parameters and principles are very important:
i. Interest on loans, or (Riba al-Nasee’ah), is strictly forbidden in Islam, irrespective of the rate
of interest or the purpose for which the loan is obtained. The prohibition against interest was
revealed not only to save the poor from unscrupulous lenders but also to deter investors who
demand a fixed return on their investments and avoid taking the risk of engaging in a useful
trade. The Holy Qur’an says:
“O you who believe, fear Allah and give up what still remains of riba (interest) if you are believers. But if you do not (give it up), then listen to the declaration of war from Allah and His Messenger.” [Al Baqarah: 278]
ii. Islam has forbidden sale and purchase of whatever has been declared prohibited in Shari’a. Therefore, it is not permissible to purchase or sell alcohol, immoral films and literature, pork etc.
iii. While Islam allows trade and forbids interest, it has set detailed principles and parameters for the proper execution of the sale and purchase contracts. For instance, Islam does not allow selling of an item before one owns and possesses it. The Prophet (SAW) is reported to have ‘disallowed sale of what one does not own and getting the profit generated from the sale of an asset that has not entered into one’s possession (and risk)’37.
iv. Moreover, the contracting parties should stipulate all the agreed terms and conditions, especially those related to the counter-values and the mode and time of payment, to avoid any kind of disputes. The buyer should inspect the subject of the sale contract prior to
entering into sale contract to avoid uncertainty, as any contract with excessive uncertainty
(one that could lead to dispute) is void in the eyes of Shari’a38.
v. Similarly, Islam protects the interests of the contracting parties as it gives the parties the right to revoke the contract or get compensated, should there be any proof of cheating through an abnormal profit margin, or hiding the defects of the subject matter by the seller39.
vi. To stop speculative trading, which creates a destructively delusional world of business that has nothing to do with the real economic world, Islam does not allow deferment of both counter-values of any sale contract40.
Although normally the counter-values should be exchanged after the conclusion of the sale contract but for facilitating people’s needs Islam has allowed deferred payment sales for spot delivery of goods or sale of assets to be delivered in future against spot payment. Hence, only one counter-value can be deferred under certain circumstances. This condition is to ensure that the relaxation given by Shari’a is not misused for entering into sham transactions such as options and derivatives, where both the counter-values are deferred and the parties have no intentions of exchanging them.
vii. Islam has also forbidden the sale of debt because it is a form of interest or Riba; as those who purchase debts do so by discounting them. If someone studies the financial crisis of 2008 which stemmed from so-called prime debt financing in the light of this Shari’a rule, it would be a great eye-opener for him, proving that such clear and elaborate financial guidance could never come fourteen centuries ago in an Arabian desert but from the Lord,
viii. Similarly, Islam prohibits all types of zero-sum games and gambling. Speculative buying, hoarding of essential commodities and acting as intermediaries in the supply chain without adding any value, but profiting from the process at the cost of the original manufacturer or producer as well as that of the end-user, are all condemned by Shari’a.
A detailed analysis of the characteristics of Islamic finance will force the biggest finance wizards of the world to pose this question: How is it possible for an untutored man in the Arabian Desert to lay down such elaborate rules and principles for a sound financial system fourteen centuries ago that not only surpasses the established financial systems of today in every respect but is also free of all its defects and ills? An unbiased mind would attribute it all to Allah, the Creator of the universe
- Balanced Way of Life in Harmony with Nature
Allah Almighty has equipped man with different instincts, tendencies and faculties and made everything
subservient to him, enabling him to carry out his mission as Allah’s vicegerent in accordance with His
Guidance revealed to him. The Divine Guidance, coming from the Creator of the universe, shows to
him how he should strike the right balance between his various faculties, powers and tendencies, as
well as his different roles and duties. It is the best manual on how to lead a balanced life, sticking to the
exact middle way between the two extremes, which would be undoubtedly in harmony with human nature as well as the forces of the nature around him. Therefore, one of the greatest gifts of Islam to mankind during this pandemic is to learn about the principles of such a balanced life in harmony with nature.
i. Balanced Life in Harmony with Human Nature: Islam has been named as the balanced path
and the Muslims as the balanced nation by the Holy Quran. This is because the teachings of
Islam always represent the most balanced point between extremities and, therefore, are fully in
harmony with the unblemished human nature and his environment.
“In the same way, We made you a moderate Ummah (community), so that you should be witnesses over
the people, and the Messenger a witness over you.” [Al-Baqarah: 143]
Islamic faith is balanced because it is based on the pillar of Oneness of Allah, proven by the consistency
and perfection of God’s creation in the entire universe. Had there been any other god besides Allah,
there would have been destruction and chaos. The Qur’an states:
“Had there been gods, in the heavens and the earth, besides Allah, both of them would have fallen in
disorder. So pure is Allah, the Lord of the Throne, from what they describe (and attribute to Him).” [Al
With all its teachings fully validated by reason, Islam has attained the zenith of balance between revelation
and reason. Muslims do not believe in anything illogical, absurd or contradicts undisputed principles of
Islamic institutions, its judicial, political and economic systems are the most balanced systems because
they are based on Divine Wisdom. Similarly, the Islamic acts of worship vividly display this balance
between the spiritual and material aspects of his life as tools for man’s spiritual purification and
development42 which simultaneously take care of his physical needs too.
To achieve our real purpose in life, we need to know the significance of different aspects of our life
and how we should set our priorities and balance them. To that end, Islam has put in place a system of
priorities, where every individual has certain mandatory roles and certain elective roles. The life of the
Prophet of Islam (SAW) is the perfect embodiment of the balancing act required to do justice to all these
roles in proportion to their significance.
Muslims are required to discharge their responsibilities with regard to their mandatory roles such
as their role as children of their parents, fathers, mothers, spouses as well as the breadwinner of a
household. Elective roles are of secondary importance; hence, can be attended to only after fulfilling
the requirements of the mandatory roles. For instance, Islam orders a man to attend to the needs of his
parents even if that requires him to delay or give up some recommended acts of worship, as taking care
of the parents becomes mandatory. In this case, wouldn’t every father or mother like to raise his child as
a true Muslim?
Many people may misunderstand Islam as a patriarchal religion, but if they study the life of the
Prophet (SAW) and how he balanced his public life with his private life, and how he cared for his wives
and assisted them in the house chores and took care of his personal matters, they would be amazed.
Narrated ‘Aishah: that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “The best of you is the best to his wives, and
I am the best of you to my wives.”43
Abu Huraira narrates in another tradition that a person said:
“Allah’s Messenger, who amongst the people is most deserving of my good treatment?” He said: “Your
mother, again your mother, again your mother, then your father, then your nearest relatives according
to the order (of nearness).”44
ii. Gender Equity: One of the most important areas where this harmony of Islamic principles
with nature are in full display is its teachings with regard to different genders. Islam has uniform
teachings and commands for all those aspects of life where both genders are at an equal footing,
while it has different teachings for each sex when there is a division of roles according to the
nature of every sex, for it would be illogical and impracticable to require equal treatment for
different entities with different powers and faculties and different biological and physiological
needs and capabilities.
Take, for example, the dress code or the face veil which are frowned upon in the West and are
banned in many countries due to Islamophobia. Modest women who insisted on wearing the Islamic
veil despite the ban used to pay hefty fines besides being insulted and degraded in public classes,
but today the same countries are imposing fines on those who appear in public without covering
their faces by masks. Why didn’t they think that the Muslim women who covered their faces were
doing so not only to abide by the order of their Lord45 but do so also to protect themselves from
the shameless gazes of uncultured hooligans as well as from the harmful microbes, dust particles
and viruses that they may get exposed to when they go out? They may not have the required
level of biological immunity enjoyed by men against such hazards as men go out more often and
have stronger immune systems against such hazards. For instance, man has facial hair as natural
protection against outside elements. That might be one of the reasons that growing a beard is
obligatory in Islam46.
These secularists have deprived people of their religious, cultural and modesty related rights in
the garb of secularism and freedom. Is it not an irony of reason and an absolute absurdity to force
women to uncover, rather undress, themselves in the name of freedom?
There is no doubt that when governments promote obscenity in the name of fashion and women’s
emancipation, they are making a mockery of both women and the concept of emancipation as
there is no logical link between women’s emancipation and scantily clad women, where women
are reduced to sex objects. On the contrary, they are making laws and rules at the behest of various
industries and in order to get cheaper labour.
Today, if women sit at home or work from home, some of the biggest losers would be the fashion
industry and other sectors who are exploiting women under different guises, since a lot of funds
that these women would normally spend on cosmetics, cosmetic surgery, new fashions etc. will be
directed to more beneficial sectors.
iii. Promotion of Natural Medicine and Natural Life Style: Another proof of the harmony
between Islam and nature is the fact that Islamic teachings promote natural medicine and botanical
remedies such as honey, black seed, etc. as already discussed in this paper. Based on the scientific
principle that prevention is better than cure, Islam, by requiring Muslims to eat clean and pure
things in moderate quantities, clean their bodies daily and offer their prayers and observe fasting
etc., has ensured to keep its followers fit and healthy.
iv. City Planning: The first generation of the Muslims when established new cities, took care of
the Shari’a rules. They did not allow cities to grow beyond a certain limit for a variety of reasons.
Big cities slowly become densely populated, limiting the space needed for privacy, gender
segregation and a natural lifestyle. They also become polluted and consequently unmanageable
and ungovernable, encroaching on greenery and the available land for farming and orchards,
which are the lifeline and lungs of a city. Another reason could be the potential adverse effects
of the epidemics on towns and cities. We have already mentioned that Islam bars its followers
from entering into or leaving a plague hit dwelling. There is a supplication in which the Prophet is
reported to have been seeking blessed provisions and spacious dwellings.
It is crucial that governments and city planners around the world take note of this feature of the
Muslim civilization, which, if adhered to, will greatly minimize the risks associated with city life.
- Obligations towards others
There is an Islamic maxim, which prohibits any harm to be inflicted upon oneself or others.
Harm shall not be inflicted on oneself or others47
This maxim has a very wide application, as any act or omission which harms one’s self or others is
prohibited in Islam. This is another gift of Islam to humanity, which if properly understood and applied,
will not only prevent many catastrophes that may be in the making but would also relieve us from some of
the self-inflicted pains of the present pandemic. In the following, we elaborate this point further:
i. An individual’s freedom ends where others’ rights start. Islam does not allow the interests of
the masses to be sacrificed at the altar of the selfish desires or whims of some vested interests
in the name of individual freedom. In Islam, collective interest supersedes individual interest
and greater importance is attached to the rights of fellow human beings than the rights of
Allah. Therefore, if it is established that an act is detrimental to the interests of others, its
perpetrators have to be stopped by any means. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has explained this
very beautifully in a parable. He states that people who comply with the commands of Allah
and those who breach them resemble the story of some passengers on a ship, where those
residing in the lower deck of the ship decide that they would make a hole in the ship to get water
instead of climbing up and bothering people living in the upper deck. Those on the upper deck
have to stop them from this folly; otherwise, they will all be drowned48. This parable perfectly
illustrates our situation today, with the ship of the humanity on the verge of sinking due to the holes of rebellion and transgressions made by those who are bent upon destroying not only themselves but the entire humanity. The Holy Qur’an warns Muslims to save themselves from the punishments of Allah that will not be confined to the perpetrators only, indicating that those who prefer to remain silent spectators, and as such tacitly approve such transgressions, will not be spared49.
ii. Some people flout medical procedures and public health precautionary measures either because they don’t trust their governments or because they feel that if any harm happens to them, it is their own business, and nobody else should interfere. The Islamic position, in this case, is that even if harm is confined to the perpetrator, he cannot be allowed to cause his death. However, if it is established that his acts could be detrimental to public health, then in that case, he would be forced to comply with the measures. The quarantine instructions of Islam are for this very reason. Had people in Wuhan acted according to this Divine guidance on quarantine at the initial stages, the evil would have been nipped in the bud.
iii. Suppressing news of an epidemic, as may be the case was when the initial reports of COVID-19 were not released, would be considered an act of harming others by keeping them in the dark.
iv. In line with this maxim, consuming haram (forbidden) food is not an act to be left to the choice of the individuals, because we have already seen the overwhelming evidence of its devastating effects on the entire humanity. Haram food, we must note, is not confined to the meat of carnivorous animals, but it also includes animals slaughtered without compliance with Divine teachings, where the veins are not cut properly to let the blood fully out, or the animal is stunned with electrical shock or through any other means before being slaughtered. Therefore, man has to turn to his Creator for Divine Guidance to save itself from the consequences of his bad choices and rebellion against the law of his Lord. Does humanity need a pandemic of this proportion to understand the wisdom behind this prohibition?
v. Similarly, other acts of immorality and sins, whether they are in the form of sexual degradation of the humanity, exploitation of the vulnerable segments of the society by predators, acts of profit maximization at the expense of the humanity’s well-being, defrauding people of their rights, lying etc. have to not only be condemned in the strongest terms, but we should also devise effective strategies and enforcement mechanisms to fully eliminate them.
vi. The above maxim also explains why it is necessary for humanity to get rid of all the weapons of mass destruction, as they have the potential to annihilate the entire humanity.
Through this article, we have attempted to highlight some of the great gifts of Islam to mankind with the hope that it will open a new window of knowledge, enabling us to plan our future in a more informed way. We all need to ensure that our decisions are based on a more enlightened worldview and guided by the Divine Wisdom in order to save humanity from the disastrous consequences of our actions, omissions and transgressions. We have to revisit our practices with regard to hygiene in its broadest sense, encompassing everything from personal hygiene to food, medicine, sex as well as other aspects of our lives. Moreover, we must develop effective strategies for a globally egalitarian health care system that should be in harmony with nature as well as an equitable financial system that protects the interests, and serves the needs, of the entire humanity, rather than safeguarding the interests of a few
people at the expense of the masses. It may seem a tall order to comprehend all this information in one attempt; but by taking the first step in the right direction, one will surely reach the destination eventually. To understand the message of Islam in greater detail, you can start studying the basic sources of this Divine Wisdom directly. Such
an exercise, we are sure, would help eliminate some of the misunderstandings about Islam that may arise due to the negative propaganda by the vested interests and hate-mongers against some of the tenets of this great religion or result from interaction with such Muslims who are not complying with the teachings of Islam in letter and spirit.