Disease Pandemic: Lessons And Actions
As a Muslim, one must bear in mind that the main purpose of Allah creating mankind is to worship Him. Worshiping is a form of faith towards Him as the Creator of all. Besides worshipping Allah through ritual prayers, worshipping Him can also be done through understanding and appreciating the words of Allah.
The words of Allah in this context can be viewed in two categories which are al-maqrū’ah and al-manẓūrah. Al-maqrū’ah is the readable verses in the Holy Quran which were conveyed to us through the Prophet Muhammad SAW. Al-manẓūrah, on the other hand, is the words of God in the form of nature that symbolises His existence which can be perceived by the senses.
Although it is highly important to emphasise al-maqrū’ah, it is also equally important to take into account the importance of al-manẓūrah. Al-manẓūrah can be observed through natural phenomena and creation that are significant to humans such as the alternation of night and day for rest and work, rivers that provide waters and sources of food, and meat from animals that can be consumed.
Indeed, natural phenomena are the signs of Allah’s blessing and definitely the signs of His Almightiness. Besides natural phenomena, al-manẓūrah can also be observed through natural disasters that have happened or disease outbreaks that become a global pandemic. Indeed, such are also a form of Allah’s Almightiness.
Currently, the world is struggling from the global pandemic due to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The pandemic is, in fact, a form of test by Allah. Every Muslim must realise that Allah will surely test every one of us. It is a promise that Allah has recorded in the holy Quran. There are two types of test from Allah. Firstly, the type that He has already intended to test humans with as depicted in the Quran:
“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient. Who (the patient), when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.” (Al-Baqarah (2): 155-156)
Another type of test is the one that He gives in the form of disaster as a result of corruption done by humankind. This has also been recorded in the Quran:
“Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by (reason of) what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of (the consequence of) what they have done that perhaps they will return (to righteousness).” (Al-Rūm (30): 41)
The two types of test, whether the one that He already has intended to humans or the other that He gives as a result of human corruption are, in fact, to give humans the chance to return to Him and become righteous.
Just as there are lessons to be learned, so are there actions to be taken. Although the pandemic is something that has been destined by Allah, it does not mean people should stay idly around without taking any action. In fact, taking action is part of being righteous and returning to Allah.
When a plague broke out in al-Shams (now known as Syria), Umar decided not to enter al-Shams and returned to Madinah to avoid being infected. One of the companions said to him, “O Amῑrul Mu’minῑn (Umar), why are you flying from God’s will?” He then replied that he merely moved from one will of Allah to another. This is in parallel with a hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Abbas RA:
“If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague breaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place (al-Bukhārῑ, 5729).”
Although “plague,” is specifically mentioned the overall spirit the hadith conveys is to contain and avoid the spread of all contagious diseases that which includes the current COVID-19 inflicting us. Those who have infectious diseases should not spread it to others. Those who are healthy should not risk themselves by coming into close contact with people with infectious diseases.
On 16th March 2020, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin announced the movement control order as a measure to avoid further spike of COVID-19 cases.
As a citizen, part of our action should be to abide with the current policy of the government, which includes: (1) putting a stop to all mass assemblies that might lead to the spread of infection, (2) practising proper personal hygiene to avoid being infected, (3) restricting movements to reduce the risk of infection, (4) avoiding international travel that may lead to further spread of infection, and (5) people who show symptoms, have history of international travel or have been in close contact with those who have been tested positive must go to the nearest healthcare facility for a check-up.
Being cooperative towards the government policy is not only a responsibility as a citizen, but also a responsibility for public interest. The movement control order protects the safety of the public from infectious diseases. By following the policy, we actually serve the public.