Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri delivers a special talk on tackling COVID-19

Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri delivered a special talk at the Consultative Council meeting today (Saturday) on how to tackle deadly Coronavirus (henceforth called COVID-19). Keeping in view the utility and usefulness of the talk, the full text is being shared for the benefit of all and sundry:

COVID-19 has affected the whole world and has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. People are duty-bound to act upon the instructions and precautions being prescribed by the national and international bodies. It is high time the teachings and guidance derived from the Holy Quran and Sunna are conveyed as humanity grapples with one of the worst catastrophes. Before COVID-19, the world has faced ten worst epidemics including Plague with horrible consequences.

As such Pandemics spread around, there are things that are the duty of the governments to do and there are others that should be done by the communities at large as part of their social responsibility. It is incumbent on every individual and family to proactively play their social role when such epidemics break out.

Coronavirus is a dangerous pandemic. It is not a traditional epidemic to have hit the world that can be dealt with through traditional means. Some of the necessary precautions being talked about are known to all. However, the purpose of reiterating them is to highlight their importance keeping in view the sensitivity of the challenge we are confronted with. The thumb rule is to wash one's hands repeatedly at least for 20 seconds in one go. One should place a handkerchief or a tissue paper before the mouth in case of coughing or sneezing so that droplets do not get mixed in the air. If the hands are not washed, one should not touch one's eyes or nose with dirty hands.

It is pertinent to mention here COVID-19 enters the human body through nose, eyes, and mouth. If one suffers from flue and fever, one should not touch others, stay at home, avoid shaking hands and hugging others, and going to the public gatherings. This includes Friday prayers, political, social and religious get-togethers. We should not ignore such instructions of the fundamental nature. Nor is there a need to panic. Allah and His Prophet (PBUH) do not like those who ignore precautions and do not take deterrent steps. 'Tawakkal' is not being negligent towards precautionary measures nor is it related to destiny. They are different subjects altogether. Taking precautionary steps is one thing and taking it as a Divine edict is another. Some people tend to confuse both of these things due to their lack of knowledge. Allah Almighty and His Prophet (PBUH) have strictly ordained the believers to adopt precautionary measures in case of diseases. Physical interaction should be done away with keeping in view the emergency situation, and unnecessary travel should not be done. And if at all one has to travel, one should be careful while using public transport because the seats are likely to be used by infected people.

The characteristic of the virus is that even when it settles on wood, it has the capacity to move into a human body for a certain period of time. COVID-19 can get into the human body from the wooden chair and table and from the things used by other people. This virus can infect the human body both directly and indirectly. Therefore, one should pay special attention to cleanliness. One should be cleaning the place before sitting. The most important of all things is the cleanliness of hands. It is incumbent on every individual to do this social duty. I strictly advise all workers and associates of MQI to adhere to the precautionary regime. They should not only act upon the instructions and guidelines themselves but also convey them to their family members, relatives and community as part of their social and national responsibility.

The people must act upon the guidelines with the passion of protecting humanity and societies in addition to extending full support to the government's initiatives in this regard. A multi-sectoral effort is being made to contain COVID-19. Moden science is enabling people to understand the virus. World Health Organization is leading the global effort against it and the medical staff is also busy dispensing much-needed services to the affected people. As a Muslim, it is our belief that the biggest source of guidance is the Holy Quran and the teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). When pestilence, the deadly virus of the times, hit the world, hundreds of thousands of casualties took place as a consequence. This disease would strike the world from time to time. There was neither scientific solutions nor awareness at that time. The result was mass scale casualties.

Sahih Bukhari has a chapter on medicine that relates to the pestilence. There is Hadith No 5728 that says that when you hear of the pestilence having spread in a city, a country or a region, do not enter and if you are already there at the time of its spread, then do not go out of that region or the city. There were no laboratories at that time that could verify who was infected and who was not. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) prescribed some precautions that are being endorsed by modern science today. The pestilence was an endemic that traveled from one person to the other. Hence, physical interaction was forbidden.

Hadith no. 2218 has also been narrated in Muslim Sharif in addition to Bukhari Sharif. According to it, Hazrat Habib (RA) narrates that they were in Medina when they came to know that the pestilence epidemic had spread in Kufa. He said he was informed by Hazrat Atta (RA) and other companions about the saying of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in which he (PBUH) stated if you happen to be in a region or an area where an epidemic strikes, then do not leave that place so that you do not end up carrying the germs to other places. And if you come to know about the incidence of an epidemic in a region or a country, then do not go to that place. Imam Muslim (RA) wrote the same words in another tradition.

The guidelines and the instructions that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) gave to us to overcome the epidemics, it is our responsibility to act upon them in letter and spirit. Whosoever is diagnosed to be infected with COVID-19, he is put into isolation and quarantined and his treatment is done there until he recovers. This way of isolating the patient from all types of social interactions as prescribed by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) 1400 years ago is being adopted by the developed countries as part of an anti-virus strategy. Another Hadith of Bukhari and Muslim Sharif says the same thing. It only adds that people should get out of the affected areas only when they can self-isolate themselves, which in today's terminology is called quarantine.

I want to refer to another Hadith no 5771 of Sahih Bukhari wherein Hazrat Abu Salma (RA) reports that he heard Abu Huraira (RA) say that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) stated that if anyone of you suffers from an epidemic and a disease which can infect the other person, you should not get close to a healthy man or a healthy person should not get close to an infected person. No physical interaction of any kind should take place, which means hand-shake and all forms of close interaction should be avoided. It also includes all congregations including the one held on Friday prayer. These are clear sayings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). If anyone talks about anything contrary to these teachings, he or she would do so due to their lack of knowledge. Adopting precaution is prophetic instruction.

Exercising precaution is part of the prophetic teachings. The interpreters have used the word ‘Mumard’. The word refers to those people who own sick cattle and if there is a possibility of healthy animals catching the disease, then such a pack of animals should not be allowed to go near the healthy ones so that they remain unaffected. If healthy cattle fall sick and their milk is consumed by the people, they are likely to be affected. This way the disease will spread exponentially. ‘Mumard’ also refers to every person who suffers from some epidemic and his sickness can affect others. Such patients have been ordained to stay away from other people in all respects and observe self-isolation.

There is another Hadith reported both in Sahih Bukhari and Muslim Sharif that says that the sick people or animals whose disease can be transferred to healthy people, should not mix with them, because any kind of interaction can result in the spread of disease from one place to another. Another Hadith no 5707 reported in Bukhari sharif says that if someone has leprosy, other people should run away from him in a way as one runs away from a marching tiger. Leprosy is an epidemic that spreads exponentially through physical interaction.

Another Hadith reported in Sahih Muslim says that a delegation from Taif came to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to take allegiance at his hands. They were made to stay at a place. When the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was informed that one of the members of the delegation was infected with leprosy, the Prophet (PBUH) sent a message to them that they entered the fold of Islam and were accepted as believers, advising them to go back to their region. The implication was that had they visited the Prophet’s Mosque, which was a frequented place, there was a possibility of the disease spreading at a mass scale. Thus he (PBUH) gave us a solution to tackle an epidemic till the Day of Judgment.

It is important to understand the difference between a normal disease and an epidemic. Talking about the same Hadith, Masand Imam Bin Humbal says: Inform them that I have accepted their allegiance. Therefore they should return from there. The same words have also been reported in Nisai. The meaning of taking allegiance is to make a vow. So when one showed an intention, one automatically entered the fold of Islam. There was no need for shaking hands or embracing for that purpose. By sending out the message to the visiting delegation, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) did not allow the diseased person to join his company. This way he (PBUH) left an abiding instruction for us and if we act upon this guideline, it means we are reviving the Sunna of the Prophet (PBUH).

In the end, let me share a spiritualizing incident which was unanimously reported in Sahih Bukhari and Muslim. Once Hazrat Umar (RA) went to Syria at the head of a large army to support the Muslim soldiers who were already there under the command of Abu Ubaida Al-Jarah. When they reached a place called ‘Sur’ outside of Syria, Abu Ubaida Al-Jarah and other commanders were present to receive him and his army. There he was informed that the epidemic of pestilence had spread in Syria. Hearing it, Hazrat Umar (RA) decided to stay there and consult the companions. Some of them, who were youthful and passionate, requested him to enter Syria and complete the job for which they had traveled. Another group of companions who were more mature and old, advised against entering into the epidemic hit country, stating that if they did so, they would catch a disease and suffer losses.

After listening to every representative opinion, Hazrat Umar Farooq (RA) handed down his decision. He said he was returning back to Medina along with his army and ordered his people to get themselves ready for the travel. When he announced the time of return, Abu Ubaida Al-Jarah, who was commander of soldiers in Syria, stood up and asked whether the Commander of the Faithful was deviating from the Will of Allah. To this Hazrat Umar (RA): I wish you would not have said what you said. He further said that they were running away from the Will of Allah to His Will, meaning thereby the fact the epidemic spread and the people fell victim to it in Syria is the Will of Allah and saving those who accompanied Hazrat Umar Farooq (RA) and taking them to place of safety is also the Will of Almighty. So the Will of God means to be in His knowledge. The prevalence of sickness in a land and protecting people from it is in the Divine knowledge. Allah has the knowledge of the unknown and only He knows the reality of things.

After the speech of Hazrat Umar (RA), Hazrat Abdur-ur-Rehman bin Auf stood up and said he possessed information about the matter at hand. Hazrat Umar (RA) asked him to share that information. He said he himself heard the Holy Prophet (PBUH) say: when an epidemic hits a land, do not try to enter it and if you are already there when an epidemic sweeps across the area, then do not get out of it.

Corona Virus & Prophetic ﷺ Teachings [Speech in English]