COVID-19: TAKE PRECAUTIONS, OBEY DIRECTIVES OF AUTHORITIES AND RELY ON GOD, says Onike of NASFAT.
The incidence of plagues, pandemics, epidemics, endemics etc. no doubt happen by Divine Decree.
“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, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return, Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided. (Q2-155-157)
Plagues and pandemics are also not strange to human history. Some companions of our noble prophet experienced it. It is therefore not right to say emphatically that, it was due to our sins.
The belief by muslims of pandemic being divine may be a bitter pill to swallow by those who are seemingly irreligious, and they may be quick to ask “why should God who claims to be merciful seems to be causing pandemonium and uneasiness in the world”
The question would certainly not sound strange either. Literatures abound with many exposes on that topic. According to Lee strobel “If you could ask God only one question, and you knew He would give you an answer, what would you ask?” The most common question was, “Why is there pain and suffering in the world?” (Mohammad Elshinawy)
Muslims believe that “In reality, life in the Divine plan is an uphill climb for the human being, whereby he or she ascends to greatness by traversing the thorny path and struggling against human weakness.”
Moreover, life is transient, reducing our existence to this earthly life alone is what negatively amplifies our perception of life’s “unfair” moments.
Quoting Muhammad Elshinawy, “Events have to exist that call for confidently appealing to God in supplication, courageously rescuing those in danger, and selflessly serving those in need. It is true that the laws God created to make life possible, stable, and enjoyable, are the same laws that sometimes make life painful and uncomfortable. The melting of glaciers does irrigate the land and quench the thirst of people and animals but may also result in destructive floods. Lightning provides plants with nitric oxide but may sometimes fatally strike down a human being. However, in all these cases, God created a natural law that offers a far greater good for the world than the occasional evil it causes.”
We should therefore know and accept the fact that, social distancing, lock down and contact-curtailing measures introduced by the government are in our own interest.
According to Islamic traditions, the measures have scriptural references.
“Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas narrates the events when ‘Umar ibn AlKhattab set out for Sham (Levant: Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, etc). When he got as far as a place called ‘Sargh’, the commanders of the army, Abu ‘Ubaydah ibn Jarrah and his companions met ‘Umar and told him that a plague had broken out in Sham. Umar asked people to turn back, when he was challenged by Abu ‘Ubaydah ibn Jarrah who said ‘Are you fleeing from the decree of Allah?’ ‘Umar said, ‘If only someone other than you had said that, Abu ‘Ubaydah!’
Yes, ‘we are fleeing from the decree of Allah to the decree of Allah‘, it was the intervention of Abdul Rahman ibn ‘Awf who related what he had heard from the Noble Prophet that further lent credence to Umar’s position. The former said he heard the prophet saying “When you hear that [a plague] is in a land, do not go to it and if it occurs in a land that you are already in, then do not leave it, fleeing from it.’”
This position aligns perfectly with the border closure and lock down directive of the Nigerian Government.
Using the words of Kayode Idowu of the Nations Newspaper, “What we are witnessing is a natural emergency to be met with humanistic counteraction where health workers and political leaders lead the charge”
Muslims are therefore advised to obey government directives and adhere to advices from health workers.
“O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if ye do believe in Allah and the Last Day: That is best, and most suitable for final determination” (Q4:59).
“……So ask those who possess knowledge if you do not know” (Q16:43)
Our noble Prophet (PBUH) had chosen a particular spot for the battle of badr. A companion, Hubab b. Mundhir who had better knowledge in war strategy asked him, “”Has Allâh inspired you to choose this very spot or is it stratagem of war and the product of consultation?”
and the prophet answered, “It is stratagem of war and consultation.” The man said: “This place is no good”
The prophet asked:
Where is the best place? And the man pointed to the perfect place and the Prophet (PBUH) approved of his plan and agreed to carry it out, and he moved the army to that spot.
Nevertheless, in spite of the current challenges, i want to reassure that, there would soon be light at the end of the tunnel by The grace of Allah
This optimism is buoyed by the gladdening news that, in the last 6 days, the city of WUHAN in China where the dreaded virus started its menace has not witnessed any new infection. If Allah did it in Wuhan, He shall do it all over the world!
“…..When is the help of Allah ?” Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near. (Q2:214).
We should remain optimistic, “Indeed, no one despairs of relief from Allah except the disbelieving people.”(Q12:87)
The fatalists’ proclamation that “Covid-19 is not my portion” is not in muslims’ dictionary. Our thinking is guided by the principles of “Tie your camel and rely on Allah” so we take necessary precautions and trust God to handle the rest.
“….do not cast yourselves into destruction with your own hands..” (Q2:195).
In similar vein, our society, NASFAT, as an organisation determined to partner with government and other stakeholders to ensure improved livelihood for members especially at this trying time, has lined up many initiatives as her own response to the biting social and financial pains occasioned by the lockdown put in place to prevent the spread of covid-19. Among the interventions from NASFAT are:
Provision of food items worth between 10,000 and 15,000 Naira or its cash equivalent to its vulnerable members such as the aged, the sick, widows, Imams, labourers etc. on monthly basis till the end of this pandemic.
Community mobilisation using multiple media platforms, like the print, electronic, social/online media etc. to educate and enlighten the public on preventive measures against the covic-19 pandemic. This takes psyco-socio spiritual form.
Provision of professional counseling services to those who are in distress including those whose breadwinner are in isolation, quarantine or under Medicare.
Risk communication, advocacy, behavioural change communication and appropriate messaging to the public using indigenous languages and through various channels to share information from government and health authorities that will enable people at risk to take informed decisions to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Conclusively, individuals should make productive use of the stay at home policy by ensuring stronger family bonding, observing prayers in congregation with family members, reading the Qur’an, learning a new skill or language online, following NASFAT programmes online, praying and relying on Allah.