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Lockdown and Islamic injunctions

Imran Ali Shah

The Writer is a senior journalist and reporter.

The coronavirus has now engulfed the entire world including Pakistan, taking a heavy toll on human lives and health. As practicing Muslims, we are also ignoring and downplaying the Islamic injunctions to keep us safe from the epidemic.
While some are saying we should have faith in Al-Mighty Allah and not enforce a lockdown and continue shaking hands, they people have no profound knowledge of Islamic injunctions and teachings. Islam is not just a religion rather a complete code of life. Our daily lives, routines, and responsibilities are also guided by Islam. These people should increase their knowledge of Islamic teachings or seek guidance from religious scholars and experts rather than making presumptions and their own judgments.
Islam has also provided guidelines and safety precautions against all forms of epidemics which may spread in any part of the world. Governments and health experts around the world are suggesting people go into quarantine or self-isolation to prevent the spread of the disease. If we look at these from an Islamic perspective, then there are several examples available about similar precautions.
We also have several examples from the life and traditions of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and his companions. When a plague spread during the era of Hazrat Umar (RA) then the safety precautions employed were very similar to the quarantine methods being used today. These measures were so strictly enforced that the epidemic did not spread beyond Iraq and Syria.
During that time, Hazrat Umar (RA) embarked on a journey to Syria to see the newly-conquered territories. When he received the town of Tabuq, he received news about the plague. He immediately turned back from the epidemic affected area, while over 25,000 Muslims were infected by the disease including companions such as Hazrat Abu Ubaidah (RA). Was there anyone more honest and faithful than these esteemed personalities? Was it the lack of faith that they did not become martyrs during an epidemic?
Those people who are claiming that handshaking is an Islamic tradition and cannot be abandoned are right, but can it also be said whether it should be embraced during a pandemic. Once a group of lepers came to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) but were turned away without pledging allegiance, handshakes or even heard (Shahih Muslim, 2231). During such moments, it is an Islamic tradition to not shake hands.
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said: “Run from the leper as you would run away from a lion” (Bukhari, 5707). People who claim otherwise are misled as it is an Islamic injunction to protect yourself from an epidemic or a deadly disease. These people who say they have faith in Allah and do not require any precautions are deluded. The Holy Prophet said: “Tie your camel and place your trust in Allah” (Tirmidhi, 2517). This clearly shows that we should adhere to safety measures as well.
When Hazrat Umar (RA) get not visit the epidemic affected areas, he was also adhering to necessary precautions and safety measures. No one can meet the faith, piety and trust of these esteemed companions today. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) also ordained that when an epidemic strikes a region, then one should flee from that area or go towards it.
These are excellent examples for us that we should observe safety precautions such as quarantine and self-isolation during the ongoing pandemic. By adhering to these precautions, we are instead following Islamic injunctions and guidelines and will receive the blessings and rewards. The restrictions that governments are imposing do not violate Islamic principles.
Islam has also ordained we should follow the law of the land as well and the instructions of the rulers. The strict restrictions being implemented by the present government are for our betterment and intended to save the lives and health of citizens. We should think rationally whether we are following the injunctions which our religion has laid down before us. We should follow these rules and regulations as it will not save our lives but also the lives of others.
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