Is Prayer Alone The Cure for A Pandemic? The Prophet Muhammad Wouldn’t Go That Far20 Mar 2020
With coronavirus strengthening its grip on the world, governments and the media are obligated to provide the most accurate and helpful advice to the general population in dealing with the crisis.
Health experts and scientists are in high demand to provide us with knowledge and advice in helping stop the transmission of the virus. The most recurring pieces of advice have been to self-isolate and maintain good hygiene. This has been reaffirmed by health professionals such as Dr. Anthony Fauci and medical reporter Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
What’s more, we find similar pieces of advice being affirmed by Prophet Muhammad, as he suggested good hygiene and quarantining if a pandemic arose, around 1,300 years ago. While for most, he is not the most obvious ‘go-to’ for providing expert advice on combating the spread of diseases, his teachings soundly address the issue.
Muhammad said: “If you hear an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if a plague outbreaks in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place.”
Following this, he taught: “Those with contagious diseases should be kept away from those who are healthy.”
Good hygiene was also strongly encouraged by Muhammad, in order to contain the spread of disease and to decrease the likelihood of infection. Some of his teachings concerning this issue include:
“Cleanliness is a part of faith.”
“Wash your hands after you wake up; you do not know where your hands have moved while you sleep.”
“The blessings of food lie in washing your hands before and after eating.”
And when an individual does fall ill with the disease and is experiencing a great deal of suffering, Muhammad advises the use of medical treatment as a remedy: “Make use of medical treatment,” he said, “for God has not made a disease without appointing a remedy for it, with the exception of one disease – old age.”
The balance between science and faith has often been a trying task for any worshipper who wishes to practice their religion in a modernising world. Some argue that simply praying would be more than sufficient at combating coronavirus than following the practical advice of scientific and medical experts. Although, Muhammad himself might disagree with prayer’s primacy as the main antidote to health crises.
The ninth-century scholar Al-Tirmidhi sheds more light on this with a story:
One day, Prophet Muhammad noticed a Bedouin man leaving his camel without tying it. He asked the Bedouin, “Why don’t you tie down your camel?” The Bedouin answered, “I put my trust in God.” The Prophet then said, “Tie your camel first, then put your trust in God.”
In other words, although it is important to seek guidance and help from faith and religion, this should always be well-balanced with basic common-sense and reason as another guiding principle.