Opinion: Panic and faith in times of epidemic

Abid Hussain Rah

Infections don’t just attack weaknesses in the human body. , They also exploit weaknesses in human society, writes Laurie Penny for Wired. 

On the 11th of March 2020, after a massive outbreak in China and Italy, The World Health Organization (WHO) declared novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) as a pandemic. While China is working on a war footing level to contain the virus, Italy and USA have been blown out by its impact. With an antidote that is yet to be, Coronavirus is proving to be a nightmare for billions of humans.

The Coronavirus outbreak has been scary considering the number of people infected but the panic button has been pressed by the broadcasts on WhatsApp and other social media platforms. How a person reacts to panicky situations at a pandemic scale points towards the cultural setup. Societies have been shaped by outbreaks for as long as we’ve had societies. “Epidemics are not random events that afflict societies capriciously and without warning,” writes Frank M. Snowden in Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present. “Every society produces its own specific vulnerabilities. To study them is to understand that society’s structure, its standard of living, and its political priorities.”

Pandemics are not fought with just antidotes but through cultural practices and living conditions too. Researchers have identified that the only way to contain such viruses is by practicing social distancing. People have been advised to stay indoors, work from home, and maintain proper hygiene, in order to minimize the attack surface. And therefore, China was successful in containing the virus in a considerably short span of time. The advice to stop traveling during a plague was given by Prophet (peace be upon him) hundreds of years ago and is applicable and very relevant even now. We need to go back to the teachings from Qur’an and Sunnah to find guidance through the test of time which not only tests our societal setups but our beliefs as well. 

The teachings in Qur’an encourage Sabr (steadfastness) and faith in Allah SWT in the testing times. The Qur’an and Sunnah of Prophet (peace be upon him) were strategically presented to the entire human race so they may have a reference and relevant guidance from the heavens. Allah SWT mentions in the book of Qur’an:

“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.” (Chapter 2, Verse 155-156)

But Allah does not burden a soul greater than it can bear. Whenever He afflicts us with some difficulty, He gives us hope too. We are not left alone with trials and hardships. 

“After every difficulty, Allah will soon grant relief.” (Surah at-Talaq, verse 07)

Nowhere in Qur’an or Sunnah, have human beings been asked to panic on the situation that befalls. Allah SWT mentions that the good and the bad are from Allah itself and there is no entity in heaven or the earth that can do us any good or bad, without the will of Allah. 

The present Coronavirus pandemic is another test from Allah SWT and unfortunately, the amount of panic we are creating clearly indicates the lack of faith in Allah SWT. What we should know is that Allah SWT is giving us a chance to mend our ways and work towards the betterment of our aakhirah. These tests are a direct consequence of our deeds. What we should rather do is exercise patience and take precautions. 

“The greatest reward comes with the greatest trial. When Allah SWT loves people He tests them. Whoever accepts that wins His pleasure but whoever is discontent with that earns His wrath.” __ Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (2396) and Ibn Maajah (4031); classed as al Hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi

While exercising extreme precaution, we should also believe that calamities and blessings are from Allah SWT and he alone is the owner of our soul. Let us try to be dear to Allah SWT before we are made to stand on the Day of Judgment. Let ours be a society of patience, perseverance, and rationale. Indeed, Allah always helps and provides us with a way out from every difficulty that we face. Our burdens, troubles, and difficulties can be removed through prayers, patience and having complete faith in Allah. 

I wish, hope, and pray that Allah SWT protects us and our families from the contagious Coronavirus. I insist you follow precautions, maintain good hand hygiene, stay home, avoid unnecessary travel, believe in Allah SWT, and repent to Him. 

“The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him.”__ Sahih Muslim (2999)

(Author is a Srinagar based IT professional working in Bangalore. He can be reached at [email protected])

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