Coronavirus and Muslims

 

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Victor E. Frankl “Man’s Search for Meaning”

 

I have been observing the reaction of Muslims to this pandemic and I would like to say that it has been somewhat mixed and on some prominent occasions very disappointing. Some have acted rationally, decisively and ensured that the safety of others has been taken into consideration, whereas there have been others, mainly the Deobandi sect, who have not been able to break free from their parochial mentality. This has resulted in the lives of many people being risked.

Common sense not being enough to persuade many Muslims of anything, I must embark on legalistic and theological arguments in this article to convince said persons of the necessity for precautions such as cancelling communal prayer up to and including the one held on Eid as well as if necessary, fasting this year in Ramadhan and the ritual washing of dead bodies. I expect much wailing and gnashing of teeth of course but I am compelled to make these recommendations and adduce these proofs in good time. Should the need not arise or the virus abate, so much the better.

At the outset it is important to state that this article does not taken into consideration my personal opinion of Covid-19 and its dangers, nor various governments’ strategies for dealing with it but instead I am relaying my position as a person of some responsibility in the Islamic community, and how we would want people to react in order to minimise panic, illnesses and deaths.

What we do know is that Muslims and minorities are especially at risk due to mass gatherings that occur such as the daily prayer and Jumuaah (Friday Prayer), and the fact that minorities and the elderly have a weaker immune system and are more susceptible to the illness and as such are at a greater risk. We know that four of the first ten deaths in the UK were Muslims[1] and it was mentioned in ‘The Independent’ that 25% of the 140 deaths then witnessed in the UK were Muslims.[2] When Muslims make up around 4.8% of the population these figures are deeply troubling.[3]

The Prime Minister has provided governmental guidance that recommended the closure of places where mass gatherings occur.[4] All large non-Muslim corporations heeded that advice and closed to ensure the safety of their customers.[5] But what did Muslims do? Many completely ignored this advice and kept their mosques open. They defied these recommendations and stated that they would not close unless they were forced to close. What they presumably want is for the Prime Minister to forcibly shut down the mosques. When this happens, these people will complain that the government is using force against Muslims, that they are racist etc. Actually, if they heed the advice given by the government, no such problem need occur.

We know that Muslims are the group that have perhaps been most affected by the virus, with their own actions potentially playing a significant role in them contracting the virus, and yet here is the type of advice they are receiving from their religious leaders:

Here is an article that sent via text and social media titled “Coronavirus: Should Masjids close?[6] written by the Deobandis. Not only was it problematic from an Usuli (Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence) and Fiqhy (Islamic Jurisprudence) point of view, but it was backward, irrational and badly written, not that we would expect any better from such groups. For example, it is stated in the document that it is because Muslims have abandoned the congregational prayers that the World has been afflicted with this virus. Someone needs to tell these ‘Mullahs’ that the virus began in China a Communist-Atheist country. I am not going to use this article to refute that document because it has already been refuted by a Salafi scholar, another regressive group that nonetheless in general have acted quickly and rationally to the pandemic[7] – although this is not the case for all Salafis, with the famous Salafi scholar Shaykh Haitham al-Haddad recommending that mosques do not close, and as such hundreds of mosques remain open for the mass Jumuaah prayer.[8] BBSI came out quite early and said that Jumuaah should be cancelled but again added the caveat that it was a decision based on the ‘majority of members’ with there being dissenting views within the organisation.[8b]

Here a person is excommunicating and anathematising other Muslims because they have made the safe and wise decision of cancelling Jumuaah:

Corona

Whatever one may think about the potency of the virus, we know with certainty that the NHS has already been struggling to cope with the situation, well before the projected peak. Here is a message from an anaesthetist working on the frontline:

 

I’m a consultant anaesthetist working in Frimley Park Hospital and this week all anaesthetists are being re-roled as intensive care doctors. We will be tasked with putting the sickest patients under anaesthetic and onto ventilators/life support machines. Each patient will require 10 days+ on a ventilator then may need a temporary tracheostomy to get them off the ventilator. The intensive care unit is already full of COVID-19 patients on ventilators (12) with more requiring ventilation every day. My hospital usually has 4-10 patients on ventilators and is planning and EXPECTING 80 patients to require ventilation. It seems the public health message is not getting through. Let me be clear. A lot of people are going to die. They will mainly be 70 years plus but be in no doubt, 30-40 year olds will die too. Pubs have been busy, offices open, social events happening, kids parties etc. It all needs to stop. Infected people shed virus and it must be everywhere by now. It is your social responsibility to engage in social distancing. Actions NOW can prevent further disease transmission, ICU admissions and deaths in 10-20 days. Two of my anaesthetic/ICU colleagues in other hospitals are off work due to being infected (doing ok). As health care workers, we are now EXPECTING to catch it despite PPE. This virus has been transmitted around the globe unchecked and will not stop until it has nowhere to go – social distancing/isolation or patient death. Here ends my public health message. On a more personal level, my son turned three years old last week and is six weeks into a three year chemotherapy program for lymphoma. This virus is a big threat to his life and as I am going to be exposed this week doing my job, I can no longer live at home. I have had to make the difficult choice: to do my job and save lives of people I don’t know, or to be with my son whilst he battles cancer. Alfie hopefully will survive his cancer and chemo, but many people will die from flu. My heart is broken making this decision, but I choose to save the lives of strangers and leave him in the care of my beautiful wife and family. Later this week I’ll be moving into a motor home and will not be able to take any further part in his care for the next 6 months. Bottom line. SOCIALLY ISOLATE or people die in two weeks.”

Nick Dennison

Muslims and organisations that are choosing to ignore these recommendations are not only displaying low levels of ethics and morality but are also risking the lives of Muslims and those within wider society.[9] I spoke to my primary school students who already fully understood the situation. If you have the illness you could pass it onto someone else, who may have contact with an elderly person and as such risk their life. We can pretend otherwise, but mosques are mainly attended by the most vulnerable — the elderly and therefore you put these people at a greater risk. We saw this in Malaysia[10] where the spread of the virus was caused by a religious gathering organised by none other than the Deobani group ‘Tablighi Jamaat’. Sixty-seven percent of the cases are linked back to this group. In Indonesia, this group of cultural terrorists simply ignored what had happened due to their conflagration in Malaysia and continued with their own gathering.[11] In the UK Muslims continue to ignore the governmental guidelines and instead attempt to find any mosque that is open to pray their Jumuaah. In one site, there was a large queue to enter the mosque[12] where no doubt the virus spread handsomely. One merely needs to look at South Korea and how ‘Patient 31’ contracted the virus without being aware and then attended churches and infected many other people.[13]

Those ‘Muslims’ who are ignoring these requests will be the first to leech off the NHS when they catch the illness — an NHS that is struggling to meet demands. In fact, people are already dying due to non-Covid illnesses as the NHS is unable to meet the need for intensive care beds. These Muslims will then proliferate on an already busy hospital with many of their family members, taxing the NHS further. So why not to do the right thing in the first instance and not be a burden on society?

The government has just issued legislation[14] that in the event that there are too many deaths and not enough space for burial, the council can cremate bodies without the approval of the family.[15] Muslims came out in droves speaking against this legislation; typical ‘Muslim behaviour’ was displayed where they ignored governmental guidelines, kept mosques open, and there was then a disproportionate amount of Muslims who died from the Corona virus. Then they throw a tantrum when there aren’t enough burial spaces. Despite this being the case, MP Naz Shah through the support of other MPs managed to have the legislation amended so that Muslims and Jews could be buried based on their own religious practices.[16]

Preservation of Human Life

 

Whenever we explore the Islamic perspective on any issue the first question we should ask is what does God say in the Quraan? Unfortunately, the current prerogative of Muslims is to ignore the Quraan. The first point of reference should always be the Quran, then hadith (purported sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) and then the statements of the jurists. When considering the positon of the jurists, one should attempt to understand their historical context and whether there were any political or social reasons which may have affected their judgement or rulings. Therefore, we will explore the various texts and what they state about how Muslims should conduct themselves in the current crisis.

When a person reads the verses of the Quran it should be clear enough for a Muslim to realise what is expected of them in the current epidemic. The problem is that Muslims have lost their connection with the Quraan, a book through which God is speaking to you directly. Instead, the Quraan is a book that is ignored, and people look to their own emotional response or the response of the scholar they follow to tell them what they should believe about any given topic. I have long insisted that the Quraan is a rational book and a book that will never conflict with the intellect. If there was no Quraan and a person was not following scholars blindly they would come to many of the premises mentioned in the Quraan based on their own rational judgement. One merely needs to look at the ‘Kitaab at-Tawheed’ (‘The Book of Monotheism’) by Shaykh Abu Mansoor al-Maturidi, one of the two founders of Sunni orthodox theology, and one will see that the very first chapter explains that religion must not be based on blindly following authority (Taqleed), but instead must be based on rational proof.[17]

Quraan

Firstly, it is important to understand the guidelines provided by the Quraan:

“And do not contribute to your own destruction”[18]

 

In a society that takes the Quran as its guide, displaying this verse would be the end of this article. This alone should be enough to provide the instructions on what to do in the current pandemic. But unfortunately, this verse isn’t enough (at least for Muslims) and therefore I will spend the remainder of this article attempting to provide proof from a variety of sources. But for a person not affected by the false dogmas created by ‘religious’ people, this should be enough. This verse explains that a person should not perform any action that could lead to their own destruction. There have been various interpretations of this verse, but I believe that it is referring to not being reckless or placing oneself in a situation that could lead to one’s demise. It is one of the verses that is used to state that it is impermissible to commit suicide in Islam. In the current pandemic people are risking the lives of other more vulnerable people by not isolating. Even if you are young and healthy, spreading the virus asymptomatically to someone in the community who is old or unhealthy is tantamount to killing them. Its negligence in the highest order and you are contributing to your own destruction as well as the destruction of others. Here is another verse relayed in the Quraan:

He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah. But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], there is no sin upon him. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.[19]

 

It is on the basis of this verse that many legal maxims were produced. For example, the idea that if there was Darura (necessity) then Haraam (impermissible) acts can become Halal (permissible). We will explore some Islamic legal maxims later in the article. The verse of the Quraan is once again very clear that there are certain things that are not permissible in Islam but if there is a necessity then these things become permissible. But when it comes to the many  issues related to  the Coronavirus situation it isn’t even an issue of abandoning something that is compulsory, because praying in the mosque, praying in congregation, Taraweeh, fasting whilst ill and performing the Eid prayer whilst ill are not even compulsory. But even if they were Fard (compulsory) this verse provides the Rukhsa (concession) to not pray them.

The Quraan is abundantly clear that human life should be preserved in all instances except where a person has murdered someone and even in that instance an attempt is made to preserve the life of the murderer if the victim’s family are amenable. In the current pandemic, preserving human life should be the foremost goal. If conforming to the sometimes admittedly drastic actions will save or preserve even one life then we should not think twice about shutting the mosques, not praying in congregation, not praying the Taraweeh prayer, not fasting whilst ill (or at risk of getting ill) and not performing the Eid prayer. If anything, I would say that these mosque leaders who are facilitating these deaths could be reprimanded in the hereafter for helping kill their fellow Muslims, and those Muslims who ignore the guidelines and die from the pandemic are not Shaheed (martyrs) but instead could more appropriately fall into the category of those who commit suicide.

Let us move on to the secondary source in Islam, the hadith. I have abundantly detailed in my commentary on the book ‘Hanafi Principles of Testing Hadith’ that if there is any hadith that conflicts with the Quraan then that hadith should be rejected, or if any hadith conflicts with reason then it should also be rejected. The reason is that we know that Matn (text) of such a hadith has been fabricated, as the Prophet Muhammad would never state, act or silently approve anything that conflicts with the Quraan – a book that itself does not conflict with intellect.

There are in fact a large number of hadith that support the position of the Quraan and the intellect when it pertains to this situation, which guide Muslims on what they should do when there is a pandemic in their locality.

Hadith

Here is a hadith narrated in ‘Sahih Bukhari’ which states:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague breaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place.”[20]

 

In this narration the Prophet Muhammad has told people to ‘self-isolate’ when there is a pandemic in your area. It is logical and quite rational that if there is plague in a certain area that a person should not enter so that they are not affected by the plague. But what makes this guidance uniquely brilliant is that the Prophet Muhammad has told people not to leave their area, so that the plague does not spread to other areas and instead is contained. These are the exact same actions that are being taken by governments throughout the world in order to contain the virus and stop the rapid spread, so that the NHS can manage the situation and treat the affected patients.

Another hadith that comes to mind is an incident that is found in ‘Sahih al-Bukhari’ and the ‘Muwwatta’ and is relayed by Ibn Abbas who states:

“Umar ibn Khattab set out for Syria. When he got as far as 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 Syria’. After consulting with his companions he made the decision to turn back. ‘”[21]

Again, a rational response to the pandemic. If our Muslim leaders were with Umar, they would have probably told him to enter the city, as ‘God would protect them’. They would have risked their own lives and the lives of others based on their own backward perspective of what God expects of them – even if the Quraan states the opposite.

The following narration is found in the ‘Musnad’ of Imam Ahmad:

“Whoever stays at home during a plague out of patience, seeking reward for that [decision] from Allah and believing that nothing will happen to him except whatever God has decreed, such a person shall get the reward of a martyr.”[22]

Another hadith that is clearly telling you to ‘self-isolate’ and that by doing so there is great reward. Then there is the following hadith relayed in Ibn Majah:

“Do not cause harm nor incur harm”[23]

This hadith is very clear and also links to the Coronavirus pandemic. Do not cause harm to others by being a part of mass gatherings and spreading the virus, whilst at the same time do not put yourself in a situation where you are at risk of being harmed. This hadith along with similar traditions were the basis from which many legal maxims were derived.

Here is another hadith in ‘Bukhari’:

“There is no ‘Adwa, nor is there any bad omen (from birds), nor is there any Hamah, nor is there any bad omen in the month of Safar, and one should run away from the leper as one runs away from a lion.”[24]

It is clearly stating that a person should keep away from someone who has a contagious illness, in such a manner that you would run away from a lion, so don’t be blaise about it but instead take affirmative action, and isolate yourself from others.

By relaying these hadith, I am demonstrating the double standards of the so-called ‘Traditionists’ such as the Deobandis and Salafis. When there is a problematic hadith that tells you to kill apostates, burn homosexuals[25], that the Prophet Muhammad was affected by magic[26] or that the Prophet Muhammad married a child, they want to hold onto these traditions and follow them, even when they conflict with the Quraan. Yet in this instance where they have very clear hadith, they choose to ignore them as they don’t mesh with their parochial mentality.

 

Islamic Legal Maxims

In Islam we have legal maxims (al-Qawaid al-Fiqhiyyah), the bases of which are Islamic sources such as the Quran and hadith. Qawaid is the plural for Qaidah which means foundation, firmness or stability. These maxims categorise legal cases based on the principles they are connected with. The practical applications of the maxims have two key areas which are the five universal principles (al-Qawaid al-Khams al-Kubra) and the general principles (al-Qawaid al-Kuliyyah). The reason why it is important to be aware of these maxims is that if a person does not accept the clear directive of the Quraan and hadith on the current epidemic facing the world, then we also have certain legal maxims that can be applied to the issue.  These maxims as stated are derived from the Quraan or from hadith. Here is an example where a legal maxim is derived from a verse of the Quraan:

He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah. But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], there is no sin upon him. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.[27]

It was on the basis of this verse that jurists derived the Islamic legal maxim ‘Necessity makes the impermissible lawful’ (ad-Darurah tubeehu al Mahzuraat)”.[28] It was a concept we analysed earlier in the article but it is also a maxim (al-Qawaid) within Islam.

In order to demonstrate the veracity of this maxim and the concepts that are derived from it, there is an example from Ibn Abd-al-Salaam who argued that it is not right to choose difficult deeds in order to get closer to God, since the reason for worship is to praise and glorify God and performing difficult deeds is not a form of glorification and praise of God.[29] What he means is that by making things difficult for yourself you are not performing a better deed. The whole concept should be to worship God, not to think that a specific deed will be more rewarding just because you have made your life harder by performing that action – a concept that should be drilled into Muslim scholars and imams, whose Modus Operandi is to make the lives of Muslims harder with their draconian rulings. In terms of our current situation then this concept means that your reward is not increased by placing your life and the lives of others at risk by congregating in mosques, it doesn’t make the deed better, so stay home and keep yourself and your family safe.

There are other important maxims to remember, which are based on the hadith that no harm shall be met by harm, and this resulted in a few related maxims which are ‘Harm not and don’t be harmed’ (Al-Dharar la Yuzalu bi al-Dharar), ‘Averting harm takes precedence over gaining benefits’ (Dar’ulmafaasid Awlaa min Jalbil Manafi).[30] Many of these maxims come from the foundational maxim which we spoke about earlier which is “Al-Dararu Yuzal” (‘harm should be eliminated’).[31] Now these maxims (al-Qawaid) are very clear, as are their applications. But for certain scholars and the people who follow them, you have to spell everything out. For example, the maxim ‘Averting harm takes precedence over gaining benefits’ (Dar’ulmafaasid Awlaa min Jalbil Manafi) is glaringly obvious. Averting the harm of spreading the Coronavirus and as a result endangering elderly Muslims and those with weak immune systems (a common trait amongst minorities in the UK who are Muslim) outweighs the benefit of keeping the mosque open. It also outweighs the supplementary (not obligatory) benefit there is in attending the mosque. Some with literalist ideology such as the Deo-Brelawis and Salafis will say that they haven’t got any texts that tell them that they should close the mosques in this instance and therefore this results in their inaction, which is the most irrational argument I have heard, and every time I hear this ‘Biddah’ (meaning ‘it’s an innovation’) argument from Salafis all I can do is roll my eyes at the banality of such claims. But in this instance they are being joined by the Deo-Brelawis (although less so Brelawis, who are worried that some of their flock will become misguided by attending the Deobandi mosques that remain open).[32] Yet this maxim is very clear that one should avert harm by stopping themselves from doing things that are ordinarily beneficial and as such they should close the mosques, not attend Jumuaah, not attend Jamaat, not attend Taraweeh, not fast if there is even a possibility of them getting ill or there is a possibility that their illness may increase, and not attend Eid prayer. In addition to this, by ignoring the recommendation by you are breaking other maxims mentioned earlier such as ‘Harm not and don’t be harmed’ (Al-Dharar la Yuzalu bi al-Dharar),

Jamaat

Once again, the information I have relayed up until this point would be enough to encourage most normal people to follow the guidance laid out by the government, but unfortunately I am forced to explain each aspect. So now let me proceed with Fiqh.

Let’s begin with praying Salah in congregation (Jamaat). Praying Salah in the mosque is Sunnah (optional) and is not Fard (obligatory).[33] This is not a controversial point and is well known amongst laity and scholars. Where there is a disagreement amongst the scholars is whether prayer in congregation (and this can be at home) is optional (Sunnah) or necessary (Wajib), please note that it is not argued that it is obligatory (Fard) as the evidence to pray in Jamaat doesn’t meet the requirements of an obligation.[34] Both of these are valid opinions in the Hanafi School. Based on the current global situation it is more important to refrain from praying in Jamaat as it is an optional act and a person should not be risking their lives for even an obligatory act, let alone an optional one.

Based on the legal maxims I mentioned earlier, it is necessary for people not to pray in Jamaat, even within the family, in case a younger person passes on the Coronavirus asymptomatically and then the older members of the family are at risk. For those who follow the position of the Muhaditheen and do not follow particular legal school (like most Salafists), then they should be aware that Imam Nawawi who held that praying in congregation was compulsory (note not praying in the mosque merely in congregation, which can be in your own bedroom should you wish) also had the opinion that even if there was a light drizzle of rain then that was enough excuse to abandon the congregational prayer, never mind the fact that there is viral epidemic. For the Deobandis who believe that praying in congregation in necessary (wajib) then Shaykh Zafar Uthmani, one the most highly respected figures amongst Deobandis, also argued that a person should not attend the congregational prayer if they are sick, and this position was also relayed by Ibn Abidin in ‘Radd al-Mukhtar’.[35] Therefore it is quite simple: do not attend prayer in the mosque and if there are elderly members of the family or people who are at risk then do not pray in congregation.

Jumuaah and Eid Prayer

 

The first thing to mention is that according to Hanafi Fiqh, for Jumuaah to valid it must meet certain conditions, and these are that a Muslim ruler (Sultan) must give permission for Jumuaah to be prayed in that area, it must be a city or town, it is prayer during the time of Dhuhr, it must be prayed in congregation, there must be two sermons (Khutbas) and it must be openly accessible for all to attend.[36] Therefore, Jumuaah doesn’t meet the conditions for validity in the UK (and most countries) anyway because a Muslim ruler has not given permission for it to be prayed[37] (although some scholars in recent times have argued that if the Prime Minister has given permission for such practices then therefore the validity stands, which is quite a ‘modern’ interpretation – another example of contradictory behaviour by those who decry ‘modernism’). As such, those who pray Jumuaah should also pray Dhuhr to ‘cover their bases’. This general point about Jumuaah not being valid or as important as some Muslims believe is important to remember when we speak about issues related to Jumuaah and the global epidemic.

In the Hanafi School Jumuaah is not obligatory (Fard) for the person who is sick.[38] This is a similar position held by the Muhaditheen who argued that Jumuaah is not obligatory for the person who fears for their life. In an example of this is a situation where Ibn Abbas relayed that people should pray in their homes, and when the people contested this position, he said that it was something that was done by the Prophet. Ibn Abbas said that despite Jumuaah being compulsory, he did want people to walk through mud and slush to get to the mosque.[39] So here Ibn Abbas is stopping people from attending the mosque because of something as small as mud, but in our situation people could die due to mass gatherings which could accelerate the spread of virus, but these Deobani Moulanas are yet asking people to attend the mosque. There is also a fatwa from the Shafi’i school that states that Jumuaah and Jamaat is cancelled based on the current situation.[40]

The Eid prayer which is prayed in a congregation is necessary (wajib); again note that it is not Fard (compulsory).[41] It is necessary upon the same people that Jumuaah is necessary and in the same vein the same people are exempt from it, as such what I have stated about Jumuaah also applies to the Eid prayer.

It is very clear that scholars would tell people not to come to Jumuaah for minor situations such as having to walk through mud, never mind the fact that there is strong possibility[42] that the virus will spread through the mass gatherings which occur through Jumuaah. Therefore, without taking into account whether Jumuaah is even valid in this country in the first place, it is necessary that all Muslims do not attend both Jumuaah and the Eid prayer so that they do not place themselves and others in harms’ way.

 

Fasting

 

My position regarding fasting under the current situation is not controversial, but then I would have said the same about previous articles on the issue such as “Prayer and Fasting When the Time for Isha Does Not Occur: Part 1”[43] which resulted in mass panics and anathematisations from Deo-Brelwi and other ‘authorities’ and my having to write a number of follow up articles to prove the uncontroversial initial position.[44] I already have a number of articles widely available on the issues related to fasting and therefore will not go into great detail in this article.[45]

It is very clear in the books of Fiqh that if by fasting you will get ill or there is a strong possibility that you will get ill or that your illness may worsen, then it is permissible not to fast.[46] As such, anyone who is old or has underlying health conditions, or is displaying any illness should not be fasting this Ramadhan. For those who think heroics will get them additional reward, I refer them to my previous proof that there is no additional reward for doing things which are difficult or ‘harder’.

In terms of those people who are not elderly or do not have underlying health conditions, then the issue of the Coronavirus becomes complex. Ordinarily, the position is that if a person strongly believes that by fasting they may get ill or the illness may increase, then the person is exempt from fasting. In our present situation, a person may contract the Coronavirus from someone and not display any signs or symptoms for a number of days or maybe even two weeks. What this means is that someone can have the virus, not display any symptoms, then fast and because they are fasting their immunity is weaker which means that the virus begins to act more aggressively which as a result means that a person is at higher risk of dying from the illness. Due to the fact that Muslims seem to be disproportionality affected by the virus, I am recommending Muslims not to fast this Ramadhan, especially as these will be fasts of long duration.

Burial

Another issue that is linked to current pandemic is the issue of burial and the ghusl (ritual washing) of people who have died from the Coronavirus. I have mentioned how legislation has passed which stated that if there were not enough burial spaces then a person could be cremated without consulting family members. The response to this was spearheaded by MP Naz Shah and an amendment was made so that the family could be consulted and a person could be buried as opposed to be cremated.

A person who dies from a contagious disease is considered a martyr according to Islam:

“Five are regarded as martyrs: They are those who die because of plague, abdominal disease, drowning or a falling building etc., and the martyrs in God’s Cause.”[47]

 

But when it comes to the issue of ghusl and burial a distinction is made because a person who is considered a martyr according to Fiqh is only a person killed by a disbeliever, or found on the battlefield with battle wounds, or unjustly killed by a Muslim and no Diyah (blood money) is due for his killing. In these cases the person is not given ghusl and he is buried covered with blood.[48] This is not the same case for a person who dies from a plague as the person is not considered a Fiqhy martyr but instead one according to status in the Hereafter. As such, in this case the person should be given ghusl and buried using the normal burial rites.

This is where the dilemma lies in our current situation. Ordinarily a person should be buried by giving ghusl and despite in some instances this decision being taken out of the hands of the family of the deceased I thought it was prudent to clarify my own positon on the matter. If a person was to wash the body and the deceased has a disease such as Cornovirus then the disease may spread and those who are washing the body may be infected. Thus I am stating that a person should not perform ghusl on the body, which is based on the legal maxims I mentioned earlier that are derived from hadith. ‘Harm not and don’t be harmed’ (Al-Dharar la Yuzalu bi al-Dharar), ‘Averting harm takes precedence over gaining benefits’ (Dar’ulmafaasid Awlaa min Jalbil Manafi),[49] as well as the foundational maxim which we spoke about earlier which is “Al-Dararu Yuzal” (Harm should be eliminated).[50] This situation is very clear; the person washing the body may be harmed and then later also harm others. Therefore they should not be washing the body. In the same vein, averting harm from contracting the Coronavirus takes precedence over the benefit of washing the body. Therefore, I am again stating that the body of deceased Coronavirus victims should not be washed.

Conclusion

 

If Muslims do not take the advice of the government then they should be prepared for further deaths in the Muslim community, governmental sanctions, not being able to perform funeral rites on the deceased and whilst writing this new legislation has just passed that if there is insufficient capacity in cemeteries then the deceased will be cremated even if this is against the wishes of the family.[51] The people disobeying the regulations should not be under the illusion that they are dying as martyrs, in fact it’s quite the opposite. If these people are the reason for others dying, or they are unnecessarily putting themselves in danger, then in all likelihood they fall much closer to the category of those who have committed suicide rather than of martyrs.

Due to the threat of the Coronavirus and disproportionate number of Muslims dying from the illness, I hold the position that mosques should close, and as such there should not be Jumuaah, Jamaat, Eid prayer or Taraweeh prayer. In addition to this elderly people and those with underlying health conditions should not fast. In terms of those people who do not fall into this category then even they should seriously consider not fasting this year.

It’s time for Muslim scholars to act like leaders, to make consistent, swift and decisive decisions that protect Muslims and the community as a whole.

We live in a time where we need to act with wisdom, authority and with the foremost objective of saving human life. We need to remove the ‘village’ type mentality ingrained within the culture of certain sects and groups. It’s time for Muslims to acts as honourable members of society, to help, to contribute and to not make the situation worse. I have seen this honourable behaviour from a number of Muslims, from the Doctors and Nurses on the frontline, to those helping with food delivery to the most vulnerable to those who have volunteered to help support the NHS. But as Victor E. Frankl said in the quote at the beginning of the article, do not let humanity reside in the nature of the few, but instead let it reside in all of us. Ignore this Scholars when they ask you to act against the best interest of humanity.

And if the carrot of good deeds is not enough to persuade Muslims, the should know that the stick of the already anti-Muslim media blaming them for spreading the pandemic is also on hand (and already being exploited by Alt-Right commentators who are relishing the closing of boarders and scapegoating of refugees and immigrants).

In terms of the expected hysteria from Muslim scholars due to this article, I am not concerned by that, but if this article helps save even one life then it was worth writing.

 

 

Corona 2

(I was sent this image via whatsapp and I had to include it in the article)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_B8Xt0teCIo&feature=youtu.be

[2] https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/coronavirus-muslim-mosque-closure-prayer-nhs-a9411936.html

[3]https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/culturalidentity/religion/articles/exploringreligioninenglandandwales/february2020

[4] https://www.newstalk.com/news/boris-johnson-advises-mass-gatherings-social-contact-uk-983939

[5] https://www.cineworld.co.uk/blog/cineworld-cinemas-closure-faq-coronavirus-covid-19

[6] https://islamicportal.co.uk/coronavirus-should-masjids-close/

[7] http://nizami.co.uk/should-mosques-remain-open-for-congregational-prayer-countering-a-poor-fatwa/

[8] https://www.islam21c.com/islamic-law/sh-haitham-how-to-pray-during-a-coronavirus-lockdown/

[8b]http://www.bbsi.org.uk/coronavirus/

[9] https://twitter.com/ybirt/status/1240988398279634944?s=21

[10] https://www.thestar.com.my/news/regional/2020/03/18/how-rally-at-malaysian-mosque-became-covid-19-hotspot#.XnIFpQopp04.whatsapp

[11] https://www.thestar.com.my/news/regional/2020/03/18/thousands-of-muslim-pilgrims-brave-virus-to-gather-in-indonesia#cxrecs_s

[12] https://twitter.com/YBirt/status/1240988398279634944?s=20

[13] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/31-south-korea-sudden-spike-coronavirus-cases-200303065953841.html

[14] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/malaysia-mosque-event-virus-hotspot-se-asia-200318021302367.html

[15] See clause 56 schedule 27, paragraph 442

[16] https://twitter.com/NazShahBfd/status/1242111670530592770

[17] Al-Maturidi, Abu Mansoor tr. Ahmed, Sulaiman, “Kitaab at-Tawheed: The Book of Monotheism: God and the Universe” (Maturidi Publications, UK, 2019), Page 2

[18] Quraan, Surah al-Baqarah (2:195)

[19] Quuran, Surah Baqarah (2:173)

[20] Sahih al-Bukhari 5728, Book 76, Hadith 43

[21] Sahih Bukhari Hadith: 5729 and Muwatta of Malik Book 45, Hadith 1621

[22] Musnad of Imam Ahmed. Hadith 26139

[23] Sahih Ibn Majah Vol. 3, Book 13, Hadith 2340

[24] Sahih Bukhari Vol. 7, Book 71, Hadith 608

[25] https://sulaimanahmed.com/2017/07/28/islamic-law-homosexuality-and-the-pulse-massacre/

[26] https://sulaimanahmed.com/2016/01/20/black-magic-and-the-perfection-of-the-prophet/

[27] Surah Baqarah (2:173)

[28] Al-Subki, Taj al-Din, Al-Ashbah wal-Nazair, (Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 1991) Volume 1, Page 12, Kitaab al-Qawaid ed Abd al-Rahman al-Shalan, (Maktabat al-Rushd, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, First Edition, 1997), Volume 1 page 203-207. Al-Sadlan, Salih, al Qawa’id al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kubra, (Dar Balansiya, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, First Edition, 1996), Page  9

[29] Al-Zarqa, Ahmad, Sharh al-Qawaid al-Fiqhiyyah, (Dar al-Qalam, Damascus, Syria, Second Edition, 1989), Page 30

[30] Al-Sanbahli. Muhammad Burhan al-Din, Qadaya Fiqhiyyah Mu’asirah, (Dar al-Qalam, Damascus, Syria, First Edition, 1987), Page 61. Al-Shinqiti, Ahkam al-Jirahah al-Tibbiyyah, (Maktabat al-Sahabah, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Second Edition, 1994), Page 365

[31] Al-Shinqiti, Ahkam al-Jirahah al-Tibbiyyah, (Maktabat al-Sahabah, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Second Edition, 1994), Page 185

[32] https://www.facebook.com/728350647/posts/10162984259165648/?d=n

[33] Ibn Abidin, Muhammad Amin, Radd al-Mukhtar aka ak-durr ak-Mukhtar ed Husam al-Din Farfur (Dar al-Thaqafa), Volume 2, Page 619

[34] Al-Farghani,  Fakhruddin Hasan, Fatawa Qadi Khan, (Qadeemi Qutub Khana, Karachi), Volume 1, Page 205.

[35] Uthmani, Ẓafar Aḥmad, I’la Sunan, (Idara Al-Quran), Volume 4, Page 204

[36] Al-Marghinani, Burhan Uddin, Al Hidayah Sharh Bidayat Al-Mubtadi (al-Bushra Publishers), Volume 1, Page 371-372

[37] Al-Marghinani, Burhan Uddin, Al Hidayah Sharh Bidayat Al-Mubtadi (al-Bushra Publishers), Volume 1, Page 373

[38] Al-Marghinani, Burhan Uddin, Al Hidayah Sharh Bidayat Al-Mubtadi (al-Bushra Publishers), Volume 1, Page 378

[39] Sahih Bukhari Vol. 2, Book 13, Hadith 24

[40] https://seekersguidance.org/articles/knowledge/the-shafiʿi-school-on-jumuʿah-and-congregational-salah-during-epidemics/

[41] Al-Marghinani, Burhan Uddin, Al Hidayah Sharh Bidayat Al-Mubtadi (al-Bushra Publishers), Volume 1, Page 385

[42] Tahtawi, Ahmad bin Muhammad, Hashiyat al-Tahtawi ‘Ala Maraqi al-Falah Sharh Nur al-Idah, (Dar Al-Kotob Al-Ilmiyah ) Volume 2, Page 74

[43] https://sulaimanahmed.com/2015/06/13/fasting-times-and-puritanism-2/

[44] https://sulaimanahmed.com/2015/06/23/3-prayers-at-one-time/

https://sulaimanahmed.com/2017/07/28/prayer-and-fasting-when-the-time-for-isha-does-not-occur-part-2/

https://sulaimanahmed.com/2016/06/01/summer-times-prayers-and-fasting/

https://sulaimanahmed.com/2017/07/28/prayer-and-fasting-when-the-time-for-isha-does-not-occur-part-5/

https://sulaimanahmed.com/2017/07/28/prayer-and-fasting-when-the-time-for-isha-does-not-occur-part-6/

[45] https://sulaimanahmed.com

[46] Al-Marghinani, Burhan Uddin, Al Hidayah Sharh Bidayat Al-Mubtadi (al-Bushra Publishers), Volume 2, Page 119

[47] Sahih Bukhari Vol. 4, Book 52, Hadith 82

[48] Al-Marghinani, Burhan Uddin, Al Hidayah Sharh Bidayat Al-Mubtadi (al-Bushra Publishers), Volume 1, Page 429

[49] Al-Sanbahli. Muhammad Burhan al-Din, Qadaya Fiqhiyyah Mu’asirah, (Dar al-Qalam, Damascus, Syria, First Edition, 1987), Page 61. Al-Shinqiti, Ahkam al-Jirahah al-Tibbiyyah, (Maktabat al-Sahabah, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Second Edition, 1994), Page 365

[50] Al-Shinqiti, Ahkam al-Jirahah al-Tibbiyyah, (Maktabat al-Sahabah, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Second Edition, 1994), Page 185

[51] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-bill-summary-of-impacts/coronavirus-bill-summary-of-impacts

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