Islam and Corona Virus – an interview with Abdulaziz Ateik

By Milena
Rampoldi, ProMosaik. The corona virus seems to dominate our life and the media.
All aspects of life seem to be analysed from the “corona” point of view. Today,
in our interview with Abdulaziz Ateik, a Yemeni English teacher at the Medinah
University in Malaysia, we are trying to understand some aspects about how
Islam deals with sickness and death.

Source: Al-Jazeera

Islam is an all-embracing religion and way of life. What does Islam say about illness? 
Al-Bukhaari narrated that the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “There is no ‘adwaa
[contagion, transmission of infectious disease without the permission of
Allah], no tiyarah [superstitious belief in bird omens], no haamah [refers to a
Jaahili Arab tradition described variously as: a worm which infests the grave
of a murder victim until he is avenged; an owl; or the bones of a dead person
turned into a bird that could fly], and no Safar [the month of Safar was
regarded as “unlucky” during the Jaahiliyyah].” 
‘Adwa (contagion) refers to the spread of
a disease from a sick person to a healthy one. What happens in the case of
physical diseases may also happen in the case of psychological diseases. The
words “there is no ‘adwaa” include both physical and psychological diseases,
even though it is more apparent with regard to physical disease. 
This Hadith involves the following meanings:
1. No contagion can affect without a fate.
2. A person with contagious disease is
not allowed to mix with people.
3. No psychological fear from diseases
(disease phobia = nosophobia = an abnormal fear of contracting disease)
is not admitted in Islam. The fear should be a real one so that the person
suffering can go to see the doctors and seek medication. About this aspect, the
Prophet of Islam said: “Allah has never created a disease but created its
treatment, that is known by some people and unknown to
others, except death.”  In another
narration it says “… except old age”.
With regard to the words “no contagion
(‘adwaa)”, they have the following meaning: contagion is something that
happens, as is indicated by the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allah be upon him), “Do not put a sick one with a healthy one” i.e., the owner
of a sick camel should not bring it to the owner of a healthy camel, lest the
contagion be transmitted. 
And the Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allah be upon him) said: “Flee from the leper as you would flee from a lion.”
like a plague, is a serious disease that is transmitted quickly and kills the
one who catches it.
Therefore, this a precaution to avoid the
means that may lead to sickness, not ascribing the effect to the means
themselves. People should avoid the things that may lead to a calamity, because
Allah says: “and do not throw yourselves into destruction” [Al-Baqarah
How does
a typical Muslim person react to the Corona virus crisis?
Avoid all the means that cause
contracting the COVID-19. Stick to the instructions given by the specialists in
the official circles such as WHO and ministries of health all over the world. Save
people’s lives by avoiding mixing with them these days and remember the verse of
the Al-Ma’idah Chapter of the Quran saying: “We decreed upon the Children of
Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in
the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one –
it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.” (5:32) Saving people’s lives is an
obligatory task, individually and collectively.
What do
you think about the measures taken in Malaysia to limit the spread of
Malaysia is led by a wise government
which dealt with the matter seriously and took all the possible measures such
as quarantine and self-isolation for all people, lockdown most of the public
facilities, and isolation for those who caught the virus. Even mosques are
important is the solidarity of the Ummah for the Muslims in poor and war
countries now and why?
The rich should stand by the poor, and
the strong should support the weak. However, the reality proves the opposite
whereby the rich steals the resources of the poor, and the strong cooperate
with many other strong entities to suppress the poor countries. Humans have
lost their humanity. In the Muslim world, this happens very clearly. Countries
which are powerful interfere in the other countries affairs to serve their own
agendas which do not fulfil the weak countries’ development and prosperity.
I think
that the way Muslims deal with the virus is characterised by their belief that
death is part of life? What do you think about it?
Death is Allah’s destiny. We should not
be the cause of it for this is a major sin as Allah says: “and do not throw
yourselves into destruction” [Al-Baqarah 2:195]. In contrary, Muslims should
seek to implement all the health measures that make our life better.
Do you
think that the media generate panic in the societies about the virus, especially
in the Western societies?
To instruct and to give precautions is
good, but the media should plant hope in people’s souls. Part of medicine is
the hope to be cured. In the Western countries, media follow the official authorities,
so they report what they receive. However, the presentation of numbers of those
infected and those who died or cured creates in people the nosophobia and fear
of the unknown.
What is
your message to all people who are afraid of the situation and stop struggling
for their life by
getting depressed instead?
Loss of hope is not a human characteristic.
We should struggle to lead a good life and try by all we can to obtain medicine
for diseases. Allah says: “Despair not of relief from Allah. Indeed, no one
despairs of relief from Allah except the disbelieving people.” (Yusuf 12:87). Allah
says: “And who despairs of the mercy of his Lord except for those astray?”
(Al-Hijr 15:56)