COVID 19 and
The Islamic Rulings

In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful,

Assalamu alaakom wa rahmutallahi wa barakato,

What is the Coronavirus?

The Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that result in illness which extensively range in severity [1]. Some coronavirus cause illness in humans (known as human coronavirus), whereas other strains of the virus result in illness in animals [2]. The human coronaviruses are common, and are connected with mild illnesses, similar to what is observed with the common cold [2]. However, more serious respiratory infections can result like bronchitis, pneumonia, or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) [3].

The 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), is the first known outbreak of a serious illness as a result of the human coronavirus [1]. The second outbreak emerged in 2012 with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) [1].

Late into 2019, a third outbreak of a novel strain of the coronavirus resulting in severe illness was identified and named SARS-CoV-2 or commonly known as (COVID-19) [1]. As of March 22, 2020, over 335,400 cases have been documented. This has resulted in the death of over 14,600 people, which is more than six times the 2,400 deaths recorded just a month before (February 22, 2020) [4].

COVID-19 is highly contagious, and can easily spread within a community [5]. The virus spreads mainly through individuals in close proximity (within 6 feet) via saliva droplets, or mucus discharge from the nose of an infected individual when said individual sneezes or coughs [5]. The virus can also spread through objects and surfaces touched by infected individuals [5]. Most individuals with the virus will experience mild and moderate respiratory illness, recovering without the need of special treatment [6]. However, individuals with compromised immune systems, such as the elderly, or individuals with existing medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, and diabetes are more likely to develop serious symptoms or complications when infected with the COVID-19 virus [6]. Due to the novelty, there is no current vaccine or treatments to combat the COVID-19 virus [6]. 

State of Emergency: Suspension of Jumm’ah (Friday) Prayers

Due to the severity of the COVID-19 situation, the World Health Organization (WHO) has labelled the COVID-19 virus as a pandemic. Thus, to help prevent or control the spread of the highly contagious, COVID-19 virus, the Ontario government has enacted a State of Emergency [7]. As a result, many establishments were forced to close by law including sit-in restaurants, public libraries, and institutions. Moreover, organized events of over 50 people or more are prohibited [7]. This includes congregational prayers, such as Jumm’ah (Friday) prayers. Therefore, majority of the lslamic institutions such as Mosques have suspended Jumm’ah prayers in Ontario. Due to the safety concern of the public and Ummah (community), the majority of mosques have suspended the daily prayers in the mosques as well. This has also forced the Ontario Tech University Muslim Student Association (MSA) to cancel Jumm’ah Prayers on campus as well as all upcoming events, including our biggest event second to our Jumm’ah prayers, the Islamic Awareness Week.

Islamic Perspective on the Coronavirus and Why Certain Rulings were Made

Jumm’ah prayers is compulsory among healthy, post-puberty Muslim males. The proof of this is in the Quran, Surah Al-Jumu’ah (62), Ayahs 9-10:

“O you who have faith! When the call is made for prayer on Friday, hurry toward the remembrance of God, and leave all business. That is better for you, should you know. And when the prayer is finished, disperse through the land and seek God’s grace, and remember God greatly so that you may be felicitous.”

For majority of Muslim males, Jumm’ah prayers is opportunity to meet new people, feel a sense of unity, learn, as well as offers a chance to renew ones faith. Thus, the temporary suspension of Jumm’ah prayers in majority of mosques in Ontario has emotionally impacted some individuals. This has resulted in members of the community seeking alternative Jumm’ah Prayers, such as looking into or performing Jumm’ah Prayers in other people’s homes, offices, workplaces, etc….

Though the frustration of the COVID-19 situation is understandable, we as Muslims must be united more than ever, and thus follow and trust the instructions and decisions made by our trusted local and international scholars and community leaders. It is therefore imperative, for the time being, that we refrain from seeking alternative congregational prayers, including Jumm’ah prayer – especially in other people’s homes. Though the intention is noble, the action can actually do more harm than good. It takes one infected person to spread the virus to potentially thousands of individuals, even if they have not developed the symptoms. The incubation period of the virus, which is the time between virus transmission and the development of symptoms ranges between 2-14 days [8]. In the meantime, individuals whom are not following the protocols recommended by our scholars and community leaders in addition to government officials, or not adhering to social distancing policies, can potentially cause disastrous harm to the Ummah without realizing it. Researchers have estimated that individuals whom have not displayed or developed any symptoms, transmitted 10% of the studied COVID-19 cases [8]. 

We as Muslims were given sound advice by our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) over 1400 years ago to prevent the spread of contagious diseases, such as the COVID-19 virus. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has 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.” (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 71, Number 624).

This is modern day social distancing. Thus, following the current protocols and policies laid out by our local scholars, community leaders, and government officials to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus is actually a Sunnah of our Beloved Prophet (SAW). Thus, we as Muslims, will be greatly rewarded by following the current protocols and social distancing policies, InshAllah.  

It is understandable that individuals may need to go out such as going to work, grocery shopping, and appointments, and thus to prevent contracting the COVID-19 virus, we must adopt stronger hygienic practices, encouraged by our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW). As said by Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in the following hadith:

“Cleanliness is half of faith.” (Sahih Muslim 223, Book 2, Hadith 1).

Another recommendation made by our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is:

“…whomever wakes up from his sleep should wash his hands before putting them in water for abulation (wudu), because nobody knows where his hands were during sleep.” (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 4, Number 163), and to wash our hands before and after we eat “Blessing in food lies in washing the hands before and after eating.” (Sunan Tirmidhi, Hadith: 1846).

Some individuals may say that prayers alone would be better at preventing or contracting COVID-19 than adhering to the social distancing policies in place, however, we must take necessary precaution first, and trust in Allah. A proof of this is in the following hadith, narrated by Anas ibn Malik:

“A man said “O Messenger of Allah, should I tie my camel and trust in Allah, or should I leave her untied and trust in Allah?” The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Tie her and trust in Allah.” (Sunan Al-Tirmidhi 2517).

May Allah guide us and protect us all and forgive our short comings. Ameen.

Further Reading

For more information and daily updates regarding the COVID-19 virus and how to prevent the spread of the please visit:

https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus#section-2

https://www.macnet.ca/2020/03/16/urgent-update-suspension-of-congregational-prayers-at-mac-centres-and-mosques-march-16/

For further Islamic guidance, including rulings and information, please visit:

http://fiqhcouncil.org/rulings-on-daily-and-weekly-congregational-prayers-during-coronavirus-pandemic/

https://www.newsweek.com/prophet-prayer-muhammad-covid-19-coronavirus-1492798

By: Mohammed Alziadeh, President
of the Ontario Tech University Muslim Student Association

Edited by:

Sheikh Azzam Abu Raysah, Senior
Advisor of the Ontario Tech University Muslim Student Association  

Bibliography

[1]

Scripps Research Institute, “COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic has a natural origin,” 2020.

[2]

Government of Canada, “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Symptoms and treatment,” Government of Canada , 2020.

[3]

Ontario Government , “The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19),” Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2012-20, 2020.

[4]

Worldofmeter, “Coronavirus Death Toll,” 2020.

[5]

Centers for Disease , “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19),” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services , 2020.

[6]

World Health Organization , “Coronavirus,” 2020 WHO , 2020.

[7]

Ontario Government, “Ontario Enacts Declaration of Emergency to Protect the Public,” Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2020, 2020.

[8]

T. Newman, “COVID-19: Study estimates rate of ‘silent transmission,” Medical News Today, 2020.

 

 

Our IR & MSA at Ontario Tech University are mobilizing to help the community against the spread of Covid-19. We must do our utmost for those who are most vulnerable across Canada that do not have access to basic hygiene supplies. We are supporting Islamic Relief's covid-19 response to help provide free kits for vulnerable communities across Canada, and financial assistance for families living below the poverty line.