Footsteps to Follow: The teaching of Islam in times of crisis
Islam is a religion of peace and submission to Almighty God (the translation of God in Arabic is Allah). It is a continuation of monotheistic belief and was preached by Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (PBUH). The revelations from Allah took 23 years to completion and became the Holy Quran, which still is in its original Arabic text. The Holy Quran contains a complete code of life for humankind. It came at a time when Arabia was passing through dark ages: tribal warfare and the killing of female children at birth were the norm.
The Prophet did not receive any formal education. God was his teacher through the angel Gabrail. The Quran informs about previous prophets from Adam all the way to Prophet Jesus (PBUH) and their teachings. Muslims are supposed to revere and believe all prophets equally. The teachings of the Prophet are derived from the teachings of the Quran.
There are five basic Pillars of Islam: believing in One God, praying five times daily, fasting one month (Ramadan), paying obligatory poor dues, and going on Pilgrimage once in a lifetime if one has the financial ability. These rituals help Muslims practice complete submission to the will of God. Praying five times a day purifies the heart and reminds one constantly about God. During Ramadan, which started on April 12th this year, Muslims do not eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset! Not only do they need to abstain from eating and drinking, they have to abstain from evil talk or thought or any unlawful act, which may nullify the fast.
At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate with feasting and giving donations to the poor and gifts to friends and family. Those able give 2.5% of their annual savings to the needy, besides other optional charity.
Islam is complete submission to the will of Allah. Muslims believe that we, as humans, are insignificant when it comes to the will of Allah. In the past, populations were put through various trials; the Divine Books (Torah, Bible, and Quran) all include testimonials to these. For example, in the times of Prophets Moses and Noah (PBUH), their people were tested through trials and tribulations in order to help guide the people on the straight path and to test their iman (faith).
We believe that Allah’s decree is the most powerful. In Sura Fil (Quran: 105), the story of Abraha is narrated. King Abraha came with an army of elephants to destroy the Kabba but was thwarted when the elephants refused to move forward, and Allah (SWT) sent a fleet of birds, who dropped pebbles on the army, killing the enemies, and saving the Kabba.
Here we see that small birds can stop a mighty army! We can think of this incident as a lesson to human beings. No matter how powerful we may seem, we are truly helpless in the sight of Almighty God. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, we see how a small virus is causing global havoc, affecting more than 135 million people, stopping robust economies, and taking almost 3 million precious lives across the world, which disproportionately includes minority populations (statistics as of April 12, 2021).
Allah has revealed to us methods of staying safe in times of crisis through the Prophets and their companions. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) gave the following public health advice regarding pandemics.
“Whoever waits at home during a plague patiently, hoping in God’s reward, and believing that nothing will strike them except for what Allah (SWT) decreed, that person will have the reward of a martyr. Even if the person is not inflicted.”
“If there is a pandemic in an area, do not leave the area, and outsiders should not enter that area.”
These are both testimonies of the current social isolation, social distancing, and masking orders in place. They are also an encouragement for each of us to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Allah also offers reassurance to the people: Surah Al-Inshirah (Quran: 94-5) “For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease,” so Muslims are advised not to give up hope and be patient.
To learn more about Islam, check different web sites like https://yaqeeninstitute.org/.
Dr. Abdul Pathan and his daughter Munjireen Sifat, representing the Williamsport Islamic Center