Why do you think this segment of Muslims does not take medical advice seriously? Calling them names may help you vent out frustration; it won’t answer the question though. Don’t they want to live or stay healthy? They do. Are they so selfish that they don’t care about others, and risk the spread of this virus? No. They are more selfless than you and me. They do charity and help needy when others don’t. The worst assumption one could come up with, would be that they don’t have Islamic knowledge. This is far from the truth. These people are also Muftis and Sheikhs who have read barrage of books, and even written and published such heavy literature that one can’t even carry it. So where’s the problem? Well, this problem is called the lack of critical thinking. This is an over-encompassing issue in the entire educational system of our part of the world. We all know logic, rationale, reasons, premise, interpretations, inference, extrapolations, hermeneutics, analysis, and evaluation by their names, but these are highly technical areas of study that nobody teaches us. These transferable skills form the crux of any type of education. What you teach doesn’t matter much since knowledge can be had anytime from internet and other sources, it’s these skills that teach you what to do with knowledge, what to make of it, how to use it, and how to arrive at conclusions/decisions. This is why massive libraries should not impress you. Ideally, any 15-year old should be able to tell you about inductive and deductive reasoning. However, even if you ask a college student, you’d rarely get an answer. This is the rot in our institutes of modern education, let alone Madrassas- but that’s for some other time. Let’s stick to the clergy for now.
Nowadays, we have irreligious people who mock at seeking supernatural help. They take Science and Islam to be opposites, and find solace in Science. Their counterparts in the other camp are their mirror image, who also think Science and Islam are antagonistic to each other. Since they are religious, they hate science while taking refuge in religion. This is the tussle that makes one a heretic and the other a ‘Primitive Mulla’. The ability to understand the interplay of Science and Islam is the solution. This is where critical thinking chips in. Science is the study of the laws of nature (God), not the laws of scientists (individuals). How can a true God be against His own laws? Gravity is the law of Allah, not of Newton who just studied it. There is not, and there can’t be any established principle of science that goes against Islam, simply because the creator of science and the creator of Islam is one. So why should any Muslim have this step-motherly treatment with science? It’s not Your Science vs. Our Islam. This is a false binary. It’s our God who gave us Quran for the right conduct in this world and sound mind to ponder upon, and research His laws governing His universe.
This corona virus is also following a certain pattern that’s to be studied meticulously to stop its spread. Who can do that? An expert who has spent his life doing just that: an Epidemiologist. Who would find its vaccine/treatment? Scientists. So, let them do that. If any of their advice goes against our practices of Islam temporarily, for the sake of saving our lives, Islam is pretty clear about giving precedence to the lives over acts of worship. How can we say so? Well, there are conspicuous sayings of Rasoolullah (saw) that make it easy for us.
Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 11, Number 635:
Once on a very cold and stormy night, Ibn ‘Umar pronounced the Adhan for the prayer and then said, “Pray in your homes.” He (Ibn ‘Umar) added. “On very cold and rainy nights Allah’s Apostle used to order the Mu’adhdhin to say, ‘Pray in your homes’.
Please understand cold night won’t have killed people. It was a severe discomfort though. Even here, the Prophet (saw) asked people to pray at home. Cold and storm are still good reasons, let’s check this one out:
Sahih Muslim 1146
Jabir reported: The Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: He who eats garlic or onion should remain away from us or from our mosque and stay in his house.
This is again about discomfort of your fellow Muslims in Masjid. A discomfort of your foul smell. Compare this to a possible deadly virus that nobody can say for sure whether one has it or not- irrespective of your symptoms.
This is not to say that we have no role to play. It’s heart-wrenching that our Masaajid are shut. Our Ka’ba and Masjid Nabwi are deserted. Ramadan is approaching. We must cry in front of Allah to restore the glory of our congregations. We must make Dua’ in our homes, and ask Allah to save us from these calamitous times. After all, it’s Allah who makes the cure for diseases; scientists are meant to look for it. May they succeed soon for the betterment of entire humanity!