Prophet Muhammad ﷺ on Dajjal & Viruses
In narrations recorded in Bukhari, Tirmidhi, Muwatta Malik, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is recorded to have said “Neither Messiah (Ad-Dajjal) nor plague will enter Medina.", “There are angels at the entries of Madina, and neither plague nor the Dajjal will enter it.” The Prophet ﷺ also said, "There will be no town which Ad-Dajjal will not enter except Mecca and Medina, and there will be no entrance (road) (of both Mecca and Medina) but the angels will be standing in rows guarding it against him.”
In such narrations Prophet Muhammad ﷺ connected the trial (fitnah) of masih dajjal (false messiah or anti-Christ) with the trial (fitnah) of plague, which I personally think implies existence of a global pandemic during dajjal’s time. In other narrations Prophet ﷺ has referred to the trial of dajjal as the greatest trial that world will ever experience since the creation of Adam (alaihi salaam). It is true that coronavirus called COVID-19, a form of a plague, also has a unique place in the human history of epidemics. Unlike previous ones that impacted certain parts of the world, the spread of this virus has engulfed the entire globe, hardly missing any nation on earth in addition to also being deadlier (SARS-CoV-2) than other viruses in the coronavirus family. As the world grapples to prevent the spread of this novel virus, there is much to learn from the Quran and Prophet’s Sunnah (lifestyle and practices) on understanding some medical and non-medical aspects of it and how to combat its impact along with the trial of dajjal.
Prophetic Measures Against Coronavirus
One main preventive measure is the quarantine. The origin of quarantine was inspired by trentino or "thirty-day isolation period", first used in 1377 CE by Great Council of a busy Mediterranean seaport of Ragusa (modern Dubrovnik, Croatia), when passing law to contain Black Death of 14th century. Similar laws were adopted in Italy and the period was extended from 30 to 40 days changing the name trentino to quarantino, a term derived from the Italian word quaranta, which means “forty”. However, what is mostly unknown is the fact that this concept of isolation was earlier suggested by Abu Ali Sina (Avicenna), 10th century medieval Islamic scientist. He prescribed this measure to fight against contagious lung diseases such as tuberculosis (similar to COVID-19), which he claimed were spread through “tainted foreign organisms that are not visible by naked eye” referring to invisible viruses, something proven by modern science through microscope technology. Being also an Islamic scholar it is not surprising that the origin of Ibn Sina’s disease and isolation theory may have been influenced by teachings of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ who is reported to have said regarding an epidemic situation: "... whoever hears that there is an outbreak of plague in some land, he should not go to that land, and if the plague breaks out in the land where one is already present, one should not run away from that land, escaping from the plague” and the Prophet ﷺ also said “The destruction of my ummah is by the T’an (piercing) and Ta’un (plague).” It was asked “O Messenger of Allah, we have know the t’an (piercing) but what is ta’un (plague)?” He replied “plague is the piercing of your enemies from among the jinn (invisible beings). And for you it is martyrdom.”
Many hygiene practices stressed by health experts including WHO against coronavirus, such as washing hands, rinsing mouth, covering mouth when sneezing & coughing, food safety measures are also found in the daily prophetic practices. Such as Prophet ﷺ said “the miswak (tooth-stick) cleanses and purifies the mouth and pleases the Rubb (Lord)” “making wudu (ablution) before and after the meal (i.e. washing the hands and the mouth) increases one’s sustenance and keeps Satan (jinn devils) away”  & it was reported that “when the Messenger of Allah sneezed, he placed his hand or a garment on his mouth, and lessened the noise.” Latest revelations suggest air borne transmission of COVID-19 i.e. it remains suspended in the air for hours and even travels distance. Evidence suggests that these viruses can travel in the air through aerosol. Aerosol is a suspension of solid particles, liquid droplets in the air or even gas, mist or smoke. Prof Jonathan Reid at Bristol University in the UK, researching airborne transmission of coronavirus says: “It is perhaps not surprising that while suspended in air, the small droplets could combine with background urban particles and be carried around.” Interestingly President of the United States, one of the worst virus hit countries, many times in his frustration referred to it as the “invisible enemy”. It’s quite likely that jinn (invisible beings), through unknown abilities, may be able to manipulate the virus suspended in the air, which explains prophet’s earlier narration about plague as “piercing of your enemies from among the jinn (invisible beings).” The 15th century chief justice of Egypt, hadith expert and Islamic Scholar, Imam Ibn Hajar Al Asqalani who himself survived a plague and lost 3 of his family members to it, is the author of "Bazlu al-Ma’un fi Fadhli al Ta’uun" means "Struggling for those who suffer in plague”. In his work Imam Hajar stresses jinn as the primary mode of transmission of disease. He sees no contradiction between his notion and the physician's theory of corruption of air causing imbalance in the body, as both claim disease is caused by poisonous matter in the blood. His arguments in support jinn as primary mode was that plagues frequently occurred during the best seasons of the year and also in cities that have the freshest air. He also pointed that plagues did not infect all human beings and creatures even though they all breathe the same air, and that it afflicts one person while the rest of the family remains healthy even though they intermingle with the ill.
Islamic Scholar Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, of Zaytuna College, gives an interesting revelation on “piercing” factor in the prophet’s narration. He says that it is a reference to the crown (corona) which are spikes of the virus that pierce our bodies and inject their germs inside severely impacting our immune system. He refers to this as a biological warfare. The Quran in several places also teaches that evil humans and jinn collaborate to harm others (Al Quran 6:112). The Quran mentions that Prophet Ayyub (Job) (a.s) suffered from a disease afflicted to him by a shaytan (a jinn devil): (Al Quran 38:41-42) “Behold, Satan has afflicted me with much hardship and suffering. (Allah commanded): “Stamp your foot on earth, and here is cool water to wash with and to drink.” Many discerning Islamic scholars reject the common theory of a severe skin disease and claim that in fact it was a disease that impacted his immune system. Washing and drinking pure and cool water helped him rid of disease, just as usage of water has become essential for preventing COVID-19. Some diseases may be cured by washing and drinking pure (out of earth) and cool water, something that requires scientific attention.
Makkah & Madinah Protected from Dajjal & COVID-19
Makkah and Madinah, the place where millions from around the world gather for pilgrimage throughout the year and thousands fill the streets, appear very empty. After almost a year of lockdown, it was just few weeks back that Saudi government announced to reopen Umrah (pilgrimage) with very strict social distancing guidelines and extremely limited number of pilgrims. In fact, the pilgrims would now have to book their prayer timings and visits to the mosques through an app, something never imagined before. Experienced doctors reveal that vaccines take years to be made but hope that the pace at which the world is trying to develop an effective one for COVID-19 will be sooner. Pfizer, Moderna, BioNTech have produced vaccines claiming to be “90% effective” but several challenges still remain which doubts their efficacy. If the world fails to produce an effective vaccine then visiting restrictions will remain in place for both holy cities, may be till the arrival of dajjal: “Neither Messiah (Ad-Dajjal) nor plague will enter Medina.” This narration may explain despite outbreaks, deaths and lockdowns across major cities in Saudi Arabia, we never hear of any major outbreaks in Makkah or Madinah due to extraordinary lockdown measures and travel restrictions. COVID-19 is at the entrances of Makkah and Madinah but fails to cause outbreaks and deaths due to natural and supernatural (angels) causes. Additionally, the Prophet ﷺ informed us that Dajjal will also arrive outside of Madinah and that “…There will be devils (with him)”, who may be, will assist him to spread virus (biological warfare) but he will fail to impact Makkah & Madinah. There is, however, a scholarly disagreement of plague protection only for Madinah and not Makkah, and Allah ﷻ know best.
Who is Masih al-Dajjal? Are We Close To his Time?
Masih Al Dajjal means “False Messiah” also referred to as anti-Christ in the Christian tradition. Muslims believe that he will be a Jewish King (or a President) ruling a Jewish state, which will be politically strong in the world. A couple of reasons Muslims believe he will be a Jewish King and all of these have evidence for us from the Prophet ﷺ himself: First and the foremost that Prophet ﷺ referred to him as “masih al-dajjal” meaning “false messiah” because he will impersonate the real masih (messiah) which as per Quran (Al Quran 3:45) is only Isa ibn Maryam (Jesus son of Mary) (a.s). In the Israeli history the Jews are waiting for their masih to appear but when Isa (a.s) did appear, they rejected him and tried to kill him but Allah ﷻ raised him alive (Al Quran 4:157-158). Secondly, the Prophet ﷺ suspected a Jewish boy named Ibn Sayyad to be dajjal but did not give importance to him. Thirdly, the Prophet ﷺ said that he will have a large Jewish following (70,000 Jews of Isfahan – “seventy” in Arabic means multitude). Fourthly, he will be killed by the real Masih Isa ibn Maryam (son of Mary) in Lod (Ludd), a place in modern day Israel. Since the Jews now have a state build on the illegal occupation of Palestine, they believe an increase in political power will eventually bring their promised Masih and will make their state influential in the world. After the illegal creation of Israel backed by the West in 1947, it continues to gain power. Increasing number of Muslim countries are also accepting its illegal existence and forming ties with it such as Egypt, Jordan, and recently in a surprise announcement Bahrain, UAE, Sudan, and even Saudi Arabia, who just opened its airspace for Israeli planes. Saudi Arabia, with its foolish and ambitious crown prince, is now pressuring Pakistan and others to first accept Israel so that it can prove legitimacy for its own acceptance of the illegal Zionist state. All this explains what the Prophet ﷺ foretold “The flourishing state of Jerusalem will be when Yathrib (Madinah) is in ruins, the ruined state of Yathrib will be when the great war comes, the outbreak of the great war will be at the conquest of Constantinople and the conquest of Constantinople when the Dajjal (Antichrist) comes forth….” As Israel unilaterally declared Jerusalem (including occupied East Jerusalem) to be its capital with increased international support, we can understand “flourishing of Jerusalem”. If the virus continues to impact Saudi economy due to less pilgrims, low oil prices and local anger (probably a dissent) against ruling policymakers, then we can understand “the ruined state of Yathrib (Madinah)” before “Dajjal comes forth.”
Quarantine in the Quran
Where Prophet Muhammad ﷺ warned us against the trials (fitnah) of dajjal, he also taught us how to protect ourselves against him. In several hadith narrations, he specifically advised to recite and learn Surah Al Kahf (chapter 18) of the Quran for protection, such as: “if anyone learns the first ten verses of the Surah al-Kahf, he will be protected from the Dajjal.” It is quite interesting to note that the first 10 ayahs mention the story of ashaab e kahf (young people of the cave) who sought refuge in cave, a form of quarantine, against the spiritual virus of that age which infected people with a lifestyle of kufr (disbelief & disobedience of Allah). After quarantining themselves Allah ﷻ saved them through His special grace (Al Quran 18:16) and they were able to escape that trial. Hence in this age of global pandemic and as we get close to dajjal, there is much to learn from the Quran and Prophet’s sunnah, as long as we are willing to pay attention towards it: (Al Quran 18:54) "THUS, INDEED, have We given in this Qur'an many facets to every kind of lesson [designed] for [the benefit of] mankind."
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