BY HARUN RAZAQ
It was first the swine flu and bird flu, then came the SARS, now it is Ebola which is about the deadliest disease in the world. But for those who know, it is about time we turn to Allah and make our ways as clean as possible.
Islam is a holistic belief system and it takes into account the physical, emotional, and spiritual well being of individuals and societies. Although care of the individual is important, safeguarding communities, including its weakest members, is of paramount importance. More than 1400 years ago, Prophet Muhammad, (s.a.w) was teaching his followers hygiene practices that are still applicable in the 21st century.
Islam is referred to as the religion of cleanliness. “Truly, God loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves.” (Quran 2:222)
In one of the hadiths, cleanliness is mentioned as half of faith, therefore, it is important to keep the body fresh and clean and Islam insists on several practices to facilitate this.
There are clear evidences on Islam position on coughing and sneezing openly. A Muslim must cover his face when he sneezes. This is because the most obvious effect of sneezing and coughing without covering the mouth is the spread of airborne bacteria and viruses or droplets that are invisible to the eye, may fall onto surfaces or other people.
The first line of defence is frequent hand washing. The private parts are washed after using the toilet and Muslims must pay particular attention to being clean before praying. They wash their hands, faces, (including rinsing the mouth and nose) arms and feet, a minimum of five times per day. Prophet Muhammad insisted that the believers wash their hands, before praying, before and after eating and upon waking up in the morning.
Infection control in Islam includes isolation and quarantine. Prophet Muhammad, may God praise him, instituted strategies that are today implemented by public health authorities. He commanded his followers not to travel to places known to be afflicted with illness and he advised those in the contaminated areas or communities not to leave and spread the disease further afield.
He said, “If you hear that there is a plague in a land, do not enter it; and if it (plague) visits a land while you are therein, do not go out of it”. He also counseled ill people not to visit healthy people.
The teachings and principles of Islam are designed to benefit all of humankind. Rules and recommendations for personal hygiene and cleanliness promote the well-being of individuals and communities. Infection control is inherent in Islamic hygiene behaviour.
Washing the hands, covering the mouth when sneezing or coughing, voluntary isolation, when one is feeling unwell, and restricted travel is an effective and comprehensive public health strategy. Measures taken in the 21st century to prevent the spread of infections and viruses conform almost exactly to the hygiene and infection control practices taught by Prophet Muhammad.
Signs of the end times
When reading the Quran, or the Hadith(s), you cannot help but understand the end is firmly in view. Of course, this life in ephemeral and a similitude of a market place where mankind flock to take home what will either profit him or be detrimental to him when he goes back home, the final abode.
But it is only Allah that knows the time. The Quran provides various signs, and states that the means for unveiling the end of the world have been given. “God is the Knower of the future; He does not permit anyone to unveil such knowledge. Only through the messenger that He chooses does He reveal future and past events” 72:27.
“Are they waiting until the Hour comes to them suddenly? All the signs thereof have already come. Once the Hour comes to them, how will they benefit from their message?” 47:18
The signs given in the Quran include the splitting of the moon which already happened in June 1969 when man landed on the moon and brought back moon rocks. People on earth can go now to many museums, colleges and observatories to look at pieces of the moon.
The experiences in the world today are clear signs of the end of the world. Among the signs of the end time as prophesied by the Prophet include the following.
That there will be so much bloodshed, there will be much Al-Harj, and Al-Harj means killing, as as a result, people will openly deny Allah.
There would be a spread of provocative clothing especially among females. In one of the sayings he says people would be clothed but unclothed. He also said women would imitate men and men would imitate women.
Great cities will be ruined, and it will be as if they had not existed the day before; gains will be shared out only among the rich, with no benefit to the poor; people will indulge in homosexuality and lesbianism and there will be prevalence of open illegal intercourse.