When this piece is being written, the death from this COVID-19 pandemic has reached thousands globally (may Allah bless them with Jannah).
The number of positive cases under treatment keeps growing.
And our worries are growing too.
The Muslim-majority countries are deeply affected as well.
Not only are the Muslims affected medically; the ‘health’ conditions of their faith seem to be equally affected too.
For us, the Daies, the revelation of our Mad’us’ ‘religious’ misunderstandings about coping with the Covid-19 pandemic should take us by surprise.
So religiously misleading!
The intriguing part of these misunderstandings is that they appear to some as highly religious and pious while in fact, they aren’t!
Thanks to social media, these misunderstandings are now more globally widespread than ever.
They are inciting upset, worry and panic, beautifully wrapping them in demagogy (emotions) that are making them all the more contagious.
Just look at the huge numbers of supporting comments and shares.
So, how misleading are they? Here are some of those, to summarise:
1. The wrong priorities on what matters in Islam
As the photos of empty Masjidilharam were spread around and the Umra wasn’t allowed to be performed, some of our Mad’us started to panic.
“That place is never ever empty, always full 24/7,” they said.
Some even claimed the photos to be fake.
Following the ban of the recommended congregational prayer and the compulsory Friday prayer for the affected regions by the Muslim scholars, some of our Mad’us started to raise their concern of mosques being left empty, as if Islam is being forgotten.
Some Muslims prioritise public impression more than anything. To them, the restriction of congregational activities indicated that the practice of Islam is not important.
They correlated the emptiness of mosques with the religion being abandoned and that the End is near.
Thus, on this premise, they prioritise some of the practices of Islam — that the prominent scholars have taught — over the immediate threat against people’s lives.
Talking about wrong priorities, the issue of priority itself could also be exploited wrongly.
Some of our Mad’us mocked the public highlight of banning congregational prayers, arguing on why similar action wasn’t taken against night clubs and gambling centres.
Do they not understand that the ban on public gathering actually encompasses all of those clubbing and gambling centres? Alas, they prefer the blame game.
This kind of our Mad’us is really in need of enlightening on the topics of Rukhsa, Fiqh al-Awlawiyyat, and the prioritising of public interest in Hifz al-Nafs over the Hifz al-Deen.
We already know how our Mad’us tend to prioritise the non-priorities, thanks to our Daies too.
2. The blind faith — “Fear Allah more than His creation (COVID-19)”
Some of our Mad’us invoked that Allah will take care of His Bayt, and those who are pious and persistent with faith will be protected by Him from COVID-19.
“Fear Allah more than His creation,” they said.
“Surely Allah won’t disappoint those who are steadfast in having faith to Him,” they said.
They even quoted the Quran 9:51 out of context: “Say: “Nothing will befall us except what Allah has decreed for us; He is our Protector.” Let the believers, then, put all their trust in Allah.”
They left off the ordain to be well-prepared in 10:60 ”Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power.”
As a result, they tend not to agree and adhere to medical precautionary measures.
It is no doubt that some of them were driven by a noble intention.
They may intend for people to have faith in Him as the ultimate Healer of disease.
Yet, they may intend for people to believe that it is also part of the faith to make efforts to look for the cure. They didn’t.
So, a simplified, emotive understanding and highlighting of the former premise while leaving out the latter has led to this relative blindsidedness of faith.
On a bigger picture, this failure signifies a misunderstanding among our Mad’us about the concept of Tawakkal, the strayed faith of Jabariyya, and the Pillars of Iman’s belief in Qadhaa’ and Qadr.
Or worse, it is a hint as to how our Mad’us have misplaced the role of science (and medicine, in this context) in our Islamic worldview.
3. The bigoted humanity – “See, they’re dying. Don’t be like them.”
During the early outbreak, a lot of us Daies and our Mad’us are publicly lauding the Chinese for being infected due to their unhygienic lifestyle and eating habits.
Some of us might even turn the distress into a lesson in Da’wah publicly, preaching that Islam’s lifestyle is the best.
Imagine this situation: their family members are suffocating and dying. Yet we shamelessly call for the public to resonate with the unfriendly message ‘don’t be like them, that’s why we’re the best’.
What a biased, bigoted concept of humanity we’re advocating: that it is okay when people of other faiths are inflicted (they deserve it), but we should march in rage when the Muslims are in a similar condition.
4. The Da’wah that tarnishes and compromises the image of Islam
While the motive may be fundamentally right, this doesn’t mean that the timing and approach shouldn’t be right too.
The example in (3) is only one of those situations where Islam is being tainted as a result.
Some of our Mad’us also cited how Islam called for the women to cover their awrah so that they are less exposed to the airborne germs.
If that is so, won’t Islam be sexist for not requiring men to also dress likewise so they too will be safe?
The same goes when all of the earlier points caused the non-adherence of our Mad’us to the medical precautionary steps.
How would the non-Muslims and the Muslims staffs struggling onboard the medical team view Islam then?
The ‘virus’ causing it
Those are only several symptoms that can be observed when both the pandemic COVID-19 and its related ‘religious’ misunderstandings are spreading fast.
We don’t have to put on a new thinking hat to realise that the root of this issue is the separation (or secularisation) of the so-called worldly knowledge from the topic of faith and religion.
We may think that the Muslims won’t repeat the historical confrontation of the church with science in the past since Islam is a comprehensive (Syumul) religion.
However, the moment we began to restrict the topics of discussion in the mosque and Islamic lectures to those only about the Hereafter, we are exhibiting the sign of how confused and befuddled we are.
Or as some of us may say it “Leave the blabbers and chatters on the worldly things outside of the door of the mosque. We should respect the sanctity of this Baitullah and focus on Him alone.”
How do we leave the worldly issues out of the mosque when the teaching of Islam is about how to live in this world and deal with worldly problems?
How do we apply the teaching of Islam in all aspects of our life when the Daies confine the teaching of Islam to the repeated lessons of Taharah and Ibadah?
Islam is not being practised comprehensively and holistically if the Muslims, including their scholars and Daies, do not acknowledge the doctors to hold the highest authority when it comes to health issues.
In addition, Islam is not being practised comprehensively and holistically if the doctors do not refer and adhere to the Islamic fundamentals, guidelines and principles that should be applied in health issues.
The same goes in all worldly affairs including economy, politics, education and societal matters. They shouldn’t be secularised from Islam, and Islam shouldn’t secularise them away.
Those are a lot of responsibilities on the shoulder of us, the Daies, to be fulfilled.
So many, that we no longer have spare time to jest around and do Da’wah just for the sake of doing it simplistically — for convenience.