On 25th January 2020 we are shocked by the breaking news regarding the novel coronavirus (2019-nCOV). Recently, on 28th January 2020, the World Health Organization launched Global 2019-nCOV Clinical Data giving permission for affiliated countries to share and provide clinical data to deliver public clinical health feedback.
Up until 28th January 2020, there are 4593 confirmed cases around the world where most cases are reported in China with 4537 confirmed cases and 106 cases of death. 56 confirmed cases are reported outside of China involving 14 countries including Malaysia.  Swift action taken by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in handling and containing this virus from spreading further in our country should be acknowledged and supported.
When we are publishing this article, we found that there are numerous opinions from various parties. Thus, we delayed our writing to analyze and study the situation more. At the same time, we were in the land of Sultan Muhammad al-Fateh when this issue is happening.
Considering the need for a guideline for the Muslims in Malaysia, we named this series of Bayan Linnas as Our Mauqif (Standpoint) Regarding Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCOV). Hopefully, this Bayan Linnas article could be a guideline as to what a person should do and the approach they could adopt as an individual in our society when pandemic such as this happens.
Three more positive cases were reported on 29th January 2020, making the total of confirmed cases increased to seven. According to the statement of the Chief Health Director, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah issued yesterday morning that all seven cases are Chinese nationals.
The following are several main advice for citizens of Malaysia especially Muslims in facing this 2019-nCOV pandemic. We feel that the following eight points are crucial in avoiding any unwanted incidents from happening as a result of this issue.
First: Tests are A Certainty in Life
So true is the statement of Allah SWT:
وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوفْ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الأَمَوَالِ وَالأنفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ . الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُواْ إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ
And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient, who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed, we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.”
Surah al-Baqarah (155-156)
In this verse, Allah SWT tells us that He would test His believing slaves with several tests in their happiness and sadness and in all of these they would be greatly rewarded if they are patient. They would then recite istirja’ as proof that they are among those who are patient and grateful. (See Tafsir al-Maraghi; 1/467). Thus, the greatest weapon for Muslims is to always be cautious and use wisdom to overcome any obstacles and challenges at the same time supplicating and depending only to Him.
Second: Reciting Istirja’
As stated in the guidance through revelation that whenever a calamity (death) happens, the attribute of those who are patient are those who are patient with the calamity and recite istirja’ as the following:
إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّآ إِلَيۡهِ رَٰجِعُونَ
“Indeed, we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.”
Ummu Salamah RA said that she heard the Prophet PBUH said:
"مَا مِنْ مُسْلِمٍ تُصِيبُهُ مُصِيبَةٌ، فَيَقُولُ مَا أَمَرَهُ اللهُ: إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ، اللهُمَّ أْجُرْنِي فِي مُصِيبَتِي، وَأَخْلِفْ لِي خَيْرًا مِنْهَا، إِلَّا أَخْلَفَ اللهُ لَهُ خَيْرًا مِنْهَا".
If any Muslim who suffers some calamity says, what Allah has commanded him," We belong to Allah and to Him shall we return; O Allah, reward me for my affliction and give me something better than it in exchange for it,"
Sahih Muslim (918)
Hence, it is clear through this hadith that every believer is encouraged to recite istirja’ when faced with a calamity regardless of whether the calamity is great or small. Imam la-Nawawi said that it is sunnah to recite it because the Prophet PBUH is asked to recite it and the above verse of the Quran also state the same as well as the consensus of Muslims. (See al-Minhaj Syarh al-Nawawi ‘ala Muslim, 6/220)
Whereas Imam al-Qurtubi state in his commentary, a calamity is a disaster that befalls on them and hurts them. (See Tafsir al-Qurtubi, 2/175). It should be understood that istirja’ is not limited to be recited when a death occurs but in any sort of bad situation even more so when it is hurtful or harmful to them.
From ‘Ikrimah RA, once the lamp of the Prophet PBUH was blown out. Then the Prophet PBUH said:
إنّا للهِ وإنّا إليْه راجعونَ. فقيل: أمصيبةٌ هي يا رسولَ اللهِ؟ قال: نعم، كلُّ ما آذى المؤمنَ فهو مصيبةٌ.
"We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return." Then, it was asked to him: “Do you think it a calamity?” He answered: “Yes. Everything that hurts a believer is considered as a calamity.”
(See Tafsir al-Qurtubi, 2/175 and the meaning is from al-Sahih)
Thus, it is sunnah for every Muslim to recite istirja’ when a calamity or test befalls them. The reason is there are several wisdoms behind it including witnessing the Oneness of Allah SWT, belief in the hereafter (where everyone will return to), believing and depending on the fate Allah SWT has set for us while hoping for rewards from Him. (See al-Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, 3/281)
Third: Never Incite Fear and Panic by Spreading False Information
Allah SWT states:
وَإِذَا جَاءَهُمْ أَمْرٌ مِنَ الْأَمْنِ أَوِ الْخَوْفِ أَذَاعُوا بِهِ وَلَوْ رَدُّوهُ إِلَى الرَّسُولِ وَإِلَى أُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنْهُمْ لَعَلِمَهُ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَنْبِطُونَهُ مِنْهُمْ وَلَوْلَا فَضْلُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُ لَاتَّبَعْتُمُ الشَّيْطَانَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا
“And when there comes to them information about [public] security or fear, they spread it around. But if they had referred it back to the Messenger or to those of authority among them, then the ones who [can] draw correct conclusions from it would have known about it. And if not for the favor of Allah upon you and His mercy, you would have followed Satan, except for a few.”
Surah al-Nisa’ (83)
This is in accordance with a hadith from Ibn Umar R.Anhuma, where the Prophet PBUH said:
مَنْ حَمَلَ عَلَيْنا السِّلاَحَ فَلَيْسَ مِنّا
"Whoever takes up arms against us, is not from us."
Sahih al-Bukhari (6874)
Imam al-Nawawi said that according to scholars the meaning of taking up arms against us is inciting fear in people and it is not from what is revealed nor is it our practise. (See Syarh al-Nawawi 'ala Sahih Muslim, 1/109)
The same is said in a statement of the Prophet PBUH:
لَا يَحِلُّ ِلمُسْلِمٍ أَن يَرَوِّعَ مُسْلِمًا
“It is not lawful for a Muslim that he frightens a Muslim.”
Sunan Abu Daud (5004)
This also includes frightening the public with false information which will incite fear, panic and worry. The same with the sharing of frightening information without verifying it first when in fact the truth is different. Thus, we always say:
إن كنت ناقلاً فالصحة، أو مدعياً فالدليل
“When writing something, first verify the truth of it. Or if someone is claiming something, then he must present proof supporting his claim.” (See Dhawabit al-Ma’rifah, p. 368)
Congratulations once again to MOH for collating the list of fake news regarding novel coronavirus (2019-nCOV). 
Fourth: Determining the Cause for It Is Included in the Truth of Tawakkal
It is sunnatullah for us to try and search for the cause of something in order to identify any form of new diseases and subsequently develop a cure or treatment for the disease.
So true is the words of the Prophet PBUH in a hadith from Abi al-Darda’ RA, where the Prophet PBUH said:
إنَّ الله عزّ وجلّ أنْزَلَ الدَّاءَ والدَّواء، وجَعَلَ لِكُل داءٍ دَوَاءً، فَتَداووا، ولا تَدَاووا بحرَام
“Allah has sent down both the disease and the cure, and He has appointed a cure for every disease, so treat yourselves medically, but use nothing unlawful.”
Sunan Abu Daud (3874)
Syeikh ‘Abd al-‘Azim said: (إِنَّ اللَّهَ أَنْزَلَ الدَّاءَ وَالدَّوَاءَ) means Allah SWT created a disease and also its cure. (لِكُلِّ دَاءٍ دَوَاءٌ) means from what is permissible. (See ‘Aun al-Ma’bud, 10/251)
In the context of novel coronavirus (2019-nCOV), we are encouraged to be cautious and follow all the guidelines issued by the MOH.
Five: Correct Understanding of the Quranic and Prophetic Evidences
From Abu Hurairah RA, the Prophet PBUH said:
“There are no infectious diseases,”
Sahih al-Bukhari (5770)
What is meant by the Prophet PBUH is there should not be any infectious diseases that is neglected and left to spread, develop, disperse and escalate. The hadith does not mean infectious diseases does not exist.
Sixth: Maintaining One’s Health Through Cleanliness and Hygiene is A Commandment of Syarak
Allah SWT states:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِينَ وَيُحِبُّ الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ
“Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves.”
Surah al-Baqarah (222)
Syeikh al-Sabuni said: “Indeed, Allah SWT loves those who repent and purify themselves from wrongdoing and impurities.” (See Safwah al-Tafasir, 1/127)
Allah SWT states:
لَا تَقُمْ فِيهِ أَبَدًا لَمَسْجِدٌ أُسِّسَ عَلَى التَّقْوَى مِنْ أَوَّلِ يَوْمٍ أَحَقُّ أَنْ تَقُومَ فِيهِ فِيهِ رِجَالٌ يُحِبُّونَ أَنْ يَتَطَهَّرُوا وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُطَّهِّرِينَ
“Do not stand [for prayer] within it - ever. A mosque founded on righteousness from the first day is more worthy for you to stand in. Within it are men who love to purify themselves; and Allah loves those who purify themselves.”
Surah al-Taubah (108)
Seventh: Prevention Steps
To prevent any contagious diseases there are various steps and guidelines recommended by medical experts and health authorities. In Islam, the Prophet PBUH gave a basic prevention step, whether the disease is transmitted through air (airbourne), droplet or contact.
From Ibnu Abbas RA:
أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ نَهَى أَنْ يُتَنَفَّسَ فِي الْإِنَاءِ أَوْ يُنْفَخَ فِيهِ
"The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) prohibited breathing in the vessel, or blowing into it."
Sunan al-Tirmizi (1888)
From Abu Hurairah RA:
أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَانَ إِذَا عَطَسَ غَطَّى وَجْهَهُ بِيَدِهِ أَوْ بِثَوْبِهِ وَغَضَّ بِهَا صَوْتَهُ
“When the Prophet (ﷺ) would sneeze, he would cover his face with his hand or with his garment, and muffle the sound with it.”
Sunan al-Tirmizi (2745) He states the hasan is sahih
In our time, it is practical to wear face mask to prevent saliva, phlegm and mucus of the wearer from spreading in the air when he coughs or sneezes.
From Abu Hurairah RA:
لاَ يُورِدَنَّ مُمْرِضٌ عَلَى مُصِحٍّ
"Do not put a patient with a healthy person. "
Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar said: “This supports the prohibition against carrying or spreading diseases.” (See Fath al-Bari, 10/242)
The Prophet PBUH said:
إِذَا سَمِعْتُمْ بِالطَّاعُونِ بِأَرْضٍ فَلاَ تَدْخُلُوهَا، وَإِذَا وَقَعَ بِأَرْضٍ وَأَنْتُمْ بِهَا فَلاَ تَخْرُجُوا مِنْهَا
"If you get wind of the outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; and if it breaks out in a land in which you are, do not leave it."
Sahih al-Bukhari (5728)
This hadith showed that a ruler is permissible to quarantine the affected area so that the disease does not spread elsewhere. ‘Abd al-Rahman bin ‘Auf RA once stated this hadith to Caliph ‘Umar bin al-Khattab who are planning to visit Syria when the plague was reported in the area. Hearing this hadith, Amirul Mukminin ‘Umar al-Khattab cancelled his plans. (See al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, 3/5)
In our discussion with al-Allamah al-Muhaddith Syeikh Muhammad ‘Awwamah in Istanbul, Turkey on Monday 27th January 2020 regarding the meaning of the word plague in the hadith, it means any type of epidemic or pandemic that occurred in a place. Thus, this is applicable for novel coronavirus (2019-nCOV) disease.
From the above-stated hadiths, we can conclude three main wisdoms to prevent the spread of contagious diseases:
- Do not enter any high-risk areas
- Take care of one’s cleanliness and personal hygiene
- The necessity of quarantine for those who are infected with the disease
Eighth: Tabayyun (Verification) of Any News Received
There is a famous methodology according to the revelation of Allah SWT in His statement:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَن تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ
“O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.”
Surah al-Hujurat (6)
Syeikh al-Sobuni said: “When a fasiq man (of whom is neither trustworthy nor just in conveying news), then you should first verify the authenticity of the news. This is so that you would not punish or harm a community while you are ignorant of the truth. If not, you will have endless regret for your actions.” (See Sofwah al-Tafasir, 3/216)
Ibn Kathir said: Allah SWT commanded us to do a thorough verification when we receive news from fasiq people by being cautious so that we will not spread falsehood and confusion. Most commentary scholars said that the verse was revealed to al-Walid bin ‘Uqbah bin Abi Mu’it when he acted as the messenger of the prophet PBUH to collect the zakat from Bani Mustaliq (Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azim, 4/264)
According to the above explanation, it can be understood that among the manners of tabayyun is avoiding from accepting any news when its authenticity have not been verified by the body of authorities.
Thus, in surah al-Hujurat, the principle of tabayyun is mentioned together with having good thoughts and to not hastily judge or draw conclusion as stated in verse 12 of the same surah: “O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin.”
Muslims are supposed convey good news and are not suppose to incite fear by spreading fake news and analysis from people who are not experts in the field. This is what is taught by the Prophet PBUH. For example, the Prophet PBUH would visit the sick and offer them encouragement saying:
لَا بَأْسَ طَهُورٌ إِنْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ
"Don't worry, if Allah will, it will be expiation (for your sins)"
Sahih al-Bukhari (5656)
Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar said: “(طَهُورٌ) means may Allah SWT purify you from your sin.” (See Fath al-Bari, 10/124)
Al-Mula Ali al-Qari said: “(طَهُورٌ) means there is no harm from the disease for it is an expiation of sins.” (See Mirqah al-Mafatih, 2/1123)
Likewise, it may be that anything that we share and comment on social media are not true, consequently, they are just rumours that we receive from unknown sources. So true are the words of the Prophet PBUH narrated by Hafs bin ‘Asim:
كَفَى بِالْمَرْءِ كَذِبًا أَنْ يُحَدِّثَ بِكُلِّ مَا سَمِعَ
“It is enough of a lie for a man to narrate everything that he hears,”
Sahih Muslim (6)
Imam al-Nawawi said: Here is a prohibition against narrating everything that one hears for it could be that what he hears may or may no be true. Thus, when he speaks of everything that he hears, then he would have lied with news of which the reality isn’t as so. (See Syarh al-Nawawi ‘ala Sahih Muslim, 1/75)
Hence, all of us should contemplate and not be the reason for bad things or our statement or comment is the cause of panic and extreme worry.
In the Service of His Majesty Yang Dipertuan Agong
We are in the service of His Majesty Yang Dipertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah in his royal address where His Majesty encourages all mosques in Malaysia to perform the hajat prayer and supplication asking for the protection of Allah SWT for all the people from any dangerous diseases.
His Majesty’s addressing this issue and encouraging the people to increase their supplication for the safety and protection of Malaysia and the world from this pandemic shows His Majesty’s great level of conscientiousness in our country’s issue.
The steps taken by MOH should be fully supported. Everyone should follow the advice from the body of authorities.
People from all walks of life should be an agent in fighting against fake news regarding novel coronavirus (2019-nCOV). Develop a discipline to first analyze and verify any news one receive on social media. Always perform hajat prayer and supplication to Allah SWT with ma’thur supplications stated by the Prophet PBUH.
We pray that this pandemic will pass and Allah SWT will replace it with the best of health for all the citizens of Malaysia and all affected regions and that this pandemic will stop. Amin.
Lastly, we include the following dua:
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ الْعَافِيَةَ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ ، اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ الْعَفْوَ وَالْعَافِيَةَ ، فِي دِينِي ، وَدُنْيَايَ ، وَأَهْلِي ، وَمَالِي ، اللَّهُمَّ اسْتُرْ عَوْرَاتِي ، وَآمِنْ رَوْعَاتِي ، اللَّهُمَّ احْفَظْنِي مِنْ بَيْنَ يَدَيَّ ، وَمِنْ خَلْفِي ، وَعَنْ يَمِينِي ، وَعَنْ شِمَالِي ، وَمِنْ فَوْقِي ، وَأَعُوذُ بِعَظَمَتِكَ أَنْ أُغْتَالَ مِنْ تَحْتِي
“O Allah! I ask you for pardon and well-being in my religious and worldly affairs, and my family and my wealth. O Allah! Cover my weaknesses and set at ease my dismay. O Allah! Preserve me from the front and from behind and on my right and on my left and from above, and I seek refuge with you lest I be swallowed up by the earth.”
Sunan Abu Daud (5074)