Assalamualaikum ustaz, in the current COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of people are sharing a hadith which states: “Whoever stays in his house during a disease outbreak, then he would receive the rewards of a martyr even if he did not die.” My question is, is this hadith sahih and can you explain the fiqh of this hadith?
Waalaikumussalam w.b.t. Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
In this matter, there are several narrations that are used as a support for the encouragement. Among them is hadith narrated from Ummu al-Mu’minin S’isayh R.Anha, she said: I asked Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) about the plague. He told me that:
أَنَّهُ عَذَابٌ يَبْعَثُهُ اللَّهُ عَلَى مَنْ يَشَاءُ، وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ جَعَلَهُ رَحْمَةً لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ، لَيْسَ مِنْ أَحَدٍ يَقَعُ الطَّاعُونُ فَيَمْكُثُ فِي بَلَدِهِ صَابِرًا مُحْتَسِبًا، يَعْلَمُ أَنَّهُ لاَ يُصِيبُهُ إِلاَّ مَا كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَهُ، إِلاَّ كَانَ لَهُ مِثْلُ أَجْرِ شَهِيدٍ
“It was a Punishment sent by Allah on whom he wished, and Allah made it a source of mercy for the believers, for if one in the time of an epidemic plague stays in his country patiently hoping for Allah's Reward and believing that nothing will befall him except what Allah has written for him, he will get the reward of a martyr."
Sahih al-Bukhari (3474)
Coming back to the above question, the wording of the hadith refers to a hadith narrated by Ummu al-Mu’minin A’isyah R.Anha, she said: I asked Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) about the plague. He said,
أَنَّهُ كَانَ عَذَابًا يَبْعَثُهُ اللهُ عَلَى مَنْ يَشَاءُ، فَجَعَلَهُ رَحْمَةً لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ، فَلَيْسَ مِنْ رَجُلٍ يَقَعُ الطَّاعُونُ، فَيَمْكُثُ فِي بَيْتِهِ صَابِرًا مُحْتَسِبًا يَعْلَمُ أَنَّهُ لَا يُصِيبُهُ إِلَّا مَا كَتَبَ اللهُ لَهُ إِلَّا كَانَ لَهُ مِثْلُ أَجْرِ الشَّهِيدِ
"That was a means of torture which Allah used to send upon whom-so-ever He wished, but He made it a source of mercy for the believers, for anyone who is residing in a town in which this disease is present, and remains there and does not leave that town, but has patience and hopes for Allah's reward, and knows that nothing will befall him except what Allah has written for him, then he will get such reward as that of a martyr."
Musnad Ahmad (26139)
Syeikh Syu’aib al-Arna’uth in his tahqiqan of Musnad Ahmad when commenting on this hadith said: The isnad of this hadith is sahih according to the conditions set by Imam al-Bukhari. Refer Musnad Ahmad cet. Muassasah Al-Risalah (43/235).
This hadith is also narrated with the same wording by Imam al-Baihaqi in his book Asma’ wal-Sifat (1/376). While Imam al-Nasa’ie narrated this hadith in al-Sunan al-Kubra (7/68) with the phrase فَيَمْكُثُ فِي بَلَدِهِ صَابِرًا مُحْتَسِبًا . Whereas Imam al-Baghawi also narrated this hadith with the phrase فَيَمْكُثُ فِي بَلَدِهِ صَابِرًا مُحْتَسِبًا in his book Syarh al-Sunnah (5/253).
The above hadith explains the wisdom behind the outbreak of the plague that happened. Then, the Prophet PBUH explained that it is a blessing for the believers. The reason is it is stated in a tsabit narration that those who passed away due to the plague will receive the rewards of a martyr. This is according to a hadith from Abu Hurairah RA, he said that the Prophet PBUH said:
الشُّهَدَاءُ خَمْسَةٌ الْمَطْعُونُ وَالْمَبْطُونُ وَالْغَرِقُ وَصَاحِبُ الْهَدْمِ وَالشَّهِيدُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ
"Five are regarded as martyrs: They are those who die because of plague, Abdominal disease, drowning or a falling building etc., and the martyrs in Allah's Cause."
Sahih al-Bukhari (1914)
The hadith also explains that when punishment is sent, it would involve everyone regardless whether they are believers or not according to the will of Allah SWT, it is a form of punishment for the sinners and trial and blessings for the believers.
However, there are conditions stated in the hadith for a person to receive the rewards of a martyr; which is he has to stay in the state or his house during the outbreak of the contagious disease with patience and hope to attain the rewards from Allah SWT. At the same time increasing his faith that nothing could ever harm him unless it is the will of Allah SWT.
Syeikh Abu al-Hasan Ubaidullah al-Mubarakfuri in his commentary of the above hadith states:
فلو مكث وهو قلق أو متندم على عدم الخروج ظاناً أنه لو خرج لما وقع به أصلاً ورأساً وأنه بإقامته يقع به، فهذا لا يحصل له أجر الشهيد ولو مات بالطاعون. هذا الذي يقتضيه مفهوم هذا الحديث كما اقتضى منطوقه أن من اتصف بالصفات المذكورة يحصل له أجر الشهيد وإن لم يمت بالطاعون
If a person stays (in his country or home) in fear or regret that he did not get out, then he assumes that if he has left then surely, he wouldn’t have contracted the plague and believes that he would surely be infected by the plague because he is staying (in his country or house), thus, such people will not receive the rewards of a martyr even if he died because of the plague. This is the meaning of the mafhum (implied meaning) of the hadith as meant by mantuq hadith (pronounced meaning) that anyone who possess the stated characteristics will receive the rewards of a martyr even if he did not die because of the plague. Refer Mir’aat al-Mafatih, Abu Al-Hasan Ubaidullah Al-Mubarakfuri (5/239).
Is COVID-19 Categorized as a Type of Taun (the Plague)?
In answering this issue, we share the opinions of several scholars on the definition of the plague by lughah (Arabic language) scholars. Among them:
- Al-Jauhari said: Taun refers to death that affected the public the same as a disease outbreak.
- Syeikh Ibrahim al-Harbi in the book Gharib al-Hadis said: A disease outbreak is taun and an illness that affect the masses.
- Ibn al-‘Arabi in Syarah al-Tirmizi said: It is named as taun for it is a calamity that affects the public rapidly and causes deaths. Thus, diseases such as this is categorized as the same as it (taun).
Refer Bazl Al-Ma’un, Ibn Hajar (pg. 95)
It is generally known that the COVID-19 is a contagious virus which causes a contagious disease that lead to large scale deaths. Thus, according to these characteristics then it can be concluded that it is equivalent to taun as stated in sahih hadiths.
To conclude, we end this statement with the following points:
- The hadith stated in the question is a sahih hadith narrated by Imam Ahmad. It fulfils the conditions set by Imam al-Bukhari and its narrators are tsiqah (trustworthy).
- Fiqh (Lessons) from the hadith teaches us to stay in our district during a contagious disease outbreak, we are not commanded to flee the place.
We are even commanded to remain in our houses to stop the spread of the outbreak and this is meant by a hadith of the Prophet PBUH which states:
إِذَا وَقَعَ بِأَرْضٍ وَأَنْتُمْ بِهَا فَلاَ تَخْرُجُوا فِرَارًا مِنْهُ
“If it (taun) breaks out in the territory you are in, do not go out fleeing away from it.”
Sahih al-Bukhari (5730)
This is also in line with a hadith narrated by Muadz bin Jabal RA, he said the Prophet PBUH mentions five matters that if a person performs any one of them, then he would be guaranteed of the protection of Allah SWT. Among them are:
أَوْ قَعَدَ فِي بَيْتِهِ فَسَلِمَ النَّاسُ مِنْهُ وَسَلِمَ مِنَ النَّاسِ
“Or a person who stayed in his house that people are safe from him and he is safe from the people.”
Narrated by al-Thabarani in al-Mu’jam al-Kabir (55)
- The people who stayed in their houses during the period of the disease outbreak with patience and hope for rewards from Allah SWT, after taking every precautionary steps and efforts to preserve the safety of himself and at the same time believing that nothing would harm except with the will of Allah SWT, then he will receive the rewards of a martyr even if he does not die because of the outbreak.
Lastly, we pray that Allah SWT would give us the accurate understanding in practising religion. Amin.