We all are suffering today because of Coronavirus and its implications. It has no nationality, no race, no region, no boundary, no country, and no passport. It can travel without any restriction and affect the lives of millions of people and can even kill them. Our governments around the world are taking necessary steps to control it and overcome the problems caused by it. Experts from various walks of life from all over the world are busy day and night to discover effective treatment so that we can be free from this pandemic. We are all locked down and asked to stay at home and maintain social distance.
At this moment of stress, it would be better to know various perspectives on this issue of Corona. Some see it as a conspiracy; some others term it as anger of nature. Majority of people see it from a medical point of view. For World Health Organization (WHO), it is a pandemic disease [COVID-19]. A pandemic is the global outbreak of a disease. Currently, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. The outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January, 2020 by WHO.
I want to share the Quranic point of view about it. According to my assessment, the Quran discusses about punishment from God to those who deny the Truth and insistently commit wrong doings in life. It elaborates using reason, historical and empirical evidence, what is the Truth for it, and what are wrong doings which people commit. It highlights three things: warnings, punishment in this worldly life, and the punishment in the Hereafter. I am not sure how many of us know about Quran and its position on diseases and calamities. My general perception is that majority of people think that the Quran is a religious book for a community called Muslims who follow a religion, Islam. So, Islam and the Quran are not taken universally as the book of interest to everyone. It is some sort of religious sacred book. Its perspective about anything is also taken as a religious point of view. Therefore, it is not taken seriously by majority of people. My perception is altogether different. The Quran is neither a religious book nor the book of a specific community. It is for all human beings from the Creator of all human beings. It addresses to the people of the world and makes several claims that this Book is dealing with people and society as it was sent down for the benefit of all humanity. It brings forth mankind from every kind of darkness into the light. I would like first to discuss, as a prerequisite, about the Quran and its position. It will be followed by a discussion on the position of the Quran on diseases and calamities.
The Quran is from the Lord of the Universe
There are several aspects of the Quran. One of the uniqueness of this book is that it repeatedly discusses about its author. I have not seen throughout my life any book other than the Quran which mentions about its author repeatedly inside the book. Its claim is that it is not authored by any human being but rather revealed to the Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] from the Creator and Sustainer of universe. The Quran contains in it true, authentic, and universal knowledge [TAUK]. It claims that:
Beyond doubt it is from the Lord of the entire Universe [10:37]; Surely this is a revelation from the Lord of the universe [26: 192]; This Book, beyond all doubt, was revealed by the Lord of the Universe. [32: 2]; This Book, beyond all doubt, was revealed by the Lord of the Universe…It is the Truth from your Lord [32: 2-3]; This Book has been revealed in truth by your Lord [6:114]; It is the truth that has come to you from your Lord [10:94]; So be in no doubt about it [the Quran] for this indeed is the truth from your Lord [11:17].
The Quran and its contentment is a strong, persuasive testimony to its origin. It is inconceivable that any human being can compose several discourses on different subjects under different circumstances and on different occasions, but the collection of those discourses then grows into a coherent, homogeneous, and integrated work. No component of it is discordant with the rest as has been done in the Quran. It is also inconceivable that such a work would be permeated throughout without a uniform outlook and attitude. It manifests remarkable consistency in the mood and spirit of its Author, a work so perfect that it would never require any change or revision. God claims in the Quran:
Do they not ponder about the Quran? Had it been from any other than God, they would surely have found in it much inconsistency [4: 82]; The revelation of this Book is from God, Exalted in power, and Full of knowledge. [40: 1-2]; The revelation of this book is from God, the Exalted in power, Full of Wisdom [39: 1];[O Muhammad], you are receiving the Quran from the Most Wise, the All-Knowing. [27: 6]; These are the verses of the Book overflowing with wisdom. [10: 1];This is a Divine Command whose contents have been made firm and set forth in detail from One Who is All-Wise, All-Aware. [11: 1-2]
Our Lord God is the Creator
At many places in the Quran it is said that the Lord of the entire universe is none other than God. It is God Who has created the universe. Man is also created by Him and endowed with great responsibility to be the vicegerent of God on earth. As vicegerent he is responsible to maintain the purity of the creation and bring possible development for the well being of people. There are several ayahs in the Quran which echo this:
Surely your Lord is none other than God, Who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and then ascended His Throne, Who causes the night to cover the day and then the day swiftly pursues the night, Who created the sun and the moon and the stars making them all subservient to His command. Lo! His is the creation and His is the command. Blessed is God, the Lord of the Whole Universe [7: 54]; It is He Who has made the earth a resting-place for you, and the sky a canopy, and sent down water from above wherewith He brought forth fruits for your sustenance [2: 22]; Praise be to God, the Lord of the entire universe [1:1]; …nothing is beyond His power [2: 148]; It is He Who created for you all that is on earth and then turned above and fashioned it into seven heavens. He knows all things [2: 29]; …whatever is in the heavens and the earth belongs to Him; to Him are all in obeisance [2: 116]; He is the Originator of the heavens and the earth; [2: 117]; It is He Who fashions you in the wombs as He wills. There is no god but He; the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. [3: 6]
The Quran Expounds the Truth
We see several religions, saints, sages, philosophers, thinkers and scientists who make several claims for the discovery of truth, so the Quran also makes the claim that it expounds what is the truth and reality of life and the world. It is made clear from the very beginning that the exposition of the Truth is from God, Who is Exalted in power, Full of Wisdom [39: 1]. We find several statements about this claim in the Quran. See the following:
He has revealed this Book to you, setting forth the truth and confirming the earlier Books, and earlier He revealed the Torah and Injeel [Gospel] for the guidance of mankind, and He has also revealed the Criterion [to distinguish truth from falsehood….[3: 3];These are the ayahs [verses] of the Divine Book. Whatever has been revealed to you from your Lord is the truth, and yet most people do not believe [13: 1]; these are the ayahs of a Book that clearly expounds the truth [12: 1]; these are the ayahs of the Divine Book. Whatever has been revealed to you from your Lord is the truth, and yet most people do not believe. [13: 1]; Verily it is We Who have revealed the Book to you in Truth, so serve God…[39: 1-2];We have sent down the Book that you may explain to them the truth concerning what they are disputing and that the Book may serve as a guidance and mercy for those who believe in it [16: 64]; We surely sent down to you clear ayahs that elucidate the Truth, which only the transgressors reject as false [2: 99]; Say: “Surely God’s guidance, is the true guidance” [2: 120].
Further it is also said in the Quran about the Quran:
Surely We have brought them a Book which We expounded with knowledge; a guidance and a mercy to those who understand [believe] [7: 52]; These are the ayaths of the Book [Quran] over-flowing with wisdom [10: 1]; Allah revealed to you the Book and Wisdom, and He taught you what you knew not. Great indeed has been Allah’s favor upon you. [4: 113]; He grants wisdom to those whom He wills, and whoever is granted wisdom has indeed been granted much good. Yet none except people of understanding take heed. [2: 269].
Follow What Has Been Revealed to You
We have been instructed to follow the truth which has been revealed to us for our own benefit and welfare. We need the knowledge and the guidance in order to live a good life free from crimes, injustices, wars and weapons. We need knowledge in order to recognize the reality of the universe and our own selves and the purpose of our creation. This knowledge comes only from God Who gives us the principles which serves the basis for morality and social life as well as culture, civilization and development.
[O people!] Follow what has been revealed to you from your Lord and follow no masters other than Him[7:3]; [O Prophet], We revealed to you the Book [Quran] with the Truth for all mankind. So, he who follows the Right Way does so to his own benefit, and he who goes astray, shall hurt only himself by straying. You are not accountable on their behalf. [39: 41]
The Purpose of the Revelation of the Quran
The purpose of the revelation of the Quran has been explained at various places in the Quran. The main goal is to give knowledge through the Quran about the realities of metaphysical domains which are beyond the perception of people. This subject is repeated in the Quran several times and by several ways. With the Truth of the Quran, people are brought from the philosophical and metaphysical ignorance into the light of knowledge: Look at the following statement of the Quran:
This is a Book which we have revealed to you that you may bring forth mankind from every kind of darkness into the light, and direct them, with the leave of their Lord, to the way of the Mighty, the Innately Praiseworthy Allah to whom belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. [14: 1]
God did not reveal the Quran to cause distress to us; it is only a reminder for mankind; a reminder from Him Who created the earth and the high heavens. He introduces Himself as the Most Compassionate Lord of the universe. To Him belong all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth, and all that is in between, and all that is beneath the soil. Whether we speak out aloud, [or in a low voice] He knows what is said secretly and even that which is most hidden. God is He beside Whom there is no god. His are the most excellent names. If we are in any doubt whether it is We Who have revealed this Book to you, then He challenges to us to produce a surah like the one which is in the Quran, and asks us to call for help supporters and seek in it the support of all others save God.
God challenges in the Quran that all of mankind put together cannot accomplish this job [2: 23]. God says if people fail to do this –and people will most certainly fail – then people have to fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones and which have been prepared for those who deny the Truth [2:24]. Now it is up to people how to treat the Quran and its Truth? The Quran confirms the Truth presented by all the Messengers [pbuh] before the Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] [2:89]. The problem at present is that we do not tag on the Truth presented by the Quran since we do not take it seriously. God established the truth of the Quran based on rational, historical and empirical evidence. Hence, it is difficult to reject the Truth on rational and logical basis. It is not possible for mankind. Going against it is merely the manifestation of people’s ignorance and arrogance. On rational, historical and empirical basis the Truth revealed in the Quran cannot be refuted. For the refutation of the Quran, there may be only two possibilities: One should either have knowledge, true, authentic and universal [TAUK] to prove that the Quran is full of fabrication or one should demonstrate that the statements made by, or the information contained in the Quran, are false. But the truth is that so for it is not genuinely proved. As things stand today, people do not give any witness against the Quran. God said; “…and yet when that Book came to them-and they recognized it-they refused to acknowledge its Truth [2: 89]”; “…he [Gabriel] revealed this Quran to your heart by God’s leave: it confirms the Books revealed before it, and is a guidance and good tiding to the people of understanding [faith] [2: 97]”; “Thus does God make His Signs clear to mankind that they may stay away from evil [2: 187]”.
Rejection of the Truth without Knowledge
Those who, in disregard to God’s guidance, invented religions, developed philosophies, and prescribed laws to govern human life did not do this on the basis of any definite knowledge that they possessed; rather, it was the result of their conjecture and fancy. Likewise, those who followed their religious and worldly leaders did so not because they fully knew and fully understood all that the latter espoused. Rather, they followed those leaders merely on the gratuitous [unreasonable] assumption that whatever was being taught by those great people, and whatever had been recognized as “right” by their own forefathers, must indeed be true.
Most of them only follow conjecture; and surely conjecture can be no substitute for the Truth. God is well-aware of whatever they do [10: 36].
Whatever is needed by people to distinguish between truth and falsehood – ears, eyes, and hearts have been generously endowed by God to help them. But some people have become virtual slaves to their lusts and desires so utterly fascinated by the allurements of a life of this world. By this, they have caused their eyes to go blind, their ears to become deaf, and have perverted their hearts to such a degree that they are unable to distinguish between what is good and what is evil, what is right and what is wrong, and have debilitated their conscience to such a degree that it has ceased to have any effect on their lives [10: 44].
Those who denied this truth and barred others from the way of God have indeed strayed far away. Likewise, God will neither forgive those who denied the Truth and took to wrong-doing nor will He show them any other way [4: 167-168]
Punishment and Warnings from God
God in the Quran states publicly that if people reject the Truth without any genuine reason and insists on falsehood and commit wrong doings making life difficult for people, He will warn and punish them here in this world. This is made clear again and again in the Quran.
“….Surely clear evidence has come to you from your lord, which is both guidance and a mercy. Who, then, is more unjust than he who gave the lie to the Signs of God and turned away from them? And We shall soon requite those who turn away from Our Signs with a severe chastisement for having turned away [6: 157]” ; “We surely sent down to you clear ayahs that elucidate the Truth, [ayahs] which only the transgressors reject as false [2: 99]”.
And this Quran is such that it could not be composed by any unless it be revealed from God. It is a confirmation of the revelation made before it and a detailed exposition of the Book. Beyond doubt it is from the Lord of the entire Universe. Do they say that the Messenger has himself composed the Quran? Say: “In that case bring forth just one surah like it and call on all whom you can, except God, to help you, if you are truthful.” In fact, they arbitrarily rejected as false whatever they failed to comprehend and whose final sequel was not apparent to them. Likewise, had their predecessors rejected the Truth, declaring it falsehood. Do observe, then, what was the end of the wrong-doers. Of those some will believe, and others will not. Your Lord fully knows the mischief-makers. [10: 37-40].
Tell them, [O Prophet]: “Did you ever consider: if this Quran is indeed from God and you still deny it, who can be in greater error than he who goes far in fiercely opposing it?” Soon shall We show them Our Signs on the horizons and in their own beings until it becomes clear to them that it is the Truth. Is it not enough that your Lord is a witness over everything? Lo, they are in doubt concerning their meeting with their Lord. Surely He fully encompasses everything.[41: 52-54] that is, nothing is beyond God’s power, nor is there anything beyond the range of His knowledge.
Tell them, [O Prophet], “Did you consider [what would be your end] if this Quran were indeed from God and yet you rejected it? [46: 10]; We shall certainly have them taste some chastisement in this world in addition to the greater chastisement [of the Hereafter]; perhaps they will retract [from their transgression] [32:21].
The above ayah speaks of ‘some chastisement’ in this world refers to events like swine flu, epidemic diseases, raining down stones, terrible blasts, landslides, floods and drownings, tornadoes and storms, droughts and famines, riots, warfare and fear. These are some which affect people collectively, sometimes affecting the lives of millions. When people and nations immerse themselves in evil and go against God’s teaching making life difficult for the righteous, He decides to destroy them. Generally, when the corruption of the affluent sections of the upper classes of a society becomes dominant, God takes decision to destroy them. When wealthy and influential sections of nations blatantly resort to all kinds of evil practices, to injustice and oppression, they are punished. However, God does not punish guilty people and nations instantly if they deny the truth and commit evil. He grants them a reasonable period of respite so that they may correct themselves. When people and nations go too far with their inequity, injustice, oppression and transgression, and when their deviation from Truth reaches a high watermark, God decides to punish them.
These things are caused in order that people may pay heed and take lesson before the greater chastisement takes place. God expects people will bring change in their patterns of thought and action. In other words, God wants people to realize they must live a life of care and concern. They are under obligation to follow the guidance of God. People have not been granted smooth sail in this world with all kinds of wrong doings. They have to face, if they cross limits set by God, unexpected calamities. This should remind people to purge their mind of the delusion that there is no God above us capable of reminding us by way of causing trouble. Hence, they must be righteous and make society good one.
God has arranged in the world the order of things in such a way that individuals, nations and countries periodically face calamities. Recently, Bill Gates said even after 20 years we may face a corona type of virus. The purpose here is to remind people their utter helplessness, even for a short time. We are bound to realize there exists a pervasive supreme power.
We should realize that our destiny is controlled by someone, mightier, more knowledgeable, and wiser than ourselves. It does not, however, mean that we ignore our destiny. We must work for it and at the same time depending on God and seeking His guidance. Rebellion against Him in the form of rejection of His guidance and teachings invite His wrath. We have to acknowledge, in the light of helplessness of so-called advanced and powerful nations, the real power and authority rests with God, Real and True – Unseen God. The occurrence of corona virus serves as a warning from God and dispels to us our misconceptions. It should prompt us to recognize the reality of things, man and God. By deriving lessons from current phenomena of corona virus we should mend our ways of learning, thinking, doing by embracing right way of life and right and truthful epistemology and methodology. This will help us to save ourselves from the chastisement in this world and the Next world. The current wave of corona virus is not the punishment but a warning from God:
O my Lord, forgive us and have mercy on us, for You are the best of those that are merciful [23:118]. You are not dead but Alive.
Dr. Muhammad Mumtaz Ali earned his PhD in Islamic Studies from Aligarh Muslim University, India. He started his career as an Assistant Professor in International Islamic University, Malaysia in 1987. He is still serving in the same University. Currently he is in the Department of Usul al-Din and Comparative Religion, Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences.