Readers may recall that I have previously interviewed the Gaza-based jihadist group Jama'at Jaysh al-Islam. In this post I present a full translation of a treatise the group's 'Shari'i Council' has released on the issue of the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, this treatise partly reflects questions I had put to the group regarding the pandemic. In short, the treatise firstly deals with the question of determining whether a given epidemic is a tribulation (i.e. something sent by God as a means to free the believers of their evil deeds and raise their degrees of elevation in Paradise and reward from God) or a punishment sent by God in His anger and wrath. The treatise then moves on to the issue of closing mosques when there are epidemics, and argues against the idea of closing mosques on the grounds that the conditions to do so have not been met. In fact, closing the mosques here can only be seen as a form of oppression. If anything, the surest path of salvation in the time of the epidemics is prayer and implementing the rule of God's law.
I have translated the treatise in full below. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own. For a shorter take on the coronavirus pandemic, see a brief article put out by the group's Qemam news agency here.
Series: The Light of Certainty in Repelling the Darkness of Hidden Ignorance (1)
The fortress of salvation in the time of the spread of the epidemic
Prepared by the Shari'i Council of Jama'at Jaysh al-Islam
Sha'aban 1441 AH
Praise be to God who has ruled the Earth and Sky by His hand, turning the days as He wishes and whenever He wills, and brought down the Shari'a lighting for the people the path in the time of darkness, and whoso clings to it ascends the ladder of the strangers, and whoso turns away from it is struck with pains, poverty and affliction. And prayers and peace be upon the best of the prophets and those sent, prayers by which we get net near to the Lord of the Worlds. As for what follows:
Indeed God Almighty has brought down on the people an important matter, and conquering ruling, by which He has subjugated the heads of the tyrants, and by which He has lowered the haughtiness of the Tawagheet and Chosroes, such that terror has been spreading in the hearts of the enemies. And despite the fact that the soldier that has incapacitated them is smaller than they are, it is also more intense upon them in devastation than the weapons of war. And that is but a lesson for the people, by which God guides whomsoever He wills upon evidence and misleads the wrongdoers so they are not guided to that in path. And indeed God Almighty has afflicted the Ummah before that with what resembles our current state of affairs, like the illness of the plague that God Almighty sent as punishment for the disbelievers, and made it a mercy in which the degrees of the believers are elevated. Therefore one must know the Shari'i rulings connected with the coronavirus, so that it should be a mercy upon the believers if they adhere to rulings mandated by God Almighty, and proceed on the path of the best of mankind. The rulings are explained as follows:
First issue: is the coming down of illnesses a tribulation or punishment?
Some of the illnesses that come upon on man come under tribulation from God Almighty, in order to remove the evil deeds and raise the degrees, and some others come under punishment that God Almighty brings down on a people who have deserved His anger and vengeance. Therefore this issue can be divided into two types as follows:
First type: the illnesses by which God brings tribulation on His servants:
God Almighty may bring tribulation on His servants in some illnesses, pains and calamities, like the fever, plague and others, and the aim of this tribulation is embodied in the following points:
1. Raising the degrees: the illnesses may come down on the just to raise their degrees and increase their rewards with God Almighty, and among the lines of evidence for that is the following:
- On the authority of A'isha: she said: the Messenger of God (SAWS) said: 'The believer is not afflicted with a thorn or above that unless God raises him in degree by it, or removes from him a sin by it.'[i]
The meaning of this:
The Prophet (SAWS) reported that the tribulation with calamities comes to raise the believer's rank with God Almighty, and the calamities that afflict the believer have many forms, for they may come on the soul in illness and pain, and they may come upon wealth in deficiency and the like. And the hadith includes all the calamities that are connected with this world.
- On the authority of Abu Sa'id al-Khudri: he said: I entered into the presence of the Prophet (SAWS) while he was sick so I placed my hand on him and found his heat before me above the blanket. So I said: oh Messenger of God, how intense this is upon you! He said: 'As the tribulation is multiplied for us, the reward is multiplied for us.' I said: oh Messenger of God, which people face the strongest tribulation? He said: 'The Prophets'. I said: oh Messenger of God, then who? He said: 'Then the just, as one of them faces tribulation in poverty, such that one of them only finds a cloak to wear, and as one of them rejoices in the tribulation, just as one of you rejoices in comfort.'[ii]
The meaning of this:
The Prophet (SAWS) informed that the tribulation that comes down on the prophets and then the just, its result should be the increase of the rewards and raising of the degrees.
2. Removal of the evil deeds: God Almighty may bring tribulation upon the believing servant in order to cleanse him of his sins, so he is punished for them in this world and he meets God Almighty and has no sin upon him.
The evidence for that:
- On the authority of Abu Sa'id, and Abu Huraira: that they heard the Messenger of God (SAWS) saying: 'The believer is not afflicted with illness, hardship, disease, or sadness that troubles him, except that by it he is removed from his evil deeds.'[iii]
The meaning of this:
The Prophet (SAWS) informed that illnesses and diseases come on the believer to remove his evil deeds and mistakes.
Second type: the illnesses by which God Almighty punishes the servants.
God Almighty punishes some of the servants with illnesses and diseases, and that is because they have deserved God Almighty's anger and wrath, and this will be when the acts of disobedience and sins and obscenities and the like spread among them, which will be a reason for that.
The evidence for that:
- On the authority of Abdullah bin Omar: he said: the Messenger of God (SAWS) addressed and said: 'Oh group of the muhajireen, there are five things, when you face tribulation with them, I seek refuge in God that you should recognize them: gross immorality has not appeared in a people such that they should publicise it, without the spread among them of the plague and pains that had not occurred in their predecessors who came before...'[iv]
The meaning of this:
The Messenger of God (SAWS) mentioned that the reason for pains and epidemics that come upon people and by which they are punished is the spread of acts of disobedience and obscenities and open publicizing of them, so when man openly publicizes the acts of disobedience and the obscenities, the illnesses come upon him as punishment from God Almighty. As for when he is a just believer or disobedient one but not openly publicizing it, the pains come either to raise the degrees or to remove the evil deeds.
The second issue: ruling on the closing of mosques in the time of the epidemic:
We consider the mosques the best places on earth and they are glorified from the taqwa of God Almighty, and the closure of them and preventing the servants of God Almighty from praying in them is among the greatest oppression, and we will divide this issue into two parts as follows:
First: the ruling on closing the mosques and preventing worshippers from praying in them:
The ruling on closing the mosques and preventing worshippers from praying in them is prohibition, and the text and consensus have indicated this prohibition. And the explanation of that is as follows:
1. The text:
God Almighty has said: 'And were it not for God keeping in check some of them with others, monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques in which the name of God is mentioned much would have been destroyed and indeed God supports whoso supports Him. Indeed God is powerful, mighty.'[v]
The meaning of this:
God Almighty made the establishment of prayers and building mosques as being of supporting God Almighty, and God Almighty supports the one who supports Him. Indeed God Almighty has made closing the mosques and preventing the prayers to be sowing corruption in the land, and this is what the verse has shown: 'And were not God keeping in check some of the people with others, the land would have been corrupted, but God is the One of grace to the worlds.'[vi] And indeed the verse of Surat al-Hajj and the verse of Surat al-Baqara indicate that destroying or closing the mosques and preventing the prayers come under sowing corruption in the land and is not making amends whether on the level of religion, soul or wealth, so the salvation from the corruption that may attach to the soul should be in building mosques and not closing them.
- God Almighty has said: 'And who is more wrongdoing than the one who prevents the mosques of God from having His name mentioned in them and strives to destroy them? Those people, it has not been for them to enter them except fearing. For them in this world is ruin and for them in the Hereafter is a painful torment.'[vii]
The meaning of this:
- God Almighty has described those who have prevented the mosques of God Almighty from establishing prayers in them as wrongdoers, and indeed has made the punishment of such people ruin and shame in this world and the torment of fire and Hell in the Hereafter, and the fact this deed is punished indicates its prohibition.
Ibn al-Qatan (may God Almighty have mercy on him) said: 'And they have agreed by consensus it is not permitted for there to be agreement on impeding the mosques.'[viii] And he also said: 'And they have agreed by consensus that it is not permitted to impede the mosques from the qiyam prayers of Ramadan.'[ix] This is the ruling on the qiyam prayers, so it is all the more relevant for Friday prayers and the obligations, so indeed the prohibition on closing them is all the stronger.
Second: notes and rulings concerning the nazila [individual case for jurisprudential ruling] of the spread of coronavirus
There are a number of notes concerning the prior issue that must be explained as follows:
1. The prior ruling concerns the mosques in which the description of mosque of dissent is not realized. As for if it is of the mosques of dissent, in this case it is permitted to close them, indeed one must isolate them and demolish them, and the description of mosque of dissent is that it should have been built on disbelief and hypocrisy and turning away from the path of God Almighty, and of its description also is that it serves as a place to lie in wait for the believers and sow division among them and bring down fitnas upon them, and it should be a gathering place for the people of disbelief and apostasy and heresy likewise. God Almighty has said about it: 'And those who have taken up a mosque of dissent and disbelief and sowing division among the believers and an observation point for the one who wages war on God and His Messenger previously. And they swear- 'We only want good'- and God bears witness that they are liars. Do not stand in it ever. A mosques established on taqwa from the first day is more deserving for you to stand in it. In it are men who love to be purified and God loves the pure.'[x]
2. It is of the guidance of the Prophet (SAWS) that he gathers the people in the mosque and commands for the call that 'the prayers should bring together congregation' when there descends an affliction that is thought to be a punishment of God Almighty. And it is not of the guidance of the one upon whom be prayers and peace to close the mosques an command the prayers in the home but rather he gathers the people and they still pray and seek forgiveness and worship God Almighty so that God may remove from them what they are in, and this is the Shari'i obligation when the punishment of God Almighty comes or something occurs that is thought to be of the warning sign of the anger of God Almighty. And the evidence for that is what al-Bukhari brought forth on the authority of Abdullah bin Amro (may God be pleased with them both): he said: 'When the Sun was eclipsed in the time of the Messenger of God (SAWS) the call would be made that the prayers should bring together congregation.'[xi] And the evidence for the fact that the command to bring together the people in the mosques to pray in the time there is thought to be torment or punishment from God Almighty is what al-Bukhari brought out from A'isha the spouse of the Prophet (SAWS): she said: the Messenger of God (SAWS) said: 'The two are signs from the signs of God: they are not eclipsed for the death or life of anyone, so when you see them, hasten to prayer.'[xii] And also he said at the time of the eclipse of the Sun: 'Oh Ummah of Muhammad, by God, there is no one with greater pride than God that He should forbid His male or female servant to commit fornication. Oh Ummah of Muhammad, by God, if you were to know what I know, you would laugh little and weep much.'[xiii]
So these ahadith have shown that it is from the guidance of the Prophet (SAWS) that in the time of the coming down of the affliction and torment the people should gather in the mosque to pray and pray and it is not of the guidance upon whom be prayers and peace to close the mosques.
3. The analogy of the state of the epidemic with the state of prayer in the dwelling when there is heavy rain is an invalid analogy [i.e. it is like comparing apples to oranges], as the prayer in the dwelling when heavy rain comes down is a special permit for the reason of the presence of a certain cause of hardship or probable cause with its presence of mud and harmful clay and cold and rain, in which there is hardship. As for the state of the epidemic, its presence among worshippers in the mosques is a matter that is not certain, indeed it does not reach the point of probability, so a matter that is certain or probable cannot be compared in analogy with a matter that is doubtful. And if we suppose it is an analogy that can be made in this regard, this analogy is false also, because praying in the dwelling when there is heavy rain is a special permit and is contrary to the principle, and cannot be compared to the epical permits, but rather the analogy should be on the basis of the principle and not the exception. And indeed the determination is valid in the case of the special permit, for if it were that he went to the mosque in the event of heavy rain, it is valid, and no one of the predecessors asserted the mosques should be closed for fear of harm occurring from heavy rain. So if one were to take up the analogy, it is obligatory to take up the analogy in all its aspects, and thus the ruling would be not permitting to close the mosques citing as evidence the permission to pray in the mosques in the event when there is heavy rain that may cause harm to the one entrusted.
4. The greatest protection and remedy for the believer from illnesses and epidemics is prayer, for adhering to the prophetic prayer that came in the books of the Sunan and the authentic ahadith is the greatest thing we advise to the Ummah to protect itself from the affliction coming down on people and this is what the Messenger of God (SAWS) advised on the eclipse of the Sun and by analogy with it is all in its meaning, and of it is this epidemic that is believed to be a torment from God Almighty that He has imposed on the Tawagheet in every place.
5. The nazila of the epidemic that has incapacitated the world today bears in it many lessons, for indeed the global forces have been weakened before a creation that cannot be seen, so all who have been claiming affiliation with Islam and have forsaken the Shari'a of God Almighty in fear of the enemies, must know that the fear should be of God the Powerful an Mighty and not of the people.
Therefore they must adhere to the Book of God Almighty and His Shari'a. Otherwise the punishment comes from where they have not reckoned as it has come to those they feared besides God Almighty. So the pretext of fear and dread of being snatched away from the land is false, so no one should invoke it as pretext in making permissible the abandonment of the ruling of God Almighty. And this is a plainly evident matter, but the hearts are blind to seeing the truth despite its clarity, as the bat that does not see with the sunrise and the clarity of the day.
6. The world today is adopting protecting and defensive measures in the entirety to escape from infection with the corona illness, and the intensity in this matter has reached its utmost, and all this is in order to protect the self from this illness infecting it, so its spread is leading to the destruction of lives and the weakening of the economy, and this is leading to the shaking of the thrones of the Tawagheet, but at the same time we find that the measures to protect from the illness of idolatry that corrupts the people's religion and material world is almost non-existent, despite the fact that this illness is more the priority for adopting precautions against it and adopting measures to protect it, because preserving the religion is of greater priority than preserving the life when there is conflict between the two. God Almighty has said: 'And fitna is more severe than killing.'[xiv] Therefore we find many of the people rule by that besides which God Almighty has revealed and they resort in arbitration to the Shari'a of the Taghut. And all this is of the greater idolatry that destroys the people in this world and the Hereafter, and surprising it is how the people take precautions against the least in sowing of corruption and leave the greater cause.
7. This virus is of the creations of God Almighty that God has imposed on whoso has been tyrannically oppressive in the land, just as God Almighty imposed the water on Pharaoh so it drowned him, and imposed on Nimrod the gnat that lowered him, and imposed on 'Ad the wind so it rendered their houses desolate, and imposed on Thamud the shriek so their bodies became kneeling, and in this age God Almighty has imposed an invisible entity on the global forces so their thrones have become empty. And that is only so they should know that in God Almighty's hand are the force and matter, so whoso obeys Him deserves from God the great reward, and whoso disobeys Him, He knocks him down into the fire of hell and Saqar, and all that happens is a judgement from God Almighty to destroy the oppressors and to raise high the banner of the religion, and God Almighty is predominant over His affair but most of the people do not know.
It is permitted to close the mosques if the following conditions apply together, and they are as follows:
a) The harm coming upon the Muslims in their going out to the mosques is certain or probable to occur, and those who assess the proportion of the occurrence of harm are the just people of specialty from the doctors, and this is in a land in which the infection has spread such that it has lost control over the epidemic or has almost lost control. As for a land in which the infection has not spread, or it appears in it but it has not reached the point of lack of control, or the verge of that, it is not permitted, even from the grounds of protection, except in a state of going out from the place entirely to the highest mountains as a precautionary measure or what is in the meaning of that as Amro bin al-Aas (may God be pleased with him) did.
b) The closure should be of everything in the land from institutions, companies, centres, roads and other thing. As for the order of closure being connected with the mosques and some of the institutions but not others, in that case it is not permitted to close the mosques.
c) That the means for healing or protection from the epidemic should not be available, for if the means of healing or protection are available like masks and protective clothing and gloves and the like, it is not permitted to close the mosques, but rather it is obligatory to make available all the means of protection as far as possible, and the command to build mosques does not fall, because the command if it broadens, it narrows [i.e. if something removes the difficulty in fulfilling the command, then you should fulfill it]. And here it has broadened by the presence of what protects from the epidemic like protective clothing and the like, so one must use these means in going out to mosques and in prayers as well, because this is possible so the obligation of building mosques does not fall at the time.
d) One must build the mosques as far as one can, and the command is not to be abandoned entirely, so it is not permitted to close the mosques if there is ability to build, even if the proportion of the ability to build is 1%, so one must build the mosques in this proportion and it is not permitted to close them so long as there is capability over this proportion, because the thing made easy does not fall by the thing made difficult [i.e. if something prevents you from fulfilling an obligation in its most complete form, you should fulfil it in the utmost form that is possible for you].
e) The mosques are of the laws of Islam that God Almighty has commanded to glorify, therefore the prior conditions must present in their entirety, in order to remove the objection, and these conditions are not present in most of the land, if not all of it.
And in conclusion we send the Ummah of Islam these words lined with advice and guidance. You must cling to the rope of God Almighty and rush to establish His law as He commanded, and contravene the enemies in every matter for it is the fortress of salvation from the epidemics and illnesses, and it is the invincible wall against every disease and hardship, and whoso wishes to be lofty in Paradise, should make right his limbs, tongue and soul, and whoso wishes to be honoured with the clear conquest, should purify his heart and prayer to the Lord of the Worlds. And whoso clings to the degree of ihsan, the victory comes to him in a way he did not expect, for the arrangement of matters is in the hand of the knowing Creator, and the decree of the destinies that come upon creation is as the Mighty and Wise wishes. And God is predominant over His affair but most of the people do not know. And praise be to God the Lord of the Worlds.
[i] Brought out by Muslim in his Sahih (part 4/1991), hadith no. 2572.
[ii] Narrated by Ibn Majeh in his Sunan (part 2/1334) hadith no. 4024.
[iii] Brought out by Muslim in his Sahih (part 4/1992) hadith no. 2573.
[iv] Narrated by Ibn Majeh in his Sunan (part 5/150) hadith no. 4019.
[v] Surat al-Hajj verse no. 42.
[vi] Surat al-Baqara verse no. 251.
[vii] Surat al-Baqara verse no. 114.
[viii] Ibn al-Qatan: al-Iqna fi Masa'il al-Ijma' (part 1/174).
[x] Surat al-Tawba verse no. 107-108.
[xi] Brought out by al-Bukhari in his Sahih (part 2/34) hadith no. 1045.
[xii] Brought out by al-Bukhari in his Sahih (part 2/35) hadith no. 1046.
[xiii] Brought out by al-Bukhari in his Sahih (part 2/34) hadith no. 1044.
[xiv] Surat al-Baqara verse no. 191.