Allah Almighty states in the Holy Quran:
وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّکُمْ بِشَیۡءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوۡفِ وَالْجُوۡعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الۡاَمۡوٰلِ وَالۡاَنۡفُسِ وَالثَّمَرٰتِ ؕ وَبَشِّرِ الصّٰبِرِیۡنَ﴿۱۵۵﴾ۙ
And We shall definitely put you to test with something of fear and hunger and with some loss of wealth and lives and fruits; and give glad tidings to the patient.
(Al-Baqarah 2, Verse 155)
وَعَنْ عَائِشَةَ – رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهَا: أَنَّهَا سَألَتْ رَسُوْلَ الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – عَنِ الطّاعُونِ، فَأَخْبَرَهَا أنَّهُ كَانَ عَذَابًا يَبْعَثُهُ اللهُ تَعَالَى عَلَى مَنْ يَّشَاءُ، فَجَعَلَهُ اللهُ تعالى رَحْمَةً لِلْمُؤْمِنينَ، فَلَيْسَ مِنْ عَبْدٍ يَقَعُ في الطَّاعُوْنِ فَيَمْكُثُ فِيْ بَلَدِهِ صَابِرًا مُحْتَسِبًا يَعْلَمُ أنَّهُ لَا يُصِيْبُهُ إلاَّ مَا كَتَبَ اللهُ لَهُ إلاَّ كَانَ لَهُ مِثْلُ أجْرِ الشَّهِيْدِ.
Sayyidah ‘Ayeshah – may Allah be pleased with her – reported: I asked the Messenger of Allah – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – about plague, and he said, “It is a punishment which Allah sends upon whomsoever He wills, but Allah has made it a mercy to the believers. Anyone who remains in a town which is plagued with pestilence, maintaining patience, expecting the reward from Allah, and knowing that nothing will befall him other than what Allah has foreordained for him, he would receive a reward of a martyr.”
Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani – may Allah be pleased with him – writes in Fat’h al-Baari: Plague is a means of blessing for the believers whereas it is a form of torment for the disbelievers. This Hadeeth is an open proof of the plague being a form of blessing exclusively for the believers only. On the other hand, if a disbeliever is afflicted with plague then it’s a form of torment for him in this world before the hereafter. When an area is struck by plague and a believer stays there, observing patience and abiding by Allah’s Command pleased with His Decree, he will receive the reward of a martyr. These three attributes (mentioned in the previous sentence) are a pre-requisite for one to receive a martyr’s reward when one dies in plague.
Reward of a Martyr
Imam Ahmed and Nasa’i – may Allah be pleased with them – report that a man used to come to the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – with a child. The Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – asked him if he loved him. “Yes”, he replied. He then lost his child. The Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – inquired his companions about the situation of the man. They replied, “O Allah’s Messenger, his son has passed away.” He said, “Would you not like that whichever door of Paradise you enter through and find him waiting there for you?” A man said, “O Allah’s Messenger – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him, is this privilege exclusive to him alone or for us as well?” He replied, “For you all as well.”
(Fat’h al-Baari, under Hadeeth No. 5734)
Special Blessing upon the Ummah of Sayyiduna Muhammad – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him:
Allama Ghulam Rasool Razvi – may Allah be pleased with him – writes in Tafheem al-Bukhari as follows:
This Hadeeth proves Allah’s immense Mercy upon this Ummah. The plague which was a torment for other Ummahs is a Mercy from Allah Almighty upon this Ummah. Plague was a form of punishment for Bani Israel but for this Ummah, it is Allah’s Mercy.
(Tafheem al-Bukhari Vol. 5, p. 355)
Staying with Sabr in an Area which has been Afflicted by Plague:
AlaHazrat Imam Ahmed Raza – may Allah be pleased with him – writes in Fatawa Razvia as follows:
One should stay in one’s town with three qualities:
- With patience and steadfastness
- Accepting anything that Allah Almighty decrees in one’s destiny
- Having faith that no calamity can befall without the Will of Allah.
(Fatawa Ravia Vol. 24, p. 302)
One should not Go to an Area that has been Afflicted by Plague Nor Flee an Area that has been Afflicted by Plague:
Sayyiduna ‘Abdur Rahman ibn ‘Auf – may Allah be pleased with him – reported that the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – has stated: When you hear that a certain area has been afflicted by Plague then do not go there and if the plague strikes your area then do not flee from it.
(Bukhari Hadeeth No. 573)
When the country of Al-Sham was afflicted by plague, the Umayyad king Abdul Malik ibn Marwan fled the country on his horse along with his chosen slave and some army personnel. He was so petrified of the plague that he would not even get off his horse’s back preventing his feet coming in contact with the ground. He even slept on the horse’s back. While on this journey, one night when he could not sleep, he asked his slave to tell him a story. The wise slave saw a window of opportunity to counsel him and told him the following story:
There was a fox who joined the company of a lion in order to safeguard herself from other predators. The fox had been living a peaceful life in the company of the lion. One day, a big eagle attacked her so the fix ran to the lion to seek shelter. The lion carried her on his back. The eagle attacked again and snatched her with its claws from the lion’s back. The fox cried and pleaded for help, so the lion said, “I could save you from the predators of the land but I cannot save you from the predators that lurk in the higher domain.
The king realized his mistake after listening to this story and came to terms with the fact that his army could very well protect him against the enemies on land but the calamities that descend from the heavens, neither my army nor my entire kingdom or treasure can save me. There is none besides Allah Almighty that can save me from it.
As soon as he realized this, his fear of plague began to vanish and he stayed in his royal castle pleased with Allah’s Divine Decree.
(Tafseer Roohul Bayan under S2, V244)
Horrific End of a Nation that Attempted to Flee the Plague:
اَلَمْ تَرَ اِلَی الَّذِیۡنَ خَرَجُوۡا مِنۡ دِیٰرِہِمْ وَہُمْ اُلُوۡفٌ حَذَرَ الْمَوْتِ۪ فَقَالَ لَہُمُ اللہُ مُوۡتُوۡا۟ ثُمَّ اَحْیٰہُمْؕ اِنَّ اللہَ لَذُوۡ فَضْلٍ عَلَی النَّاسِ وَلٰکِنَّ اَکْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا یَشْکُرُوۡنَ﴿۲۴۳﴾
O beloved! Had you not seen those who came out from their homes and they were in thousands for fear of death? Then Allah said to them. “Die” and thereafter made them alive. No doubt, Allah is Gracious to people but most of the people are ungrateful.
(Al-Baqarah 2, Verse 243)
People of a city fled the city and took shelter in the mountains due to the fear of plague. An angel approached them by Allah’s Command and screamed, “Die!” and they all died. Their corpses were left there to decompose and rot.
Co-incidentally, one day, Sayyiduna Hizqeel – peace be upon him – passed by this place. He supplicated in Allah’s Court to revive them. Allah Almighty stated, “Summon them.” He summoned them by saying, “O bones, gather together by the Command of Allah.” All their bones were gathered in their structure. He then said, “O rotten bodies, get up by the Command of my Lord.” They all stood up chanting:
سُبْحَانَکَ اللّٰھُمَّ رَبَّنَا وَ بِحَمْدِکَ، لَا اِلٰہَ اِلَّا اَنْتَ
Glory be to You O Allah our Lord and Your Praise, there is none worthy of worship besides You.
(Tafseer Na’eemi under S2, V243)
- Plague that was a punishment is made a means of blessing for this Ummah.
- One whom Allah protects no worldly power can harm him and vice-versa.
- No one can run away from his destiny. Whatever has been decreed will definitely happen.
- It is forbidden to flee an area which has been afflicted by plague and same applied to going to such an area.
May Allah safeguard us in this world and in the hereafter.
May Allah enable us to make Sabr upon the calamities that befall us.