Coronavirus is a tiny little virus whose power is not comparable to its size. Today, many countries around the world are dealing with this newly emerged virus, gradually finding out ways to fight it back. But as the statistics show, this virus is considerably less fatal than its ancestors, including SARS or MERS, with the death rate of 3.8% . The only thing that worries people is its high-speed contingency and how fast it can transmit from one person to the other. In this global crisis, we, as Muslims, should ask ourselves what our responsibility in this situation is. What does Islam want us to do? Shall we sit and watch and let this molecular size thing defeat us and ruin our society? Of course not. As always, Islam advises us to be patient, take actions, and to find the lesson that is embodied in every hardship. As the Quran says, “Indeed ease accompanies hardship” (94:5). The ease that rests at the heart of hardship is only achieved after we realized this lesson, in this case, strengthening the social ties and reaching out to the essence of humanity.
In what follows, we will have a look at some of our most significant social responsibilities in dealing with any crisis, specifically speaking that of Coronavirus.
Personal hygiene is one of the cornerstones against catching diseases, and as many experts have so far emphasized, it is the most basic protective measure against Coronavirus. Islam is one of the greatest adherents of personal hygiene and continually advises Muslims to follow specific hygienic manners in their lifestyle. Performing Ablution (Wudhu) before each prayer (Salat) or performing ritual bath (Ghusl) are only two examples of the Islamic rules concerning hygiene. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) not only observed his own hygiene and tried to appear neat and tidy in the society, but also advised all Muslims to do the same. He said in a narration, “Cleanliness is a part of faithfulness” .
Now, how does personal hygiene affect our society and the people around us? Well, when you care about your hygiene, the risk of getting any diseases lowers significantly, and even if you become sick, you won’t transmit it to another person. Therefore, we can say that observing personal hygiene is more than an individual precaution, rather an essential social responsibility, especially at the time of epidemics.
So washing hands regularly, maintaining at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing, using masks if you are sick, avoiding handshakes, etc. are some of the most emphasized precautions against this disease .
Another social responsibility that protects us against any disease is keeping our surroundings clean. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said in a hadith, “Allah is pure and loves purity (cleanliness)” .
Therefore, avoid throwing out garbage on the streets, especially the used masks and disposable gloves, since they might be the source of Coronavirus and infect other passersby. Also, disinfect your workplace before starting your job with whatever cleaning products you have to protect yourself and others against this virus.
According to recent studies, people over 60 years and the ones who already have a chronic condition such as diabetics, cardiovascular problems, cancer, or respiratory diseases are at the highest risk in suffering from Coronavirus, and it might affect them fatally.
Respecting and helping the elderly are constantly emphasized in the Islamic tradition. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said, “Respecting the elderly equals to respecting me” . It is narrated from Imam Sadiq (AS) that, “A person who doesn’t respect the elderly is not one of us”  and Imam Sajjad (AS) enumerated many rights for the elderly [i]. Respecting the elderly includes many things, such as speaking respectfully, putting them first, especially in critical situations, and helping them to satisfy their needs.
In these difficult days, this is any righteous human being’s responsibility to help out the ones who cannot protect themselves easily. If we have an elderly parent, we should attend to them more than before. We might have elderly neighbors who cannot go out anymore for fear of getting the disease. We can do the shopping for them, buy whatever they need, or check up on them regularly.
The other group, which is highly at risk of getting the Coronavirus is the underprivileged and the ones who don’t have a shelter. This is because they are deprived of the means of protecting themselves against this virus.
As the holy Quran puts, one of the ways of attaining piety is through helping others and giving away (3:92). Also, it is narrated by Imam Ali (AS), “The faithful who help the destitute in the hardships and misfortunes of their life are loved most by Allah” . These and many other hadiths and verses of the Quran, urge Muslims to consider the needy and help them in any way they can.
It is our duty to consider the wellbeing of these people, as well. They might not have enough money to buy antiseptics, or any other hygienic products or may not be able to observe their hygiene properly. We can donate them some of this stuff or take them to some safe places that would shield them against this viral disease.
In Islam, workers have many rights that have to be observed by their employers. One of these rights, according to Imam Sajjad (AS), is to support and guard them against harms .
Therefore, if you are an employer, it is your responsibility to consider the wellbeing of your workers. This could range from disinfecting the workplace regularly, providing the necessary hygienic products, or even sending them home if possible. But this might end up in a financial crisis for the workers as well. So try to consider a part of or whole salary for your workers for this period of obligatory recess.
“Do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed hearing, eyesight, and the heart—all of these are accountable.” Quran (17:36)
The message is clear! Do not say or repeat what you are not a hundred percent sure of. From the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak, we are faced with considerable media bombarding, especially in social networks, many of which are only speculations or pure lies. The result of spreading this false news is the rise of public anxiety and stress levels, making them more prone to the disease.
You should know that Coronavirus is a newly emerged virus, and the data about its source, symptoms, medications, etc. are not complete and authentic yet. It takes much time for the experts in this field to gather reliable information. Therefore, we should only trust authoritative sources such as the World Health Organization website or other official news agencies and medical experts.
The demand for some essential products may rise considerably when facing epidemics, in this case, Coronavirus. For instance, everyone needs masks, detergents, disposable gloves, etc.
In this situation, some profiteers might go for hoarding these essential products to make them more expensive. Or some ordinary people might buy them excessively to store for themselves. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) condemns the act of hoarding severely and considers the one who practices hoarding an infidel . In another narration, he believes that the hoarder is doomed to poverty and leprosy .
The times of hardships are when we should be more careful about our fellow human beings. Therefore, we should be satisfied with our share of these products and let other people have their own share as well.
Due to its similar symptoms to the common cold, many people would panic when they feel a sore throat, have a runny nose or sneeze, and they rush toward the nearest hospital. And in many cases, their test results are negative.
According to the WHO website, you should, “Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover. If you develop fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition” .
Lining up in the hospitals keeps the doctors from attending the ones who have more critical conditions. Moreover, it heightens the risk of getting infected. Therefore, we should avoid going to hospitals unless we have the symptoms mentioned above.
“Behold! Allah’s help is indeed near” Quran (2:214)
At the end of the day, and after considering all these precautions, we should put our trust in Allah and hope in the good fate He had destined us. When we feel our belief in Allah with all our hearts, we would feel less stressed and more positive. This will not only help us to overcome the anxiety surrounding this disease, but also give us the strength to spread this positive attitude in our society. Remember that you should never lose hope in Allah [ii].
[i] “The right of him who is older than you (kabir) is that you show reverence toward him because of his age, and you honor him because he entered Islam before you. You leave off confronting him in a dispute, you do not precede him in a path, you do not go ahead of him, and you do not consider him foolish. If he should act foolishly toward you, you put up with him, and you honor him because of the right of Islam and the respect due to it.” 
[ii] “… Do not despair of the mercy of Allah” Quran (39:53)
- Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- covid 19
- Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.21, p.257.
- Advice for public
- Muhammadi Reyshahri, Mizan al-Hikmah (Scale of Wisdom), hadith no.9927.
- Muhammadi Reyshahri, Mizan al-Hikmah (Scale of Wisdom), vol.2, p.106, hadith no.10084.
- Imam ‘Ali Zayn al-‘Abidin, Treatise On Rights (Risalat al-Huquq), The Right of the one Older than you.
- Ibn Shu’bah, Tuhaf al-Uqul, p.376.
- Imam ‘Ali Zayn al-‘Abidin, Treatise On Rights (Risalat al-Huquq), the right of the one who works for you.
- Nahj al-Fasaha, p.293, hadith no. 690.
- Nahj al-Fasaha, p.278.
- Ibn Majah, Sunan ibn Majah, vol.2, p.728.
United Nations General Assembly in the 18th article of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.”
Also in the 19th article of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights freedom of expression is defined as follows: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” 
In this text, I would like to explore this article and find out to what extent it is right or wrong according to the Islamic viewpoint toward freedom of thought and freedom of expression.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights puts freedom of thought and freedom of belief alongside each other. While there is a major difference between these two.
Murtaza Mutahhari emphasizes the difference between “thought” and “belief”. He argues that “thought is a potential caused by having intellect” and because every human being has intellect, and the potential to think about different issues, thus they think and “discover some truths about universe according to their talent”.  While he states that “belief might be based on human’s interest towards something” or “it might be based on following other people’s opinion”. But the true belief is “based on thinking”. He believes that most of the people shape their belief based on worldly interests. And there should be thoughtful people among them to guide them in their way of thinking and choices .
So, in his definition of thought and belief, he points out the mistake of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He concludes that people should have freedom of thought. Yet, about freedom of belief, unlike liberalism, Mutahhari states that “freedom is not the ultimate political goal to be respected under any condition”.
The main goal of freedom as he declares is to “reach perfection”. And if one’s belief is against his path towards perfection, then his belief needs an evolution, and should not be left alone to carry on his path towards adversity. 
There are more than 300 verses in the Quran that encourage people to think, such as: “Indeed We have sent it down as an Arabic Quran so that you may exercise your reason.” (12: 2), “[This is] a blessed Book that We have sent down to you, so that they may contemplate its signs, and that those who possess intellect may take admonition.” (38: 29), “Do they not contemplate the Quran, or are there locks on the hearts?” (47: 24).
Freedom of thought is also mentioned in the Quran in choosing the path of life where Allah says: “There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong.” (2: 256)
This verse clearly shows the importance of freedom of thought in the eyes of God, and the freedom to choose a religion. It is noteworthy that the Quran gives specific guidelines for finding the truth and recognizing wrong and right. As it is stated in the same verse; “So whoever disbelieves in idolatrous and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it.” (2: 256)
Also, Allah introduces His best servants in the Quran as those who listen to different types of opinions without any prejudice, and then follow the opinion that is closest to the righteous way: “…So give good news to My servants, who listen to the word [of Allah] and follow the best [interpretation] of it. They are the ones whom Allah has guided, and it is they who possess intellect.” (39: 17-18)
When Allah encourages people to find their religion based on intellectual thinking, he keeps reminding them at different points about what is beneficial and what is harmful to human growth.
As stated above freedom of thought is encouraged in Islam as long as it does not lead people and society toward diversity. “The objective of speech and expression according to Islam is to build up love, tolerance, social harmony, and understanding among members in order to ensure a peaceful coexistence.” 
So, freedom of thought is permitted in Islam as long as it does not harm the society. There is a fundamental rule in Islam, to which other rulings must not be contrary. A Muslim should neither be harmed nor should he harm anyone else. When thoughts are harmful to people in the society, Islam limits freedom of expressing the thoughts that may create social disorder.
So far we discussed that The Quran invites people to think and choose their religion and belief accordingly freely. There is no force in choosing religion. Yet, freedom of belief and expression is not completely allowed according to that fundamental rule of Islam.
That is, a Muslim should not be harmed and nor harm others. Sometimes, one may not have enough information about a particular issue and as a result is not able to form an educated opinion or belief. Hence, if someone wants to express his/ her opinions that have no scientific or logical foundations, and may bring about doubt in ordinary people’s beliefs, Islam would stand against it and will not allow its expansion. 
- Human rights
- Mutahhari, Murtaza, About Islamic republic, p. 92-3
- Mutahhari, Murtaza, About Islamic republic, p. 97
- Rostami, Mohammad. Andisheh Sadegh, vol. 6
- Bhat AM (2014) Freedom Of Expression From Islamic Perspective. Journal of Media and Communication Studies 6: 69-77.
- Kassem AS (2012) The Concept of Freedom in the Quran. American International Journal of Contemporary Research 2, p. 165-173.
Dancing is a natural behavior in many cultures; a way of showing happiness or sometimes sadness. In a theory raised by me! the release of energy by moving our body is dancing. But in a theory raised by a scholar "dance refers to a rhythmic movement of the body, usually for entertainment" . Now, let us take both of these definitions into consideration and see what kind of dancing in Islam is forbidden (Haram).
In the view of some Islamic scholars, it is not permissible for women to dance anywhere in any ceremony irrespective of whether it is a wedding or a birthday ceremony except for a woman's dancing for her husband.
In expanding the above ruling, it has been said that “there is no problem in dancing in itself. However, if dancing entails sexual excitation or committing a forbidden (Haram) act like listening to forbidden (Haram) music, or it is in the presence of non-mahram men, it is forbidden (Haram). And it does not make a difference as to the various types of music. Generally speaking, if dancing is done in a sexually exciting manner, and lead to the commission of a forbidden act, or involves a bad effect, or if it is happening in front of a non-Mahram it is forbidden (Haram)” .
If a woman dances for her husband or vice-versa, and the dancing is not accompanied by a forbidden (Haram) act, there is no problem in it .
In mixed parties where men and women are sitting together, the dance of men or women in front of others is forbidden. Some think that it is OK if men dance in front of women. But in fact, it is forbidden (Haram) for a man to dance. Dance of women in front of men and any dancing which may entail a bad effect and arousal of sexual desires are forbidden (Haram). Playing music and listening to it is also unlawful (Haram) if it is done in a lahwi, enrapturing manner.
No matter if men or women who are dancing together or in front of others are of their unmarriageable kin (maḥrams) of the opposite sex. What is forbidden about dancing is general, i.e., regardless of whether it is done by a man, a woman, or in the presence of one’s marriageable kin (non-maḥram) or unmarriageable kin (maḥram) .
Dance of women for women is permitted (Halal) if it is not done in a sexually exciting manner and does not lead to the commission of a forbidden act, nor entails a bad effect. However, it is forbidden (Haram) to attend a dance party if it is considered as accepting the forbidden (Haram) act of others or leads to committing a forbidden (Haram) act. Otherwise, there is no harm in it. Dance of a woman for other women is forbidden if her husband does not allow her to do so.
Some people think that the rulings of dancing do not apply to wedding parties as it is just one happy night. But there is no difference between a wedding party and other occasions. Dancing with music is forbidden (Haram) .
In the case of wedding parties, the dance of women in front of women is not forbidden (Haram) under the conditions mentioned above.
As mentioned before, by obligatory caution, it is forbidden (Haram) for men to dance.
Here we discuss the point of releasing energy by moving the body. Is it forbidden (Haram)?
If the movements of the body do not meet the criteria of forbidden (Haram) dance, and if it is not accompanied by forbidden (Haram) music, there is no problem in dancing in private or in groups of women for fitness. However, we have to make sure that such dancing is not happening in front of CCTV cameras or filmed by people who may show it to non-mahrams.
Aerobics and other sports that are based on rhythmic music are permissible if the music is not forbidden (Haram). If music does not cause ecstasy, there is no objection to it. The duty-bound (mukallaf) himself should distinguish whether the music is lahwi or not .
Establishing centers for teaching and promoting dancing goes against the objectives of the Islamic system and it is impermissible by obligatory caution .
- Sayyid Mujtaba Husseini, Questions and Answers by Students (Rules regarding Music), pg. 84
- Ayatullah Makarem-Shirazi, jurisprudential expressions, http://portal.anhar.ir/node/409#gsc.tab=0
- Sayyid Mas'ud Ma'sumi, Rules regarding Man-Woman Relationships, pg. 219
- Tawzih al-Masail (with annotations by Imam Khomeini), vol.2, pg. 970
- dance in Islam
- Dance infront of non Mahrams