For more on this topic, see Faith in the Time of Coronavirus

Introduction

The number of people dying from COVID-19 is increasing at an alarming rate and Muslim communities are no exception to this reality.[1] In fact, Muslim doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers are at the forefront of tackling this pandemic. In the United Kingdom, the first doctors to have died from the pandemic were Muslim.[2] The frightening nature of this pandemic has led many to draw parallels to ancient plagues. The comparison of COVID-19 to a plague needs to be assessed based on the definition of the latter provided in Islamic literature. Studying the validity of this comparison is important because there are legal and theological implications. In this paper, we will analyze this comparison to make sense of two issues. First, the Prophet ﷺ said that plagues will not enter Medina.[3] Yet, we know that many people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Medina.[4] Second, the Prophet ﷺ said that those who die from the plague are martyrs.[5] Does this glad tiding apply to those who have lost their lives to the virus?

What is a plague?

What is a ṭāʿūn?

Is COVID-19 a plague?

The plague will not enter Medina

Are those who die of COVID-19 martyrs?

Closing reflection

Notes