COVID-19 & Back To School: What Precautions To Take?

13 September, 2020
Q In light of Coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns, parents and their children are preparing to face a very different school year with a return to classes weeks away. From fears about taking the school bus to contracting COVID-19, how would you approach and tackle this issue and what parents should do?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.


In this fatwa:

As parents get ready to consider sending their children back to school amid COVID-19 concerns, there are several things to remember:

1- Islam teaches that all diseases are tests from Allah.

2- Islam requires us to both put our trust in Allah and utilize the means to protect ourselves when possible.

3- Children should be taught to follow all protocols in place for their own safety and the safety of others.

4- If the rules in place do not meet the standards to adequately protect children then parents should seriously consider voicing their opposition to the authorities or considering alternatives to protect their family.


Answering your question, Sheikh Mustafa Umar, President of California Islamic University, states:

Parents are naturally concerned about their children returning to school while the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues. It has been challenging for many parents, especially those that must work full-time, to have their kids at home as well.

It is necessary to remember that the Quran reminds us, {Allah does not test any soul with more than it can handle.} (Al-Baqarah 2:286)

Diseases are tests from Allah

As parents get ready to consider sending their children back to school there are several things to remember:

1- Islam teaches that all diseases are tests from Allah and a natural part of life. Such diseases afflict whomever Allah allows them to afflict and they take the lives of whomever He has decided to bring to an end.

Tests are a natural, albeit difficult, part of life and should not be surprising for any Muslim when they occur. Allah says, {We shall certainly test you with fear and hunger, and loss of property, lives, and crops. But [Prophet], give good news to those who are steadfast.} (Al-Baqarah 2:155)

2- Islam requires us to both put our trust in Allah and utilize the means to protect ourselves when possible. The Quran teaches us, as told to the Prophet, {Say: Nothing will afflict us except what Allah has decided for us.} (At-Tawbah 9:51)

Simultaneously though, we should take precautions by using medicine when ill, or quarantine when threatened with illness.

During the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) some people thought that using medicine may go against the concept of relying on Allah [tawakkul]. Those people asked, “Messenger of Allah, should we use medicine?”  The Prophet replied, “Yes, you may use medicine.  Allah has not created any disease without also creating its cure, except one: old age.” (Abu Dawud, graded as sahih by scholars)

The Prophet (PBUH) clarified that the use of medicine is permissible and even encouraged, and that this does not violate the concept of trust in Allah. The Messenger of Allah said, “An ill person should not mix with healthy people.” (Muslim)

The Prophet also said, “Avoid a [contagious] disease the way a person flees from a lion.” (Al-Bukhari)

Necessary Precautions

Therefore, taking precautions to avoid the spread of infectious disease is something prescribed in Islam.

3- Children should be taught to follow all protocols in place for their own safety and the safety of others. Parents must take the responsibility of disciplining their children very seriously. Once, Al-Hasan ibn Ali [the Prophet’s grandson] took a date from the charity dates and put it in his mouth. The Messenger of Allah said, “No, no! Spit it out. Don’t you know that we do not eat from charity?” (Muslim)

The Prophet (PBUH) was normally very gentle in nature, especially with children, but that does not mean he was permissive. He understood that when a child is doing something wrong, they must be corrected.

The same happened when Umar ibn Abi Salamah, later in life, reported, “I was a child under the guardianship of the Messenger of Allah and my hand would wander around the dish. The Messenger of Allah said to me, ‘Young man, say the name of Allah, eat with your right hand and eat what is in front of you [close to you].’ That is how I’ve always eaten since then.” (Al-Bukhari)

Therefore, parents should teach their children, with wisdom and in a respectful manner, to not take the pandemic lightly and to abide by all the rules in place.

📚 Read Also: Back to School: How to Maintain Your Child’s Mental Health

4- If the rules in place do not meet the standards to adequately protect children then parents should seriously consider voicing their opposition to the authorities or considering alternatives to protect their family. It is the responsibility of parents to protect their children from harm.

May Allah help us all to make the right decisions that are in line with Islamic values and genuine medical science to protect our families.

Almighty Allah knows best.