A lot of people are forwarding messages from scholars (or others) who are claiming that the coronavirus spreading in the city of Wuhan is a Divine Punishment upon the Chinese people for what is happening to the Uighurs.
This type of categorical declaration is not only unbefitting from a theological perspective, it is also unbecoming from a humanitarian perspective.
Speaking on behalf of Allah
No one amongst us is qualified to speak on behalf of Allah. We are not in a position to declare why something is happening, or to link a general tragedy to a specific evil.
And we are not demonstrating mercy when we claim all the people being subjugated to this are being punished for a crime most of them have nothing to do with. Imagine if (may Allah protect all of us!) something happened in your city and to your family, and others said this was because of something your government did!
Hadith about plague
Rather, we say as the Prophet (salla Allah alayhi wa sallam) said, when our mother Aisha (ra) asked him about plagues:
“This is a punishment that Allah sends upon whoever He wishes, but Allah has also made it a mercy for the believer. So whoever is afflicted with a plague in his town, and he remains in it, patient, expecting Allah to reward him, knowing that nothing shall happen to him except what Allah has decreed, shall be rewarded the rewards of a martyr!” [al-Bukhari].
So we learn that yes, every single disaster, personal or communal, can be a result of sins, and has the potential to be a punishment, but we don’t link it to any one sin or crime.
And we also give hope to those who are in such places: turn to Allah, seek His help, be patient, and know that nothing happens except with the Decree of Allah. We do not cause them to feel bad or claim they are all being punished or – God forbid – gloat over their tragedy as some seem to be doing.
Every single disaster, personal or national, has the potential to be a punishment, or a means of mercy. It is how we respond that dictates which of the two it falls into.
And Allah knows best.
Note: It’s actually sad that I need to make this disclaimer but some people always read in the worst: my support for the Uighurs has been loud and vocal, and I have given khutbahs, raised awareness, and made qunut for them. Of course we are enraged by what the government is doing, but we do not gloat over any communal disaster as a response to our anger.
Source: Dr. Yasir Qadhi’s Facebook Page.