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Prophet Muhammad’s Best Advice for Infection Control

We are going to examine some of the advice Prophet Muhammad gave his followers from the perspective of secular information and knowledge.

And in doing so, we will see that Prophet Muhammad was indeed a man for all seasons. He was a person that was very successful in many different activities. Emulating him is probably the wisest piece of advice you or I will ever get.

QUARANTINE AND ISOLATION

During his lifetime, Prophet Muhammad advised his followers not to travel to places known to be afflicted by illness and told those who were ill to stay at home and not spread the disease further afield. He said:

If you hear that there is a plague in a land, do not enter it; and if it (plague) visits a land while you are there, do not leave it. [1]

Prophet Muhammad also advised sick people not to visit healthy people. [2] Across the globe, in the 21st century, health authorities take Prophet Muhammad’s wise advice every day.

Today public health authorities rely on two strategies to stop the spread of contagious diseases, quarantine and isolation. Isolation applies to persons who are known to have an illness, and quarantine applies to those who have been exposed to an illness but who may or may not become ill.

Notice that Prophet Muhammad did not preface his advice with “if you are sick”. People are able to spread a disease even if they are not showing any signs of disease.

Thus quarantine and other public health control measures are essential. They reduce the contact between those with the disease and those susceptible to the disease.

Such measures prevent the spread of the disease, contain the infection and avert untold damage to people and infrastructure. [3]

MOSQUITO BORNE DISEASES

Zika virus, for example, is spread by infected mosquitos. Although the Zika virus can in some cases be relatively mild, it is responsible for severe birth defects if passed from a pregnant woman to her foetus.

Studies show that female mosquitoes prefer to lay eggs in water that collects in or is stored in manmade containers. The mosquito eggs stick to the walls of water containers like glue and remain attached until they are scrubbed off.

When the eggs dry out, they can survive for up to 8 months. If it rains or water covers the eggs, they hatch and become adults in about a week. If water must be stored it should be in tightly covered containers that prevent mosquitos from getting inside and laying their eggs. [4]

Prophet Muhammad advised his followers to cover their eating utensils and to seal or cover water skins and water containers. In one of his traditions Prophet Muhammad mentions that one night an epidemic will arise. [5]

As we move into the second quarter of 2020 more than 150 countries across the globe are battling, or preparing to battle the biggest pandemic humankind has faced since the Spanish Flu of 1918. At that time an estimated 500 million people were infected and 20 to 50 million people died as a result.

The new virus known as Covid 19 has seen governments and authorities in many countries implementing the advice Prophet Muhammad, including, quarantine, isolation, and rigorous hygiene.

In this worrying time, we are asked by those in authority to practice social distancing if we are feeling unwell, are elderly, or suffer from a compromised immune system due to chronic illnesses, including but not limited to, diabetes, heart disease and asthma. Further, those who have been in contact with known cases of Covid 19 must stay at home for the required amount of time set by the relevant authorities.

Many countries have closed public places including mosques, schools, and businesses, whilst implementing strict home isolation. Some countries have sealed their borders. All these things are very much inline with the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad.

CONTAMINATED WATER

According to the CDC (Centre for Disease Control) when water is contaminated with organic matter (for example, human or animal waste, grasses, and leaves), the chances that mosquito larvae will survive may increase.

God’s commandments protect us from things we understand and know about but also from those we do not know about. While Prophet Muhammad may not have understood the life cycle of a mosquito, he was alert to the fact that human waste was and still is a health hazard.

Prophet Muhammad warned against urinating in stagnant water or from urinating where people bathe. [6]

He also warned against evacuating one’s bowels near a water source, by the side of the road or in the shade. [7]

The right to clean water and sanitation was recognized by the United Nations as a human right in 2010.

More than 14 centuries ago Prophet Muhammad warned us that there was a connection between water, hygiene and health. He also taught that cleanliness was half of faith. [8]

[1] Saheeh Muslim and Saheeh Bukhari

[2] Saheeh Muslim

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3559034/

[4] https://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2016/03/zikaandwater/

[5] Saheeh Muslim

[6] Ibn Majah and Abu Dawood

[7] Saheeh Muslim and Abu Dawood

[8] Saheeh Muslim

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