17 August 2022

By Imam Dr. A. Rashied Omar

During the final week of November 2021, we were greeted with the unwelcome news of the discovery of yet another new and even more infectious variant of the Coronavirus which has been dubbed Omicron.

While at this time the Covid-19 infection numbers and related deaths in our country are relatively low, we are anxiously expecting a fourth wave to affect us during the next few weeks coinciding with the summer holiday season. In light of these latest developments we should not become weary of the almost two-year old Covid-19 pandemic but continue to be vigilant and comply with the necessary protocols. We also once again advise everyone to persevere in encouraging your family and friends to get vaccinated if they have not already done so.

While we feel a deep sense of sadness as a result of our loss and isolation during this unprecedented pandemic, as conscientious Muslims and responsible citizens we should also feel vindicated that we took and continue to take all the necessary precautions to safeguard ourselves and fellow citizens from the highly contagious Covid-19 virus in order to save lives and lessen human suffering.

Our motto and watchword should be that the Covid-19 pandemic calls for an extraordinary response. In order to prevent life-threatening harm, there can be no half measures.

Such an unequivocal response to the prevention of harm is strongly supported by the well-known Islamic legal maxim known in usul al-fiqh as “al-darar yuzal” meaning harm must be removed. This legal maxim compels Muslims to do their utmost to recognize and remove harm (darar) and leaves no justification for ignoring or tolerating harm in their midst. By taking the vaccine we are living up to this legal maxim. By being vaccinated we are contributing towards the fight to mitigate the harm of ongoing transmission of the SARS-CoV2 virus in our community. We must thus continue to encourage those who are still hesitant, to get vaccinated, and join us in this global challenge to curb the ongoing spread and mutation of this virus.

The principle on which this legal maxim is founded is reflected in several Qur’anic verses (2:231; 2:233). It is, however, in the well-known prophetic tradition (hadith) recorded in the authentic collections of Ibn Majah and Al-Daraqutni and reported by the companion Abu Sa`id al-Khudhri (may Allah be pleased with him) that this Islamic legal maxim finds its clearest support. The Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s everlasting peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have proclaimed: “Let there be no Harm, nor reciprocating Harm”

While the pandemic has wrought immense loss and trauma on the world, it has also compelled us to pause and reset almost every aspect of our lives which we have come to take for granted. It would thus be a travesty if we do not seize this moment to critically reflect on our lives at a personal and social level, both locally and globally.

I pray that as we move forward in these last weeks of the Gregorian year 2021 we will find comfort and solace in the safety of our families and homes and will emerge in the New Year 2022 spiritually revitalized to take on the new challenges of life with greater vigor and moral fortitude. Allahumma Amin.

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