Sura Al-Baqarah (Tafseer-ul-Maariful Quran), Part-250

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When Sayyidna 'Umar رضي الله عنه heard this hadith, he ordered his men to return. Sayyidna Abu 'Ubaydah رضي الله عنه the governor of Syria was present on the occasion. Taking notice of the orders given by Sayyidna 'Umar رضي الله عنه he commented: افرارا من قدر الله (Do you want to run from Divine destiny?) In reply, Sayyidna 'Umar رضي الله عنه said: 'O Abu 'Ubaydah, I wish this was said by someone else' meaning thereby 'a comment like this, and that too from you, is certainly surprising.' Then he said: نعم نفر من قدر الله إلى قدر الله 'Yes, we do run from Divine decree to (nothing but) Divine decree' meaning thereby 'whatever we are doing we are doing in obedience to none else but Allah and His command which the Messenger of Allah (SM) has explained to us.'

3. There is great wisdom in the prophetic sayings about plague: In accordance with the hadith stated above, we have been told that it is prohibited for outsiders to enter an area affected by plague or its likes; while it is equally 'prohibited for those who live there to run for their lives from that area.

In addition to this, the basic Islamic belief is that neither going anywhere is the cause of death, nor running from anywhere is the source of deliverance from it. Keeping this cardinal belief of Islam in view, the given instruction is based on very far-sighted stances of wisdom.

(1)Let's look at the first element of wisdom in stopping outsiders from going into a plague-affected area. Isn't it quite possible that someone may be at the fag end of his years and should he die because of this disease, it might have occurred to the deceased at some stage before his death that he might have lived had he not come into that area. Not only him, others might also think that his death occurred because he came there; although, whatever happened was pre-ordained. His age was no more than that. No matter where he lived, his death had to come at that particular time. It may be noted that the belief of Muslims has been saved from indecision through this instruction lest they should fall a victim to misunderstanding.

(2). The second aspect of wisdom here relates to the guidance Allah Almighty has given to man that he should not go where there is a danger of being harmed, or an apprehension of being killed; in fact, he should do his best to keep away from everything that could cause harm or death. Not only that, it has been made binding on every man to save his life. This rule demands that one should, keeping his total trust and belief in Divine decree, take all necessary precautionary measures without any negligence. One of these measures is that he should not go to a place where his life may be in danger.

Similarly, the instruction, that residents of an area infected with plague should not escape out of their fearing death, has its own merits:

a) The first wise counsel has a social and collective nature. For instance, should this escaping in panic become contagious, the rich and the powerful in the area would certainly run away. But, what would happen to those who are incapable of going anywhere. To begin with, left all alone, they will be terrified to their death. Then there will be sick among them who will take care of them? Should they die, who will manage their burial?

b) The second point of wisdom here tells that there will be some among the people present in that area who would be carrying germs of this disease. If they travel in that condition, they are likely to suffer more from all sorts of hardships. If they get sick while travelling, who knows what would come upon them. Ibn al-Madini has quoted the saying of scholars: ما فر احد من الوباء فسلم : 'One who runs from an epidemic never stays safe.' (Qurtubi).

C) There is still a third element of wisdom here. Isn't it that people infected by germs of the dlsease would be potential carriers of the epidemic wherever they go? If they elected to stay where they are, with patience and in trust, they might possibly get rid of the disease. And if, death was pre-ordained in this very disease, they will have the proud rank of shahadah (martyrdom) because of their patience and perseverance, as has been pointed out in Hadith.

Imam al - Bukhari has reported from Yahya ibn Ya'mur that Sayyidah 'A'ishah al-Siddiqah told him that she had asked the Holy Prophet about plague when he informed her that this disease was a punishment sent to a people who were to be punished by Allah's will. Then, Allah made it mercy for true believers. So, a slave of Allah who stays on with patience and peace in his locality believing that no harm can touch him except that which Allah has decreed for him for such a person the merit in return shall be equal to that of a shahid.

And this also explains the hadith in which it is said: 'The plague is shahadah (martyrdom) and one who dies in the plague is a shahid (martyr).'(Qurtubi, "vol 3, p 235).

Some Exceptions
The words used in the hadith are : فلا تخرجوا فرارا منه (You should not go out running from it) which tell us that a person who goes somewhere else, not because of the fear of death, but because of some other pressing need, will not be affected by this prohibition. Similarly, if someone has a firm '~eliefthat he cannot escape his destiny wherever he goes, but he wants to go simply for change of climate, he is also exempted from this prohibition.

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