The Etiquette of Responding to Crises
What is a Muslim required to in the face of crises? What are the etiquettes that a Muslim must observe?
Islamic law has impressed upon Muslims the belief in God’s decree and predestination, rendering it one of the pillars of faith without which a Muslim’s faith is incomplete. The tradition of Jibril (peace be upon him) that was narrated by Umar Ibn al-Khattab attests to God’s decree and predestination as essential elements of belief, “That you believe in God, His angels, His Books, His messengers, the Last Day, and that you believe in [divine] decree—both the good and bad of it.”
Afflictions and plagues occur through divine providence, and as such, a Muslim must demonstrate acceptance and patience in the face of such tribulations since it has been established that whatever God Almighty decrees is good. In a hadith, the believer is described as showing patience, resolve, and steadfastness in the face of adversity. Suhaib Ibn Sinan narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “How wonderful is the affair of the believer! There is good for him in every matter and this is the case only for the believer. If he is happy, he thanks God and this is good for him; and if he suffers harm, he is patient and this is good for him.” In addition, any suffering experienced in this world serves as a source of divine reward. This is a promise from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) that brings us solace when we most need it. He said, “No fatigue, disease, sorrow, sadness, hurt, or distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that God expiates some of his sins for it.”
Being conscious of these tenets is crucial to a Muslim’s success in shaping his response to the ordeals of afflictions that are intended to bring us closer to God Almighty. This requires us to translate this conviction into a concrete set of etiquettes. These are:
- Turning to God Almighty and humbling oneself before Him through prayers to lift hardships and afflictions. God Almighty says, “When the suffering reached them from us, why then did they not learn humility?”
- Believing that God Alone has the power to lift afflictions as per His words, “It is God that delivered you from these and all (other) distresses,” and “No one besides God can rescue a soul from hardship.”
- The obligation to take all precautionary measures and means of safety, “And do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction [by refraining].”
- Doing good deeds in abundance such as spending in voluntary charity and in the way of God Almighty as well as supplicating God at times of tribulation. He said, “Cure your sick with charity and prepare for calamity in advance by engaging in supplication [to God].”
- Being mindful of God Almighty, avoiding His disobedience, persisting in seeking forgiveness from Him, and repenting from past sins. God Almighty says, “And whoever fears God - He will make for him a way out,” and “And God would not punish them while they seek forgiveness.”
- Thinking well of God Almighty and knowing that His mercy encompasses all things, “And despair not of relief from God.”
- Cooperating, standing in solidarity, and participating in matters that benefit others is an indispensable necessity at all times. God urges us to “… cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression.” Similarly, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Verily, the believers are like a structure, each part strengthening the other,” and the Prophet clasped his fingers together.
- Fully complying with the instructions of the competent authorities and encouraging others to do likewise in addition to resorting to specialists; God Almighty says, “Ask those who have the knowledge if you do not know.”
- Having confidence in state institutions, appreciating their efforts to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, and giving no attention to skeptics and inciters. It is possible to analogize those on the opposite side of the trust spectrum to the hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) that gives an example of two groups on a ship. One group is below deck and one above. The group below deck has to go above deck to get water, which disturbed the people above. Therefore, in order not to bother them, the people on the bottom decided to make a hole in the boat to get water. If the people above deck were to allow them to make a hole they would be ruined as well, yet if they stopped them they would be saved along with them.
- Refraining from transmitting bad news and alarming people as doing so only contributes to intensifying fear and apprehension when serenity and calm are necessary. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), “It is not permissible for a Muslim to alarm a fellow Muslim.”
- Acknowledging and appreciating the efforts of all of those who selflessly go about their duties and selflessly care for others and ease their pain and distress. Not only does this express gratitude but it is also a legal duty for the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever does not thank people has not thanked God.”
And God Almighty knows best.